Michael Christmas Is The Unlikely Role Model We All Needed: A Series Of Interviews

By: Seamus Fay

In today’s rapidly-moving, ever-changing world of music, the art of the full-length project is often left in the dust. Instead, taking precedence over albums, we see artists turn to the value of constant output, manifested through the lens of singles as they pile on top of one another until something sticks. Whether you’re a fan of this format or not, it’s refreshing to hear an artist that prefers to express their progression through long-form projects, and such is the case with Boston’s own, Michael Christmas, and his current discography of 3 stellar albums – or better yet, 3 intertwined instances of where change in life warrants a change in mindset and a declaration of self.

Beginning in the identity-searching days of his full-length debut, Is This Art?, the journey we’ve seen Christmas undergo throughout the past few years has been nothing short of inspirational. His status as the hilarious, everyday man that we can all resonate with has made for an abundance of timeless music in the past, and whether he’s finding his place in the world or recognizing the fame that he has garnered along the way (as seen in What A Weird Day), there’s no denying that this homegrown talent is a lovable character.

He’s the same, regular kid from Roxbury that we’ve grown to know and love along the way, and no matter where music takes him, Michael Christmas will always unapologetically be, Michael Christmas.

And thankfully so.

Upon the recent release of his latest LP, Role Model, listeners get the chance to see Michael Christmas in his most developed form to date. He has graduated into an artist that fans truly look up to, and trying to assume this role as an example for the rest of us brings forth a whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, and hilarious anecdotes, all of which are expressed on this album. It’s a family affair in every sense of the phrase, blessing us all with a relentlessly personal album that will go down in my book as one of the best projects of 2018, without a debate.

In celebration of the release of such a highly-anticipated project, we here at Graduation Music decided to ask a few of the main minds behind Role Model a little bit about what role they played in the project and what it means to them. With that being said, I introduce a series of interviews with Michael Christmas himself, Meltycanon, Muyi Fresco, Dom Leafy, Teddy Roxpin, and Thelonious Martin.

Read our brief interviews with each of these unique characters below.


Michael Christmas

How did the concept of Role Model dawn upon you? Was there a specific instance in which you had an aha! moment, or did the idea slowly come to fruition simply by working on new music?

It slowly came to me but it was more my analysis of the world and its changes. I realized I’d been rapping now for like 3-4 years and the whole world has changed like 2 times since I started. I remember talking to my sisters and my little cousins and getting their take on the world today and thinking damn shits so different from when I was that age. And I came to the conclusion that the world is an awful place right now, every day we learn that some of our heroes are actually pieces of shit. So it all kinda rounded out to me being this recluse awkward superhero that could guide the kids thru this shitty place and on a bigger scale, maybe in the real world, I could bring back a feeling we’ve needed for a while. Like we all just need to CHILL.

What was the most meaningful song to record on the album and why?

I think it’s “Growing Up”. I remember being really excited to rap on that beat, it gave me a nostalgic and safe feeling immediately. I couldn’t wait to talk about my dad and mention my cousin (Jermaine) I just kept thinking of how that song would make them feel. It’s a quick little record but it’s some of my favorite raps on there.

What is your definition of the term “role model”? What makes someone a role model?

For me, a role model is someone you can look at and emulate. See them do some shit and just know that’s what you supposed to do. Someone who teaches you how to carry yourself. I think I always obsess with the idea of a “positive role model” and how I can be one while still saying so much wild shit, being a dropout and shit like that. Kind of just feeling like you don’t have to be perfect to be a positive influence on someone.

Who are a few of the role models in your life and why?

Vegeta cuz he’s a good dad, good husband and a badass – not like Goku deadbeat ass.

You noted that the purpose of Role Model is to basically “teach the kids how I maneuver through the craziness we see every day”. Was there an album that you heard growing up that had a similar effect on you?

Earl’s first tape, Danny Brown – XXX and Dom Kennedy – From the Westside with Love II all made me a different person when I first heard them. Dom’s shit made me want to be so cool, made me want those vibes every day. To be on some smooth, cookout, family and friends only shit. Earl made me feel less weird for having so much angst about everything around me, he made it so instead of feeling ashamed of being weird, I used it to rebel. And Danny Brown made me want to be the best rapper out and made me realize I don’t care how long it takes. He was 30 when he did XXX.

When all is said and done, what do you want your legacy to be as a “role model” both artistically and as an individual?

I hope to be looked at as an uncle to the world. The way people look back at Bernie Mac or Cedric the Entertainer. Even like a Robert Deniro. I want to have done and said so much cool shit in my life and with my homies, that people that never met me are just CERTAIN we’d be friends lol. I come from a little place called Roxbury and I come from a crazy family. I want to spread that influence all over the world. Be something to look up to if you come from here too.

– – – – – –

Thelonious Martin

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

My role on the album is a producer. Christmas and I started working together around when “Michael Cera” came out. I heard it and immediately wanted to work with him!

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

I think it’s truly a coming of age tale. Michael is growing as an artist and with this project, I feel like he’s going to break peoples’ perception of him. It isn’t just about him being a funny rapper — Christmas is a really dope artist, flat out, and I think this will show everyone.

– – – – – –

Dom Leafy

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

Just making sure he was comfortable and had genuine vibes while in da studio. I got da skit at da end of “Honey Berry” and I’m in a short film for da album.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

This is a Hometown record — you can play this album on Blue Hill or MLK Blvd and feel like Christmas is right there spitting 2 you.

– – – – – –

Meltycanon

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in?

We had been following each other for a minute and he was wanting some tracks, but he didn’t really want to put things out unless he knew they sounded good. So, I slid him MP3s of tracks I had sitting around that he liked & from there it just went up, basically.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

It’s almost a 90s-like innocence when you listen to some of the tracks. They are straightforward but still very catchy, in my opinion. I like the simple nature of it because my music isn’t all that complex either. It meshes together extremely well, I feel.

– – – – – –

Muyi Fre$co

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in and how did you and Christmas start working together?

I was an executive producer for the album and I’m also Christmas’ DJ, so I usually serve as one of the first ears that hears most of his stuff. As for meeting one another, Boston’s creative scene is pretty small so we have always kind of known each other, but we weren’t tight. Around 2 and a half years ago, things for my brother and I were starting to take shape and Christmas needed a new DJ at the same time. We had done a random event together years back before either of us were as good as we are now, so the dots connected way later on. It was a timing thing – as we started making waves, he needed a new DJ and reached out. Natural progression.

In your eyes, what is the essence of this album and what does it mean to you?

The album is pretty much just Christmas unapologetically being himself and showing everyone that he’s a normal guy, too. With this album, he’s coming to terms with the role he not only has to play for his fans, but also for his friends and his younger sisters.. He’s figuring out whether he’s a good role model or a piece of shit, and by the end of the album, he leaves it up to the listener to be the final judge.

The album is important to me, personally, because I’ve seen him go through his entire progression. Additionally, he hasn’t dropped a project in more than 2 years – that seems even longer nowadays, as this year it seems like every other day a new project drops. Even with a dedicated fan base, going 2 years without a project is forever. His time is overdue, and Role Model is going to help shine a light on what Christmas and the city of Boston have going on.

– – – – – –

Teddy Roxpin

What part of the process of making this album were you involved in and how did you and Christmas start working together?

I’m a producer on the album. I linked with Christmas through the homie Tim Larew. We were all coming up in the Boston hip-hop scene at the same time. We’ve been working together since “Is This Art?” when we did “Broke & Young”. He came through my Allston apartment and we cooked that one up together. Goodwin was there too. We worked like that a few times in person, but the majority of the joints we’ve done have been sending stuff back and forth through email.

And that’s the same with Role Model for us, all email. He would reach out every so often to me and some other producers for beats in a group text, and I would try to send some over every time. We have like a dozen unreleased joints together, and they’re all dope. His work ethic is crazy. I can’t even tell you how many joints this dude has recorded since his last album. Now he’s narrowed it down to the best 15. I’m excited.

What was your favorite part about working on the album?

Probably my favorite part about working on any Christmas project is that it’s just fun. He’s such a talented dude with so much personality and humor in his music. There are a lot of rappers I’ve worked with that don’t have fun with it. Christmas makes this shit fun. He puts so much life into his music.

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