Carl Michel is revolutionizing the way we look at and listen to hip-hop. It’s not as if we can avoid it, it’s everywhere in today’s society, no longer relegated to rebellious teens in their bedrooms. Too much of anything can be a bad thing and that is what has happened to hip-hop. The over saturation of new artists and meaningless lyrics over banging beats has given hip-hop a seriously bad name. One would think that the only message a person could get from hip-hop in shoot em up, get drunk, dress “fresh” and hang in the strip club. That isn’t so however, and Carl Michel has written the perfect book to highlight the positive in hip-hop lyrics.
True hip-hop, like any other form or art is about expression and holds a message. Some will never be able to look past the surface to see the beauty, the art, the thought put into the lyrics; then again, some will never understand a Picasso painting and he was considered a genius.
Author Carl Michel breaks down hip-hop lyrics into daily motivational quotes along with thought provoking narrative on each and an affirmation to help apply it to your life. I was lucky enough to get a chance to ask him directly why this book? Why now? Check out our interview below.
MH: Your book is kind of revolutionary. At a time where hip hop lyrics are demonized you’ve used some of the of the best to inspire. How did the concept for this book come about?
CM: I love the fact that you used the word “demonized.” Music has been a major influence in my life, but I’ve noticed the messages becoming more geared toward destructive activities—killing in the community, disrespect to each other, poor financial habits, etc. A few years back, I started texting my friends some motivational quotes that were helping me get through a tough time in my life, and it snowballed from there. Now it’s to the point where thousands of people look to my quotes for inspiration every day. But the concept of this book didn’t come about until I grew a closer relationship with God. I was able to use the same popular artists who already influence the culture, and highlight the positive messages they’ve said. As KRS-ONE wrote, “If hip-hop can be used to corrupt young minds, it can also be used to uplift them!”
MH: What was it like starting over in a new country? Your family moved from Haiti to Connecticut when you were young. Did you experience any type of culture shock?
CM: It’s scary and exciting at the same time. But that uncertainty caused me to be an introvert when I got here. I did a lot of observing, and I thought all the older guys in my neighborhood were so damn cool. Because I don’t have any older brothers, I naturally wanted to be like the guys on my block and my older sister’s group of friends—that desire to fit in caused me to grow up fast. As far as Haiti, I try to go back once a year. It helps me stay grounded and appreciative of the blessings that I have now.
MH: Why the youth? Why now? Although your book can be a positive guide for readers of all ages, you strive to reach the youth. Why did you decide to reach out to them?
CM: Because as Nas says, “If the truth is told, the youth can grow.” This book can apply to all ages, but I specifically targeted the youth to prevent them from making the same mistakes that I did. The same mistakes that society claims they are destined to make. These kids aren’t the future strippers and criminals that the music sometimes portrays them to be; they are the future business leaders, politicians and moguls. But until someone or something connects with them enough, they may never unleash their full potential.
MH: You give daily motivation tips on your website 365 hip-hop but you also sell merchandise. You’re on tour now. 365 Hip-Hop is more than a book. It’s becoming a movement.
What impact would you hope to see on people who have read it?
CM: The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. And you know what? I AM CRAZY! It’s amazing to me how one idea can actually become a reality. And how that reality can manifest into a movement. This gives me hope that anything is possible. I want supporters to understand that anything is possible for them if they are crazy enough to believe it.
MH: How does it feel to take your show on the road as you host motivational speaking events like
your recent one in Far Rockaway, New York? What is it like to look out into a sea of young eager faces ready to embrace your message?
CM: Some feelings I still can’t even put into words! I’ve dreamed about all of these experiences for almost 2 years now. To see my face on a cover, my name in a flyer and a room full of people who want to learn from my life’s experiences still puts me in a state of disbelief. I don’t take one moment for granted. I take every opportunity seriously because one thing I say that day could change someone’s life FOREVER.
MH: Since the book has been published what is the best compliment or comment you’ve received as
CM: Wow, this is probably the hardest question I’ve ever had. The love has been so real that it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one comment. It literally makes my day every time someone says “I love your book, I have to get another one for…” or when I hear “you really inspired me with this message” and when someone comes to me and says, “You’ve motivated me to write my own book now.” Those are the moments I live for.
MH: What do you think of the state of hip-hop in 2016?
CM: Hip-Hop just needs more balance. I get it, we need the fun music, the trap music and the ghetto news reports from our neighborhoods, but I’d also like to see us more conscious of the way we raise our daughters. I’d like to see us value the black man more. I’d like to see lyricism continue to be an important factor in the music. Because for the most part, it just seems like rappers will go with whatever sells instead of what they know they should say. I’ve always felt that hip-hop music has a direct correlation with the urban community, so I believe that if the quality of music increases so will the quality of life.
MH: If you could team up with one emcee quoted in your book to promote the book with you on tour
who would it be and why?
CM: J Cole. Without a doubt. I see that his passion is there and that his heart is in the right place. J Cole is on the scene in every major city when tragedy strikes. He was the first rapper to provide encouragement in Ferguson, supported those in Baltimore, participated in the Million Man March, and even donated water to Flint, Michigan. He would be the perfect person to team up with because he understands what the people need, and always matches his words with his actions.
MH: How could a school or library go about scheduling you to come to speak with students?
CM: This is the part where I add my “booking info” huh? LOL, schools and libraries can schedule me via email: YoungExeKutive@gmail.com. I’ve also hired a great publicist who has been assisting me with all bookings; Cynthia Horner can be reached at Cynthiamhorner@gmail.com. For my supporters looking to reach me directly, feel free to send a text message during traditional business hours: 646.494.6948.
MH: What’s next for you? Will there be a book to get us through 2017?
CM: My only focus right now is getting this book in the hands of every young adult across the country, and different parts of the globe. This book is a classic. This is my “Reasonable Doubt,” this is my “Illmatic,” my “All Eyez On Me.” So I want to do everything in my power to make sure everyone knows about it.
MH: If you could leave the youth reading this interview with one piece of advice or information what
would it be?
CM: YOU ARE ROYALTY! Despite what your friends say, despite what people in your family say, despite what your circumstances say, you are a young king. You are a young queen. This should be evident in the way that you walk, talk, and carry yourself. And remember: always put God first, spread love and give everything 100%.
Don’t take my word for it, get your copy of 365 Hip-Hop: Daily Motivational Quotes. I promise you will want to get a copy for a friend or relative. It’s an inspiring book to add to anyone’s collection, hip-hop fan or not. We are all looking to be a better us and this book shows us how. Find out more about Carl Michel and 365 Hip-Hop at http://www.youngexekutive.com/ and http://365hip-hop.com/index.php follow him on instagram @Youngexekutive
Thinker, Avid Reader, Couch Potato. Sapphire Hill is a writer from Baltimore Maryland who loves to delve deeper into the whys of everything. Staff writer for 86 Blvd and Badd Magazine. Blogger and talent promoter for Sapphire Spotlight On Talent.