Chi-Town State of Mind
Mikkey Halsted, one of the Windy City’s finest MC’s, sits down with SLAMonline to talk about music, life and basketball… From a Chicago perspective.
SLAM: No doubt. And that’s what I think makes Chicago so different and I think you broke it down perfectly in that you can still be connected to the streets, have your family in the streets and yet getting an education still won’t change who you are at heart. You’re still connected to the hood because you always have to go back because that’s where you’re from. So I think that’s one of the things that makes your music so real, especially for a lot of people like myself who went to college but is still street connected. I think a lot of people from other places can’t really understand how that dynamic works.
MH: Yeah. It seems like in other places, they either want you to be street all the way or educated all the way, but in Chicago it’s really not like that. I thank God I played ball; I went to college on a basketball scholarship. All the people that was at my college was on some kind of scholarship, you know what I’m saying. My school cost $30,000 a year to go to and the ones that played basketball, we was all hood guys. There was guys on my team from out West; guys on my team from this hood or that hood, and we’re playing ball and getting an education. Basketball opened that up for me where I could get an education and all my homies respected it. Chicago people are so well rounded, man. Like when we listen to music, we want to relate to it. We want street music that has some intelligence to it at the same time. I feel like that’s hard to find out here and those people that want that, gravitate to Mikkey Halsted. Those people that want better for themselves, or that have made it while at the same time haven’t forgotten where they came from. And that’s what I represent.
SLAM: Right. Because you don’t have to be a lame, to be smart. And going to school or going to college, won’t make you a lame.
MH: Exactly, man. And that’s where people miss it with Chicago. You know, I see the comments on the blogs where people say because I went to college I can’t rap about nothing that goes on in the streets because I don’t know about it. What type of stupidity is that?! That’s just retarded to me, you know what I’m saying. But real recognize real and people that don’t have anything to fall back on, some of them are jealous because I do. If I feel like it, I can go and make $80,000 a year at a regular gig. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. See, I never wanted to be broke again. We come from nothing, so I didn’t want to go back to that. I didn’t want to go back to rats and roaches when you turn the lights on and you’re coming in the crib. I didn’t want to go back to living around people selling drugs on the corner. I didn’t want to go back to that kind of poverty. I wanted better for my family. I wanted better for myself. And you know how it is, in every family and every hood, you got a couple of guys that’s smarter. The old niggas always looked out for me. They saw me as a young, smart shorty that played ball and was into sports, and they protected me, you know what I’msaying. They looked out. They would tell me, ‘Aw shorty, man, do the thang. Stay in school.’ Back when we was coming up, we had structure. I grew up in a GD [Gangster Disciple] neighborhood, you had to go to school. They made you go to school. You couldn’t not go to school and hang out on the street all day. The older guys wasn’t allowing that. They wanted me to make it from the hood. ‘Aw shorty, you gon’ make it. You gon’ be the one.’ And I think that’s missing a lot now. The guys that’s like us, we gotta give back to those shorty’s the same way and cater to the young kids that’s still in the neighborhood and when we see a shorty that’s got that potential, we gotta protect them. They used to tell me to leave the park when they was about to start shooting. They would tell me when it was about to go down because they didn’t want me to be a part of that. And I didn’t want to go back to the crib, but if they caught me not obeying what they told me, they’d catch me and whoop my ass because they told me to go home. They told me that what they was doing wasn’t for me. That’s where we come from. So I think that’s a beautiful thing about Chicago and where we’re from. You can be well rounded and I’m not gonna let nobody pigeon hole me. It ain’t gotta be all street, it ain’t gotta be all college. I want to be me. I’m me. I’m the guy that went to college. I’m the guy that had family members in my home on crack cocaine. I’m still the one that’s lost homies and got homies that’s locked up doing football numbers. I’m the one that played college basketball. You can’t tell me what I am. I’m a Chicago nigga, man. Period.