Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Mims Mims Mims Mims

He’s already created major heat with the underground bubbler ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’, and now the album follows. But hip hop’s more than a job for New York’s new hero MIMS. It might just have saved his life.

If contemporary hip hop could be personified – if that's not too abstract a concept for the UK's market-leading black music magazine – who would fit the bill? The likes of KRS One, Nas and Talib Kweli certainly embody the organic elements of the art form, but aren’t renowned for having a laugh. 50 Cent, TI or Ludacris rep more for the balling side of things, meanwhile, but might be seen as rather lacking in meaningful vocab.

The new contender on all fronts is Washington Heights, Brooklyn-raised MIMS. By a stroke of fortune, his real surname (he was born Shawn Mims) has offered an opportunity for an apt acronym. MIMS the artist now stands for 'music is my saviour', and it's more than just a witty moniker with which to make some impact.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from any religious beliefs,” says MIMS in reflective mode, “But music truly allows you to stay focused on something and gives you a sense of hope. It’s something I was inspired to get into by my mother. I studied production and engineering. Living in NYC, you can be easily swayed towards a negative lifestyle. But music allowed me to stay focused on something.”

MIMS hasn’t had to fabricate a tough life. He’s tasted hardship by losing both his parents by the age of 13. It could have all gone so wrong. He places much importance on the original essence of hip hop – the opportunity for street kids with precious few positive options in life to avoid ending up in jail or a cemetery by channelling their creative energies into a relevant and accessible art form. To earn the respect of their peers at one level, and hopefully earn some bucks and get themselves out of the 'hood on another.

"I once consulted a handwriting analyst, and she told me there was virtually no difference between Charles Manson’s handwriting and Einstein’s. The point of that is that you start with a blank canvas and you have the potential to apply yourself in whatever direction you choose. I could have been the biggest drug dealer or bank robber in my neighbourhood if I’d gone down that path. But I chose music as my hustle.”
All this is not to say MIMS is a solemn-faced, serious-minded dude only harping on about heavy issues. On the contrary, the debut album, simply entitled ‘Music Is My Saviour’ is laden with upbeat, quirky tracks talking about many of the subject matters present on 21st century hip hop albums – partying, getting drunk, chasing girls, cheating on his boo.

The single, ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ followed the classic pattern of a sleeper track. After months of bubbling away lightly on the underground, it slowly gathered momentum, going on to dominate the urban and Billboard charts stateside, picking up club anthem status, and spawning a highly popular reggae-style remix featuring new input from Junior Reid and Baby Cham. It was quickly jumped upon by New York heads as a new anthem for their city in the light of all the attention now bering showered on the South. To be fair, though, MIMS does pay homage to the other regions on the track, as well as bigging up the East coast.

“I rep NY, but it’s really not where you’re from, it’s all about delivering great music. I believe I’ve delivered something that everyone can relate to. I hope this will allow New York to regain some shine. But it’ll take more than one artist for that.”
MIMS is far from hung up on territorialism. In fact. ‘Music Is My Saviour’ was produced in sunny, laid back Florida, where the artist relocated to the studio of production crew The Blackout Movement to allow for a freer creative process.

Despite the contemporary, mainstream tone of the album, however, there is one element which is notably absent from any of MIMS’ lyrics. There’s no gun talk.

“I talk about what I want to do and where I want to be. I don’t want to be in a hospital or a coffin. I don’t carry a gun so I didn’t want to talk about that. I want to make a difference without having to be hardcore or to promote violence. A real gangster doesn’t have to go around talking about it ... not that I’m trying to say that’s what I am! I believe in positive energy. The gun talk has a lot to do with the mentality in New York hip hop. I want to bring it back to having fun again.”

The album appears on MIMS’ own American King imprint, which he ran for many years before inking his major deal with Capitol Records last year. It’s a further testament to how much you can achieve if you want it bad enough, MIMS reflects.

“If I can get to where I am, then anyone can. You’ve got to know what your way in is. So you shouldn’t concern yourself too much with where’s hot and where’s not. Everyone can get their moment and have their time to shine.”

The single, ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ is released in the UK on May 21. while the album, ‘Music Is My Saviour’, follows on May 28.
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