Taking The Mickey

15 May 2012 | 6:00 am | Matt O'Neill

"If I gave the same amount of energy into my real life, I think I’d end up as some schizophrenic freak or something.”

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Mickey Avalon is an idiosyncratic rapper. Heavily commercial in both his musical approach and his lyrical topics, Avalon nevertheless seems to exist apart from the majority of rap and hip hop. Whereas many of his peers would concede that entertainment plays a significant role in their work – Avalon is perhaps one of only a few rappers who would consider themselves an actual entertainer.

The rapper's performances are notoriously flamboyant. His music is riddled with tales of drugs, sex, liquor and related debaucheries. Yet, aged thirty-six with a long-term partner and a child, Avalon's life doesn't really correlate. His work is grounded in truth (his younger years include time as a prostitute, thief and drug dealer) but it largely seems geared to entertain, more than anything else. “I think everyone's stage persona would be different from their day-to-day life,” the MC muses pragmatically. “I mean, if nothing else, you're performing. It's not like you're playing a different character but it's a different kind of way to present yourself. Besides that, though, when you're on stage, you interact with people very differently to how you interact in everyday life.

“When you interact with people, it's a give-and-take relation. When you're on stage, you're performing a specific task. You're working,” Avalon elaborates. “If I didn't give it all my energy, my show wouldn't be any fun for people. If I gave that same amount of energy into my real life, I think I'd end up as some schizophrenic freak or something.”

It's Avalon's attitude to his new album that really reveals his priorities. Arriving six years after his self-titled debut album, Loaded was completed in 2009 but had to wait in the wings while Avalon sorted out his relationship with labels and management. His main concern in all that time, however? The lack of new material in his live show.

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“That was the biggest thing that sucked about it taking so long to get an album out, yeah,” the MC confirms. “I could still go out and play but I couldn't really put a proper tour together without a new record. Promoters don't want to book a tour without a new album to support it. So, now that it's done, I'm just touring everywhere.

“A large chunk of it had been done since 2009. It was just politics, really. My last label owned a lot of my music, for example,” he says of the delay. “It's okay, though. I still think those songs sound as great now as they did back then. I'm not saying I'm ahead of my time or timeless or anything like that but I don't think my music's ever been tied to any specific trend. It is what it is.”

The record itself, meanwhile, is representative of those priorities. Much like Avalon's legendary live show, Loaded is fantastical, over-the-top, fun and entertaining. It's not a showcase of skill or ego or credentials. It's a showcase of Avalon's determination to both enjoy his life and allow his followers to enjoy theirs. “I didn't feel much pressure to follow up my first album. I just want to make something that's mine that I like,” he says matter-of-factly. “I've been playing out different songs in my live shows for the past couple of years, so I got a good ear for what worked with people and what didn't. I just want to be able to keep doing what I'm doing, really.

“I guess, maybe it'd be nice to go up a few notches in sizes of venues? I suppose that'd be nice.”