Before Mikey Rocks morphed into Sir Michael Rocks, he was a member of the Cool Kids. He and producer Chuck Inglish forged a formidable tandem which consisted of scintillating lyrics alongside smooth production. After testing the waters from a group standpoint, Sir Michael Rocks decided to venture into the world of rap as a solo act. Over a bevy of mixtapes—titles such as Lap Of Lux, Premier Politics and While You Wait...—Mikey proved he had the ability to stand on his own two feet.

Now, with a refined skill-set and new-found confidence, Mikey Rocks decided to provide his fans with his first solo album, Banco, out July 29, featuring the likes of Mac Miller, Trinidad Jame$, Casey Veggies, Twista and Iamsu!, among others. With the Cool Kids' Shark Week also on the way, Mikey seems primed and ready to earn his stripes as a solo artist before he dives back into the group setting. He sat down with XXL to break down five notable tracks on his debut album. You can bank on Banco. —Carl Lamarre


“Stevie (Intro)"

Producer: Reno
In One Word: Feel
How the Song Came Together: I went through a couple different intros when I was creating the album, because I was like, “Man, I could start this album in a couple different ways. I could start it in a braggadocio way. I could start it out with empty threats. Or I could just come on some real shit and tell people where I’m at right now.” I finally came up with that one and made that decision. I was like, “I don’t really have any tracks like this.”

I’ve never really been a guy that disclosed a lot of my personal real life shit like that. I’ve always been somebody who’s rapped and created my own content out of my own imagination. But with this one, I took it to a little bit more of a real life level, man. I was actually going through some shit around that time, man. I lost my brother-in-law and I was just moving to L.A. He was like a big brother to me, too. I have known him for years since I was a little kid, man. So it was like losing another brother to me, for real. I had never lost anything close to me like that. So it really hit home for me and made me want to work harder, because he’s the father of my nieces. Those are the only two nieces that I got.

It made me want to work harder and not take no for an answer from anybody or anything in any situation, man. I think that track will give people an introspective look at me as a person because we all go through shitty stuff sometimes. Like everybody, rich, poor, black, white, Chinese, we’re all on Earth, and Earth comes with good and bad.


“Ain’t Nothing Like” featuring Too $hort and Chuck Inglish

Producer: DJ Mustard
In One Word: Nasty
How the Song Came Together: I was in L.A. working in my studio and Mustard came by. He plugged up and we got to talking about music for a minute. We smoked something. Then we started playing beats and going through shit. I was like, “Ahhh, that’s tight. That’s tight.” Then I was like, “Nah, skip to the next one.” We looked up and he got a folder with eight beats. We had to narrow it down to that one. Finally we came to that one beat. And I was like, “That’s it. That’s the one right there. I’m gonna keep that one.” And then Mustard, he dipped out to go do his thing.

I got to work writing on it. I wrote my verse and I wrote the hook at a later date. The hook is the most captivating part about writing. After I got the hook, I got a verse laid down. Then, I was thinking, “Man I could go all the way with this and write all the verses.” But I wanna bring somebody else on here, and bring some other people and make this shit fun. And after I was done talking on the hook—the hook is some raunchy ass, “Ain’t nothing like new pussy”—I was thinking, "Who’s the raunchiest nigga I can think of right now, man?" I was like, "[Too] $hort!" He’s the raunchy king.

I ended calling him up and he ended up sliding through to the crib. He smoked something with me. He bought some Henny. We were vibing. We had a couple little chicks in there. You know, he’s a cool dude. I feel like at heart, he didn’t age a day. $hort is still young at heart. We kicking it, and having a good time. He laid his verse down. We got that. Bam! Now that that’s finished with, I’m hyped.

But then, I was like, “Damn. We still need one more [verse]. Who else can I get on this beat?” I said, “Lemme take Chuck [Inglish] out of his comfort zone and throw him on some raunchy shit that he ain’t used to getting on." I snatched him up and put him on the third verse. He came through and he laced it. I think it’s gonna be a real stand out track on the album. It’s one of the better Mustard beats that I’ve heard in a minute.


"Bussin’" featuring Casey Veggies and Iamsu!

Producer: Reno
In One Word: Scary
How the Song Came Together:  “Bussin’” came out in the same studio in L.A. My homie Reno, who was my engineer at the time, he was producing a lot of tracks for me. Me and Reno created a lot of tracks from scratch. I would bring him samples. I would give him ideas on drums. Then he would just vibe with me and create from scratch. I found some sample and I was like, “Alright, we got that man.” Then we were like, “Ahh shit. This shit hot. We turning up.”

So we found the sample, and then he instantly got into the drums. I don’t know how he does it, man, but he has this bounce with his drums. He gets the drumming on the shit all crazy. Instantly, I was like, “Alright. There it go.” He laid the high hats and I was like, “Lemme come up with this hook.” I come up with the hook on it and I was like, “Bussin’, Bussin’, Bussin’."  That’s all I could think of. Then I was thinking about a little bridge part. I wanted it to be a type of hook that was kind of quick and choppy, like “I..ain’t…with..that…shit.” So, I came up with that part, and laid it down.

Then Casey [Veggies] came through like the next day. We vibing and shit, man. I asked him to come here and listen to the track. He fucked with it. He was like, “I got you. I got you.” He laid his verse down and it was murder, man. It was murder on there. So I was like, “Alright. Cool. We got that.” “Bussin” is knocking. We’re hyped. The energy is on there right. Reno adding the 808’s now. It’s getting more and more energetic. It’s getting more and more banging on there.

Then I got this last verse open, and I’m thinking, “Who else is in their mode right now? Who else in their moment? Who else in their wave right now to fill in this last spot?” And I’ve been talking to [Iamsu!] for a little bit. You know, just over Twitter. I hadn’t even met him at this point. And I was like, “Man, what you think about doing a track? I got a track for you. I want to see if you fuck with it.” So I ended up sending it over to him. And he was like, “Yeah man! I got it! I got it!” He was done in like two days. He sent it back. The verse was crazy on there. Then we put the can on there. This one over with.

I shot the video with them boys out in L.A., so the video coming soon. It nuts. It’s a funny ass video. It’s high energy. I wanted it to be like Jack Nicholson’s old scary movie with the twins in the hotel hallway. And he’s like, “It’s Johnny!” We shot it in an old haunted mansion.


“Fuck SeaWorld”

Producer: Sir Michael Rocks
In One Word: Pissed
How the Song Came Together: “Fuck SeaWorld” is a cool ass track. [Laughs] First let me give you the story behind why I’m saying, “Fuck SeaWorld” in the first place, man. I say Fuck SeaWorld because earlier in the year, I was watching the documentary Blackfish. Blackfish is a documentary about Killer Whales and these big SeaWorld amusement parks and aquariums that hold these animals. If you didn’t know, Killer Whales are super intelligent. Man, they have brains bigger than ours. They’re really smart. They’re capable of communicating and doing things dogs and monkeys aren’t capable of doing.

They put them in this tank which is like the equivalent to you being stuck in this room. They feed you and you gotta do tricks all day. It’s fucked up. It’s a really trash situation, especially for an animal that’s intelligent. And the Killer Whales, they started getting sick. Their fins start folding over and shit. They’re coughing up blood. Then, they get mad and start killing all the trainers. They be drowning them, choking them, biting them and shit. It’s crazy. That’s my thing against SeaWorld. It’s barbaric. When you look at the psychology behind it, it’s fucked up, man. That’s why I said “Fuck SeaWorld.” That’s my beef against them. I really have a passion for animals and humans alike.

As for the track, it came together when I was still working on songs for the album. But I wasn’t happy with the beats I was getting from people. I was like, “Man, this sounds like somebody else’s shit. I wanna do my own shit.” So I took it in my own hands to just produce the track. I made the beat on that one and I just got on my [beatpad]. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. But I want something.” I came up with it and created it out of necessity because I needed a beat. I made that shit.

Shortly after, I recorded them raps and I recorded everything myself. I put a little low-fi filter on there to make it sound radio-ish and make it sound like it had shitty quality. I did that on my own. I wanted it to sound like a radio broadcast. I got this cool t-shirt I made that says “Fuck SeaWorld.” It came out dope, man. I shot the video in Miami outside of SeaWorld. The video is so tight. I’m super happy with the video.


"Lost Boyz" featuring Mac Miller and Trinidad Jame$

Producer: Mac Miller
In One Word: Unique
How the Song Came Together: This track came out together in L.A., too. I was chilling one night. I got some folks that were in my corner that was cool with Trinidad’s management and his people, too. So they came into town one night for a show. I think it was Trinidad’s first show out in L.A. My people were like, “What y’all up to?” And then his people were like, “Trinidad out here, man. Why don’t you go scoop him up and take him somewhere he never been around? Show him some shit. Y’all go kick it man. He ain’t from around here. Show him some shit.” I was like, “Cool. I fuck with his music.”

I had heard a lot of his shit already, so I already knew his catalog. I knew his capabilities and everything. So we went around and kicked it for a little second. I was like, “Man, you trying to go to the studio? Let’s go do some shit.” He was like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Well, Mac got a studio.” He was like, “Mac Miller?” I was like, “Yeah. We’re gonna go to Mac’s studio because Mac is making a beat right now.” We go into Mac’s [studio] and Mac is already cooking up the beat. And then we get going. We hopped in. Trinidad kicked it all off. He came through with the hook in like, 5, 10 minutes. He came through and blasted the hook, which kind of set the tone for the song. Then he came with his verse after that. So it took him a total of 15-20 minutes to get the hook and the verse.

The verse—he was rapping, man. He ripped it. He ripped the verse. He killed it, man. I’ve always known that he’s good at writing. He’s a good writer. He really set the tone for the song. He kicked it off and gave us all that battery in our backs so we could charge up for the song. I had Mac go in and do his verse. Then Mac took it to a whole other level. Then I came through third, and just put the cherry on top, and we called it a day for that one, man. The beat is crazy. [I got the] features that people don’t normally see happening often. So it was a tight combination. It all came together real smooth.