For Rap & Hip-Hot artist Mike Spitz, (aka ‘Spitzer’) his music much like his life is focused upon passion, commitment, and fighting for what he believes in. Apart from hailing from his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, he is also one of the city’s biggest advocates and has built his name across the country and beyond through freestyle battles, which back in late 2005 led to an invitation to perform at the New York International Music Festival.
Since that time Spitz has risen to the challenges and competition of the Rap & Hip-Hop market by bringing a unique combination of raw emotion and real life context into his music that is difficult to find in today’s industry.
Out of the dark challenges confronting all who live in the modern-day rust belt, running the palette from economic despondency to spiritual bankruptcy, through the commitment, precision, and passion Spitzer brings to his craft, his most recent material achieves a deep blend of understanding, placement, and wisdom that has registered strongly with his largely younger audience, largely because it weaves a connection to salvation through deeply personal lyrics that map a musical odyssey firmly grounded by fundamental values of family, self-respect, and faith in those that shape worlds rather than tear them apart.
Selected by fans with four top honors at this year’s 35th Annual REVIEW Music Awards for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Songwriter, Best Rap Performer, Best Rap-Hip-Hop Video, and Rap-Hip Hop Artist of the Year, the combination of Spitz’s delivery, tone, and lyricism set him in a league of his own.
“At this point of my career, I have no choice but to play the role of artist, manager, booking agent, producer, investor, and label,” he reflects. “I wasn’t brought into this with a silver spoon or connections and learned a long time ago that if this is going to work, it’s going to be because I put in the work. If you truly love something and have passion for it, you will never give up and will always fight for it.”
When asked about the qualities that distinguish a good songwriter, Spitz says for him it begins without having any predetermined notion of what the song will be when he starts it. “I base my songs off of emotion and definitely like to take my time and make sure it means something, because people are going to be listening to it - my kids will be listening to it; and I have a young fan base. I don’t want them singing some stuff I don’t believe in, so I take my time with it. Mainly, I’m always trying to top myself and do better than the last time. Whether it works or not is another issue, but that’s the goal - to go deeper creatively.”
“Lately I’ve been tapping into telling stuff people don’t even know about me,” he continues,” but that’s the type of material connecting with my fans. They don’t wanna hear about partying; they wanna hear about pain and struggle and real life stuff. When that happens these songs write themselves. Even this morning I started writing and before I knew it the whole song came through. Next to performing, the creative process and writing is my favorite part of the business.”
“But as a general rule, the good songs are the quick ones - the easy ones. If you’re trying to write for what’s popular right now you’re boxing yourself in by mimicking something else. Most of my songs are goose-bumpers. I’ve had tears fall on the pad when I’m doing them, so it gets pretty deep.”
When asked how the musical side of his material is evolving, Spitz says that he relies a lot upon his musical partner, Shawn Yancer, to lend his golden ears to the quest. “Shawn is the best guitar player ever and sometimes he has a little riff, or will send me a bunch of stuff to listen to, and I’ll hear a sweet spot where it fits perfectly in whatever song I’m working on.”
“We might get a little bass line going or piano and will send stuff back and forth all day. He’ll say, “I don’t care if you don’t like it, just check it out.’ But the people who work with me trust me and know I won’t put something out if it’s not tight. They know I only want the best.”
Spitzer says he also takes great pride in being honored with the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Performer award; and when asked what qualities comprise a good performer, he simply states: “Connecting to your audience.”
“Anybody can perform or get on stage, but can you control the whole audience? That’s the litmus test for me. Nowadays when I perform I’ll look around and see all eyes are locked on me, which is a good feeling because it makes me feed off their energy as much as the audience is feeding off mine. I like to give it my all because for all I know, it might be my last show. I might leave the venue and get hit by a train. You don’t know what’s gonna happen. Even when I’m recording, I’ll find myself asking, ‘What if this is my last song? You just never know.”
“I stopped drinking and noticed a change in my performances,” he adds. “Now I have more energy in my performances and complete control over my goals. I know what sounds good and have doing this so long now that I know what works for me and where I can go with it. A lot of Rappers don’t know mic placement. You’ve gotta be able to hear what’s going on. Most stages I can usually find a sweet spot and can hear everything perfect and tap into the crowd so I can control the energy between crowd and performer. It’s emotion that connects me to my audience. They see me giving it all I’ve got. Sometimes it’s hard to spit the words out because I’m close to tears, but I leave it all on the stage so the audience can see it.”
Regarding his Best Rap/Hip-Hop Video honor, Spitz says he was very honored to receive that trophy as well. “Nowadays if I make an album I need to make a video for every song on the album,” he reflects. “That’s how the world sees things now. You’ve gotta have a visual. I’ll put out a song and nothing too much will happen, but when I release a video with the song I’ll get 200,000 views in the first two weeks through people sharing it, which floors me.”
“Honestly, I get sick of telling people to share videos, but they don’t realize how much power they have. If everybody I knew shared my videos, I’d be famous as hell right now; but I’m never bitter. Some people shoot pool on a Friday and I make music, which is something I’ll never stop as long as my voice isn’t shot.”
Another reason Spitzer has hit the sweet spot is because while Rap in nature, his sensibilities are not stuck in one genre. “I’ve been able to cross through with my music and my videos are popping right now because Fresh Rich has done the last five. I just dropped another one called Ghetto Lullaby last week and it clocked 10,000 views on facebook and 10,000 views on youtube, so that’s 20,000 in the first work of release.”
“I’ve also just shot a video that is entirely animated by Mac Lawrence, who’s from Ohio and works with all the major labels,” continues Spitz. “I’m a cartoon in that one,” he laughs, “plus I have some big features coming down the pipeline. I can’t talk about it right now, but they’re bigger than people realize.”
Spitz says he has a new album coming out soon and is working on another in Nashville with Scatterbrains and Struggle Jennings, who is Waylon Jennings grandson. “Struggle is a DJ and Producer and I’m waiting for them get off tour,” notes Spitz. “I’ve been booked for two years and while waiting on that to start I also started making this new album. I don’t do a lot of features, but figured I’d start doing some and bring some big-timers in so we can shine a light over here in Saginaw, because we’ve got so much talent.”
Finally, when asked about his Rap Artist of the Year honor at this year’s 35th RMA, Spitz pretty much sums it up with these reflections. “An artist needs to be themselves, love music, and as long as I’ve got musical people around me, the stuff that makes the difference and cuts through is the stuff that comes from within. I’m my own worst critic, which can be good or bad; but if it feels good and brings emotion or goosebumps when you listen to it, it’s good as far as I’m concerned.”
“It’s nice to have people paying attention and find my music catching on finally and people starting to notice it, along with other artists hitting my inbox asking for features. I know people are taking notice, so I want to give a shout-out to all my family, friends, and fans.”
“A lot of live shows were shut down during COVID so I took the time to make my recordings sounded right, but I’ve got a lot of performances coming up this summer as well - not so much around here, but in the Upper Peninsula, along with a couple festivals lined up. My plan is to perform as much as possible. A lot of artists don’t even bother performing, which I don’t understand because that’s the number one way to connect with people.”
To learn more, download his music, and share his videos you can visit mikespitzmusic.com
Here’s a link to Spitzer’s latest video, Ghetto Lullaby:
16th November, 2023