Odd Future's Mike G's new project, Award Tour II, is now available to purchase on iTunes, and we have the exclusive debut stream of the entire five-song EP. This project is a sequel to his 2011 EP, Award Tour EP, which opened eyes to West Coast MC as an artist who can more than hold his own inside the Odd Future collective. For the project, Mike linked with up-and-comer Larry Susan for the only feature, while using production from Ace, the Creator, Mac Miller and more.
In addition to the exclusive stream of the project, we spoke with Mike G about how he has changed as an artist since his last release, what makes "Highlights" so special to him, what he has planned next, and more. Both the interview and stream of the project can be found below.
It's been a little over three years since the release of Award Tour. What's changed for you, musically?
Over the course of these years, specifically, I've focused on growing as a lyricist, as well as the construction of songs. There was a time period in which I was frustrated with things the music making process would bring, it becoming a 'process', included. I've learned to keep those emotions separate from writing and recording. In turn, I feel that brings a more enjoyable state, that shows in the end product.
The first Award Tour came when you guys, OF as a whole, were really starting to gain traction. Going into Award Tour II, has the experience changed for you creating this EP—in terms of deciding to make a follow-up of the same name, and wanting similar sounds?
Award Tour, in its self, was my representation of a search for the things you desire. I had no clue that project would even come along. This one happened the same way, in terms of being an opportunity I was presented with. The difference is the creative space I was allowed to be in, on top of me figuring out what works for myself. In the process of the first Award Tour EP, there were limitations present. People having even the least bit of control over how I make music and who Im able to work with, can potentially throw off many things. There are so many underlying variables that most don't see. I would say the experience is almost entirely different, and will continue to vary as time progresses.
A lot of people look at you, or refer to you, as OF's "secret weapon." You tend to keep a lower profile amongst the crew, too.
I can appreciate and embrace a title such as the 'secret weapon,' I vividly remember when that name was dubbed. I think we all need names like that, someone should take that time out of their day.
The first release off of this, "Highlights," you called your favorite song that you've made so far in your career. What makes that song so special to you?
As there are still songs that are more meaningful, "Highlights" is special to me honestly, because my favorite beat that Tyler has made. He originally made it for Jasper, in which I loved and was excited to hear. The beat had been sitting for years, I would listen to it repeatedly, practice DJ mixes with it, until eventually, I felt confident enough in what I had to say. I recorded both verses in one take, so I felt like Jay Z. Instant favorite.
How do you feel like you've come into your own as an artist over the last three or so years?
Growing as a person, man, and artist have all been a hand in hand journey, each circling around the next. I've always seen myself and my music as a more mature form of expression. I've learned more about the industry, seeing more of the world. Applying that to what I make.
What were you listening to while making Award Tour II and what are you taking inspiration from, artistically, these days?
During the process of creating this EP, I was listening to majority of Big K.R.I.T.'s projects, always Jay Z, and I re-visited older things I would play while making music such as stones throw artists like dabrye, and Flying Lotus. We started a radio station in which I do weekly mixes so that kept me on my toes with finding new songs to listen to. I like Young Thug right now, there's a level of understanding.
After Award Tour II drops, what do you have planned next?
Award Tour II will lay the ground work for my next project, I promised people a mixtape. I'm excited for that because i had put that on hold for this EP (worth it). If that's in the cards, it'll be soon, but if another opportunity presents itself in the way this one did, I'll take the chance!