Hip-Hop’s Industrious Beat Maker
He just might be the most famous unheralded master in modern hip-hop. Songwriter, producer and beat maker Mikely Adam––in his Multiplatinum professional guise as Mike Free––has been a key component in monster smashes like “My Hitta” by YG featuring Young Jeezy and Rich Home Quan; “Show Me” by Kid Ink featuring Chris Brown; “The Fix” by Nelly featuring Jeremih; “Post to Be” by Omarion; “Rack City” by Tyga and multiple hits with marquee artists T.I., Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, willi.am, Jamie Foxx and many others.
A Los Angeles native, Adam recalls growing up and riding in the car hearing Tony! Toni! TonО! and DJ Quik. “It was real dope how the guitar came up,” he says. “I can do that today and bring it back; mix those two worlds together.” Now celebrating the birth of his first son, he says that he lives with his mom in Inglewood, but for all practical purposes he might as well reside in his North Hollywood recording studio. “I just literally made five beats this morning,” he says. “I wouldn’t say that I create constantly, but I go hard.”
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At 23, Adam has been formulating these beats since he was 15. “Practicing non-stop,” he says. “Hearing something dope and repeating it over and over.” He attended Hampton University as an English major, but when he configured a micro-studio in his dorm room with a small keyboard and a MacBook Pro, he was instantly in the business of creating music and releasing mixtapes. Collaborating on the 2 Chainz smash “I’m Different” with DJ Mustard in 2012 propelled him directly into the big leagues of the music business.
To build the beats, Adam first utilized the programs Reason and Logic and the samples offered by Free Loops. Lately, he is more reliant on MPC and Abelton. “I went to Miami to work with Jim Jonsin, and got into Abelton,” he notes. He is also a fan of the heady club rhythms of EDM and finds inspiration from the website community offered on Beatport.
In a genre where credit often goes to “the bigger brand,” as Adam observes, being given his due both creatively and financially has been a challenge. As widely reported by the hip-hop press, Adam has successfully adjusted the credits from his earlier collaborations with DJ Mustard. “It’s a little bit confusing in today’s generation,” he explains. “The bigger brand gets the bigger check even if the bigger brand didn’t do all of the work. That’s not really fair, and that’s not keeping the integrity of the music. Companies need to figure it out. There are talented people who are unheard of who have these stories. When they tell me, I’m like, ‘Wow you are really the one––you should be in a way bigger place than you are now.’ Labels need to realize that.”
Adam says that key moments emerged through specific songs in creating his signature identity. “‘Show Me’ by Kid Ink and Chris Brown was the maturation of the sound that I had been experimenting with,” he observes. He extended his sonic identity with “My Main” by Mila J and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid” featuring B.o.B. “With ‘My Hitta’ I made the beat, put it in the right hands, and YG made it a worldwide hit. We started in the same place and worked as a team, and look what we got.”
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At this juncture, Adam has launched his own imprint, 4th Quarter Entertainment. While he envisions eventually partnering with a major label, it is not his primary motivation. “I’ve been searching for good music first,” says Adam. “I think everybody’s searching for the deals first instead of what really matters and that’s the music. Independent rappers can do it on their own. I respect that––my first initial reaction is to figure out the music first and that way have something to offer.”
With 4th Quarter Entertainment, Adam intends on giving credit where credit is due with signed talent. “Producers and songwriters developing the new creative ways to build artists,” says Adam. “Once you find the music, can’t nobody beat you.”
Contact Tasha Stout, Strong Arm Media