Over the past 10 years, dancehall rapper Mr Midas has established himself as one of Britain’s leading MCs, releasing a series of underground singles and mixtapes and making his small screen debut alongside Jermaine Jackson in Channel 4′s hit reality TV show Musicool (above).
In the interview below, the award-winning rapper and TV presenter talks about his latest mixtape, The Midas Touch, and explains how the internet has changed the reggae and dancehall industry forever.
Back in 2006, you were the first independent artist we knew that successfully utilised Myspace to further their career. How has the internet and social media changed the music business?
The internet and social media has and shifted power and control away from the fat cats and into the hands of consumers;
It has taken over completely. Previously, artists needed a large contacts book and the backing of either a major producer or record company to get in touch with the right people.
But now, you can connect with anyone in the world almost instantly and generate sizable revenues online in a relatively short space of time.
Mixtape Yardy is one of the top distributors of dancehall and reggae mixes in the world. He’s designed, hosted and released my mixtapes, but I’ve never met him; everything is done online.
Is the reggae and dancehall scene in good condition?
I went to a party the other day and watched young people dancing to Beres Hammond like they were my parents’ age, and it made me think about how timeless our music is.
Internationally, Jamaican music is hugely influential and I don’t think that will ever change, but like the ocean; reggae and dancehall is forever changing, sometimes it’s rough and other times it’s smooth and calm.
From a British perspective, the past three years have been incredible. A scene has developed with credible artists such as Gappy Ranks who features on some of the biggest riddims; the new kid on the block Stylo G; and singers like Randy Valentine and Christopher Ellis.
Since 2010, we’ve been able to establish quality artists, producers and a network of DJs pushing our music all over the world. I think now, internationally there is a level of respect shown to British music that’s been missing for a while.
Tell us about your latest mixtape…
The Midas Touch Mixtape is not for or about the industry; it’s really like a thank you present to everyone who has supported me over the years; the best thing I could give them is the Midas touch.
How did the project come about?
I was doing some acting on a film called Surviving the Hood and on the set I met a producer called Speak World who’s worked with artists such as $toosh, Stylo G and Don Andre.
We started vibesing and he sent me a couple of riddims. I liked one of them, we went into the studio and I voiced a song called Snapback (below), which really worked.
We sent it to some DJs and the track just grew legs, getting airplay in Switzerland, Gambia and the US from one of Miami’s biggest dancehall DJs, Waggy T – and locally on BBC 1Xtra, Choice FM and Bang Radio.
After that, we started working on the Midas Touch Mixtape with the idea of developing something credible with a dancehall vibe that I could give away to my fans and followers.
Speak World and I are both multi-layered individuals and really wanted to do something outside the box to reflect that.
Who did you collaborate with on this project?
British artists Reddman UK and Jai Amore on Missy Boasy; a Miami-based artist, Scotch Bonnet, on Cold Hearted, and Randy Valentine on a track called Not Going Home Alone, which I really enjoyed working on.
How has the mixtape been received?
It’s had a great response internationally, mainly because it’s got a nice balance of British, Jamaican and American flavours.
Speak World and I think alike and we both wanted the project to have global appeal so the final touch was to ask DJ English Fire to host it – he’s part of Black Chiney and has a lot of links in Miami – and then we brought in Mixtape Yardy to release it.
What is the one thing you would most like to change about your industry?
I’d like to improve the level of professionalism. The only bad thing about the advances in technology such as the internet and social media is that once something becomes accessible to everyone, the standards drop – and that’s the same for all the parties involved: artists, producers and the media.
What advice do you have for a young person considering a career in the music business?
Learn your craft because this is a business. Be the best at whatever it is you want to do and keep it professional.