YouKnowIGotSoul had the opportunity to talk with Mass Pike Miles discussing everything from his lessons learned from being signed to Warner Bros. at age 11, taking a page from Donell Jones and Mary J. Blige on his upcoming album, what he’s been able to learn from Rick Ross, and his desire to work with Shyne in the future.
YouKnowIGotsoul: Let me first ask you, coming from a Parisian and Cape Verdean background, is it safe to say you are the only one with those mix of nationalities doing music right now or have you met others?
Mass Pike Miles: Right, I’m not sure, but I think so!
YKIGS: Yea because I read in your bio that as a child you moved to Boston to be closer to the city’s large Cape Verdean community. My fiancé is actually Cape Verdean so I’m familiar with the communities in not only Boston, but Bridgeport, CT also. Do you feel like Cape Verdean’s show you a lot of love in supporting your career?
MPM: Yea, yea, it’s a very diverse culture and they definitely are supportive of my music wherever I go. Kind of like the Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans, they are going to support their own, from their country. That’s what they do with me, they show me a lot of support, they show me a lot of love, wherever I go.
YKIGS: Do you perform any Cape Verdean music or in Creole at all?
MPM: Nah, I can’t even speak it. I can’t speak it or none of that. I’m definitely supportive of all of the music, but I don’t do none of the music, I’m just straight hip hop and r&b.
YKIGS: So let me take it back to the beginning of your career. I was reading you were signed at the age of 11 as part of a group to Warner Bros. What was like being signed as an artist at such a young age?
MPM: It was different. Being a young dude, I didn’t even have enough time to dream. It was just something I liked to do. By the time I was signed, it was kind of overwhelming; I didn’t know what to do. Being on Warner Bros. was kind of a big deal, at the time I just didn’t know how to take it. I finally realized when I left the group how much it meant to me, as I got older, how much it meant.
YKIGS: So would you say you were able to learn a lot from that experience?
MPM: Oh yea I learned a lot and it made me grow into the person I am today. It taught me how to develop artists, it taught me musically…I mean business wise how the views were moving in the music industry and different things of that that nature. I learned a lot, and I’m learning every day, and a lot of the things I go through today, I could actually reflect on my past and my previous experience to deal with these new ones.
YKIGS: As a writer, tell me a little bit about where you draw most of your inspiration from and how that leads you to develop a song?
MPM: I draw my inspiration from life. Most of my songs are concept driven, so I think about everyday experiences, take a look at things my friends go through, or different people go through. Building a song, I like to build it from scratch. I pretty much mumble my words, I don’t like to write, I think we just do it off the top of the head. But when we all sit down and write there’s no easy way of doing it, because when you do r&b, there’s a whole bunch of things that go with it, it’s not just writing. It’s melodies, it’s harmonies, it’s a lot of different things that make an r&b record an r&b record.
YKIGS: Being someone who sings r&b, but doesn’t sing about traditional r&b topics, I find your style to be unique. A name that immediately came to mind when first hearing your music was TQ. Do you think there is anyone else doing what you are doing in r&b right now?
MPM: My music is diverse. A lot of people listen to my mixtape that I put out two years ago and they kind of base my music off of that mixtape. My mixtape was a point of time when I kind of felt a 2Pac “All Eyes On Me” type of vibe, you know it was kind of my introduction, so I had a lot of built of anger, a lot of built up anxiety, and I wanted to let the people hear me. As I’ve matured over the last couple years, I’ve developed new plans and new ways of letting the people hear my music. But basically, on this new music I’m doing, it’s well rounded, it’s getting away from the subjects…I’m trying to stay away from the same subjects that I was on before, and I’m more moving into the female driven record and things of that nature. So as far as anybody out there like me, there is a lot of people out there like me, there’s just not a lot of people that are me. So I’m not gonna say there is nobody out there doing what I’m doing, because r&b is r&b, and music is music, so I’m not gonna say there’s nobody like me. It’s been done before, this is just the way It’s being done now.
YKIGS: You mentioned 2Pac’s “All Eyes On Me” and that’s the way you felt when putting out the music on your mixtape. Since you do music that is different than traditional r&b, how are you accepted by your peers in r&b, have you ever been received negatively from other artists as a result?
MPM: You know what, I don’t get to really deal with r&b artists. I’m not really around singers. Where I’m doing shows is where the rappers are at, you know the Chitlin Circuit. So I’m not really around too many r&b singers, so you would probably need to tell me what they think! I don’t know honestly, I don’t even really know. I’m around all of these rappers all day, that’s my circle.
YKIGS: I had a chance to see your video for “Love Drunk,” tell me a little about this song and is this song going to be the first single off your upcoming album?
MPM: It’s the buzz single. You know me, I’ll shoot a million videos, I don’t care how much money it costs or whatever. But this is a record that Rico Love wrote; he’s a great writer who’s currently based in Miami, and produced by Street Runner who is also out of Miami. The record was well written. Street Runner sent me this record and I thought it was incredible. I was actually going through something in my life as far as my relationship went that kind of was similar to it. Not that exact same story line, but I felt kind of “Love Drunk” at the time and I felt like It was just a great thing to try out. When I did it, I actually fell in love with the record. My visual was already in my mind when I was doing the record on how I wanted people to see it, I wanted to take more of an artistic vibe, stay away from the cliché things like cars, scantily clad women. I wanted to take more of an artist approach, f*ck the Lamborghini, give some fire trucks and wet the floor like we in a movie.
YKIGS: Yea because I like that song, I’ve actually been playing it a lot since I first heard it.
MPM: Thank you, I appreciate that.
YKIGS: As a baseball fan, I have to ask about this video, I saw you rocking a Yankee hat in one scene, and a Red Sox hat in another, and I know you are from Boston, what’s up with that?
MPM: Well, if you look at the video, I’m kind of in a dream world, so whenever I’m with this shorty, I’m doing things I ain’t supposed to be doing. When I’m in the dream world, it’s bad business, I got the New York Yankee hat on, the girl is taking me in strange rooms with deranged people in them, and she’s taking me in a room where my boy is with my girl in the bed. So, it was basically being in a dream world and doing the things I ain’t supposed to be doing, so that’s why I put the New York hat on.
YKIGS: *Laughs* Ok that makes sense now.
YKIGS: Tell me about your upcoming album “The Struggle” that’s due out this summer.
MPM: Yep, that’s the name of the album. Basically, with this album, I want to pick up where Donell Jones left off, D’Angelo, and a slew of other individuals that infused r&b with hip hop and gave it swag. So, I’m basically taking a page out of Mary J. Blige’s book. I got some great beats, some of the greatest producers in the world, I got the best writers in the world, and it’s really heavily conceptual. I’m giving more of a lesson on this album, I’m giving something to think about with every record that I do. So it’s definitely going to be a classic.
YKIGS: Tell me about who will be featured on here, what producers you worked with and what writers you collaborated with for the album.
MPM: I mean we are going to keep it, as far as features, I’m going to keep that low until everything gets cleared. But as far as producers you know I got the Incredibles, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Cool and Dre, The Runners, my production team Tha Track Dealers, I got The Olympics, Unknown and Louis from Australia, The Formula and Nuthin But Hits from Canada. I got a slew of individuals that helped towards this album in making it a classic.
YKIGS: You are signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music record label, tell me what it’s like working with him and what you’ve learned from him?
MPM: It’s great working with him, I’ve learned a lot. Not too many people get to sit around people who actually make hits. Not too many people get to sit around people that you can actually see a record getting made and getting sent out in a month and it’s a big hit record. I learn a lot from dude because mentally he’s somewhere else. He just walks me through a lot of different avenues that I’ve got to travel down. He’s like a big brother to me, my mentor so to speak. He’s just a good dude, I learn a lot, I learn a lot from the dude, there’s isn’t much to say, I just learn a lot from the dude, he’s a good brother.
YKIGS: Tell me about a collaboration you haven’t had a chance to do with another artist that you’d like the chance to do at some point in your career?
MPM: Shyne, I want to do a joint with Shyne.
YKIGS: Ok, why would you choose him?
MPM: He’s just my favorite rapper. I like an underdog man, I like someone who keeps it 100. Not too many dudes are going to take ten years, take a football number, sit down, come home and then get back to it. He speaks a real language, I like a dude like that. But yea, I want to do a joint with Shyne.
YKIGS: Tell me, what do you currently have in your cd player right now?
MPM: I got Shyne in my cd player, Common’s “Finder Forever,” I got MIA in there, Smoke Bulga, Rushya, Triple C’s, Ross, that’s basically it. I got Khaled in there too. That’s basically it though. I’m working on this new Jordan Tower album right now too. He’s coming out with his album, so I’m helping A&R that project as well. So he about to do a whole album with the video shot for every joint, that’s going to be big. That’s it right now.
YKIGS: Besides your upcoming album and this Jordan Tower project you just mentioned, is there anything else you have in the works or any future projects lined up?
MPM: I mean I got my artist Smoke Bulga, and he’s my business partner, we own a business company called Life 4 Life. I got Rushya man, that’s my clique, and then my brother Jordan Tower, we just doing these videos man, that’s it. I ain’t gonna say I got clothing lines and this and that, but I’m just grinding my dude.
YKIGS: Yea I mean I’ve read that you are expanding your brand by getting into other ventures such as appearing in movies, creating a DVD, starting a bottled water company and starting your own record label. What is the importance to you of branching out from just music?
MPM: I feel it’s important, you don’t know what’s gonna move for you. You don’t wanna focus on one thing and put all of your eggs into one basket, because you don’t know if that basket is the right basket. So I constantly move and try and stay on top of everything. I’ve never been a person to sit down and focus on one thing, I like to multi-task. When I was eight or nine years old and I was in class running around, they wanted to give me Ritalin and all types of drugs to calm my ass down with my ADD. So I like to do four or five things at one time. You know the other day I was at the studio, and they had a whole nother studio, and I just booked two studios at the same time. So I’m recording in one, writing in the other, and just going back and forth. I don’t know, I just like to multi-task. I even got a water company in Boston where we sell bottled water. It’s a lot of things, I’m just grinding.
YKIGS: That’s all I’ve got prepared, is there anything else you’d like to add and leave off with?
MPM: Well, I got this new mixtape coming with DJ Drama, “Gangsta Grillz: Rhythm and Street Edition,” coming soon, that will be out towards the end of May. “The Struggle” coming soon and just be on the lookout, I’m on the grind.