Hip-Hop

Glace Bay rapper aiming to ‘tell his own story’ at SXSW

Mitchell Bailey is slated to perform at the Urban Fetes showcase in Austin, Tx., in March

Bailey's Kickstarter page already has over $800 in donations
Bailey’s Kickstarter page already has over $800 in donations.   Shawn Davidson

For Cape Breton rapper Mitchell Bailey, it didn’t take much to realize hip-hop was his calling. He bought some blank CDs at Staples and started selling hardcopies of his first mixtape for five dollars.

“I made like $95,” Bailey said. “I thought, ‘This is what I want to do. This is it.’”

Bailey, an 18-year-old Glace Bay native, started rapping when he was in high school and has since released four projects. He most recently released a nine-track album, Young Superstars in July.

“I was always a big fan of hip-hop music,” Bailey said. “I waited a whole year before I put out any music. I wrote for a year, recorded my first couple of songs and put them out.”

Bailey was encouraged by the initial response to his music.

“The reception was actually surprisingly pretty good, so I just kept going with it,” he said.

Last year, Bailey performed in a Hip-Hop Canada showcase at the A3C Festival in Atlanta and was able to further that with a showcase at the SXSW festival in Austin, Tx.

“My business director met up with the president of Urban Fêtes from Chicago,” Bailey said. “They invited us to a warehouse event the next day.”

The SXSW festival has featured current hip-hop stars such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T. and helps many artists gain recognition.

Bailey says it’s important for Canadian hip-hop artists to get outside of Canada and expand their audience.

“It’s just the fact that people are so disadvantaged when it comes to exposure here in Canada,” Bailey said.

Bailey says to be successful in the rap industry, it will take some risks and investment in himself.

“You have to take certain big steps and money is involved….but if you get in the right place at the right time, it’s worth it,” he said.

Bailey is looking to Kickstarter to raise $5,000 to fund his trip to SXSW. The page already  has $860 in donations. He plans to go with his business manager and Brendan ‘Moose” Lyle, a local video director in high school who has worked on Bailey’s music videos and videos for artists like Dr. Dre.

Standing Out

Lyle and Bailey connected on Twitter and agreed to do a music video together. They were both avid fans of all hip-hop and decided to keep collaborating.

With the constant saturation of new hip-hop on the Internet, Lyle says a lot of artists in the Nova Scotia area have a similar sound.  However, he thinks Bailey deviates from that style and represents a “more global sound.”

“He doesn’t talk about stuff that normal east-coasters talk about,” Lyle said. “It can be relatable to east-coasters, but also to people in Toronto and L.A.”

Bailey says he looks to include humour in his music, but also to provide motivation to his listeners.

“You have to have some form of originality in your music,” Bailey said. “I have a different story. I didn’t struggle or anything like that…both of my parents are teachers.”

“You really have to just tell your own story,” Bailey said. “You can’t try and follow into trends.”

Bailey says you can be influenced by other artists, but need to have a style of your own. He says his image through social media and interviews plays a big part into standing out as an artist as well.

“It’s all about figuring out who your audience is and being yourself,” Bailey said.

Getting to SXSW

If he gets to SXSW, he hopes to make connections like he did in Atlanta, where he was able to chat with Trinidad James and other respected people in the rap industry.

“When we were in Atlanta for the A3C festival, from morning to night we were going to different showcases,” Bailey said.”We were trying to link up with people, trying to go backstage, anything to make that connection and show people what we got.”

If they are able to raise the money, Bailey says it will go towards registration for the festival, and a bracelet that allows them to go to panels and workshops.

Bailey says because of the struggling Canadian dollar, expenses for the festival become even harder to meet.