*originally published July 7, 2021
Mic Geronimo knows who he is.
After decades honing his craft and claiming what he describes as "the oneness" of creating art that is true to oneself, the veteran Queens emcee knows exactly who he is as an artist. And as he surveys the ever-shifting Hip-Hop landscape, Mic Geronimo recognizes what some are calling a resurgence for the kind of authentically New York-spirited street rap.
"It kinda does, in a way, feel like that form of music is becoming more active than it's been," he says. "I don't think that it's ever [gone] anywhere, but I think every time has its time and its place."
And Mic Geronimo is in a good creative space. He's dropped heat as of late; from his "Lemon Pepper Freestyle" with fellow Queens product Nature to his new single "Smoke." Mic Geronimo is forever a problem and seeing the culture in full embrace of that classic East Coast sound is a good thing.
He concedes: "Everything has to run in cycles."
According to Geronimo, (born Michael McDermon), this is just part of the music's constant journey. Hip-Hop was never meant to stay in one place, but things will always revert back to their essence.
"I think that things always will end up coming back to their core. There may be variations of what they were after the transformation, but you still find yourself coming back to whatever those core elements are. East Coast street rap is a core element that you couldn't have rap without. So I just think it's running it's course. Do I think that there's more activity? Yeah. Do I think that there's maybe more of an appetite for it at this point? I think that I'm starting to see people wanting something with a little more, for lack of a better way to put it--substance. I see people gravitate to it a little more. We'll see what happens though."
For better or worse, summer 2021 feels like communities, neighborhoods, families throwing off the restraints of the pandemic. The time under quarantine sparked Mic Geronimo's creativity in ways he didn't anticipate.
"I think it just was a catalyst to put certain things in motion. It definitely gave me the opportunity to sit back and do a retrospective. And to reflect on myself, shed a lot of things and invite other things in. The energy that we all were sharing during the course of it, it did something to open up parts of my mind when it came to writing."
"In a weird way, it helped me to hone in on things you do as a creative. It gave me a greater sense of appreciation for being able to create music. That in and of itself made me want to make the best music that I've ever made. It definitely, in a strange way, brought something good out of all the chaos."
It's been more than 25 years since Mic Geronimo dropped The Natural. In those heady days with Irv Gotti, he was part of a wave of young Queens emcees taking Hip-Hop by storm. When he looks back now, he sees what made that time special.
"I think with The Natural, it was just that: it was organic," Mic says. "It was me at 18 years old. I equate it to being a very young fighter pilot and you're in your first plane. You're seeing what. you can do and you're seeing how fast you can go. You kind of have this fearlessness because you're so young. But you allow it all to just go. I think over the course of my career, as to where I am now, I think I'm a lot more definitive in terms of what I'm aiming to get across."
But Mic Geronimo in 2021 is wiser and better than he's ever been.
As an artist, as a maturing human being, as a creative spirit; Mic Geronimo is in-focus. Things will never be perfect, but understanding oneself is the linchpin for positively pushing forward. And in that respect, it don't get much better for a Queens kid who has always been nice with his pen.
"I know a lot more about the mechanics of the industry," Geronimo explains. "But I also know not to let that play a part in how I create and what I choose to create. Earlier on, all the lines get blurred because you're just getting smacked with all this new information because you're coming into this brand new thing.
"Now, I'm not as hard on myself as an artist, in terms of critiquing myself, because I'm able to know exactly what I want it to be in the end. So I kind of just say to myself, 'If you went through one run of it and it doesn't sound the way you...hear it in your soul, that's alright. Do it again until you get it where you want it to be."