Mickey Factz rises from the mailroom to the studio

Miriam Arghandiwal

People try to measure their progression in various ways. Some compare themselves with those who came before them, others compare themselves with their present competitors and some even compare themselves on a scale of what others have the potential to be.

For emcee Mickey Factz, born Mickey Williams, the scale of measuring progression is much simpler than that. Recognizing that he is an individual traveling on his own untried road, the only person Williams believes he should be compared with is himself.

“I look at what I did the last day and I try to make sure that I do better than the day before,” Williams said.

Bettering himself is the concept of his new mixtape, “I’m Better than You.” By “you” he means himself.

Williams said he created “I’m Better than You,” to show what hip-hop is really meant to be; dancing and enjoying life and enjoying one’s achievements.

The mixtape tells listeners that life is not about only having the options of the poor or about doing enough to get by. Instead, it is about having the option of being something greater and taking advantage of that option.

“I encourage everybody to live their dreams, follow their hearts and follow their dreams, because in the end of the day you got to love what you do,” Williams said, “you gotta wake up every morning to do what you love.”

Williams himself had to make a lot of difficult decisions before he was able to look himself in the mirror and be content with what he saw.

The 24-year-old emcee originally worked in a mailroom and left that job for hopes of pursuing a career as an attorney. He went to the University of New York for law school only to drop out when he realized he had bigger dreams. A road to success and wealth in law was not enough for the emcee; he had to give into his passion.

Williams then traded in his schoolbooks for microphone.

“Mind saying stay heart saying let’s go, NYU yes yo, the school where the best go, I was sick of the statue and law shit I swear to God I hated that classroom I was forced in,” he raps in the track “Get By.”

Williams has since then created the music sensation that is now known as Mickey Factz, an up-and-coming rapper who has been featured on the cover of XXL’s Freshman 2009, worked with artists such as Drake, B.O.B and Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes and was recently signed to Battery Records.

Using the Internet as his medium to spread his music, Williams has created a unique electro-sound in the underground hip-hop community. While he maintains the originality of an underground artist he shows that fun-pop beats can be used for more than just shallow mainstream lyrics.

With “I’m Better than You,” Williams wanted to put out material his listeners could to relate to.

“This mixtape is a mixture of Havens Fallout and Leak volume 2, the lyricism that they’ve (his fans) been wanting from me and (they) also get a personal side of me,” he said. “It’s different from anything I’ve done before.”

Although the album has fun, up-beat tracks like “Mona Lisa,” Williams also takes time to rap about serious issues in tracks like “Melodic Nightmares.” He makes his music for those who grieve he said.

“I don’t want to go to sleep with these thoughts in my head, if I don’t face what I fear, how will I overcome my nightmares, do I face these ordeals or deal with a melody I don’t feel” he raps in “Melodic Nightmares.”

Williams addresses a number of criticisms on the mixtape including concerns of his fans that he is not rapping about content he is capable of and the hardships of losing friends while pursing his career.

“I did a commercial now I’m a sell out, Mickey went and worked with Honda, now I’m shut out, still new to the game, I see what I want, It’s time to get mine,” he raps in “Get By.”

Williams said selling out or labels gaining too much control of his work are not things he worries about because he always does what he wants to do.

“As long as you stay true to yourself and continue to be the lyricist you are then it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

Williams looks forward to embracing a mainstream career in hopes of touching more people.

“The sound of the music may change and it might be a little more pop but for me I think every artist should try to be bigger than what they came out to be, because you want to reach as many people as you possibly can,” Williams said. “If that means going mainstream to reach a wider audience, then I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

In a comparison of hip-hop heavyweights Nas and Jay Z, Factz explained how fans often confuse an artists’ lifestyle changing with artists selling out.

“I think every artist is true to themselves, for people to say Jay Z sold out then they really are complacent with life, how can you say somebody sold out (when) he came from the gutter, (and) he wanted to leave that place,” he said. “For him to talk about what he talked about in those albums and then gradually progress and talk about what he’s going through right now I don’t think that’s selling out I think that’s being who he is. He’s changed.”

Meanwhile artists like Nas who continue rapping about the same topics they started with are also staying true to themselves.

“Nas came from the biggest projects in NY, and he seems to drop knowledge even though he’s moved and has houses all over the country and he still wants to drop knowledge “cause he has a firm belief (in doing so),'” Williams said, “his lifestyle has change but his idealism hasn’t because he was always a poet, he always looked at what was going on.”

Similarly Williams said if he himself wanted to get out of an office, where he only knew mailroom terminology, to progress in a paralegal career and expand his speech, then he was not selling out but simply bettering himself.

Williams once said, “I wanna wake this industry up; have them take several doses of my pills and say goodbye to the Matrix.”

The emcee’s mixtape succeeds in doing just that by mixing the fun mainstream beats that catches our ears with the lyrical depth that keep fans loyal to the underground scene. This allows for his music to have no boundaries, and spread Williams’ message to a wide audience, which is his ultimate goal.

“(I am) a dreamer that wants to see mankind succeed through music,” Williams said.

Miriam Arghandiwal can be reached at [email protected]