Song 308: Mike Mictlan, “Prizefight” (2009)

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Back in 2009, I saw Mike Mictlan, one of Doomtree’s electrifying MCs, at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. He was opening for Kill the Vultures, and despite his membership in the Twin Cities’ most popular collective, the crowd was sparse. But the guy leapt around the stage like a hyperactive toddler, spitting rhymes as if he was playing to an arena. I already liked Mictlan, but his performance gave me a newfound respect for him. It was damn impressive, and I feel lucky to have seen it.

I don’t remember tracks he and his DJ, Lazerbeak, did that night, other than “Prizefight,” the song that closes out Mictlan’s excellent LP Hand Over Fist. The song is all about how he beat the odds to become a rapper, which is typical hip-hop fodder, but “Prizefight” is humble—a rare occurrence in rap. The first part of the song is all about the obstacles he overcame, and the second part promises that he “will never give this up.” It took a long time to get here, and he loves everything about it.

Success and happiness are hard to write about without sounding cocky or saccharine, but Mictlan pulls it off here. The humility (“I don’t know what I’m doing,” goes the sampled vocal) sure helps, but I think it’s Mictlan’s undeniable energy, not to mention his ample charm, that saves the day.

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