Interview: Mickey Free

Eclectic local rapper opens for J. Roddy Walston and the Business

  • Baltimore rapper Mickey Free opens for J. Roddy Walston and the Business' New Year's Eve show at Rams Head Live Friday.
Baltimore rapper Mickey Free opens for J. Roddy Walston and… (Jenn Fever, Handout photo )
December 30, 2010

J. Roddy Walston and the Business aren't the only longtime local musicians getting a homecoming at Rams Head Live Friday night.

Michael Freeland, the rapper who's been working in the city for the last decade as Mickey Free and earlier as Bow 'n' Arrow, will open for the Business.

Free recently released his first solo album, using in the title a pejorative word for white people who emulate the mannerisms and style of African-American culture. Freeland, 28, a white rapper with little connection to Baltimore's serious hip-hop scene, sees himself as the last in a long line of "tight [expletives]."

Freeland has been performing in Baltimore since he was 18, when he was a pizza delivery boy. Most often, he collaborated with Dan Keech, another white rapper he met in high school who goes by the name Height.

He gave up delivering pizza five years ago, and in that time has performed by himself and toured with indie rock bands, members of Wham City and with brother Chris Freeland's Oxes. In 2004, he self-released an album called "I Saved My Life" as Bow 'n' Arrow.

This year has been a productive one for the rapper. He performed at Whartscape, later at the Rap Round Robin at Floristree, and remixed several local bands, such Wye Oak, giving a sonic makeover to the latter's delicate "That I Do."

In November, he released his first album as Mickey Free with a party at Golden West Cafe. The album has 13 tracks and features Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner and Arboretum's guitarist, Dave Heumann.

Unlike other genre-crashers such as the New York art-rap duo Das Racist, who both embody and satirize hip-hop, Freeland is a devoted fan. Tracks like "Can We Smash?" and "The Unnies," which has a cameo by his old partner, Keech, can best be described as goofily charming. But they're shamelessly so.

Freeland doesn't aim to get on 92Q anytime soon. He'd be happy, he says, just to make fans smile.

Get more information about Rams Head Live's New Year's Eve party, featuring J. Roddy Walston and the Business and rapper Mickey Free

—Erik Maza

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