Block Party, WRBB’s annual Fall Concert, is this Friday, September 7th! Take a minute to get introduced to MIKE, and we’ll see you at the show.
Michael Jordan Bonema, who raps under the pseudonym MIKE, has been described simultaneously as a product of and contributor to the special energy bubbling in New York’s DIY rap scene. At just 19, the New Jersey native has made music worthy of praise from The New Yorker, Pitchfork and The Fader. When he was young, Bonema moved to London with his mother, later settling in The Bronx for the latter end of his teen years. He describes his sound as a fusion of those two locations – in England he was immersed in grime and the music of King Krule, and in the United States he was turned on to Earl Sweatshirt and MF Doom. In The Bronx, he began collaborating with several artists who held a similar sound, style and presence as him. This led to the creation of [sLUms], his hip hop collective. Consisting of fellow artists sixpress, dj ???, King Carter, Jazz Jodi, and DJ Mason, the group describes itself as a diverse range of producers and rappers who each make music about coming of age as a black man in New York.
MIKE’s lyricism and flow takes listeners on a trip down the depths of his mind. “I be in here sweating/ With my hands caressing mics because I keep forgetting/ There’s some thoughts I get at night that I just need to question,” he rhymes in “Time Ain’t Enough.” His introspective lyrics are the glue that hold his EPs and mixtapes together. His most recent project, Renaissance Man, provides a definitive statement on his life as a young black man in New York, and has been among his most commercially successful efforts. In his previous projects, MIKE focused on his personal life and upbringing, crafting every track as a piece of a puzzle that contains a much larger story to be told. Pitchfork described his 2017 project May God Bless Your Hustle as “…a vivid document crammed with biographical details, wizkid observations, and frank confessions about mental health.” Despite the darkness surrounding MIKE’s music, his words create an underlying sense of hope and paint an image of progress and success; which seem to be just what keeps him going.
In 2017, Earl Sweatshirt, a mentor to MIKE, tweeted a link to one of his mixtapes, saying that “my son mike really did his thang please give this a run thru.” Just like Earl, MIKE is telling stories that only he can tell, deeply personal and full of commentary. Earlier this year, he started releasing music with Lex Records and joined the Ground Control Touring Artist roster. We can’t wait to see what MIKE has in store for us at Block Party!
Want to learn more about MIKE? Check out his bandcamp and make sure to get to the gig this Friday, September 7th at 7:30pm in Afterhours. (NU Only)