Last week, we brought you the first half of Paul Thompson’s interview with Cage and Mighty Mi. In part two, Cage and Mighty Mi speak on the business side of the music industry, critics, the download and YouTube generation, their earlier music and much more. Read on below and be sure to pick up Kill The Architect [Eastern Conference, 2013] on iTunes.
ON THE BUSINESS END
Cage: The whole business part of it is just the part I hate. I wish I could just make music and go “alright, cool, later” and just let that be that, make some cool visuals, make some short films. But I have to go do shows—and that’s fun, but the whole notion of ‘I have to go sell this’, that’s the part I hate. And here I think that I’m being noble and shit, and it’s not the consensus. It’s not what people are thinking or expecting. It’s “well if you didn’t sell that many records or get a million views overnight, you’re a failure”. It’s a strange place to make music now. There’s so much noise to turn off.
The question comes in with the money—would you rather make a shitload of money over a four-year period and the majority of the people buying your record don’t know a thing about hip hop music, or don’t give a shit at all? The money is nice, but there’s a lot of ways to make a lot of money in this country. I can’t even believe I made thousands of dollars year one making hip hop, let alone still being able to generate some sort of income or interest in things I say. I think I appreciate it more now. There’s a strange backlash to it; when I didn’t give a fuck, that was when I cared the most—when I was saying I didn’t care. There’s always been enough frustration in my life that I will never live without that over my head. That will always be the case. The smallest part of that is anything music related.
Cage: Every time you make a song, it’s like ‘I made that song already’. People are like ‘I want to hear you on a song where you just…rip shit…you know, fuck everybody’ and I step back like ‘…I did that already’. I’m doing it the way I want to. I don’t really get the disconnect of the people who really want you to keep doing the same thing. It’s like they can’t get over their own shit. It’s like when someone shits on something, it’s mostly them shitting on themselves. It’s funny that people don’t have that self-awareness.
We’re in the biggest business in the country, which is keeping Americans dumb. We can sit here in an interview and jerk ourselves off about how awesome we are, or [hold onto that] desperate hope that something I say might resonate with someone. And I’m not really sure why I care if it does or not, or if I do at this point. Well, I guess I do—that’s what “Fuck This Game” is about: ‘I don’t care, yes I do, I don’t care, yes I do’.
It seems like today people want things spelled out for them. If it poses questions, then I think that I’ve done my job. The less people understand…it’s not great for business, but a long time ago I made the decision to not make that the main reason for doing any of this.
Cage: Being a critic is…like, where’s the ambition? [It used to be] you listen to music and go ‘yeah that’s pretty good, but you know what I’d like to hear?’ And then you go and make music. That was cool, as opposed to ‘I’m going to critique music’. People rape you with their reviews and I’m like ‘whoa, I don’t even have a publicist’. I remember I’d have to go to the store and be like ‘do you have a copy of such-and-such magazine yet? Ah, I’m in it! I can’t wait to see myself in this.’ But I fucking paid to be in it! They weren’t fucking putting me in because they thought I was awesome, I paid to be in those magazines. After a while, even making rebellious music is a move to find love.
I think for people who do and get it and relate to it, for the most part kids I’ve met on the road who relate to me have a common ground, like a sense of humor or something else beyond the music. I just fucking make music, man. If you like it you like it, if you don’t you don’t. I’ll never get the whole ‘I can’t like this guy because of the way he looks’ thing. I never understood that. If I liked an artist and I knew that they were crazy looking, I’d say ‘of course they’re crazy looking’. Even their ideology or anything—it’s just the music is the music.
It’s always been the case, even more so now, that when people hear your music it’s going to be judged. That’s more so now than it ever was. We were talking about this the other night. The quote-unquote music journalist—if that’s a journalist—it’s almost become where now everyone is that. It’s like now the artist is your soapbox for your thoughts on their material.