Michael Christmas Talks Connecting With Prefuse 73 and D.R.A.M. for ‘Lady Parts’ Album
Michael Christmas is one of modern music's anomalies. Coming from a small city often overlooked by the hip-hop world, the rapper has been steadily building his brand of light-hearted rap over the past three years. With two major projects under his belt—2014's Is This Art? and 2015's What a Weird Day—Mickey has hit the road with the likes of Logic and Mac Miller, proving he can back up his lovably off-kilter lyrics in live performance. Now, he's enlisted a production legend for his newest offering.
Guillermo Herren, better known to the rap world as Prefuse 73, has been in the game since 1997, assembling glitchy, dream-like beats for greats such as Ghostface Killah, GZA, Mos Def and MF DOOM. Michael and Prefuse getting together to form a duo is definitely a left-of-center partnership that actually happens to work. Their new album, Lady Parts, features appearances from D.R.A.M., Alex Mali and Pervana, who each add different layers to the 15-track effort. Christmas sticks to his strength of storytelling once again.
With Lady Parts dropping today (Sept. 9), XXL spoke to the 22-year-old rapper about the new album, working with the legendary producer, the Boston rap scene and more.
XXL: How long did it take to make the Lady Parts album?
Michael: It honestly didn’t take that long because we recorded it all in New York sessions. Those were the only sessions for the whole project and it kind’ve came together quickly. I did three days last summer, and we did eight songs. And we would just do sessions like that. It was long sessions in short periods of time.
What amount of time would you say?
I would either say between two weeks to a month. I would wake up, walk to the studio and record all day. We’d just record back to back. We probably made like 20, 25 songs within five sessions. It was really just a different process than what I’m used to. I’m used to sitting down and listening to all different types of beats from all different types of people. But the beats for this project were all already made. I’m used to doing way more.
How did your working relationship with Prefuse start? How did you decide to bunker down and do this kind of recording process?
Well, what happened was the label, Lex Records, they did that Ghostface and BadBadNotGood project [Sour Soul], so they wanted to do kinda something similar with me. I really didn’t really know of his work before we set all that up but then my boy Goodwin told me he was a legend from like way back. And he showed me that he worked with names like Mos Def, GZA, MF DOOM. So that’s kinda how the whole thing came together. I just basically came in and we did four songs immediately.
And did he have beats ready for you or did you make them together?
Nah, he made them all already. And I figured since it’s a full collaboration between me and him, as far as the music goes, it should be his decision. As far as the content of the album, that’s my decision, so I definitely didn’t want to fight him on any of the beats or anything because it’s like this is truly a producer-rapper album. I’m not a producer.
What's the backstory of the title of the duo? Why do you call yourselves Fudge?
So, originally I wanted to call the album Lady Parts. But everybody did not agree on the album name Lady Parts. So it took forever to come up with a different name that was just as wild to me. So we were going back and forth about what to call it. I was like, I don’t want to call it Michael Christmas and Prefuse 73, that’s boring. We have an opportunity to do something stupid here. Let’s do it. So, after a bunch of bullshit names that I just kept throwing out every day, and then one day, I finally said Fudge and everybody was low key cool with it. I was like really? Okay [laughs. My other name for us was Bad Roommates.
Why Bad Roommates?
I was trying to come up with something that will describe the fact that I’m young and he’s kind of old and I am ignorant as hell and he’s so wise. So I figured we’d be bad roommates, I figured bad roommates kind of worked out.
Then why did you decide to go with Fudge instead?
Fudge just kinda… it rolls better to me. And it makes it kind of mysterious, like, What the hell does that mean? And, personally, still don’t know. But I like the name. A lot of people put too much thought into shit like that. Like, What does it mean? It’s like, What does it fucking matter?
How does the title Lady Parts play into the cover art? The cover art is of a naked woman.
The cool shit about the cover art to me is the dude who put us together, Tom, his wife made the cover art. She did all the artwork for this. She was just sitting in the crib in England or London or whatever and she made it. And he thought the shit was so cool he brought it to us and asked what I thought about it. I was like, That shit’s fire.
So it sounds like for you, this was a pretty painless process.
Yeah, for me, it was all an experiment, A lot of people don’t do shit like that. A lot of people don’t think about how they can do something out the box crazy, something different, something new and just have fun with it. Everybody’s worried about what the next thing is that’s going to bring them to the next level. I’m just like, Let's have fun. Let’s make a project. Let’s get drunk and listen to these weird ass beats and rap.
That seems to be your M.O. through a lot of your music.
Pretty much. You know, ‘cause it’s like… I definitely make more serious songs where I tell you the stories of my life but I feel like there’s so much sadness in everybody’s day. And on the album, I definitely tell stories about wild shit too but I do it in a way so that it doesn’t seem so serious. There’s so much sad shit that goes on in everyday life that they don’t need it in their music.
It’s interesting that you tell stories out of order, which I think makes fans pay attention more. Is that how you naturally think? You know how you can think linearly, think photographically?
Yeah, well what it really is my head is kind of all over the place. I just think really fast. I want to get the story out so bad that I might just fuck around and not even say everything, like I’ll forget a part I remember as a kid, if I had the chance to talk, because everybody wanted me to be quiet, I would talk my fucking ass off. So that’s what it is with my storytelling, I’m all over the place.
You have a couple cool features on this project. Who was your favorite feature to work with?
For this project, I would probably say is D.R.A.M. just because of the way it went down. First of all, the day he came through to the studio was the day we met. We had only met via the Internet before that day. And then I saw he was in town and I was like, “Yo, you’re in New York. Pull up to the studio.” He comes through; I only have like a half hour left in my session and then I had to go catch a bus back to Boston. [Cousin] Stizz, my boy Corey and D.R.A.M. are all there. They get there and everybody immediately starts rollin’ up even though we only have a half hour left in my session. So, its whatever, nobody’s trippin’ about it. We all think we have time.
We go up to the roof and smoke. Still only have like 20 minutes left in the session. So we’re on the roof, smoking, talking and getting to know each other for the first time and shit. The time finally comes where the session’s not really over yet but I have to go. So I’m like, “I gotta dip, the song’s ready to go if you want to stay and work on it or you can just dip and we can do it another time.” And he’s like, “Nah, I’m stay.” Me and Stizz go back up to Boston and then three or four days later, they sent me what D.R.A.M. did on the song and I was blown away.
I was like, We just met and he just like went so crazy on this. He didn’t have to do that. That was a feature that I didn’t expect it to come out like that. I expected maybe a couple vocals. He took over the rest of the song and that’s why I tell people all the time, “D.R.A.M. has got to be one of my favorite people if not my favorite person who I’ve met through the industry.”
Why is he one of your favorite people you’ve worked with so far?
That just solidified that a little bit because for somebody I don’t even know to go super hard for me, that means something to me. We did that song before we even did "Don’t Talk About It" off What a Weird Day. So after that, we then did "Don’t Talk About It." I sent him that beat and he’s like, “I got something for that too.”
So one night we were in L.A. and we just did the ASCAP Awards or something. We just finished that and had a studio session after. We just got on a bunch of tracks and then it’s four o’clock in the morning and he started working on “Don’t Talk About It” and I was like, “You don’t have to do this tonight.” He’s like, “Nah, I’ma do it.” And he’s in there salsa dancing in the booth it was crazy. Between those examples in the studio and then just long conversations we’ve had about childhood and stuff. Those are the things that make him my favorite person. And everybody’s cool, I’ve not still met a rapper I didn’t like, but it was just a little extra when it comes to D.R.A.M.
You’re from Boston and the music scene there is really starting to come alive again. How do you describe the Boston rap scene as it is right now?
I would describe it as budding. Everybody is just now realizing what we could do in the city. Artist, rappers that live here are just now realizing that we can all be getting our piece of this. I think with that, people are excited to be making music, excited to be putting music out and it’s turning into a complexity of people from outside the city wanting to come in and meet us, want to see what it’s like. I’ve had people tweet me like, “I’m going to be in Boston, can I meet you.” I’m like “Yeah, pull up. I’ll be at Bodega.” We have people coming out now that are excited to come to Boston, not just the people in Boston.
Do you think there’s a stigma with Boston because its such a small city and close to New York? Is there more competition or it’s more unified?
I don’t think there’s a lot of competition here. I don’t think anybody’s competing with anybody else because everybody’s making such different music. It’s like all the artists from here that are starting to get buzz right now, we’re all together and we’re all showing each other love. If you fuck with us, you ain't going to get no love from us. We don’t like that shit. They were doing all that shit all throughout the ‘90s. This hood don’t fuck with this hood. That never got anybody anywhere. It just kept everybody down. I think we’ve been working on it for years and years but it feels like it's just seamless now.
Listen to Fudge's Lady Parts Album
See New Music Releases for September 2016