“Michigan was such a great experience. It’s a great place for training and development for real world applications and practicalities. It’s impressive what you do here.”
Mike Muse, ’02, came to Michigan to study engineering. Now he owns a record label. Oh, and he served on President Obama’s national finance committee. He is the youngest person in American campaign finance to raise $1 million in a single calendar year.
Mike Muse, as his website states, leads the intersection of entertainment and politics.
“I was using pop culture and music to make politics relatable. And I used politics to make pop culture very substantive, and give entertainers a reason to have substance behind the mic.”
Mike Muse is uniquely positioned to comment on the state of popular culture. I got his point of view on several issues that are often in headlines.
Music and Politics
“Music has always been a part of the political narrative, dating back to protest songs. When we’re enjoying music, dancing and partying, sometimes we don’t even realize the messaging coming through.”
“Jimmy Hendrix redid The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. That was about stylizing patriotism the way you see it.”
The State of Pop Music
Contrary to the general belief, Mike believes that social narrative in pop music is increasing.
“I think that people are more conscious these days. About standing for something, about having a message that is more substantive. Consumers are becoming more educated about the products we buy. Artists realize that they need to be creative and have substance – in their own way.
Is There a Limit to Where Art Should Go?
“No, there is no limit. The purpose of art is to have a reaction. Whether your reaction is good or bad, that’s good art, because you’re feeling something. When you react, you talk, you engage. You shouldn’t censor art … that’s where action takes place.
What About Out of Control Pop Stars?
“There’s a difference between the art they’re creating and the artist themselves. Parents who have younger children who may listen to (Justin Bieber) or Miley Cyrus will say, ‘Their lifestyle is offensive.’ As a parent, you should question that. But you shouldn’t question the art. Because whose limit are we basing that on?
“Look at Miley Cyrus, and her lifestyle. Know that this is sometimes fantasy. The onus is on the parents to take responsibility. Sometimes as a society we don’t take responsibility for our own actions.”
2 Chainz on Campus
MUSIC Matters recently hosted SpringFest on campus, headlined by rapper 2 Chainz. The proceeds of the concert went to a summer camp for at-risk youth, but what about the rapper’s lyrics, which as a rule are less than socially conscious?
“His lyrics may not be socially conscious, but does that make him not valid to perform here? His lyrics may be controversial, but the show is sold out. Clearly someone is interested, clearly someone’s engaged. The organization selected the performer based on what the community enjoys. They used data to find what Billboard performers are the most liked here. They actually have the data to do this, which I find to be The Michigan Difference.”