Long Beach rising rapper Mikem Nahmir (pronounced my-kim) of Death Runners Records is a fellow radical. A forward thinker with well-spoken poise, he captures extreme moments with precise accuracy. Released last month in the middle of a COVID summer, his project AMERIKKKA contextualizes that skill. It’s a much needed project and breath of fresh air of very necessary “rebel music” that one would expect during a racial uprising and global pandemic.
One listen to AMERIKKKA and you can tell Nahmir, like many 23 year olds, is a man in tune with the cultural zeitgeist. In just 8 songs across 15 minutes, Nahmir includes an expansive variety of references from Randy Johnson and Mike Tyson, comedy legend Aresenio Hall, Civil Rights heroes like Muhammad Ali, the necessary male father-figure like Piccolo from Dragon Ball-Z, the greatest action film franchise of all time Mission Impossible, and much much more. His deep and varied database of pop cultural touch points which he sprinkles through tracks is a huge strength, providing something relatable to anyone from soccer moms and old heads to zoomers and millennials. With cover art that gives a direct middle finger to America, Nahmir is open about his disdain for the treatment of Black people under the current American socio-political landscape. His attention to details through pop culture and the emotional touchpoint of the Black community makes the project feel like a scientist’s fieldnotes recording the chaos unfurling around him. Through DM he tells me, “ONE DAY, we, my people, BLACK PEOPLE, will have everything we ever wanted and deserved in this life. as long as we stay focused on the right fight and continue to keep coming together and making powerful changes, we can’t be stopped”.
The tape begins with Nahmir bursting out the gate exuding a frantic energy on “randee junson”. On the track he raps “I don’t sound white so they sleeping on this Black kid,” a clear diss at several culture vulture white rappers who don’t need any GSC clout by naming them here. I was struck by dedication to “grip the beat like a Hulkamania shirt” before admitting “those pills I sold to the homies I stole from my mother’s purse.” This brutal honesty is captured throughout the project, when appropriate with seriousness and in jest, as evidenced by quick quips like, “no percs dear, we rolling up purp here”.
Over beats that include soul-driven sampling and Roots-leaning jazz production, the throwback sound is far from the typical mainstream trap style. Nahmir is able to curate an eclectic sonic landscape that keeps the listener tuned in. “soul brothas” finds the rapper bringing the energy down, switching to a vocal monotone. The switch up is beneficial, showcasing a different style from Nahmir. With multiple references to Jay-Z and Nas, Nahmir is clearly a student of the history of the rap game unlike some of his peers. His influences, however, aren’t as obvious. The shift from hectic to subdued gives Danny Brown vibes, but the lyrical content is clearly personal to the life he’s lived.
On “eyeam” Nahmir interpolates “The Way I Am” by Eminem, much like Drake did earlier this year. Whatever hate Twitter loves to drop on Eminem is clearly lost on the artists recording right now. Nahmir’s indifference to trends makes his music all the more enjoyable. In a world of copycats and clones trying to fight for the select few roster openings on major labels, Nahmir is clearly trying to carve out his own lane. This was evident when Buffalo’s very own Benny the Butcher tried to cozy up to Mikem and got let down gently before Benny dropped a very pathetic diatribe on the Long Beach rapper. No disrespect to Benny and all the big ups to Nahmir for sticking to his guns, staying very unaffiliated, and building on his own lane as a new rapper.
The second half of AMERIKKKA settles down the chaotic energy, but continues to demonstrate the razor sharp pen game of Nahmir. On “amerikkka” he boldly states, “police trying to kill everyone, but I’m standing up and standing with my gun. Mama told me stay up out them streets but I’m in the field every fucking week. You either with the shits or you a fucking geek”. This matter of fact mentality can be found on his Twitter timeline, where he can be found bluntly speaking down on misogynist rappers accused of belittling and harming women. Talking the talk on record and walking the walk in reality are some things that many artists struggle to do. Nahmir’s willingness to be himself in all facets of his life make his art that much more relevant to the moment and “real,” which has always been a measuring stick in rap music.
Having recently released merch, Nahmir tells me the clothing line is, “inspired by my people and the fight we are fighting everyday. everything we going thru rn is completely unfair and unnecessary. im making shirts for people who wanna speak up but dont have the voice to do so. i consider myself the voice for the voiceless”. He promised fans a new tape next month, so tap in with Nahmir on Twitter, IG, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud while he’s just getting warmed up. Article photo shot by 6775antonio.