Last Saturday, JusListen took over the Highline Ballroom in NYC’s Meatpacking District to host The Listening Session, a special night of performances from some of the city’s most talented rising rappers. This special group of MCs hit the stage to show us why they’re the best of the best, but before the lights went down and the music came up, I got the chance to kick it with a few of the guys to see what it’s like being the future game-changers of their genre.
Up first was Mike Jaggerr, a New York-born, Delaware-raised 21 year old that’s been making major moves in the hip-hop industry. Not only does he kill the mic, he also writes, produces, & directs, and has done work with BET and been featured on DJ Skee’s Android For All mixtape (along with Kanye, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and more). Mike attended Full Sail University down in Florida, where he studied film, and now lives in Brooklyn. He dropped his debut mixtape, The Eleventh Hour, in January (two days before the launch of [the no names]; yeah, it was a good month) and he’s been going strong ever since. I could go on and keep giving you guys a lengthy biography on Mr. Jaggerr, but I’d rather let you hear what he had to say when I spoke to him backstage. He shared some words on his life, his music, and the bright future lying ahead of him. Check out the interview below.
[A TNN Exclusive: 7 Questions with Mike Jaggerr]
1. You have people at MTV & BET behind you, magazines covering you, and other artists featuring you on their tracks. Of all the calls you’ve gotten for interviews, collaborations, and performances, what’s been the most special point in your career thus far?
I guess the BET show. That was the illest one because I had to replace another headliner. The person I replaced kind of put me into that spot, so I had to step up a little bit. I think that was the one I was happiest about because that’s the first one I did with a full band. We only had two days to practice, but [it] still came out good. People were f**king with it, everybody was feeling it.
Then like the first time I did ‘Away’ live, that was kind of like my favorite ‘cause it was an emotional thing that happened when I locked in with the people the first time performing that. The last time that I did ‘Away’ they brought it to life to a point that I had never heard it before. I had never heard it with those instruments because I had flipped and reversed the sample and chopped it up and s**t, so I had never thought about the progressions that they played throughout the song, so I was happy about that man.
2. The SOURCE described The Eleventh Hour as aspirational, inspirational, and autobiographical. How have the messages in the mixtape changed or grown since its release in January and what new things would you have to talk about if you made a Part 2?
It changes everyday. I mean, I didn’t even fill in all the gaps. I kinda wrote The Eleventh Hour like they taught us to write scripts in film school. You start late and then you end early, you know? I’m not gonna end early, but you know, it’s kinda like I brought yall up to where I’m at, I told yall a little bit about where I came from, but I still have a lot of space to fill in. Obviously I’m in a middle point right now, so you know I’m about to go to the next stage. There’s a lot of things that I’m experiencing now; personal growth, spiritual growth, all types of s**t.
3. In your interview with Generation Kool, you talked about your trip to Hollywood and actually using food stamps because of how expensive the life is out there. You said, “It’s just amazing how close you can be to success–touch and taste it–but you’re still not there yet.” It sounds like you’ve been able to remain relatively humble up to this point. Would you say your still the same guy you were when you started this solo journey in the music industry?
I think I’m worse; naw, I’m playing. Definitely. I think I’m the same person, but you learn something new everyday, so there are just new things that I’m learning. There’s always room for improvement, so I’m always trying to improve. I’m always trying to make the production bigger, you know, more live; the instrumentation, bigger hooks, bridges, harmonies. On The Eleventh Hour, I hint a lot at melody, that I’m capable of executing and delivering melody, but on the new records that I’m making, I just want to take it a step further and show people that I’m good at arrangement and I can write a classic song, that I can write things that people can sample. You know what I’m saying? 10, 15, 20 years from now.
4. How did it feel being featured on DJ Skee’s Android for All mixtape, alongside other artists like Kanye & Jay, Wiz Khalifa, and Rick Ross?
It was an honor. A lot of things that happen just kinda pop up on me, like when I did the BET show. We got that call, well at least I got that call, two days before, maybe three. It was real abrupt. Then when I found out I was gonna be featured on that tape, I saw that Skee respected the music and I appreciated that. Obviously I want everybody in the culture to embrace me, so for him to embrace me, and him having the position that he has on the West Coast and in the hip-hop community in general, it’s an honor.
5. You’ve worked alongside several other rising artists and some pretty established ones as well. How connected do you stay with the people that you meet on the road and across the country and how important have those relationships been to your career after those concerts or studio sessions are over?
I mean, like [Big] K.R.I.T., I still love K.R.I.T., I love his new project, you know. Anything he does, I support it. I was just happy that he agreed to get on the song with me. I still wanna shoot a video for it actually. Still, it’s a mutual respect. Obviously, you’re competing a little, but it’s all good. We’re on the same team. We’re all going for the same goals. More is coming in the future.
6. You went to school for film and I checked out your tumblr and noticed that your more recent posts are pictures of Diandra Forrest, a pair of Versace frames, and two pieces of artwork. How do the other areas of pop culture, like fashion, art, and film, impact your music?
Yeah, shout out to [Diandra]. I mean they’re all connected, to me. All art, in general, comes from the same energy, comes from the same place. I don’t feel that it’s necessarily separated or like you have to go that far to be able to be intrigued by fashion or be intrigued by movies and s**t.
7. What’s the next step for Mike Jaggerr?
Like I said, just everything further personifying all the tastes and the sounds that I gave you on The Eleventh Hour, but I’mma take ‘em a step further. Try to expand the genre, if not create a new one. More shows. I’m looking forward to anything that comes.
And be sure to get your free copy of The Eleventh Hour here.
*Special thanks to Tashia from [Trendful.Images Photography] for providing me with the image for this post.