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Run Through The Streets Of New York With Mic Nickels And Method Man

NYC alt-rap hero Mic Nickels and the critically acclaimed Method Man are prime examples of complimentary styles collaborating for the greater good of hip-hop. This old-school flair comes to life in "El Matador" and pairs an invincible underground sound with one of the most famous voices in hip-hop history with no discordance at all.

The animations that make up the visual exposé of "El Matador" have us vibing with this mesmerizing comic book come to life. Mic Nickels and Method Man moonlight as superheroes as they peruse the streets of New York, leaving jaws on the floor and their punchlines ingrained in the minds of city goers. Like our favorite cartoons, our eyes are glued to the screen and leave us without as much as a blink of an eye as we take in this creative masterpiece.

With blunts, cash, dice, and equipped with proper means of protection, the dueling grounds of Mic Nickels and Method Man happen to be the aisles of Bars for Day's bodega and the allies in between. As these wordsmiths switch up the verses and each lay down a custom flow, their journey takes them to do more than just lyrically finessing those they encounter. Leaving them toe to toe with opponents that are more like conquests in the way, the missing signs plastered on the bar walls hint to them bodying the competition. These dueling emcees leave it all on the table while dusting off the crumbs, leaving their mark in the Wild, Wild West, which happens to be on the East coast of NYC.

With several references to hip-hop history scattered through easter eggs in this animated video, homage is paid thoroughly and in a genuinely respectable manner. As the notable tribute to the late MF Doom graces the screen, it's apparent that this staple inspires both rappers by the iconic mark he left in hip-hop. Viewers may not know that MF Doom had initially agreed to jump on "El Matador" before his tragic passing, and Method Man stepped up to take his place.

"El Matador" is among the many highlights of Mic Nickels' solo album "Bars for Days." A project that establishes him as a formidable solo artist, a rap traditionalist, and an autobiographical storyteller with few peers anywhere in the music industry. Nickels writes about his unique artistic journey, a candid memoir that shares more with his most recent album than a title. It's a pure expression of dedication, perseverance, and the love of music.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Mic Nickels! Congratulations on the release of the music video for "El Matador." Taking this piece was so entertaining, and we love the homage you pay to NYC hip-hop and hip-hop. What inspired the animated approach to the visuals?

Peace. Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated. As you pointed out, I feel very connected to the culture and birthplace. Specifically, boom-bap era hip-hop, I grew alongside this movement. A gritty darkness to "El Matador" almost feels vintage in this day and age, and I knew I really wanted to encapsulate that vibe for the video. Initially, I had some ideas for a live-action video, but Meth and I had difficulty lining up our schedules. So, I started toying around with the idea of this animated dystopia instead. I called an artist named Ooge, whom I have worked with, and we started brainstorming. The song's premise focuses on dealing with opponents or enemies, so we came up with this idea of a hood western deep in Brooklyn.

What can you tell us about the illustrator and the process of bringing this video to life? We can only imagine it was a lengthy process that required so much attention to detail.

Oogie and I have a great vibe together. He's one of my favorite visual artists. He has done a whole series of album covers for me. We both exist at remarkably similar frequencies, so we just started getting on the phone and hashing out ideas. Visuals, concepts, mood... our initial convo was very loose. But from that, I could craft a treatment for a story together, and Ooge didn't hesitate. He just started knocking it out scene by scene at a crazy pace. I knew he wasn't an animator, and I couldn't expect him to sketch out the entire project freehand, so the plan was for him to create scenes and avatars, and then I'd find someone who could bring it all to life. It took roughly seven months from start to end, but that's precisely what happened.

Working alongside Method Man is an accolade that many hip-hop heads wish they could accomplish in their lifetime. What was it like working together? And, of course, the age-old question - will it happen again?

It's still unbelievable to me. You're talking about an artist who is hands down one of the greatest ever to do it. When I started writing, he was THE hottest emcee on the planet. Hip-hop heads of that era unanimously agreed upon this. Everyone was emulating his style, including myself. Here we are decades later, and he is still proving himself as one of the dopest on the scene, and there's me, trading verses with one of the GOATs of hip hop. I've been at this long and worked hard at my craft. An opportunity like this validates the sacrifice, you know? I'm honored he respected me enough to put his name down next to mine. Many people have been commenting on how well our styles complement each other. I wrote my verse first on this track, which dictated the pace. I would love to write my bars in reaction to what he puts down next time. So, I am hoping it happens again!

How important is it to you to preserve the roots of hip-hop in your music? What does hip-hop mean to you?

I come from a specific generation that grew up alongside hip-hop culture. The emcees, the DJs, the breakers, and the graffiti artists were all putting their marks on society during the 80s while we were in elementary school. Children like myself were wearing fat laces and carrying around boomboxes. By the time the 90s hit, and we were teens, golden era hip-hop was at its pinnacle. We embodied the movement of lyricism and evolved along with it in real-time. So, while the commercialization of the rap art form has watered mainstream products into an indecipherable stew of monotony, an entire subculture of individuals who feel just like I do about it exists. They are hungry for substance from unique rappers. I represent this, not because I feel obligated to, but by default. It's just in my DNA.

Let's dive into Bars for Days and what we can expect from the album. What do listeners have in store with this masterpiece? What comes next?

Well, first, thank you for calling it a masterpiece. A lot of hard work and love went into it! This was the first full-length solo album I did after dedicating years to my band project. When our weekly residency of eight years ended, I felt this driving urge to return to my roots. To do a "beats and rhymes" album. So, I started reaching out to producers who I had worked with in the past. I do produce my music, but I wanted to focus on the lyrics for this particular project. I wanted it to be primarily boom-bap in nature and experiment with a musically speaking contemporary sound. So, you get both here. Without a doubt, heavy lyricism drives the train on Bars. There are some incredible vocal cameos from Timbo King, Whichcraft, ADUM7, and of course, the god himself, Method Man. I couldn't be prouder of this project and the book that goes along with it. The "El Matador" single is the grand finale of an idea years in the making. But I already have the next one on deck. My eight-song EP with Kiza, The Impressionist, is slated to drop later this year, and it's an absolute banger from front to back!


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