RICHMOND, Va. — When Nas takes the stage at The National in Richmond on Monday night, the crowd should be primed and ready to hear his lyrics. That’s because Richmond rapper Michael Millions and DJ Lonnie B are opening the highly-anticipated show.
Jason De Visser recently spoke with Millions about his life, his lyrics, and Monday’s big show.
Jason De Visser: How are you feeling opening for Nas?
Michael Millions: It’s exciting and definitely a privilege to open for a great. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve been part of in my music career.
JD: Is Nas your favorite rapper?
MM: Nas is one of my favorite rappers. Definitely the first artist I looked up to after his debut.
JD: Was it Nas that kind of got you into rap music?
MM: No, I was already curious about being an emcee, so the listening and discovering all that I could was important. And then Nas drops Illmatic and it changed everything.
JD: What was it about Illmatic that changed you?
MM: I think it was the album that made me focus on East Coast hip hop again. And again, the production, rhymes, the story telling. All of it was beautifully done.
And Nas was the first cool rapper after Big Daddy Kane had his run.
JD: So this is your first time meeting Nas in person?
MM: I actually met him briefly once before in Richmond just as he was headed to the stage to perform. I was back stage, so this opportunity comes full circle.
JD: How important is lyricism to you, as a rapper?
MM: VERY IMPORTANT! See some people confuse wordiness with being lyrical. Like if a rapper uses a bunch of words and syllables in a particular pattern but says nothing, then it’s almost like cool noise.
Lyrics can be wordy or extremely simple, but more importantly they are meaningful in context and placement. Lyrics make you feel something. Artists like myself tend to focus more on content and its delivery to create ‘the feels.’
JD: Do you think people would understand an artist more, if they “felt” what the artist was saying?
MM: Of course. The artists we love the most from any genre are the artists whose music we can feel.
JD: A friend of mine once told me, that music is first felt before it’s heard. Is that what you mean by causing a feeling?
MM: Yeah. For me, when I’m listening to new production, I’m listening most for how it speaks to me or what it inspires me to say.
JD: So about your writing process. Do you go into the studio with lyrics already prepped? Or do you listen to beats, then write? What’s your technique?
MM: I rarely go to sessions with anything prepped. I like to be in the moment versus transferring those emotions and thoughts across days or weeks waiting to record.
The best art to me is in the moment. Different days/moments breed different songs.
Sorta like the news… same city, streets and locations (same canvas essentially) just different moments that produce different stories on different days.
JD: Speaking of being in the moment, do you feel like this moment would make you more known in the Richmond community?
MM: For sure. Never imagined I’d get the opportunity to share a stage with Nas. And it’s right here at the National. Just feels proper.
I’m sure it’ll push my name into some new places, but the goal is to represent the hiphop community in the best way possible. Lifting all of our names.
JD: How did you know you were going to open for Nas? What led to this?
MM: I got a call from a good friend of mine and fellow artist named D Folks. In short, he was contacted about the show and asked if I would be available. A few more calls were made between the people at The National and Nas’ agents and it was done.
Last type of call I expected that day, I had actually just grabbed a sandwich for lunch and was headed back to the studio.
Still trying to wrap my mind around it. I mean what would you do if you got to share a stage with one of your hiphop idols?
JD: What do you want Nas to recognize the most about you, when you hit that stage Monday?
MM: I just hope he enjoys the set and energy I bring to the room.
Catch Michael Millions (and Nas) Monday night, July 22, at the National. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.
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