I saw Mickey Woods, Jr. for the first time at a Hustlegrade show at Alley Kat a couple weeks ago. He performed a set that I couldn’t forget, mostly because he ran his own song back because he couldn’t believe how hard his own bars hit. I had to get the scoop on this up-and-coming artist, so I hit him up for an interview…

Hope Carter: I’m not cool, so I don’t know people a lot of times, but the thing that got me was – I can’t even call it a rap…you did poetry over the “Bag Lady” track?

Mickey Woods, Jr.: So, funny story…that actually is not a verse for a song. It is a poem, and when I first did it I was in college, maybe two years ago.

HC: Well it was dope. It was the vibiest thing I heard all night. Many times, after a long show, things all start to sound the same, so your poetry was refreshing. Tell me a bit about your writing style and how you come up with music and poetry.

MWJ: It takes me the longest to write the first line. Then after I get that down, that structure, I guess the rest of it comes easy. Then I will spend an hour to two days trying to figure out the direction I wanna go in, ‘cause that’s important. That’s the first thing people hear from you on the song.

HC: Do you have your beats already? Or are you just like, “I’m gonna write a whole bunch of stuff?”

MWJ: It’s either/or. Sometimes, someone will send me a beat and I’ll be like, “I gotta write to this.” Sometimes I just feel like writing. Plus, I keep a beat in my head, so I’ll know which tempo…or if I just wanna keep it pure literature or poetry, I can do that.

HC: Cool. Well, tell me about your subject matter. What influences that?

MWJ: Just real life experiences. I really don’t like to say much. I like to get by myself after I’ve been out somewhere or been with some people and just write down the things that I’ve seen – what people said…most of the time the things that people say I can make into subject matter. I can turn the theme of a sentence into a song that I find interesting. It’s really not that hard. I’m just really honest about the things that I see, bad or good, and I try to put my opinion in there somewhere just so you can see where I’m at with everything.

HC: At 24 years old, who are your musical influences?

MWJ: A lot of music isn’t hip hop, so a lot of my influences are people like Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Frank Ocean right now, Kendrick Lamar, of course, Pimp C – I have to say Pimp C because he’s from Port Arthur, Sade…so like, the “Bag Lady” thing, you can see how I came up with that.

HC: You’re like a walking 102.1.

MWJ: (Laughs) Well, I listen to anything really. If I feel like something sounds good, I listen to it. I’m not biased at all.

HC: So, you’re from Port Arthur?

MWJ: Yeah, I’m from Port Arthur, TX.

HC: There’s a few legends from there. Tell me about growing up.

MWJ: Growing up, I loved music, I just never did it as a real thing. I loved basketball. I went to school for basketball and I was supposed to go play overseas but I found that my passion for music was kind of overtaking it. Even in school, I played all four years but I would go back to my dorm room and write. My upbringing – Port Arthur’s a small town so I really wasn’t exposed to much besides the negative side of Port Arthur. That’s all you hear; it’s not a good light shined on it at all, but there were bright spots: I traveled, I was a real sporty kid, I grew up in a house with both parents who have been married my whole life…now that I talk about it, it’s really not that interesting (laughs).

HC: So, you said you write about stuff that you see…what have you seen?

MWJ: I did a song called “Designated Driver” that’s basically just telling my friends, “No matter what kind of shit you get into at night, if you call, I’ma come scoop you.” That came from me always having to go pick up my friends. One of my best friends called me one night and he was drunk and probably high at the same time, trippin’. He almost had three fights in the club and someone else called me, then he called me. I went and picked him up and we had a conversation about it. I never told him I was gonna make a song about it, it just kinda happened.

HC: Was that the guy on stage with you?

MWJ: No, it wasn’t, but that was another one of my best friends. You have different purposes for different friends, and we were always like that. We would stay up at night trying to write songs, being corny, so it was only right. I knew it would be him.

HC: I can sense you’re a really good guy. You don’t curse much and you’re the one your friends call on for help.

MWJ: Yeah, it’s a personal decision. I just try not to be “that” dude. I know there are people like “that,” and I just try to be as honest and down-to-earth as possible. People can give off weird vibes, and I don’t wanna be that person to be awkward. I just don’t wanna be weird…which I kinda am, but I don’t want people to not wanna interact with me.

HC: Are you doing music full time?

MWJ: I have a 9 to 5, but I keep leaving them. I have three right now and I have had about 20 jobs. Every time I leave one or get fired, I kinda think, “I’ma remember this when I make it!” Where do you work?

HC: Who’s interviewing who, here, Mickey?

MWJ: (Laughs)

HC: You chill. If you could work with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
MWJ: Frank Ocean and Erykah Badu – let’s get those out of the way. I wanna work with Pharrell, for some reason –

HC: Because he’s awesome?

MWJ: OK. Yes. That’s why (laughs). I guess I could pick Pimp C, production-wise. I wouldn’t want to rap with him or him to feature me on a track, but I would want him to produce track. Hmm…who else? Oohh…I’d say Lauryn Hill.

HC: Well I hope she shows up on time. What are you working on now?

MWJ: I’m working on a series of songs. I’ve been titling them “1 out of 7,” 2 out of 7,” stuff like that. I’m trying to force myself to put out music more consistently. Some are finished, some aren’t. I’m just working on a series of seven songs that tell a story about me. The first story I told is called “Rodeo,” and it’s like “Designated Driver Part Two” but not at the same time, because it wasn’t that serious. It’s just like “We gon’ flip through the city and chill and talk about some real shit.” I was kinda anxious to put out “These Days” because…it’s a lot of shit on there. A lot of the stuff I put out, even though I put a lot of time and effort into it, I feel like it goes unnoticed. And I don’t wanna be the nigga that’s like, “Hey look at the cool shit I’m doing!” so I just put it in a song and I just tried to rap as good as I could. The third track should be coming out soon. Where I’m lacking as an artist is visuals. Those should be coming out soon…

Well, Mickey, we’ll be waiting.