Let’s talk politics.
I don’t mean Obama, the recession or a stimulus plan. I’m talking music politics. They’re brutal, no fun and a necessary evil for anyone who wants to get anywhere in the music industry. Not many people know politics better than rapper Mike Jones.
The talk of the town in 2005, Jones sold two million records, yet the very next year he was gone, spending his time fighting executives and trying to wrap his head around the politics that were keeping his music from the fans, rather than giving those fans the music they wanted.
But pretty quickly, he caught on. Growing tired of setbacks and trying to please those who didn’t understand his music, he released his album on his own.
“I was like, you know what? That’s just politics and I gotta learn it, and I got my record out on my own.”
Once Jones began regaining his original momentum, he didn’t stop with just improving his music. In just six months, he created an entirely new image for himself, losing 100 pounds.
Battles over politics, while frustrating, didn’t prevent the artist from losing sight of the larger picture. If anything, it gave him greater perspective.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Jones noticed survivors seeking refuge in his home city of Houston, and saw so many children and teenagers suddenly without opportunity because of this natural disaster. In response, he formed Ice Age for Kids, an organization designed to help younger children, in the same model as after school clubs, by giving them the chance to interact with one another, play sports and be part of a team and motivate them to realize their potential. But the rapper didn’t stop there.
“After we got [the children], the teenagers who were on their way from being young men to adults were like, ‘Hey man, help us, we need help too,’ so then we formed the American Dream Foundation.”
One accomplishment Jones takes great pride in is the organization’s efforts to raise money for athletic uniforms and the subsequent formation of sports teams with coaches who serve as much needed mentors for the youth. The foundations, especially the American Dream Foundation, help the parents of these children as well. Many of the teenagers and their parents are old enough and able to go to work, but they need that extra push, and the foundation, Jones states, gives them that.
But those brutal, nasty politics have a way of permeating all aspects of an artist’s life. Jones had hopes of taking his foundations national, but once problems surfaced with his records, he couldn’t focus on expanding the organizations and spreading the awareness needed in order to make these national efforts successful. Jones, who does not simply stay behind-the-scenes in the developmental stages of these organizations, but instead makes it his job to directly interact with and help the kids, is hoping that with his music back on the radar, he’ll be able to spotlight the foundations as well, publicizing them along with the new album.
And while we’re on the topic, let’s not forget about that new album. The Voice already boasts a number of hits, like “Cuddy Buddy” and “Next To You.”
Named as a way of answering the questions about his four-year hiatus, Jones is excited for fans to finally understand the obstacles he overcame and the challenges that made him into the artist he is today. It’s easy to be resentful of the politics that stifled him, but Mike Jones stays positive, already looking toward a bright future.
“Everything happens for a reason, you know?”
The Voice will be available April 28. For more information, visit whomikejones.com.
Mike Jones: Fighting for a Voice
Let’s talk politics.