It’s getting serious. Check out Mikkey Halsted’s feature on MTV’s Mixtape Daily. Congrats on the look, Mikk.
You would think that if Kanye West produced your demo with beats he hand-selected for you, you would be good to go. Now if that demo somehow found its way into the hands of Cash Money Records CEO Birdman, you’d definitely be topping the charts in no time. As a teenager, Mikkey Halsted was lucky enough to experience both of those scenarios, although things ended up not working out as planned.
Hailing from Chicago, Halsted was introduced to Kanye by his sister, Miss Criss, another artist West had been working with in 2001. Criss raved to the producer about her brother’s lyrical skills but it wasn’t until ‘Ye overheard Halsted freestyling that he began to really pay attention.
“Just going over to Kanye’s mama’s house, I used to be just kicking it, freestyling,” Halsted explained. “I really wasn’t taking hip-hop seriously at that point. I was into trying to make it to the NBA — I was a ballplayer. We got over there freestyling one time and he was like, ‘Damn, man, you’re really raw for real. Your sister wasn’t lying.’ He was like, ‘Man, take these beats, man, and see what you can do.’ “
Halsted came back the next day with three records finished, and the duo worked on a 15-song demo that made it to the executive offices of Cash Money Records.
“This is before Kanye went to the Roc and all that … got to Cash Money, they heard it. They went crazy. They actually tried to get Kanye and me to sign.”
Mikkey and his sister both signed and actually went on tour with the label, and although things did not ultimately work out with Cash Money, he built great relationships — Lil Wayne is still one of his good friends. Weezy shouted out Halsted in the October 2008 issue of XXL saying, “If anybody had me really get on my sh–, [it was] Mikkey.” Halsted also learned from the Cash Money work ethic.
“I learned the independent game from them and I saw how they grinded. I took the Cash Money grind and applied it to my own situation and with my work ethic. I saw Wayne [work], and me and Wayne kind of came up together in a way,” he said. “All of those things and all of those different people kind of made me who I am today.”
After a short stint signed to Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def imprint, Halsted found himself independent again — and relishing it. He hooked back up with Kanye’s onetime mentor and Grammy-winning producer, No ID, and the two have steadily been putting out mixtapes and releasing songs to the hip-hop blogosphere. They are currently working on an independent album called The Darkroom.
“It’s really going to be my first album and it’s really going to be done the way I want — the way No ID and I wanted to do it if we didn’t have any label interference,” Halsted said. “But it’s just a good thing. I’ve been through so many different things in a short period of time, so thank God I started as a teenager so, you know, you feel like you matured now, you ready for everything that’s coming.”