NH: How long have you been running Mic Club?
DRES: We've been running Mic Club since 2002.
NH: Is there anything different we should expect to see at Mic Club this year compared to what you’ve done in the past?
DRES: Traditionally we keep everything volunteer based. We don't draft MCs to battle—you know, it's a first come, first serve basis. Either you want to or you don't. You want to get better or you don't want to get better. You think you're dope and don't need room for improvement. You do or you don't in that regard. That's how we've traditionally run Mic Club, especially with emphasis on the freestyle battle.
DRES refers to this year’s Mic Club as a "reincarnation" and one thing they have chosen to do differently is have a registration process. He encourages rappers to "put your money where your mouth is," as that's how he was raised. “Put your money where your mouth is, and let's see who has the skills to win.” The cost is $10 to register, and there are eight competitors total.
DRES: If you win a freestyle battle, you can take that money and perform in front of the crowd for three songs. You know, you're pretty much putting on a mini concert and building your reputation at the same time.
NH: I love that you are providing that opportunity to these artists. So they can't perform their own songs unless they win, right?
DRES: Right. That's the thing. In order to perform your own songs, you've got to win the freestyle battle. Make no mistake about it. At no point whatsoever will freestyling not be an essential part of the world famous Mic Club experience. But you know, I understand the climate that is out there today. I understand and know that there are rappers and emcees who don't freestyle, which I never understood really. There are moments and situations where that particular gift/skill/art form is essential to your survival when it comes to being a rapper or emcee. But you know some feel like they can live without it; some think they can't. I don't have a problem with anyone performing what they think is their best material, but they have to prove it. You're dope? Prove it.
I believe so heavily in the art of proving who you are. I've had to do that as a host, as a promoter, and as a beatboxer. I've had to do that my entire career. It's because of those challenges that I am who I am. I want to provide a platform that gives to someone else. You'll never know how good you are until you test yourself. You'll never know how good you could be until your test yourself.
If you call yourself the best, you have to prove you're the best. Iron sharpens iron. On a local scale, that's what Mic Club does: It tests your metal. It questions whether or not this is something that you're for real about.
NH: What would you say the biggest challenge is for a competitor when getting on stage?
DRES: That's the thing---getting on stage is the easy part. There are no industry judges at Mic Club. The audience has the power. It's like Daniel and the lion's den; you've got to turn lions into lambs.
NH: So the second the people start having their doubts is the second -
DRES: - it hurts your rap health *laughs*
We're just in a current rap climate where, you know, accountability for skill is like...gone. I mean we're in Atlanta. I'm not questioning anybody's validity as to what they do is the truth or not. I'm not questioning that.
The one domain that will always prove to be the great equalizer is the stage. The crowd is the greatest equalizer. You could have the number one record in the country but if you're trash on stage, it doesn’t mean shit. Like I can buy your single for 99 cents on iTunes, but you want me to part with $20 to $50 fuckin dollars to see you perform? Dude, you better be better than “the shit.” Whatever “the shit” is, you have to be better than that. There aren't many artists out here currently who are built for that life. The idea of artist development, especially with respect to hip-hop, is gone. It doesn't exist. It's gone. Labels don't do it; managers don't know how to do it. They know how to go get the money for you, they know how to get you that record deal, they know how to do that. They know how to sell you to a label, but they don't know how to get you ready for that stage or that radio interview. We've seen that, it's been proven. But see that's why I'm doing this (Mic Club). I want the emcees who represent my city that I've helped build culturally—I want them to never be questioned because every time they're on a mic, they kill it.
We talked more on the culture of hip hop and how much has changed in music throughout the years and how music is meant to speak about the masses, the experiences. Check out Mic Club. Come prove yourself! Every Tuesday at The Music Room.
All things Mic Club are on the website: www.micclubatl.com
All social media accounts are @micclubatl