Doing Drugs, Lots of Drugs, With Myka 9
8:55 PM: I arrive at Corner Bakery Cafe in Westwood to pick up 43-year-old rapper/producer/MC Michael Troy (aka Myka 9) and his Canadian producer Factor. For some background on Myka, peep our story on his seminal group Freestyle Fellowship.
Myka (left) and Factor (right)
8:57 PM: "How are you, beautiful?" Myka asks. He is quite charming. He sits in the front seat and turns up the heat, even though all four windows are down. He has a swag and confidence about him, and a sensitivity.
9:00 PM: I have no idea what the hell we are doing or where we are heading. I don't think they have a clear idea, either.
9:01 PM: Myka talks about the underground hip-hop scene in the early '90s and that he started rapping at age 12. He began freestyling on the bus going to and from school. All the other kids would sit around and listen to him. Besides Freestyle Fellowship he's in the trio Haiku D'Etat, which also features Aceyalone and Abstract
Rule Rude. With Project Blowed, the well-respected open mic workshop that started at the Good Life Café, he began performing and gaining recognition for his lyrics and rapid-fire flow.
9:02 PM: "I need papers and a little bit of weed," Myka announces. He reaches down into his pocket and pulls out some 'shrooms. "You see," he says, dangling the plastic bag around. "This shit is crazy!" He tells me that he and his friends have been partying non-stop for the past two weeks, and he's gearing up for his West Coast tour, which begins this week. He partied in Paris Hilton's old crib the other night, drinking until the sun came up. He moved to San Francisco a few months ago, but has come back to his hometown of L.A. to shoot a video for "Mind Heights" from his new album Sovereign Soul, out on Tuesday.
9:04 PM: Myka says we are going to meet his friends in Pacific Palisades. One of them is his ex-girlfriend Shanny, whom he dated for six years. Though they broke up over shit like lying and infidelity, "It's all love between us," he insists.
9:10 PM: Factor is stoked because he hasn't spent much time with his friends since he worked on Myka's 2009 album 1969. Shanny also sang on the album. The 30-year-old Factor bounces between Canada and L.A., working on projects and touring the continent. He became a DJ in 1998, initially making his own beats and selling mixtapes. He and Myka recorded their first song together, "Good Old Smokey," in 2009.
9:22 PM: We arrive at Gladstones Restaurant on PCH. I park my car on the side of the road, and we walk toward the building. Myka doesn't have a phone, believe it or not, and Factor can only text on his international cell, which is dying. Myka really needs a whiskey and brings it up often. From outside the bar looks dead, and Myka figures his friends might be chilling on the beach.
9:23 PM: The ocean water gleams bluish-black against the midnight sky. Shanny, her sister Jeni and dubstep DJ Audio Dice are sitting on some blankets. There is a shrine of crystals and rocks that Shanny has collected from her travels all over the world. The contents sprawl across a black blanket. She offers me a Stoli and Sprite, taking a sip before she hands it over. "Does anyone have a lighter?" she inquires. "I want to burn some sage."
9:26 PM: Jeni has a blue scarf masking her face, reddish-orange strands of hair pushed to one side. As her eyes close, she clutches her drum, drawing my attention to some birds that are soaring in the distance. DJ Audio Dice is wearing sunglasses and a hat, and he bobs his head each time the waves crash on the shoreline. Shanny chimes in, singing slow, resonant chants to the beat of the drum. Myka starts rapping lyrics from his song "Life or Death."
9:42 PM: Myka finishes his rap and explains that he grew up on hip-hop and jazz, encouraged by his parents, who were both jazz musicians. He was raised in the Crenshaw District, which he calls "The Jungle." He didn't have such an easy childhood, in and out of foster care. He reunited with his mother at age nine and lived in a crack house when he was 15.
9:44 PM: Myka takes a few shots of Stoli from the bottle.
9:45 PM: Shanny sits down next to him and puts her hand over his. He smiles at her and continues to talk about his mother. She passed away eight years ago. He believes she died from her lifestyle choices and a broken heart. It was a really difficult time in his life. Also, his ex-wife abducted their daughter and brought her to New York City while Myka was caring for his sick mother. His father is alive, but is still drinking and doing drugs.
9:50 PM: Shanny places a wispy scarf around my face. "Have you ever done DMT?" she asks. "You have to trip with me. It only lasts like 20 minutes." This turns out to be untrue.