Mike Baker The Bike Maker is part of the Bay-based Honor Roll Crew. But in April of this year, he made the decision for personal and professional reasons to haul himself across the country to New York City. Last week, the first fruits of his travels emerged as he dropped Mike Plays It Cool, a free album project.
Over seasonal ales at the Brooklyn bar Lincoln Tavern, we glossed over most of the content of Mike Plays It Cool in favor of focussing on the track "Legs" and persuading Baker to sketch pictures of his ideal lady's pins on bar napkins. He obliged.
You have a song on the new album called "Legs." Are you a fan of that part of the female body?
Yes, yes, yes! I'm a big fan of legs! I feel that I'm a big fan of the female form, but my favorite body part is a female's legs. I have a friend, Cecilia, who shoots all my covers, and she's like my kindred spirit as she shoots a lot of women. We just started to work together, and it helps the aesthetic I'm going for.
What are your top three all-time female legs then?
There's like different model that I like: Karolina Kurkova, she has great legs; Selita Ebanks, she's a model as well. And Cassie, who's a singer, she has great legs.
What is it about Cassie's legs that you like so much?
She's slender but they have a nice shape. I appreciate definition. They don't always have to be long legs -- I just like a nice shape of the leg.
Are there any no-nos when it comes to female legs?
Ha ha, I'm not sure -- this sounds like a dangerous question! Well, just legs that aren't taken care of, like cottage cheese thighs and stuff like that. And hair! Hair on the legs is out! You need to shave your legs or wax them. So no varicose veins, cottage cheese, or hair.
Can you draw your ideal female legs on a bar-napkin for us?
This is going to suck, but I know it will run. [Mike Baker draws some legs. He calls them "scally-wag legs." He then draws a second set with some added "booty."]
Like a lot of your tracks, the song "Legs" is a lot more uptempo than a lot of rap music. Why is that?
Trackademicks and 1 O.A.K. and I were doing a lot of stuff in that vein. I have a song called "Strut" where I was rapping over a Metro Area song called "Strut." So we decided to make a new song in that sort of style so we could actually release it.
That sort of tempo rap song isn't as fashionable as it used to be.
Yeah, growing up I really gravitated to fast rap, like Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane stuff -- all that tongue gymnastics. And I love hip-hop, but things I listen to now also include a lot of electronic music and I'm a big fan of James Murphy and more upbeat and uptempo things.
Why do you think most modern rappers shy away from more uptempo music?
Everybody's so serious! I like to have a good time, but it doesn't have to be so serious all the time. I just think it happened once everybody realized that you could be progressive by getting your anger out. When N.W.A. came out, as creative as it was, I think people just stuck with that. The best artists transcend that, like I grew up in Alameda and I would listen to Mobb Deep's album, but it didn't feel like forced machismo. Now it feels like everything has to have a screw face on it. But for my music, I just feel like being myself is the way to go.