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Mic Kellogg Keeps It Mellow

Jan. 19, 2016
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Photo by Kenny Hoopla
Producer/rapper Mic Kellogg doesn’t claim complete credit for the easy, laidback aesthetic of his debut LP, Breakfast. He gives some of it to the cranky neighbor he lived above while he was recording the album.

“To be honest, he was cranky for all the right reasons, because I’m the loudest, most obnoxious neighbor you can imagine,” says Kellogg. “I play the speakers all day, and I’m always just like blasting bass. And I think because I’m such a night owl, it forced me to tone things back a little bit. I couldn’t be in my room making trap beats at 3 a.m.; I wanted to listen to something a little more relaxing when it’s that late, so that’s what I ended up making, beats that were less drum-driven. I wanted a sound that spoke to me, but also that wouldn’t wake up my neighbors.”

The 23-year-old’s name also shaped his airy, accessible sound; it’s hard to be brooding or obtuse when you share a name with a cereal company. Kellogg is his real last name, and his family always embraced the Kellogg’s connection. They collected Kellogg’s memorabilia, and displayed cereal bowls all over their house. So the album began with Kellogg writing about what he knew: breakfast.

A showcase for his smooth, mellowed-out production and rubbery, Chance the Rapper-esque flow, his song “Breakfast” caught the attention of Pigeons and Planes, an influential rap blog that’s shown a great deal of interest in the Milwaukee hip-hop scene over the last couple of years. “Once I saw the response from that song, I realized it was more than just a song,” Kellogg says. “It felt like a movement. And so I just kept working on songs that had a similar feel, and sooner or later I had an album.”

With its bathrobe and Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle vibe, Breakfast was one of the most pleasant surprises from Milwaukee’s rap scene last year. Kellogg plans to keep running with that aesthetic. “I like the relaxedness of it,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I’ve always wanted to sing. I feel like if I had the voice, I’d be making some soulful R&B—like, I’m super inspired by Anthony Hamilton. Unfortunately I don’t have a that good singing voice, but this melodic style of sing-song rapping just really worked for me; it allows me to hit the notes I need to.”

The album features guest spots from a couple of prominent artists from Milwaukee’s New Age Narcissism circle: singer Siren and rapper WebsterX, who Kellogg credits for convincing him to move to Milwaukee.

“I’m from Madison, but I moved out to Colorado when I was 18, right after I graduated high school,” Kellogg says. “I was sort of bumming around out there. I was producing music and learning different production programs, but in all honesty, I was just skiing every day and not going to school and just like not pursuing any of my dreams. But I knew WebsterX through a friend of a friend, and one day him and I were Skype chatting, and I was telling him how interested I was in music. And he was like, ‘You know what, you should move out to Milwaukee. The scene is really popping here.’ And that inspired me. I think I packed up and moved in less than a week after that call.”

The timing of the move couldn’t have been much better; Kellogg joined the Milwaukee scene just as it was beginning to take off. WebsterX was finishing up his breakthrough album Desperate Youth, and he included the first track Kellogg recorded in Milwaukee on it, “Cream City.”

Kellogg’s been building on that momentum ever since, and he’ll look to keep it going this year with a series of singles he’s preparing, as well as some music videos he hopes will expand his profile.

“I manage myself right now, and that’s really satisfying,” he says. “There’s no one over me saying, ‘You’ve got to do this; you’ve got to do that.’ I literally do everything myself, so it allows me to have full creative control over all this, and to just keep dreaming bigger and bigger.”

Listen to the record below:

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