“At only 23, Sir Michael already has years of music industry experience under his belt.” – Complex
“Needless to say, dude’s a visionary.” – XXL
“Sir Michael Rocks is a pretty damn adventurous dude.” – Noisey
“Rock is a solo artist looking to make good on a promise of stardom.” – The FADER
“He’s Mikey, he, he, he rocks. Yes he does.” – Pigeons and Planes
Sir Michael Rocks has always been a little ahead of his time, a little more original than his peers, a little bit more creative. As a teenager, he started making music under the name Mikey Rocks as one half of groundbreaking duo The Cool Kids. Formed over the Internet and powered by a strong grassroots fanbase online, the group helped redefine the image of rap for the Internet era with an effortlessly cool throwback style and an iconic, laid-back fashion sense. Rechristening himself as Sir Michael Rocks in 2011, the restlessly creative artist, now based in Miami after time spent in Chicago and LA, has been pushing the boundaries of rap originality even further in recent years with a string of popular, critically acclaimed mixtapes. As he explores an increasingly far-ranging set of ideas and prepares his second solo album in two years, Populair, the lifelong impulse to explore and innovate remains at the forefront of what Rocks is trying to accomplish.
“I basically want to give you that confidence to be original, to be who you are, to be yourself,” he says of his music. And he’s leading by example, through straightforward feel-good music, attention-grabbing style, and having a fully packaged aesthetic. His music focuses on bringing together diverse, contrasting ideas from a variety of philosophical influences and marrying them with abstract, almost childlike visual elements.
Born Antoine Reed, Rocks grew up as the youngest of three outside of Chicago, where he developed a lifelong interest in the outdoors. Nature looms as an influence in his music, and Rocks aims to infuse the creativity, strength, and beauty he finds in settings like the beach, the deep sea, or the woods into the world of rap. Fittingly, over the last few years, he’s sold off all his old diamond-studded jewelry in favor of handmade wooden pieces that offer personal significance and power. A defining style icon for the contemporary era, Rocks has moved toward a simpler look in other areas as well, embracing a comfort-driven look that fans will be eager to adopt.
But even if Rocks is driven in many ways toward a simpler aesthetic, the ideas internalized in his recent music are increasingly evolved. He’s worked to incorporate the theoretical underpinnings of alchemy—the idea of an exchange, that nothing can be made without giving something up—into his music, noting that people can make anything they want if they’re willing to do so. A lifelong love of video games and anime has nurtured other values as well: hard work, respect for others, and, above all, a refusal to let his surroundings temper his innate sense of joy.
“Anime taught me stuff that my parents didn’t teach me,” Rocks quips, explaining that the moral undercurrent of such influences is present throughout the music he makes. The futuristic, fantastical impulse behind these worlds is keenly felt as well. Building on his diverse ideas and inspirations, Rocks has pursued a creative lifestyle with relentless focus and blazed a path for others to follow.
Following 2014’s Banco, Sir Michael Rocks is prepping the release to its more eccentric successor, Populair. Filled with ambient synths and space-rap influenced drum patterns, Populair captures a different soundscape more idiosyncratic to his previous work. “Populair is the next continuation in the Banco saga, which will span from 2014-2024 AD,” Sir Michael Rocks explains. Produced, mixed, and recorded by Sir Michael Rocks himself, Populair is one of the nature-friendly rapper’s most self-representative projects to date. “I wanted to unleash more of my abilities,” Rocks explains, “and I could only achieve that by getting my hands deeper into the process.” Populair serves as an evolution and growth of Sir Michael Rocks. By taking more control of the project, it’s more retrospective and personal than his previous work, as highlighted in the song’s finale, “Alone.” It includes a dose of his signature humor as he additionally touches on topics and opens up more than ever before. Populair releases on September 11th via 6 Cell Phones.
Filmed in Tokyo, the Internet Rap Architect Strides Through the Crowded Streets in Latest Video, Premiered by Complex
Following the Release of His Populair EP, the Chicago Rapper Lights Up the Scene in His New Visual, Debuted by Mass Appeal
The Fashion Forward, Nature-Loving Chicago Rapper/Producer Delivers a Lively, Personal EP, Debuted by Complex
Channeling Vintage Street Fighter Vibes, Sir Michael Rocks Releases New Video “Perfect” Via AV CLUB
Sir Michael Rocks Announces Release Date For New Album Populair, Second Single Premiered By FADER
Nature-Loving Rapper Announces Forthcoming Populair Album, Shares First Single In An Iced-Out Visual via Complex
Animal-Loving Rapper Prepares For Final Tour After Landing Own Nature Show, The Rocks Report, On National Geographic Channel
Premiered by Complex, Rocks Teams Up With Miami Rappers for Anime-Inspired Video, Announces Midwest and West Coast Tour Dates
Sir Michael Rock’s Debut Solo Album Receives Critical Acclaim, Releases Spotify Playlist of Album Inspiration, Plans Midwest and West Coast Tour Stops
The Cool Kids Rapper’s Debut Solo Album Quickly Rises To #1 On iTunes Hip-Hop Charts, Streaming Currently via The AV Club
Diplo Affiliated Producer SAiNT and Tour DJ Stezus Team Up For New Banger Off Sir Michael Rocks Forthcoming Album, Banco
With His Long-Awaited Debut Solo Album Banco Releasing Next Week, Mikey Rocks Turns Up In LA With Friends for “Bussin,” Debut via AV Club
Animal Lover Sir Michael Rocks Releases Anti-Captivity Video From Banco, Premiering Via The Fader
Noisey Premieres New Slapper From Cool Kids Rapper Sir Michael Rocks’ Debut Solo Album, Banco, Set To Be Released July 29
Complex Announces News About Trailblazing Rapper Sir Michael Rocks’ New Solo Album Banco
All photos by Roberto Mario