In just a few short years, Bronx native and hip-hop artist Mickey Factz went from dropping out of pre-law at NYU to independent artist to founding his own label to getting signed by a major label -- and now he's about to release his first major-label album, 'The Achievement.' Spinner sat down with the man that helped curate artists like Jesse Boykins, Big K.R.I.T. and Smoke DZA and learned about Factz's paralegal past and his love of cooking.
Where did the name Mickey Factz come from?
Well, the name Mickey came from 'Natural Born Killers.' Mickey was in love with Mallory, and Mallory for me is hip-hop. "Facts" is really all I talk about. The "z" at the end is for stylish points, so when people see me they say, "Oh, that's Mickey!" because they know me from the glasses and my fashion sense.
You grew up in the Bronx. What was it like growing up there and how did it influenced you as an artist?
Growing up in the Bronx influenced me in terms of writing lyrics -- you know, trying to be as lyrical as possible. There was always a competition growing up, with ciphering and battling, so it kind of really took me to another level. We don't have a lot of artists coming out of the Bronx but when we do they're special, from Big Pun to KRS-One to Cory Gunz to myself -- we are very special artists and when we finally break free we tend to always have that lyrical prowess that people enjoy.
Why did you give up studying pre-law at NYU?
I never really wanted to go to school, as far as college. That was really something my mom wanted me to do and I did it to appease her, and I was already working at a law firm in the mail room. After I stepped my college game up, I became a paralegal and being as I was in paralegal mode, I figured I may as well try to take it the distance to become an attorney. But it wasn't making me happy in the long run, so I dropped out and decided that I wanted to go and do hip-hop.
How do you think your legal knowledge has helped you in the music business?
It has definitely helped in terms of reading over contracts and being able to know what's right and what's not right. I mean, there are so many stories of artists not knowing what's going on when they sign these contracts, but being that I studied law a little while, I kind of can read these big contracts, and I can look over my attorney's work. And I have friends that are attorneys, so they look over that, a triple-teaming kind of situation. It's a blessing to have that kind of intellect and that knowledge from that field of work.
Being a musician is a lot of work. Did it ever get so difficult where you thought you might give up and maybe go back to school?
Things definitely get difficult. I don't think I ever said to myself I'm going to go back to school -- at least, not to do law. I definitely thought about when I'm done with music [going] back to school for culinary arts. I like to cook. Right now I am really into Thai and Malaysian food.
The Internet has allowed people like you to send out mixtapes or other free releases, but at the same time, it's hard to get noticed when so many artists have that opportunity. What do you think it was that got people to pay attention to what you were doing?
I think what it was with me is that I created kind of a following in the early MySpace days and it carried over into the growing blogosphere world. At the time, to be on the blogs when I was doing it, it was extremely difficult to get on. It took a lot of patience and a lot of hard work to get recognized, but I set myself apart by being consistent, putting out a song every week and it picked up and took a life of its own. It had its own legs and it took me to another stratosphere in the blog world. We're trying to make another jump into the mainstream world, right now.
You co-founded your own label, GFC New York, back in 2006. How did that come about and what do you want to see happen with it in the future?
It happened when I was working on my first mixtape. I was dealing with my manager at that time, Richard Saint, and then my A&R, Steve-O. They saw a vision in me and decided they wanted to take me to the next level as far as my music. They had a vision and they had great marketing strategies, so we all decided that us three should come together and create this conglomerate known as GFC New York and do the same thing that they did with me and curate other artists like Jesse Boykins, Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, you know, and the list goes on and on. We've set a mark in the industry as far as breaking new talent and showing people the world.
You're about to release your first major label album, 'The Achievement.' How does it feel to finally see all your hard work and talent reaching the level it has?
I mean, it's a dream come true. Sometimes it's extremely surreal for me to see people really enjoying my music and appreciating my success. It's been a very, very long hard journey and road. Sometimes I even forget that I've done so much when it comes to this music and my grind, but I appreciate every second of it.
How does your family feel about all of your recent achievements?
At first, when a child tells their parents, "Hey, I'm not going to continue with school; I'm going to try to follow my dreams," there's always that fear that their kid will be a bum and they don't really want to support a child at a specific age to do this. They feel like you've reached a certain point where you have to sustain yourself, so they were extremely disappointed in my decision -- but after the achievements came all of a sudden they wanted to be my bestest friends.
What other major things are you hoping to accomplish in 2011 and beyond?
Right now, I'm looking to get this music out and hopefully having it be critically acclaimed and achieve some awards with the product that I put out. For me, that's what it really boils down to. I'm not really someone who wants to be the Bill Gates of music. I would really like to inspire people and hopefully help them to achieve their dreams as well. That's what it's all about. When it's all said and done, when you leave this earth, you want to leave behind a legacy -- not be behind somebody saying, "Oh, he was just the richest artist ever," but he was somebody who wanted to inspire and help other people to live and make this world a better place.
Do you have any advice for some of the independent artists that are still out there struggling?
Continue being consistent, no matter what may come your way. You've got to keep going hard, as hard as you possibly can, because if not you will definitely fall to the wayside. You've got to be consistent, persistent and quality equal to quantity.