Rappers often talking about being on a grind. But Michael McNair — known in local circles and beyond as Mic Skills — is glad to finally be changing up his habits. He suffered a car accident in early 2011, which sidelined not only his music, but life in general.
“My daily routine was wake up, pain, pills, physical therapy, Icy Hot, chiropractor, more pain, more pills, insurance and lawyer drama, more pain, more pills then sleep everyday — for six months,” he says.
“Now I’m in the best shape of my life.”
It’s time, then, to party. Mic Skills’ is also celebrating the six-year anniversary of his Mission Control parties, which showcase emerging rap, hip-hip and urban artists. This will be his first public performance since the accident.
What do you remember about the first Mission Control party?
The first Mission Control party happened almost by chance. Sxnxmoh, the co-creator Mission Control, and I were booked at Helios (now AvantGarden) for a show. The owner asked if we wanted to host a weekly party starting the next Friday. There were maybe 40 or so people, but it felt like 400. We didn’t have a DJ, so I played music off my laptop and ran sound all night.
How have the events changed over the years?
The most notable difference is me. I know what I’m doing now. When we started, we had no idea what we were doing, but because it was a weekly party we caught on fast. Sxnxmoh left four months later, and it was all on me. Mission Control relaunched at Clark’s, and later Notsuoh, as a monthly. I’ve had a few partners since then but none that share my ultimate vision. It’s become a real business, and I have the final say. It’s all about control. Pun intended.
Has the Houston scene been receptive to what you’re doing?
To say the scene was not receptive is an understatement. The underground is the grimiest part of the industry because people will do any and everything to get to the next level. Sxnxmoh and I could not, consistently at least, get shows in Houston. We hit the road almost every weekend to perform in Austin, San Marcos or San Antonio — only to come back home to play open mics. There were a lot of tense moments, backstabbing, fights, a few diss records and even sabotage. After releasing a compilation with Scion, people began to take me and Mission Control seriously.
What’s the biggest challenge as a local rap artist?
Houston’s hip-hop identity in the mainstream is UGK, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, DJ Screw, Scarface, etc. Then there are artists like me who are absolutely nothing like the ‘Houston sound.’ People think too much into that stuff. It’s easier to be myself. Be patient, manage your time and work with a sense of urgency. Get out of your comfort zone. Treat it like a business, because it is. I’ve toured the U.S. and Canada as an independent artist. There are a ton of music fans outside the 610 Loop.
Has it been challenging getting back on track since the accident?
I was rear-ended while waiting at a red light. My car was totaled. I was working on my second album. There were days where the pain was so excruciating that I could not walk. My family and close friends were there for me, but a lot of artists, producers and friends I’ve supported over the years were nowhere to be found when I needed them. A few even turned their back on me or worse, downplayed the severity of my accident. That really hurt, but I used it as motivation.
Have you gotten back on track with a new album?
My current project is a concept album called “Superfisho.” It plays on the word superficial and shares the name of my blog. A lot of the songs are affirmations. The lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek. I poke fun at society and really at everyone, including myself. The production is epic, almost like a movie score. It’s almost entirely my vocals. No skits, just music. It’s haunting. Its inspiring. Its “Superfisho.”
What’s the ideal gift for a sixth anniversary?
A candy-colored Scion would be nice. And a pair of Kanye’s Nike Air Yeezy II.
Mission Control sixth anniversary party
With: Mic Skills, Kidd the Great, Rad, Hero, Dirty & Nasty
When: 10 p.m. Friday
Where: Jet Lounge, 1515 Pease
Tickets: $5; 713-659-2000 or micskills.com