White Mike is taking the West Coast hip-hop scene by storm. He is described by Al Bowman, founder of the Los Angeles Music Awards, as "a rare talent in the world of hip-hop music. In 2004, he garnered the votes from not only our voting committee, but hundreds of fans whom prior to the voting party event that year had never heard his music, or of him personally. White Mike is a winner!" With his new album entitled “Famous”, White Mike is the stake in the heart of any critic who ignorantly jumps to the conclusion that “white people have no place in hip-hop”.
Throughout 16 tracks, “Famous” takes you on a journey through the quaint town of Pleasanton, California, where the rapper/producer was raised. The album is a descriptive narrative full of cynicism, bitch-slapping, and the obstacles overcome that formed the self-proclaimed “rapper that your kids wanna be”. When asked why he named his new album “Famous,” Mike replies, “so many people in the underground hip-hop scene were talking shit about me, mostly because of my name being ‘White Mike’. Black folks gave me the name, so how could it be racially motivated in a negative way on my end? I just wanted a way to tell everyone to stop hating on me because I’m making moves”.
Michael Brent Alexander was born to single mother, Leslie, in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 1980. After six years of living in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, a job opportunity for Leslie moved the two of them to Pleasanton, an upper-middle-class community in Northern California’s Bay Area. It was a drastic, positive change from being on welfare living in Section 8 housing, and it also gave Michael and Leslie a chance to be close to her sister, Michael’s aunt, Lynne Alexander. However, other Pleasanton families lived in luxurious houses and preached family values, Mike, who was born out of wedlock and had only seen his father a few times, and Leslie lived in a small apartment and struggled just to keep the lights on. "It’s one thing to be broke surrounded by other broke people, but in Pleasanton it seemed like I was always having everyone else’s success rubbed in my face", he explains. “Sometimes people think because I’m white, and I rap, that I’m trying to act like I’m from the ghetto or something. In no way, shape, or form is Pleasanton ghetto. But I know pain. I just make music about my life and the things that I went through”.
Unfortunately for Mike, pain has always been a part of his life. When he was 12 years old his aunt, Lynne, caught a unique case of pneumonia and died at the age of 29. Six years later his close friend, Chrissy Granum, died in her sleep. Michael was then diagnosed with a mental illness, which had affected him since he was an adolescent, that was believed to be triggered by the death of his aunt.
A few years later, when Michael was 23, his uncle, Brent Alexander, committed suicide. “When I was young, my uncle was the only man in my life. He called me a few years earlier and said he was going to kill himself, but I talked him out of it. The second time he didn’t listen to me and I wasn’t so lucky”.
Though popular with his classmates, Mike always felt like an outcast with something to prove while growing up. Sports were an outlet for Michael’s anger and aggression growing up. In high school he excelled in both football and track-and-field. While a senior at Amador Valley High School, “White Mike”, as his black friends had dubbed him, grew tired of putting so much effort into sports. Injuries and lack of support from coaches to get him to the next level diverted Michael’s attention to other things. From this point on, hip-hop was the answer to his prayers.
White Mike began rapping at the age of 17. Michael had always enjoyed creative writing in school, so writing raps came very naturally to him. His sharp wit and hilarious punch lines quickly earned him a powerful reputation as an emcee amongst his circle of friends. When no universities recruited Michael for football out of high school, he found himself playing for the team at Chabot Junior College in nearby Hayward, California.
During lunch hours, a DJ in the Chabot cafeteria would hold rap competitions, or battles, between emcees for everyone to hear from the loud speakers. White Mike shattered this battle competition and, soon after, anticipation ran wild for the “White Mike” album. While trying to balance music and football, an injury late in his sophomore season at Chabot Junior College discouraged Division 1 Universities from recruiting Mike to play strong safety. However, the silver lining was that he had finished his self-titled debut and was ready to distribute it to the masses. Rappers brag about selling music out of the trunk of their car, but Mike was riding a bicycle with half of the seat ripped off around Pleasanton, selling CDs out of his backpack. No you know where he got his “balls of steel!”
Mike soon acquired a piece of shit car from a friend of the family, a 1987 Toyota Corolla that he named “Lola”. Soon after, he packed up his things and moved to Southern California to promote his music and fulfill his dream of being “famous”. He thought success would come quick, but Mike’s patience was tried once again. There were mixed responses from his CD and it was very difficult for him to book gigs. So White Mike decided to put making music to the side and leave his mark on the underground battle scene.
Once again, people ranted and raved about his embarrassing humor and sharp tongue. He did more and more battles, and got more and more recognition. One battle in Riverside, California got the attention of the Los Angeles Music Awards, an event that focuses on honoring independent musicians. They obtained a copy of White Mike’s self-titled CD and in 2004 White Mike was named “Independent Hip-Hop Artist of the Year”. Soon after he went back to the studio and began recording his new album “Famous”, which focuses on everything from his upbringing in Pleasanton to an incident in 2004 when he was beaten and tasered by police for no reason. Past nominees at the award show include The Black Eyed Peas, System of a Down, Sugar Ray, No Doubt and many other multi-platinum selling national artists.
White Mike has unmatched heart and determination, refusing to settle for less than he feels he deserves. D. Mitchell, CEO of the Rap Olympics says, “White Mike proved to be very impressive lyrically, competing as one of the final four final freestyle emcees at the 2005 Rap Olympics. We expect 2006 to be a great year for the up-and coming emcee from the Bay Area”. He just started his own label, Sav’d Out Records (pronounced like SAVAGE), and his new album “Famous” is already making its way into the mainstream media. Whether you love him or hate him, White Mike is here to stay. Deal with it.