Note the Sarcasm: Catching up with Mike Boyd [Interview]
Enfield, NS – On March 25, Mike Boyd launched his latest project, …Note The Sarcasm via Halflife Records Inc./Universal Music Canada. If you’re not familiar with Mike Boyd, he’s Classified’s younger brother. And he’s one of the funniest dudes around. …Note the Sarcasm was entirely produced by Classified. And Mike delivers 11 tracks that set the tone for unapologetic cheekiness, self-deprecating versing, and – most importantly – hip-hop with humour. There’s that bouncing ear-worm introductory “Mr. Mike” joint, and the supremely pervy “Mr. Romatic” joke track, as well as the Classified-featured “That Ain’t Funny”; which is actually really funny, because Boyd brings out Class’ less-serious side and gets him rhyming about clubbing seals. But more on that later.
On the day the project launched, Boyd also announced that he was heading out on tour with Classified and Hedley on Hedley’s coast-to-coast tour in support of the band’s recent Wild Life album release. So HipHopCanada caught up with Mike Boyd right before he hit the stage at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for his first night on the tour.
“ I had no interest in doing music and as soon as I had my son, things started taking off and I realized that I had to start doing something with my life to support this kid.” – Mike Boyd
Boyd had just been through five flight changes just to make it to the T-Dot for the show. But he wasn’t stressing. He’s been on tour before, and is practically a pro at that tour life, by now. The show starts at 7 p.m., so drinking begins at 6 p.m. That’s what he told me, at least.
At 6:30 p.m., Mike hopped on the phone with us from the driver’s seat of this swanked-out new tour bus; just before he hit the stage. We chopped it up about the motivation behind Mike’s return to music (spoiler alert: it was his son), the Mad Magazine-inspired …Note the Sarcasm album cover (which was actually designed by Mike and Classified’s tattoo artist), and Classified’s role in the project. We also compared notes on all of the Mike Boyds that we’d heard of – there are lots of Mike Boyds roaming the earth right now. It’s kind of a pandemic.
Mike Boyd: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Tell me about the first time you ever fell in love with hip-hop or music?
Mike Boyd: Grade five – I think it was. Luke [Classified] brought home [Snoop Dogg’s] Doggystyle. It was the first album he ever shared with me. And I’d say that was the first time I ever heard rap. I’d say that was when I fell in love with it. Then after I heard that – of course – I went back and listened to all the old stuff that I missed.
HipHopCanada: So after listening to your project, I kind of got the sense that you’re the anti-rapper rapper— if that makes sense.
Mike Boyd: [Laughing] The rapper that hates rap? A little bit. Don’t get me wrong – I love rap. Certain types of rap I’m not into.
HipHopCanada: […Note the Sarcasm] seemed to poke fun at a lot of the lifestyles of rappers that get so frequently flaunted.
Mike Boyd: Yeah. Just the whole showing off, and the swag thing; being the man, and stuff. I find that stuff all corny. It’s just poking fun. No harm.
HipHopCanada: It made sense, though, with the name: …Note The Sarcasm.
Mike Boyd: I wanted to name it that to get across the point that a lot of the stuff I’m saying is not serious. Like the whole song “Mr. Romantic?” Not serious. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: Okay. Because I was going to ask you about that. I was [thinking], “You need some help.”
Mike Boyd: It was me just joking around – that’s my dirty sense of humour.
HipHopCanada: It was good, though. Because you kind of prefaced it with the “Wet Dream Interlude.” So when you listen to the interlude, you’re like, “Okay, something pervy is coming up.”
Mike Boyd: See, we didn’t have the interlude, at first. My dad heard the song and was like, “No. You cannot release it.” He was mad at me. He could not let people hear this in my hometown. I’m going to be banned and shunned from the village. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: Oh man. So I go through the album and I see “Mr. Romantic” and I’m like, “Okay. This looks like a chick track. I’ll listen to it.” Was not what I expected.
Mike Boyd: That was part of the reason we named it that. To trick people into thinking it’s something…
HipHopCanada: So I have a very serious question for you…
Mike Boyd: Uh-oh.
HipHopCanada: Why are you eating a cat on the album cover?
Mike Boyd: [Laughing] The guy that did the album art is mine and Luke’s tattoo artist, at home. Originally the picture is just me with an empty plate – all dressed up. And then he added the cat in, and the little fish he put in the water, there, in the glass. We were going for that Mad Magazine feel. The cat just really brought out the whole humour side to the album. It’s a little dark, and it’s a little humourous. I think that’s kind of what the album is like.
HipHopCanada: I thought maybe [the cat] was some sort of Mike Boyd allusion to devouring pussy, or something.
Mike Boyd: [Laughing] No, no. That was a joke we made. But, no. Nothing to do with pussy. Just kittens – just eating kittens.
HipHopCanada: So good. [Laughing] So what was Luke’s role in making this all come together for you?
Mike Boyd: I work at his studio every day. So it started off as I did a song – maybe – five or six years ago. Then I did another one three [or] four years ago. I was really just concentrating on Luke’s work, and working on his albums. And I didn’t even plan to put out another album. Once in a while, I [did] a track here-and-there. I had three tracks. And I just went hard for six months. I think we made another eight tracks. The more we made, the better it started sounding And [Luke] does all the beats. So that’s his big role in it. But the whole thing wasn’t planned until we were three songs in. The three songs took about five years to do, for me.
HipHopCanada: Because your last project was in 2008, right?
Mike Boyd: Exactly. So the next track I made after that album was probably [in] 2009, or something. Then I didn’t do another track for three years. I really wasn’t interested in doing my own stuff, or even doing music for myself. I was more into the production side of working with Luke and producing other people’s stuff.
HipHopCanada: What changed, then?
Mike Boyd: As corny as it sounds, I had a son about 18 months ago. I had no interest in doing music and as soon as I had my son, things started taking off and I realized that I had to start doing something with my life to support this kid. If I’m going to do music and work at Luke’s studio, I might as well do my own stuff and try to get as much in as I can.
HipHopCanada: Now you can be the cool dad. You can be the rapper dad.
Mike Boyd: Oh yeah. That’s the problem: when he grows up and hears what I’m rapping about. But no, I’d have to say it was him. I can’t pin-point the second when my mind changed. But it was shortly after he was born. So he motivated me.
HipHopCanada: So why did you change your name from Mic Boyd to Mike Boyd?
Mike Boyd: ‘Cause everybody kept calling me “McBoyd.” [Laughing] A lot of people at home don’t understand that mic is like microphone; like rap kind-of-thing. So everyone at home would call [me], “Hey McBoyd.” It made me feel like an Irish rapper.
HipHopCanada: Did you know that there’s also an underground rapper named Mike Boyd who lives in Pennsylvania?
Mike Boyd: [Laughing] I seen a guy on YouTube [when I was] looking up something. I don’t know if it’s the same guy we’re talking about. Is he a white guy?
HipHopCanada: No, he’s a black guy.
Mike Boyd: No, I don’t know that one.
HipHopCanada: So there are three of you? You should do a track together. Mike Boyd featuring Mike Boyd and Mike Boyd.
Mike Boyd: I seen a thing that said “Mike Boyd Diss.” And I thought it was to me so I turned it on and it was a guy dissing another rapper named Mike Boyd.
HipHopCanada: There’a a whole cult of you people.
Mike Boyd: There’s a ton of Mike Boyds. Edmonton- I remember I went there and the [news] headline was “Mike Boyd,” or something. I guess he’s like the head of the police department in Edmonton. [Editor’s note: This particular Mike Boyd served as the Chief of the Edmonton Police Force from Jan. 18, 2006 until Dec. 31, 2010] I know a couple of hockey players named Mike Boyd. They’re everywhere.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] That’s too funny. So are you cool if we go through the album and talk about a couple of the tracks?
Mike Boyd: Yep.
HipHopCanada: Okay. Let’s start with “Mr. Mike.” That was amazing. I loved the video. Whose idea was it to do the fat-suits?
Mike Boyd: It was actually the director’s idea. Our whole idea was we want to throw back that 1996 [and] 1998 Busta Rhymes era [and] Redman era when they were all doing the fisheye lens camera shots, you know? So we shot it like that. But yeah, I loved the fat-suits. I still got mine. I wear at home walking around, sometimes.
HipHopCanada: With “That Aint Funny,” I thought it was funny. Because you got Luke to rhyme about clubbing seals.
Mike Boyd: [Laughing] That was all him. That wasn’t me. I was happy he did that.
HipHopCanada: It showed how you bring out a different side to him.
Mike Boyd: Me and Luke have done a track for pretty much every album that he’s had, and a couple on my older albums. And they always seem to come out more [as] joking-around songs. [We’re] playing off each other and coming off each other; back-and-fourth. Just trying to keep it humourous and not so hardcore. I liked that track a lot on the album. And I like when Luke’s not so serious and positive. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: So you begin your tour escapades tonight in Toronto.
Mike Boyd: We did the Hedley tour a couple years ago with their last album. I think that was great for me to learn how to play on a big stage. We’re so used to playing at these tiny little clubs where you can’t move on stage. So it really helps – just to move around the stage and feed off the crowd. And go back-and-fourth with the crowd.
HipHopCanada: What have you learned through touring with Hedley?
Mike Boyd: I’d say – mainly from Jacob [Hoggard] – not to give a shit what anyone thinks. He goes out there and just acts like the coolest he can. And he’s got these girls screaming – little teenage girls screaming. He’s just right up there having a good time. And they’re like, “Oooh.” They think he’s a god.
HipHopCanada: Any shout-outs you want to make?
Mike Boyd: Just my boys. Spesh K, K.I.D… Actually, can I say WaenGang? These are just the guys that come out. They rap. They come out to every show. [And] D-Sisive—been hanging out with him every time we come to Toronto. Shad—Shad’s on the album. All those friends in Toronto I don’t get to see. They always come out and support.
HipHopCanada: Any last words you want to share with the HipHopCanada community?
Mike Boyd: Be happy. [Laughing] Just have a good time. Stop trying to be so cool. Lighten up.
Written by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
Editor’s Note: Catch Mike Boyd tonight in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre with Classified, Hedley and USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker). The tour moves on to Thunder Bay on March 31 and Winnipeg on April 1. Click here for a more detailed listing.