M Davis

Discography of Mikial:

# Release title Total tracks Type of release is Imprint date Label
1 How You Like Us Now / Just Mik 6 Audio 2005 Ill Product
2 Aiwa (As I Was Always) 9 Audio 2013-06-19

Is life the ultimate inspiration for an artist? The answer may be a positive or a negative. But for singer-songwriter M Davis also known as Mikial it surely is one of the strongest forces that shaped his beliefs and made his songs an assertion of the self. In one of his creations Mikial chants, ‘this is me’: a Muslim, a black man appalled by the fact that ‘racism still exists’, son, father, husband, brother. The list continues as the one line ‘If I never said it before, now I’m saying it’ keeps playing in the background making music his platform for the ultimate expression. As if clarifying that it is within the paradigm of the here and the now, within the very frame of his music that the artist equipped with his life lessons will create a new identity not only for himself but for the hip-hop genre itself.

If there is one word that most closely describes Mikial’s music, it is ‘strong’. And why not, because this volcano of creativity is an eruption from a deep-rooted struggle. As the artist himself puts it, “My music represents my lifestyle and that’s an everyday struggle”. It is the tale of a fight for existence and identity of a small town boy who sets foot in California with the dream of making it big in the world of hip-hop. Back in the eighties when hip-hop itself was in its nascent stage, being a part of this lesser known genre was not an easy task. Brave as well. But this conflict that again and again makes itself heard in Mikial’s music goes far deeper than the personal frontier. It is also a dismal realization that more often than not, a good creation is sacrificed in exchange of fame and stardom. “I think it’s my personal gift to make music…and it’s sad that politics have affected hip hop where emcees are afraid to freely express themselves without some type of benefit other than creating beautiful music”, says he. Perhaps it is this awareness inside his heart that inspires Davis to stand against this popular culture of easy music and use words as his weapon to make a statement. It is evident everywhere, even in something as simple as his album title Halal which he describes as ‘the lost songs for the lost people’.

‘Driven by dreams’ and propelled by the music that he inherited from his mother, a Gospel singer, and his uncle who produced Bay Area legend Digital Underground, Davis has collaborated with some of the most revered musicians like ElevenFiftyNine, Kumasi, M-Team, Rza, Battlecat, RassKass, Cali Agents and OnBeats. This in itself is no mean achievement especially because he managed to accomplish it at a very early stage in his musical career. What sets him apart from many others in his generation is the way in which he has taken freestyling to an altogether new and hitherto unexplored height. The artist confirms his unique contribution to the arena of hip-hop as he says, “What Halal 2.1 will do is raise the bar for creativity in freestyle records, because people (do) freestyle songs, but I’m the only one to freestyle a whole record.” And it did. But that was more than eight years ago and the artist has truly moved on from his Halal days to embrace what the many tomorrows held in store for him.

Like Tennyson’s Ulysses who sees every experience as an arch that unfolds newer possibilities, Davis considers every new musical collaboration or entente as an opportunity to explore the limits of his own ability. But nothing satiates the urge to establish his own identity as an artist. That is the reason why even after collaborating with other creative minds in his own field Davis remains distinctly different in his own style. During the initial years of his musical career he came in contact with music producer Fanatik and the result was the album Just Like That which landed in the Minority Report. This new and prestigious ‘achievement’ brought Davis into the immediate attention of many established geniuses within the musical territory including Rasco who also expressed his desire to work with this new talent. But never did Davis lose his search for the path that would lead him to himself. While talking about Fanatik he says, “I was coming through my own door and we met up on the way” and continues, “I wanted to go on a different direction as an artist.”

By the time Davis started working on his third album AIWA he already completed recording four more out of which only one named Soundscape which he produced in collaboration with OnBeats, was released. But this imbalance between all the work done and the little that finally makes it to the audience never deviates or disillusions Davis. He is the die-hard optimist who garners new lessons and takes it as yet another learning curve. “Letting go and moving on to the next volume of material” is how he puts it. It is this quality of overpowering optimism that was once cited by Bin Rockin as the reason why he loved working with Mikial.

The dedication that marks all his creations also inspires Davis to know more not only about the song itself but about the entire process of album creation. “You don’t have to over-think the process, you will just have to accept” from both the creative and production standpoint, explains the artist. With this new awareness where one needs to “allow it to happen” and which is intertwined with the sense of more responsibility as an artist, Davis moved on to his third album AIWA. “I have always loved the ability to create art” confesses Davis. Like all great artist he wants his music to intrigue people and move them to discover within its framework their own song, their own music, their very own meaning. He visualizes his music as the canvass and his words as the paint brushes that would help his audience create their personal expressions. This is one of his ways to be ‘effective’ as an artist and a human being, to give back to the world and to outperform every single time. Even after years of exploring his genre of music Davis feels that he is still at the beginning of creating some sort of art that will challenge artists to be more creative and challenge people thought-provokingly on what he has to offer. “Honestly, I can say that I have been given my shot“, says Davies and quickly adds, “which in no way is over”. And with a new album on the anvil you can bet it is far from being over. It is just another beginning.

Tania Bhattacharya

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