Mike Carson is an Director, Editor and blogger for the best rap blog in the game, ILLROOTS. He hails from Chicago, Illinois and is a mere 20 years old with a lot of great videos under his belt already. I can’t quite recall whether or not I’ve ever looked up to someone younger than me, but I definitely am inspired by the things Mike has been doing. I advise you get to know a little more about Mike below.
adeshola: What’s one thing that will never leave you growing up in Chicago?
mike: I’ve lived in different parts of the Chicago area, from the burbs to the city. One thing I can say about moving all around, is that I learned to respect and appreciate different cultures, as well as people from all walks of like. My elementary school was diverse, middle school was all black, High School was predominately caucasian, so I got a taste of everything growing up. I’d go to private school in the burbs, then in the summer go to the ‘Boys and Girls Club’ smack dab in the middle of the westside of the Chi. I had to learn how to adapt quickly.
adeshola: What piece of film made you want to get into directing?
mike: This is about to sound crazy. I’m only 20, so in 2001 right when DVD’s became popular, I remember watching the ‘Spy Kids’ behind the scenes feauturettes. Robert Rodriguez would always go in depth on how they shot certain scenes, as well as what post work was done to achieve the final comp. So at 9 years old this was intriguing to me, so I got my parents to buy me my first camera for Christmas that year. So I began shooting and editing at age 9.
adeshola: What director makes your jaw drop every time you see their work?
mike: Til this day I study and admire the work of Mark Romanek. He’s “retired” from music videos, but he’s the still the G.O.A.T. in my opinion. He’s shot everyone from Madonna to Hov, Red Hot Chili Peppers, NIN, Michael Jackson, etc.! The game needs him to come back and bless the industry with a few more.
adeshola: I see you talk about Portillo’s time and time again. For me their chocolate cake puts the Cake Boss to shame. What thing about Portillo’s makes you love them?
mike: Ha! Big Beef (pause) extra dipped with Cheddar cheese. Everytime.
adeshola: You have a series via your Instagram account called “Lil’ Boys Can’t Hang”. What do you want the world to know about your initiative to point out those young adolescents who can’t particularly hang with the big boys?
mike: Haha. I guess in our line of work, often times we’re up at all hours of the night, so someone is bound to pass out first. It’s really just me being silly at 2am. I’ve been exposed a few times myself actually.
adeshola: What are your thoughts on people who say, “Hip Hop Is Dead”?
mike: People who say that are closed-minded, and ignorant in a sense. I think rap is in an great place right now. There is something for everyone. If you can’t find anything new to listen to, you aren’t looking hard enough.
adeshola: What’s the goal for when #ILLROOTS3 drops?
mike: Initially when we relaunched back in August 2010, the focus shifted to making original content. Well around that same time our lives kinda changed, we dropped out of school, started working with G.O.O.D., and we couldn’t focus on our content as much. Now we’re in a place where we can get back to that, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of the original content that helped get us here. Also we’re improving the ILLROOTS experience (for a lack of better words), so the reader can enjoy the site more. It’s shaping out to be really fresh.
adeshola: Where did the idea for The ILLMORE come from? And why @ SXSW of all festivals?
mike: The ILLMORE is a collaboration between ILLROOTS and Scoremore Shows, a Texas based promotions company. It was created as almost an escape from all the SXSW showcases and hoopla. Kids can come chill at this mansion with their favorite rappers, rage, and just have a good genuine time during the hectic week of SXSW. And SXSW is the perfect outlet, because for one week every year, you get thousands of fans from around the world, and some of the music’s best artists all in one city. I can’t think of a better place for it to be.
adeshola: What’s the most memorable memory from the ‘Watch The Throne’ tour?
mike: Going to Ye’s old house on 79th, when the tour made it’s rounds to Chicago. (A bit of it was shown in one of the VOYR pieces.) Once word got out that Kanye and Jay-Z were on the block, it got crazy to say the least.
adeshola: When you hear ADESHOLA, what do you think?
mike: Black and White lifestyle photos.
adeshola: How’s it been working with Big Sean?
mike: Awesome. Sean’s a talented guy, who’s on his way to becoming one of the best. And he trusts our vision which makes work a lot easier. I’m grateful to be apart of the team. Working with him has allowed people from all around the world to see our work.
adeshola: Why the Twitter hiatus? Something been bugging you about the social network or have you just been working?
mike: Typically when I’m tweeting, I’m not working or I’m procrastinating. So for a month I just had to get focused. And it was cool letting the Instagram feed get some shine.
adeshola: Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Waffle Crisp?
mike: Got a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the cabinet now.
adeshola: Gourmet restaurant burger or Burger joint burger?
mike: I’ll have to go with the cheap burger joint. Nothing like it.
adeshola: Do you drink? And if so what’s your go to drink?
mike: Nah I don’t drink. Never have.
adeshola: I notice that you like Keith Haring. What draws you towards his art?
mike: I love pop art in general. But Haring’s simplicity is what initially drew me in. Also his use of social activism in his art was intriguing as well.
adeshola: What’s a pair of Jordan’s you couldn’t live without?
mike: Aqua 8’s. Matter a fact, I need to get a new pair. Mine are totaled.
adeshola: You mentioned a little while ago that if you weren’t shooting videos, you’d probably back in school studying stage design. What fascinates you about stage design?
mike: Freshman year of high school I got introduced to the technical side of theater, from set design to lighting. So I ended up being the lighting director for the spring musical as a freshman, which was a big deal to me at the time. Since then I’ve just been intrigued with stage lighting and performance design. Also, seeing Kanye’s Glow In The Dark Tour at the United Center in 08 honestly changed my life and made me look at performance art a lot differently. And I love those over the top, multi-million dollar Broadway plays. Now in 2012, I’m fortunate enough to be able to work on Sean’s stage show, which is growing at a rapid pace. His show right now is based around a 20foot wide by 15foot tall LED screen, which I built the content for, and it’s added a whole new dynamic to his show. Stage & lighting design, for me, is the perfect “side hustle” to this whole video thing.