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Swimming Through The Good Times: An Interview With Michael Christmas

Swimming Through The Good Times: An Interview With Michael Christmas

Artists who toggle the line of play and precision will seek life-long success. We’ve seen this  There are two kinds of rappers in the game: those who soul lacks music, who are here for a good time, not a long time and there are those who will be successful because they stay themselves.

Enter Michael Christmas and his fully-embraced, fun-loving, free spirit. His upbeat personality and his explosive catalog have propelled him into a world of fame with unlimited possibilities. From world tours to a new deal with Fool’s Gold, Michael Christmas has never once strayed away from enjoying the ride.

His latest album, “Role Model”, is a road trip into his past and a reflection of his life as a young adult trying to navigate the wild world painted before him. Nobody spins joy from the awkward quite the way Michael Christmas does, and in “Role Model”, the passenger seat is wide open.

Christmas’s father was in the studio throughout the recording process; the introduction is voiced by two of his younger sisters while vocals from his stepdad, mother, and girlfriend can be heard on skits between songs. The album is a side-step from what he usually delivers, but a sonic evolutionary journey nonetheless. Opposites attract and “Role Model” came together like Voltron. Growing up in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston ain’t for the weak of heart, but it will morph you into a person with the strength of ten Hulks if you let it. Aside from the amount of tequila he drinks and how often he swims, Michael Christmas is still the same person he was when he emerged onto the scene: moving through life with vivacious spirit but an insatiable desire for knowledge.

Matt Whitlock: How’s the reception for the album is going? I see it every day picking up more and more.

Michael Christmas: Hell yeah, I’m like really, really looking forward to seeing if it opens some doors and shit like that because that’s, you know, that’s what niggas put out albums for. (laughs)

MW: For real, right? Yeah, get the word out. The partnership with Fool’s Gold must be exciting, that’s a lot of leverage right there you know what I mean. You got a crazy cast over there already, you’re in good company. 

MC: Well, I’ve been having people come up to me, about that shit, for months now (laughs) like “Yo, I heard you on Fool’s Gold.” People I’ve never seen before in my life. All the time, coming up to me, talking to me and shit “Yo, you on Fool’s Gold?”

MW: You know damn well that’s gonna pick up more and more.

MC: Of course, I’m ready to start working on the next shit already.

MW: I bet you are. I’ve been listening to the album and there’s a lot of growth in there. Especially from “Is This Art” and other projects

MC: Thank you.

MW: It’s personal and you’re the same, but I was listening to [the album] and I did the Car Test the other day with it, sat in the whip and just vibed out to it. There’s a lot of personal shit, but it’s still relatable with ideas I feel other people don’t necessarily talk about.

MC: Yeah, I’m still not on that “Big Ass Rapper Level” yet so, I can still be relatable. I’m on my everyday shit like before you called me, I was cleaning my house.

MW: Facts. That’s what the people flock to; the fake shit only last so long.

MC: Still drunk as shit

MW: What you do last night

MC: My engineer and I were trying two different tequilas.

MW: What were you drinking, which ones? I work at a liquor store part-time.

MC: One of them was called Casa Noble, it’s from Mexico. My mom went there and she bought it for me, for a gift when she came back. He had this trash shit, some ugly shit some silver tequila and we were drinking both, trying to spot the differences and the differences were obvious very vast.

MW: Yeah I can’t drink tequila. I had a party in college and we played, I was like 19 years old, and we played flip cup with tequila. That was a bad choice—tequila. That’s your go-to? Tequila?

MC: Hell no! Cognac is my go-to but I just had that bottle, it was supposed to be special. So I drank half the other day and then last night I was like “I haven’t celebrated with my engineer yet” and we did this album together so I brought that to the studio and we just got smashed. He was very drunk like you don’t know Rob and shit, but he was fuckin’ belligerent drunk. I had a session, I booked an hour and I ended up staying for the next dude’s session.

MW: That’s fuckin’ hilarious. That’s chill though.

MC: It was cool, today, I got up like “Damn, I got to get my shit together.” My girl said her family is coming here today and we smoke all in the house, so you know I was just cleaning up the crib to make sure it doesn’t smell like weed.

MW: Get it all presentable.

MC: And then she just told us they’re probably not even coming inside, so I’m sick right now.

MW: Nah don’t be sick, yo, the best is chilling and sitting on the couch in a clean ass house and lighting up, just chillin’ in a clean ass house there’s no better feeling than that. There really isn’t, like everything smells mad good (laughs)

MC: Yeah no bullshit, because once my house is clean, I’m doing the same thing I do every time. I’m just walking around the house, smiling, looking at everything.

MW: So, a couple of favorites off the album, definitely “These Days” and “Everybody Eat” with (Cousin) Stizz, what’s your favorite if you had to pick?

MC: My favorites, well my favorite if I had to pick, probably “Upset” is my number one favorite joint. Then “Not For Me” and “Growing up” both make me really happy too. I teared up at the end of “Not For Me”. One time I was listening to it before it came out with the guitar solo at the end. It was the like day after we laid that down. It was my homie who works at Bodega. I was listening to it, while playing 2K and I just started tearing up when I heard the fucking guitar solo like “Yo, this guitar solo is so good!”

MW: That was beautiful.

MC: The thing is, it took him so long to do it because he kept trying over and over and over. Trying different shit and I was like “Yo, play this next one like you won’t get to play it again. Play it like we’re at a show and if you fuck this up, you just fucked up the show.” That’s when he played the one that we kept, so everything came together so tight, it was like a movie.

MW: He just needed that little bit of push.

MC: Yeah literally, halfway through, he would stop like “We got to clean that up” and I’m like “No, we’re not cleaning shit up.”

MW: I’ve noticed that, especially with live music players, in studios, they’re even more particular than artists or producers are with something that you may not even hear, that they hear.

MC: Exactly. There’s another track that you had, and I can’t think of the name of it off top, but it was about one of your teachers. They gave a speech about how it was for you growing up and you said he was talking to you about how you came home and you thought everyone’s family was like your family. Oh yeah, yeah, that was “Growing Up”.

MW: Yup

MC: So what happened was, this girl said her parents were going to pick her up from school and I was confused by that because both of my parents never do anything together. They didn’t live together so I assumed, I was confused, I was like “Your parents live together? Parents don’t live together” that’s what I said.

MW: What age was this?

MC: That was in kindergarten or the first grade.

MW: Oh, yeah, you were just confused.

MC: Yeah I was so little, I was just like, “What The Fuck”, I wasn’t sad or anything. I never dreamed of having my parents be together because they were never together. There was no like “Oh, I want my dad and my mom back together” or nothing like that. Yeah, it’s just two grown-up n****s that I call every day

MW: Listening to that, it was tough to listen to, not tough but you could feel it. The song had already hit you. So when that speech came on, it was already a beautiful song but my arm hairs started to stand up a little bit. It was like, anytime someone you know, or a teacher is talking about an encounter with a child it’s always going to draw some type of emotion. When it’s something that has to do with family, it fit beautifully.

MC: It’s wild because since I started dating my girl, I’ve learned more about how people grow up and shit. She grew up and had the perfect school career and was a good kid. Her mom was a great mom and her mom was older. You know, my mom was young and dad was young. My family is all over the place (laughs). We’ve been all over the place, so I’ve learned that I grew up very different from a lot of people. I went to like seven different schools, mad shit. So, recently, I’ve become proud of some of these, I wouldn’t call them setbacks but I call them differences. I’m just different and these differences are what made me this way.

MW: Exactly and now you’re realizing it at a perfect time in your life, where it fits the music that you’ve already been making.

MC: Yup, we had a party the other day for the album and my mom and my dad were in there, fucked up with me. My mom was clutching the champagne bottle all night and I’m like “Nobody’s parents are doing this.” Nobody’s parents were turnt up like mine and it’s funny because all my life, all the other kids always said they wish their parents were like my parents.

MW: It’s funny to think about how you were confused about all that and now, it’s like the dynamic that they had when they were not together, kind of made you, well it made them, more of your homies than traditional parents. So now looking back, people are like “Damn I wish my parents were like that” when most parents were traditional family parents, so you wouldn’t think of it that way.

MC: Yes exactly, it’s more from my dad really because my mom was pretty strict when I was a kid. She was on my ass daily, yelling a lot. Now that I’m grown, and I could take care of myself, she comes to me when she needs to talk. I’m like the only adult that’s not connected to the rest of the adults in her life like that. So, I have my own outside perspective.

MW: So she can appreciate that.

MC: Whenever she needs to talk to somebody, she immediately comes to me and I’m like “Whatever you need”. You know my mom is the homie now but it wasn’t always like that. With my dad, it was always like that. [My dad and I] bet that my mom wouldn’t show up to the party, even though I knew she was coming. She doesn’t usually come, she doesn’t usually go to shit because she doesn’t like being out with all the young people. So I called her the day before the party like “You know you got to come” and she was like “Alright.” So she pulled up with her homegirl and we were in there getting folded. One of my roommates is a huge fan of my mom, she wants to be like my mom when she gets older, and they were getting drunk together, it was funny as hell.

MW: So you mentioned Bodega a little while ago. Everybody knows there’s a relationship with you and Bodega there, can you give a little info on what Bodega is to you and how it influenced your career as an artist, as an individual aside from music…?

MC: Well, Bodega, more than anything, is a place that when I was always down there. I just wanted to shop there. Everybody in there was dressed so cool and anybody who was coming in there was buying fly shit. I always wanted to be able to do that but I couldn’t. Then I really wanted to get a job there when I was like 16 or 17 and they wouldn’t hire me but I was still coming all the time, with my friends. At one point, we got in trouble there so much that we weren’t supposed to go there anymore. Fast forward, we’re in town, we start doing our rap shit, it’s working and we’re cooperating.

We’re not fucking the store up (laughs). Now, it’s a hub for us to go get kicks, we buy shit and we know everybody that works there. There’s no reason not to kick it there and it’s kind of a central location because of where it’s at in the city and when you go there you can get anywhere from there. Whenever I need to kill time, I just go kick it at Bodega, chop it up with them, buy some shit, they always hold me down with the kicks. I just got them off-white ones, we went there the other day, you know what I’m saying. They’re just the homies, but more than anything else, I don’t feel like any other stores here really hold a candle to them. As far as what they do with the streetwear, selling kicks, the style of the actual store itself, everything about Bodega. I think it’s just better than all the other streetwear shops in the city, that’s really what it is.

Yeah, they do a lot of cool shit, they throw the homies little fuckin’ modeling gigs, every once in a while. A bunch of my homies, who didn’t even have a job, like, I’ll go there and they’ll be there working now and I’m like “Oh shit, you work here now?” They always support me, for the most part, when I go in there. They always know what’s up when I put out albums, they held them down, they carried my merch in there for a little bit when I had my hats, so it’s just the spot.

MW: For real, I don’t want to keep you on the phone all night, so the last question: what’s something the average fan might not know about you? Something they might not be able to find in another interview?

MC: Oh alright, I’m really good at swimming, like I’m nice.

MW: At swimming? Like you can do the high dive and all that?

MC: Nah, I can dive but I never dive off like the big ass platform, but I can dive. I was trained in all of this shit. I went camping for like four years straight and ended up being a junior lifeguard, so I’m nice at swimming.

MW: Wow, so did you compete or anything? If you were a lifeguard, you had to be pretty serious.

MC: No, every day there were two forms of swimming. They had an instructional swim [course]. If you were good, you used to do drills the whole time, and that’s what I was doing by like my second session. Then you have a free swim [lesson], everybody kickin’ it or whatever but during an instructional swim [course], they’d have us doing shit because we were 12 foot [deep]. They would throw this, like, black brick at the bottom of the pool and they would do shit like you’d have to dive to the bottom of the pool and get the brick and swim up to the top but you can’t kick off the floor.

MW: Damn, that’s intense.

MC: Yeah, drills like that, doing like five or six laps down the whole length of the pool, I should be shredded. (laughs)

MW: (Laughing) Are you still swimming?

MC: I don’t have a place to swim. The last time I was swimming, was me and my DJ, did a show in Michigan and the hotel had a pool that was open all night. There was a basketball court right next to the pool, so we hooped for like 2 hours and then we went swimming for like 2 hours. That was like the last time I got to swim, but I realized I still got it.

Role Model can be streamed below:

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Matt Whitlock manages a liquor store and listens to Rap music. He also enjoys short blunt walks to the refrigerator, watching movies with the sound off, and just plain chillin’. You can tweet at him here

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