Never one to take it slow, 21-year-old Lansing rapper Mikeyy Austin has released a full-length album, a mixtape and multiple singles in two years. Now, the emerging artist is cooking up another project, a mixtape called Art4Sale. Always lyrically-minded, the self-described storyteller is using Art4Sale as a platform to bring social justice issues to the forefront.
“A lot of it is kind of inspired by my experiences,” Austin said. “So, I kind of wanted to talk about real issues, whether it’s stuff in my personal life, or things that I’ve seen with family or friends.”
Some of those topics include mass incarceration and gentrification. Austin is unafraid to broach difficult topics, and he said that he rejects the idea that Hip-Hop doesn’t come with a message.
“I hear people saying the same statement a lot, but I think what it is, is a lot of times people base the artist’s truth off of their truth, so they say there is no message in a song, because it’s not something that the listener might have experienced,” he said. “For me, being a fan of what Hip-Hop is, and the origins of it, it was meant to be a platform to talk about real-life issues.”
Austin said that although his current project’s themes are drawn from a variety of experiences throughout the course of his life, he got his inspiration for the project when he met a man named Carleton in Washington D.C. a few years ago.
“… (he is) a homeless street artist who once lived on H St., but the district’s ‘renovations,’ increase on property taxes and rent and new homes/businesses catered towards middle-class and business professionals forced him and many others out,” Austin wrote on his Facebook page. “He now sells his paintings at the corner of what used to be his home, in hopes of small dollars for food for the day.”
Still a little unsure of the scope of his project at that point, after meeting Carleton Austin began taking note of issues he should write about. Soon after, Austin got the sign he needed to convince him of the project’s validity.
“I think I was watching ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ which is a Netflix original series by Spike Lee, and there’s a guy named Pablo. He’s a street artist, and he’s just like the guy who is a victim of gentrification. He once lived in this Brooklyn neighborhood,” Austin said. “Now he’s homeless and a street artist, and seeing that confirmed that Art4Sale route.”
Austin doesn’t yet have a release date locked down, but he plans to have the mixtape ready by the end of January. Whether someone begins listening to his newest project because of its message or simply because they like the music, Austin hopes that he can shed a little awareness with each play.
“Because it’s more than just trying to talk about issues and making people feel good, it’s using a platform to bring light on issues that need to be talked about,” Austin said. “At the end of the day, no matter what accomplishments might come from what I do, that’s my ultimate goal.”
For more information on Art4Sale’s release, music videos and more, visit mikeyyaustinmusic.com.