As a pioneer in the music industry, award winning producer, Mike City, has been creating hits for some of music’s greatest vocalists for close to two decades. With his symphonic fingers on the pulse of all genres of music, City is a master at creating emotionally infused grooves rooted in soul, as is the case with his most recent labor of love “The Feel-Good Agenda Vol. 1”.
Mike City’s credentials include creating music with the likes of Rihanna, Usher, Jamie Foxx feat Kanye, Dr. Dre, Mary J Blige and countless other chart-topping records like Sunshine Anderson’s “Heard It All Before”, Brandy’s “Full Moon” and Carl Thomas’ “I Wish.”
More recently, his sound has married his love of soul music with the ever-growing popularity of Dance, and more specifically house music, the celebrated producer is coming from behind the boards to take center stage as an artist.
This year the legendary producer has created a new holiday classic, For the Holidays.
Featuring seven original songs that are sure to become future Christmas classics that help make this holiday season warm and bright. In the spirit of his soulful dance infused music, “For the Holidays” sets the perfect mood for moving on the dancefloor or sipping cocoa by the fireplace; tis the season to share in the merriment.
RNB Magazine spoke to Mike City about his holiday album and what he thinks about the state and future of the genre.
RNB Magazine: What was your process for creating this holiday album?
Mike City: For the Holidays is 7 songs, It wasn’t set in stone when I was going through tracks for the most part, if I took the songs off the records they could be regular songs. So, it was a lot like the process of creating a R & B album. It’s different. It’s really like a R&B/feel good/holiday project.
RNB Magazine: You made some of the biggest records of the early 2000s, how did you change the sound of R&B?
Mike City: I don’t know if I changed it. I think I helped. I incorporated hip-hop elements, but with R&B. I really tried to give it the bounce. I tried to give a sound that people could bounce and have a good time to.
RNB Magazine: What’s your favorite black Christmas carol?
Mike City: It’s gotta be “This Christmas.” Donny Hathaway is one of my favorites anyway. The crazy thing about this Christmas project is my mom passed away a few years back. I wrote a song dedicated to her called, “Christmas without You.” Everybody has somebody that they love and that they miss around the holidays, but we keep pushing on. It was a hard song to write. I didn’t bury my mom, I think about my mom every day, but this was a hard song to write because it was like a conversation to her.
RNB Magazine: Wow. What are some of your holiday plans, have you made new traditions?
Mike City: I think this holiday we are going to stay home. With the wife and kids. I’m from the east coast, but I’m on the west coast now which has inspired a lot of new traditions.
RNB Magazine: How do you feel about where R&B is right now?
Mike City: It’s crazy. It’s like they are trying to backseat R&B right now. At the end of the day, the basis of so many different forms of music is R&B. It’s gonna take people to spread the word, and reach the younger generations.
RNB Magazine: What do you think it’s missing?
Mike City: I don’t think it needs anything except a chance to really be heard. When the digital and streaming era came along, the genre that was most hurt was R&B. To me, the backbone of R&B music is grown black women. These are women who have families, they have kids, work, and all this stuff. Going to the record store used to be a release, an outing. They could go it was tangible, they would end up buying records that they didn’t even plan on getting. Now in the way records are released, they can’t touch it. It’s not personal. You can’t look at the back of the album cover and know who did what. It’s not personal anymore and R&B is very personal music. I also think the digital divide and computer savviness contributed to the decline. If you’re 50 years old, you might not be as savvy. There’s a divide there.
RNB Magazine: Vinyl sales are increasing, do you think there’s a solution there?
Mike City: I think the fact that vinyl sales are going up is great. But I think that’s a specialty. Think about it. Black women are the backbone of R&B. Especially older black women. They would hear a song that they liked and go down to Strawberry’s or Tower’s and buy the record. It was a whole experience. Also, I don’t think a lot of older black women were really into putting their credit cards on the internet. I think it’s loosening up now, but the damage has definitely been done.
RNB Magazine: But now you are seeing a big resurgence in old school music. Black women still support tours.
Mike City: My man Carl Thomas stay doing his thing. Sunshine is still doing his thing. I still think the digital and the streaming revolution forgot about R&B, I’m sure it happened to gospel as well.
RNB Magazine: What do you hope that people get from the For the Holidays project?
Mike City: I hope however they come across it that it gives them a feeling. I really think I make feel good music that sticks to your bones. If you hear “I Wish” right now it still feels the same. If you hear Dave Hollister, it still feels the same. In 2034, its gonna feel the same way it felt in 2017. For me, making a Christmas project, it might simmer right now. But down the line, it could become the new black holiday staple.
Follow Mike City on IG @MikeCity