Musical genre labels are a funny thing. Terms like “underground” hip hop and “indie” rock exist to attract fans who define their tastes outside the mainstream noise, but what happens when the acts belonging to these categories net themselves an enormous following? The classic case is that of Kurt Cobain and his unwanted yet astronomical success with Nirvana, but I’m going to use this platform to illuminate another northwestern subterranean dweller: Micah B. Their sounds are different but the mentality is similar. Seems there’s just something about spooky Washington state that breeds artists flying delightedly below the commercial radar, several of whom wind up wildly successful. With 30,000 Twitter followers, 2,300 fans on Facebook and 45,000 plays of the first track to leak from his upcoming release on YouTube, Micah B could be the next to break.
Of course there is a flaw, Micah is a tease. I say this not because he promises to deliver and then disappoints, in fact quite the opposite is true. Instead, it’s because his songs dump you right after you’ve been hooked. However, aside from the fact that his longest piece is just short of two minutes, this recent high school grad fills that handicapping space with enough poetic punch to make us forgive him. At least for now.
The aforementioned single to leak from his Zom-B Mixtape (available now), “When I’m High,” is one of those songs. Jerking tears precipitous as Seattle’s infamous rain, this overcast song’s content is contrary to what its ironic title might have you thinking at first glance. It chronicles the familiar saga of a love lost with Micah relating the gap between his ecstatic highs and grim lows using rhymes like “I don’t really trip cause the walls closed in/ I’m settin’ shop down like the spot’s closin’/ stonin’ I’m lookin’ like the chosen/ my Jesus piece gleams off the sun and stays frozen” that hit home for anyone who’s ever experienced the creeping onset of deep-seated depression.
A perkier yet equally witty Micah is put on display in “Say Something Freeverse,” a playful beat that lays framework for his entertaining ego to shine. From channeling rock legend Warren Zevon in rap form through lines like “Sleep when I’m dead no slumber for a hustler” to cringe-worthy but guiltily gratifying statements of self affirmation like “I’m hot dog, plenty mustard,” Micah proves here he’s capable of making you smile if nothing else.
The play counts and fan interaction on his various web pages speak not only for the success of his budding career, but also for the fact that growing a movement organically with no support from a label is more possible now than ever if you have the right formula. Check him out around the web, and be sure to grab a copy of the recently released Zom-B Mixtape!