With a floating, woozy baritone flow and dreamlike self-produced beats, rapper MIKE helped push rap in more experimental directions near the end of the 2010s. Along with prolifically released mixtapes, the rapper found critical acclaim with his heavy, grieving 2019 album Tears of Joy as well as its 2020 follow-up, Weight of the World.
MIKE was born Michael Jordan Bonema in New Jersey in 1998 and relocated with his mother to London for part of his youth. While in London, he discovered the grime scene and upon returning to the States as a young teenager, he began applying that influence to his own music. As a rapper, MIKE created his own abstract beats as a perfect backdrop for his often introspective lyrics and distant flows. He began sharing his songs around 2015, releasing several smaller EPs and singles before his 2017 mixtape May God Bless Your Hustle attracted more wide-scale national attention. That project's grainy samples and disconnected rapping set the pace for a very productive 2018 for MIKE. In that year alone, the rapper released four mixtapes, including critically acclaimed collections War in My Pen and Renaissance Man. MIKE's friend and sometimes collaborator Earl Sweatshirt's late-2018 album Some Rap Songs worked in a similarly disjointed production style as MIKE's work.
In 2019, he released Tears of Joy, an emotionally moving album he made in sorrowful reaction to his mother's death. About a year after the release of Tears of Joy, MIKE followed up with new album Weight of the World. In addition to MIKE's own increasingly recognizable signature beats, the record featured production from KeiyaA, Darryl Johnson, and Red Lee as well as guest features from Earl Sweatshirt and Jadasea. ~ Fred Thomas
BORNOctober 19, 1998