Mike Darole is here to finish what he started. Whether it’s rapping, singing, or even producing, the Bay Area native wastes no time in the booth, creating music that the people want to hear. Blowing up onto the scene with his viral hit single, “Hello,” featuring RJ and Compton AV in 2017, the 25-year-old embodies all things West Coast. Read more…
Aside from the baby-making R&B and his pretty boy swag, it’s his story that drew me in most. Coming up in San Jose and establishing a pretty big local buzz independently and organically, Mike’s career suddenly came to a halt when he was shot near the heart, not knowing if he was going to see the day of light.
Now, Mike makes it very clear he’s returning with a vengeance Just earlier this year, Mike dropped off his 4.27 EP, home to standout singles “Eyes On You” and “25 x 4.”
For those who don’t know, who is Mike Darole?
I used to go by a different name but after a second chance, I decided to change my name to my real name. I’m just here to make good music and tell my story. I have a lot of people who feel the music that I’m doing.
What was your former name?
I used to go by M.I.C. It used to be an acronym for motivation is cash, but then money wasn’t really the motivation. My boys in high school would be like “my n*gga M.I.C.” wherever we go.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
I feel like that’s my vibe. I like the smooth stuff with a hard knock, and I like doing a lot of melodies. I have a spot in it.
You’re from the Bay, how does that play into your life and career?
Being from the Bay, a lot of people are like “oh you’re not from here.” I just keep shit authentic and genuine. You can tell the difference between people who are faking it. Coming from the Bay, I’m just bred different.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
WellI was going back and forth from the Bay to LA. I feel like it’s very key for any artist to be out here in this environment. There’s a lot of people out here trying to accomplish the same goals. It’s a better feeling. You see the palm trees and the city vibes. that’s all motivating. It inspires you to really do better and level up.
How long have you been in LA now?
About a year and a half or two years.
At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
My first group I had when I was 16 or 17. We started touring all over the place. I was #1 on Myspace music. I even had my solo songs up on people’s Myspace’s profiles. My shit just went viral on YouTube. I was doing some cheesy shit though. [laughs] Just being hella extra. I’ll be licking my lips and doing the fucking most. It t was more catered towards the ladies. Also I was in a group, so I had to play that part. I feel like I can just be me now, and that’s what I really need to showcase.
You just released your video for “25 x 4.” Talk about the inspiration behind this record.
That one, I have to shout out my boy Dee Gome. I normally write all the hooks and everything, even features that I have. But that song, Dee sent me and was like, “Yo, I got a song that I want you on!” I was like, “Bruh, I actually fuck with this song. Let me get this, and I’ll give you something else.”
How’d you link with him?
He’s from Rhode Island. He’s pretty popping. So my clothing line, I have an office down the street from here. I just seen him in the hallway, and he was just doing some freestyling. I was like, “Bro, you rap?” He was like “yeah,” so we went in the studio and starting vibing.
I remember coming out to your “Hello” release party at the hookah lounge last year. How has your mindstate shifted to now?
I definitely feel like I’ve evolved from there, as a person and as an artist. I’m recording a lot. I’m in a better place than where I was right there.
You’ve got a pretty crazy story. Can you bring us back to that moment you were shot?
It was a nightmare. Even the closest people, they won’t even really feel you. They can understand and have sympathy or whatever, but no one really feels you or what you’ve gone through. Or the mentality. I was just in a dark place. When you don’t have nobody to really uplift you, it’s hard to get out of that. I feel like that’s why it took so long, but I’m healthy. I’m strong. I’m back working out. I got hit in my wrist, you can see right here. [shows wrist]
And you’re still working out? It went through?
Still working out. Yeah, it went through. This was literally 2 years ago. I got hit in my stomach, had my stomach cut open. Luckily, since I was under 25 and still on insurance, 50% was paid for.
Was it on some street shit?
Nah, it was just on some hater shiit. I’m from San Jose. I had family in the East Bay, Fremont, Newark, East Oakland. All my mom’s side, they’re all San Jose and Santa Clara. I had the best of both worlds. People in my city, ain’t nobody was really succeeding. I was the only one with a tour bus, only one on BET, 106 & Park, MTV, and the only one having my shit go viral. I was doing all the school tours.
I was going to the mall and people were going crazy. There were certain people from the same city that wasn’t getting the same recognition, and were just hating. They knew I was getting money, jewelry, jall that. They tried to set me up and since I didn’t give them my shit… they didn’t get nothing either. They took off.
Do you know who did it?
Nah, God got us. It’s all in God’s hands.
How has music been a form of therapy for you?
That’s the only happiness other than having a family and my kids. As far as having my mind right, if I’m stressed out or if shit’s not going good, I’ll get in the booth. Shit will just ease and I’ll feel way better. It definitely helps. Even in my recovery stages, I was still writing music in the bed. I had set up my whole studio next to the bed. The hospital brought their own bed special for me. I was getting up, and it was literally right behind me. So I was working still, that shit really helped.
I love the video for “Eyes On You.” Talk about shooting the visual with Rayven Justice, who’s also from the Bay.
“Eyes On You” was very creative. Did you see us? Everybody running through the halls and shit. [laughs] I wanted to do it a little different and have a real story behind it. Basically I got my “eyes on you.” If you see, I’m looking through the security camera and following the girl. I’m basically fucking with this girl. I liked her because she was a savage and all that, but she ended up trying to rob me. I was like, “Oh okay cool. I see what you’re doing.” It was a fun little video.
Where do see yourself fit out of all the artists that have come out of the Bay?
I really feel like I’m different, like forreal. I don’t have nobody’s sound. That’s the thing, it’s my own shit. The reason why is because I don’t really listen to a lot of people. I respect all the artists out the Bay. They’re all dope with it, but I feel like I bring something different to the table as well.
I know you said you want to drop projects and singles. When can fans expect a debut album?
Probably 2019. Because I want to get shit out, like I have so much fucking music. Right now, I just want to showcase what I’m about and keep dropping singles. As people start to feel me more and I start touching the real side of shit, that’s when it’s time for a debut album. But for right now, it’s let’s just get hot and drop singles.
Any other collabs or features?
Yeah, in the near future for sure. I work with and I’m cool with a lot of artists, but I’m not thirsty. Like “let’s do a song bro,” da da da. I just want it to be organic. That’s another thing, I want to become more hot and have my shit buzzing. That way it’s not like “oh, I’m trying to get your buzz.”
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I want people to be inspired. You can be knocked down but it you’re driven and really got that mentality, and you’re ambitious, you can make anything happen. Literally. I’ve been knocked down so many fucking times, and got back up every single time. I had my first group and after that, I was like “fuck that, I’ma start another group.” Got that next group popping. After that group broke up, I had my own solo shit popping for M.I.C. After M.I.C., I went through all this shit. I changed my name and boom, I got Mike Darole popping. It’s just like I’m not gonna stop.
I see it. I’m here for it.
Once I start touching more on this stuff and people actually know the story, they’re gonna fuck with it. I feel like there’s a lot I can tell and inspire people. I have a message.
What is your take on the music industry?
There’s a lot of fried shit. There’s a lot of fuckery. [laughs] There’s a lot of people that are envious and not really trying to extend a hand out to help. But there’s a few people in there, that’s really actually genuine, humble, down to earth, and want to see you win. My take on it is that it’s rough. It’s tough. You gotta be strong to really survive in this shit.
What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
My goals, okay. This is real talk. Obviously, I wanna become a household name. I wanna be top 5, top 10, for sure. Come on, I’m for sure top 5. [laughs] Besides that, I want to have my own label. I know the game. I did a lot of shit for my past groups. I pretended like I was my own manager, changed my voice, all that crazy shit. I really know how to maneuver too. Aside from myself, I want to have a few artists underneath me. I want to be an entrepreneur with this shit.
I know you say you’re doing it for your family. How is balancing fatherhood and being a rapper?
Man see, I think that’s the difference between me and other artists, because I really dealt with life-changing situations. I’m not just a father that’s just here one day, and comes back weeks or months later. I’m in their life every day. I’m involved 100%. After I’m done with the music and handling business shit, I’m straight to the kids. I think that’s what keeps me out of trouble too.
What did you do with your first check?
I was splurging. [laughs] Just the sauce game, I was getting more sauced up. I invested into a clothing line. Also jewelry too, you know you gotta get the ice.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s very important. I feel like that’s what I need to do. I was heavily on social media but after going through all that stuff, it took the fun away. It just wasn’t fun no more. I feel like it’s very key. It plays a big role. If you show your personality, show everybody you’re working, inspiring people, and get people to fuck with you, that’s the main thing. That’s how people are gonna adapt to your music and become a fan or follow. That’s where I’m kind of slipping up.
‘Cause I’m balancing a family, balancing the clothes, balancing my music, other people’s music, and it’s just hard to really focus on myself. Right now, that’s where I’m transitioning to: focus more on myself. Showcase my stuff to the fans, and have them get back into it.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Aside from the family stuff, I’m up at it at the gym. After the gym, get something healthy in me. Gotta take the dog out. Then just working on my own shit, whether it’s responding back to emails, handling the clothing line, and just recording. I’m on this repetitive schedule that’s like, “yo, I’ma knock all of this out, and bam! Tomorrow same shit.”
That’s another thing right? What’s hard about the social media stuff is I’m so used to doing the daily grind, so it’s always the same for me. If I post this, post this, it’s just like “what am I publishing each day? I’m trying to switch it up a little bit, make it more interesting.
What are you bumping when you’re working out?
I like some NBA Youngboy. I like the “Astronaut Kid” song. I listen to a lot beats. I fuck with Lil Baby, I put on the Lil Baby mix. That’s what I’m on right now.
Who are some producers that you fuck with?
My key producer, his name is Reno. My other boys are A1 Day, Projects, S.O.W., and I produce some of my own shit too. Yo, I was really nice with the shit. Especially in high school. I was fucking with Fruity Loops, etc. On the keys, I can’t read or write music, but I can play the music by ear.
When you’re listening to beats, do kind of start freestyling in your head?
Right off the bat. A lot of times, I like going in the studio and just hopping on the mic. I won’t even want to hear the beat before. I’ll be like “bruh, play the beat,” and I’ll just hop on. I’ll just freestyle all the shit.
3 things you need in the studio?
Maybe some Redbull. Number 1 is a Backwood and some loud. Aside from that, I like coconut water. It’s potassium. If I don’t have the coconut water, I’ll have the Starbucks hot coffee. That’s all I really need. I don’t need nobody else in the studio, just me and the engineer.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I was raw at baseball. I played basketball, baseball, football, and I boxed. I’ll say either baseball or boxing.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
Oh, that “Hello.” That shit go crazy.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
I’ve a lot of good moments. Last night for my Halloween costume, I was a serial killer. I had a ski mask, a chef apron, and a cereal box. You get it? This fan was super excited. I signed her cereal box and she was going crazy. She’s like, “Yo I’m never gonna eat this, I’m gonna sell it. I know it’s worth a million dollars!” It was dope. I was at Blue Moon Hookah, King Lil G had his party there.
Have you and King Lil G made music?
Yeah, we have like 3 songs.
I’ma tell you this. The person who really inspired me at a young age was Usher. My first concert was an Usher concert. I love “My Way” and “Nice and Slow.” On the R&B side and just having a dream collab, I would really want him sing a hook for me and a bridge. That would be lit.
What’s with 777?
My son was born at 7, and weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces.
Anything else you want to let us know?
Just to stay with me and ride with me. I’m here to stay.