Rappers who eschew the image are few and far between, yet Auckland’s fresh-voiced Micxill is brightly making his way down such an unadorned path, with the release of his new debut ‘‘Granite’ EP.
Perhaps a result of having been exposed to the genre during a brief stint in LA from the ages of one to six, Michael Sapolu says he has always been immersed in rap.
“I was always interested in cyphers and freestyles from rappers like Canibus, and stuff like Immortal Technique, cause of the political thing. The lyrics in stuff like Jedi Mind Tricks, and overall for rappers like Eminem. I’ve always been amazed by their talent and expression.
Its unsurprising then that after returning to NZ he began rapping, at the young age of 10.
“I always listened to rap so I thought Id try my hand at it, recalls Micxill. “I was absolutely terrible, but went from busting freestyles and rapping to battling other people. A couple of years back, in high school, I don’t wanna boast, but I was quite the monstrous freestyler! I’ve always been hungry and ready to go… so the songwriting came about in high school too. It’s all up in my head, I just have to get it down.”
Micxill is pronounced ‘Mikes ill’.
“My real name is Michael –– pretty common name for a pretty ordinary guy. I figured that if there was a rap version for that name it would surely be ‘Micxill. Essentially it’s just a shorter way of saying ‘Michael is ill’ or ‘’dope’ –– that’s some generic street chat for you, haha! In this instance ‘Michael is ‘ill at the rap game’.”
Despite always being keen on developing a career in music, Micxill stepped aside for a time, due to familys wishes, studying at the University of Auckland, and graduating with a Bachelor of Law.
“The ‘Granite’ EP is stuff from the last two years… I’d write on the train, at night after work (with lots of coffee), wherever the moment struck me. I got beats from friends and overseas producers and just spent hours in the studio.”
The impressive five-track release is thus a mixtape of his best work over the last two years. Lyrically, it explores his artistic journey, hopes and dreams, with the wittiness and intelligence of a well-versed freestyler: ‘pockets full of hope, walk a tight rope’.
Lead single, Gimme This sees Micxill demonstrating his lyrical and technical versatility over an up-tempo beat – the vocal hook irresistible. The following four tracks feature similar vibes, fast-paced (mostly) verse/chorus rapping over quality synth beats, with Abby Hauraki adding some delightful female bvs on Minute. Get Past (a bonus sixth track available on Micxill’s SoundCloud) is a sonically darker affair.
“That was actually a last minute throw-in. It’s a good reflection of the old Micxill. The five songs preceding it are the new Micxill. But I love Get Past, it’s my favourite track.”
Intent on being influenced by a variety of new musical sources while listening to his faves, Micxill currently dabbles in the sonically polar worlds of Queen and Waka Flocka Flame. It’s not only his musical tastes that are growing but his abilities and ambitions too. Recording a debut album is now high on his to-do list.