Micahh was waiting for his big break – so why did he quit The Rap Game UK?
Hackney rapper Micahh surprised viewers of The Rap Game UK when he decided to leave the show. He explains why he found the experience challenging.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity. The offer of appearing on an award-winning music show, with mentorship from some of the UK's most knowledgeable artists in the rap world, came to Micahh after years of grafting to make music while homeless. But in a dramatic turn of events in the second episode of The Rap Game UK Series 2, the budding artist decided to leave the show.
His exit may not have been entirely unexpected – during the a capella challenge in the first episode, where the rappers had to freestyle, the Hackney artist, who describes his sound as Afro Trap, struggled to remember his lyrics. On the next challenge – a collaboration with another artist – the same thing happened. Viewers might assume nerves got the better of Micahh, but as he tells BBC Three, there was more happening in his mind than met the eye.
"The a capella challenge – I have no idea what happened," he says. "The bars just wouldn't come out. I don't get nervous, that's a feeling I don't really feel, so when people say, 'Oh, was it nerves?' they think I'm trying to cover up when I say no. I've been waiting for all these cameras and for people to treat me like an artist, so it didn't make sense to me why this was happening. I feel like I'm gonna have to take it on the chin and label it what everyone else is labelling it, which is nerves."
At one point, the presenters doubted whether Micahh had come up with any new material as he rapped previously-written lyrics that didn't fit with the theme of the challenge. In fact, he had been rehearsing his new composition beforehand, but he admits that something got in the way of him being his best. "I'm a confident person, that's what got me there, that's who I am. But when you look at it back you can't see the confidence."
'I was in a dark place'
Back when he was homeless, Micahh would sofa-surf and borrow money from friends to record music in studios. He says his dogged determination to keep recording music while battling tough circumstances led to him being picked to appear on the show. But his unstable living situation took its toll.
"I hadn't been eating or sleeping when I was homeless," he reveals. He was pinning all his hopes on music. "I felt like, if something doesn't happen with music soon, I'll throw it all away. When this opportunity came, it felt like a beacon of light. I thought I could change my life, my mum's life, off the back of this opportunity. When I was picked for the Rap Game UK I felt like I'd manifested it. Somebody reached out to me to be on it, I was in a very dark place musically because I'd been going to all these industry events and having people tell me my music was sick, and it got to the point where I was thinking, 'If everyone thinks this, why am I at the bottom of the barrel?'"
But the challenges, where artists must write and learn new raps in 24 hours, proved difficult for Micahh. "Before I got into it I thought it was gonna change my life," he says. "But I had to ask myself, 'Who am I as a creative?' I respect the show, but it wasn't for me."
Deciding to leave wasn't easy, and he acknowledges he has a tendency to walk away from things to protect himself. "I can walk away from anything, family, friends, no matter what it is, I can detach from it," he explains. "As much as there's power in that, I realise I need to work on myself in that sense because I might also walk away from a blessing one day. Even something like leaving the show, there was learning in that."
He's also grateful for the opportunity the show gave him. "I'm not homeless no more, things are happening. This is why I said this show was more than just a competition for me, it's a life-changing opportunity. But things are really hard, not having any financial support."
Does he feel he was ready for the show, having only just overcome very challenging circumstances? "I could have taken a bit more time out for myself, but I have to jump at every opportunity. People don't know what it feels like when you have no opportunities. Then to get this opportunity was like, 'Yo, this is who I am, the platform, I'm gonna go for this.'"
Overall, he's reflective about his experience. "The Micahh that I needed to be for The Rap Game might not have been the Micahh I was at that moment in time."
This isn't though, he insists, the end of his career, despite the fact he's still working through his personal circumstances. "I'm still going, this isn't over. You're going to see me again – my story is still ongoing."