Written by DC SuperSid Thomas
for DC Examiner
Roc Mikey, the lead rapper and an original member of the UCB go-go band, has set off fireworks in the DMV by releasing a series of diss tracks aimed at Wale
Wale is also a DC-based rapper, and one of the few local artists signed to a major record label. He was initially affiliated with Allido/Interscope and Roc Nation. In March of this year Wale inked a new deal with the Maybach Music Group, an imprint owned by hip-hop heavyweight Rick Ross.
Roc Mikey's attacks on Wale were particularly surprising because they previously had a close working relationship. Roc Mikey and Wale shared the spotlight in the "Pat Your Weave" video (the hit single from UCB's The Blend mixtape). They also collaborated on Gordo Brega
's song "Like Go-Go". UCB has toured extensively with Wale serving mainly as his backing band.
In this interview with The Examiner, Roc Mikey discusses his problems with Wale, the status of the UCB band, his deal with Steve Francis and Mazerati Music, and the numerous projects he's currently working on.
ST: How long have you been involved with go-go and hip-hop?
RM: I've been in the game since 1997. I was one of the original members of the UCB band. It was me, Marcus Clark, and Walker "Tre" Johnson. We used to have band practice in my mother's basement.
ST: Talk a little bit about the band. Some people think that Wale put UCB "on" instead of vice-versa.
RM: Like most bands we struggled in the beginning, but eventually we became one of the best new bands in DC. UCB really made their mark on the city. We've done a lot of charity events in DC, and before we were even involved with Wale we were already doing shows outside the area in places like Las Vegas and Jamaica. We also had a #1 smash single with the song "Sexy Lady".
ST: How did UCB begin working with Wale?
RM: Wale was introduced to UCB in 2005 by Kenny Burns
(Studio 43), and we formed a relationship with him (Wale) by allowing him to hang out with us and perform a few singles that Studio 43 was pushing. In the beginning it was UCB & Wale, but as his success grew it became Wale & UCB. But we were still right there by his side supporting him and protecting him in the DMV area. Things happened so fast with Wale that we (UCB) lost focus on our projects. When we finally began working on our own projects again I saw a change in Wale's attitude and his support for us - and I feel that was foul.
ST: Was UCB properly paid for the work they did with Wale?
RM: UCB was not compensated at all for allowing Wale to perform his singles when he was at Studio 43. But it wasn't a problem, we all approved of it and we did that out of straight love. We didn't start getting paid until Wale signed with Allido. I believe the pay was fair up until late 2010 when we were still receiving the same amount and he was getting much more. Around this same time he also stopped UCB from performing our music during his set.
ST: How does the rest of the band feel about Wale?
RM: Some members of UCB have lost their love and desire to be a band and have decided to become musicians for hire. Some members feel that Wale is their only ticket to success, and they don't see the neglect and abandonment of UCB.
ST: But you have to admit that the relationship with Wale did open some doors for UCB.
RM: I feel he helped expose me and UCB to another level of the industry, but nothing that we couldn't have acquired on our own. I believe this would have happened with or without Wale. The support was expected to go both ways because we never stopped supporting him. Wale uses people to get where he's trying to go then burns the bridge after he gets there.
ST: Several local rappers (Garvey
, City Boy, Carty-Yeah
, Chaos, Mo C.H.I.P.S.
, Hazzard) have dissed Wale in the past. What's the story behind your beef with Wale?
RM: It's not a beef, it's more of a personal and business problem with his character. This problem started with me asking Wale on Twitter if he thinks it's cool for UCB to get a 10 minute set at his shows and a 25% raise. For the record, I'm communicating to Wale via Twitter because I don't have his cell phone number. And he's not following me back on Twitter so I couldn't direct message him. I want to be clear that I did not ask him in a rude way. So he responds and says, "I know what it is, you mad, you can have your band back".
ST: So how did that response make you feel?
RM: I felt disrespected because everybody following Wale can see what he wrote. So I responded to him and told him when I see him again he better have that money right or be ready to put his hands up. I also would like to be clear that the requests I made were motivated by Slump and a couple of other members of UCB (including our manager Dax) that were seeing this same neglect and abandonment of UCB when they toured with Wale.
ST: What happened next?
RM: After Wale and I had the little exchange on Twitter a meeting was called. Wale didn't show up but the Board Administration was there in support of Wale. At the meeting we were informed that Wale was no longer working with UCB as long as I was involved with the band because of my approach (and because of my threats to fuck him up for disrespecting me on Twitter). A few months went by and I tried to keep everything cool. I ran into him a few weeks ago, and I was going to holla at him and tell him to forget about all of this BS. But when I approached his truck to talk to him he told his driver to pull off on me. After he pulled that scared-ass move I don't want to work with him again at all. He acted like I had a chopper (gun) on me or something, lol!!
ST: Are you still with UCB? Is UCB still together?
RM: Yes, I'm still with UCB - and UCB is definitely still together. A key member of the band was locked up, but he's about to get released this month. I think you'll be hearing a lot from UCB by the end of the summer.
ST: What's going on with your solo career? Are you still signed with Mazerati Music? Are you still being managed by Mr. Black Ice?
RM: Mazerati Music are affiliates. Steve Francis is more like a business partner. My Gameface album came out under Mazerati Music, but I haven't signed an official contract with them. We are still negotiating a few things. The label is still growing and I expect it to reach its full potential very soon. Mr. Black Ice is a trusted advisor.
ST: What projects does Roc Mikey have coming out in the near future?
RM: I am working on my next album Love & Music (Introducing Christa Lee), featuring Mickey Love, Peeps, LJ (BYB) and many others. Love & Music is in the mixing and mastering process and should be released in August. I also have the DC Roots mixtape coming out this fall reflecting back on DC culture in the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's before the DMV was created. And finally, I'm going to drop this W.A.R. mixtape in a couple of weeks. This joint has 15 tracks from DMV artists who are expressing themselves about who's real and who's fake in this life. The mixtape will contain "600 Trendz", "W.A.R. - Wale Ain't Real", and "This Nigga Fraud". Shout out to my producers Moon (Gudda Boys), Fresh Garcia (Dope Boy Fresh), Zaegoo (Drama City Residents).
ST: What is your connection with Drama City Residents?
RM: Drama City Residents (DCR) is my own label. Love & Music will be joint release with DCR and Mazerati Music.
ST: Thanks again for your time. You've already said a lot, but do you have any last comments?
RM: I just want to add that I'm not looking for a hand out. All I need is the support from the DMV. I will never hate on another man's success. If anything I'm going to help that man to become sucessful. Roc Mikey is always going to keep it real.Roc Mikey "W.A.R. - Wale Ain't Real" http://www.box.net/shared/siyee2oz4d8c1qbe68pl