Two years ago, the staff of Pop-Break.com was covering the GameChanger mobile app launch at iPlay America in Freehold, New Jersey. Before the rapper T. Mills took the stage to perform a young man approached us. His name was Mike Montini. He was a fledgling rapper who went by the name SupMikeCheck. He spoke excitedly about getting in the game and his love of music. Before going to see T. Mills perform, he crushed a sweaty business card into our hands.
There’s not one thing I can tell you about that business card, but in retrospect all there needed to be on it was one word — hustle.
Hustle is the name of the game for Montini aka SupMikeCheck. Hip-hop is not exactly the most well-received genre of music in his home of New Jersey. Very few venues provide nights for artists to perfect their craft. Yet, for the past two years, SupMikeCheck has done just that. He has taken every opportunity handed him to up to his game.
Recently, we caught up with SupMikeCheck to talk about his upcoming gig with Futuristic at The Stanhope House in April, hustling in the hip hop game and more.
SupMikecheck Is (Band Members, Instrument Played): SupMikecheck is the stage name for me, Mike Montini. I am a solo artist but when I perform I tend to have a DJ on stage with me. I’ve been rotating through different DJ’s but I think I found a full-timer now.
The Story of My Stage Name: When I was a teenager, my friends gave me the nickname Mikecheck simply a play of words from when a performer says Mic Check and my first name being Mike. Being that the internet is so massive, there were a lot of rappers calling themselves Mikecheck. So when I really started up my career I decided to add the Sup in front of it. Simply meaning What’s Up Mikecheck? And through my music I’d answer that, and let them know what’s up with me and how I feel. I think its a cool stage name. It always gets spelt wrong though, I’ve had people call me Super Mikecheck, Sub Mikecheck, someone even thought it was Soup Mikecheck. But once I explain it, it makes sense.
I’m Based Out Of: New Jersey, I’ve lived here all my life. Occasionally I spend a lot of weekends in Philly or NYC but I live in Jersey.
Any New Music Coming Out: Yes! I’m working on my second full-length album, I’m hoping to finish it by the summer. I’ve still been putting up a few songs on soundcloud to test my fan’s reactions and keep my momentum going until the album is completed.
You’ve Seen Me Before [in other bands]: A lot of people think I’m just your average rapper, but I actually play a lot of instruments. I started off a drummer but learned guitar, bass, and keyboard. I was in a few high school rock bands and even had an instrumental rock band called Ocean Waves Goodbye. I make Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop music now, but I’ll always be into rock music. Some of my biggest influences are from heavy bands.
My sound has been likened to: Some similar artists that I have some mutual fans with would be Jake Miller, Mod Sun, T. Mills, Hoodie Allen, The Ready Set, MGK, Shwayze, and Metro Station.
When we first met you two years ago at iPlay America, you were a fledgling MC and this was something you were trying out. Now, here were are, two years later and you’re still in the game. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from the past two years of performing?
I think just my drive and desire to never give up. I learned to do a lot of things myself. When people rejected my music, didn’t answer, or gave me the cold shoulder, I would just ignore them and keep moving forward. I always believed in myself and still do. We live in a digital age where independent artists can be very successful. Whether the industry professionals like your music or not, independent artists can still release music on iTunes and Spotify and make money themselves. That’s how I survive. I’m not sure of what record labels think of me. Of course, I’d like to get signed more than anything but as of right now I’m totally fine building up a name for myself and releasing music myself. No one can really stop me, and I have a cool fanbase that’s not going anywhere.
The Jersey Shore area is not known for being a haven for hip-hop — can you talk about the difficulties of trying to find gigs in the area and how you’ve overcome those difficulties (if you have)?
Yes! Firstly, that is so true. I think the key to me earning shows is how fun and lively I am on stage. People don’t leave the show and forget about my set. Like I said earlier though, I’m not your average rapper so that works to my advantage when getting booked. I love bands and the rock scene. There’s a rapper Kyle Lucas who seems to have a similar interest as me. I see he does a lot of songs with rockstar Jonny Craig. Yelawolf, another rapper I like was featured on my favorite band Blink-182’s song “Pretty Little Girl.”
My dream would be to make it on Warped Tour or play a festival like Skate & Surf or SXSW. I think even though my songs are rap/hip-hop, I’m like that cool dude who gets accepted by all kinds of scenes. I feel like I can open for a heavy metal band and still somehow win over the crowd. I’ve actually done that before (laughs). I remember the first time I saw T. Mills, I didn’t even listen to rap, but he was on Warped Tour. Not only did I accept it but it’s what really got me into rap. Jersey isn’t always easy to get booked but I really appreciate any opportunity I’m given and rarely deny a show. I’ve played some weird shows man. I’ve done fundraisers at like a farm, a couple house parties, but The Stanhope House has really showed me some love. I’m getting ready to do out of state shows though, I got a lot of fans demanding me to come to their state. I’m right next to NYC and Philadelphia. I know New York really wantd to see me, and for some reason I have a lot of fans in Ohio and Texas and I don’t really know why but I’m stoked (laughs).
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you in the two years you’ve been performing?
I think just watching my fan base grow. I’ve been a DIY artist I learned how to really advertise and get my name out there through Twitter and Facebook. I write back to all my fans and I show so much appreciation towards them that it really helps the fan base grow. I think the best thing that has happened has just been getting on the radar. I have some huge followers on Twitter of like musicians I looked up to as a kid. Bands that I grew up listening to are now my friends texting me and asking me how I’m doing. It’s the craziest thing to me and I appreciate it all so much because even though I dreamed of it happening one day, it still seems surreal.
What is one of your favorite and/or most outrageous moments you’ve had performing as SupMikecheck?
I have a song called “Grandma’s Cookies” and I remember I was playing a show for a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser so the crowd was extremely mixed. While I was singing “Grandma’s Cookies” There’s like an 80 year old grandma in the crowd screaming “Check! Check! Check!” she loved every minute of it. I was so embarrassed and I grabbed a drink at the bar after the show and her daughter, who was like a 50-year-old mom said her mother wanted to meet me. I took pictures with their family and signed autographs and was just like weirded out in an awesome way. That was a good scenario but It’s so weird singing explicit songs and seeing parents giving me the stink eye while their daughters are living it up to my music. I don’t know if that’s a common thing for artists with explicit lyrics to make eye contact with like the dads in the audience but that’s why I wear my sunglasses when I perform, I don’t like making eye contact with anyone (laughs).
What do you love about performing?
It’s just everything, I’ve always been a kind of a shy kid. No one really paid me much attention but when I get on stage I feel really confident. I enjoy being able to lead a party and make other people bounce around and have fun. I want to make people smile, a lot of my older songs are kind of ridiculous and I can admit that, but when the crowd laughs at the lyrics and smile, it makes it all worth it. I think music makes people happy and by performing live, you never know who is watching who might be inspired to go home and pick up an instrument. I want to inspire and let the new generation know that they can do it too.
If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what you are all about?
All my latest I think are my greatest. I have a song called “Think About It” (Produced By MIDIFlexx) that is a song about ignoring naysayers and following your dreams. It’s also clean lyrically so Im stoked on that. I have a song “Ain’t That Bad” which is a positive song about looking at the good things in life which is also a clean song. But even though I’m working on making cleaner songs I don’t think you can say you know SupMikecheck without listening to my popular explicit song “Grandma’s Cookies” or the slow song “Give Up”
What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
I’m currently working on this new album. I have a list of venues all through out the states that I might be getting booked at. I want to do somewhat of a tour in the summer even if it is just a handful of out of state east coast shows. I’m so ready to tour. I’m hoping that doing my own tour will get some industry professionals to look into me. I’ve never been against record deals or professional management I just haven’t been approached by the right person for me yet. I’m hoping that 2015 brings me that, but if it doesn’t and still no one can see my potential, I’m going to find a way regardless. I’m never going to give up when I’m doing so well and my fan base called #Checkers is only growing bigger.
SupMikeCheck will perform at The Stanhope House in Stanhope, New Jersey opening up for Futuristic. Click here for tickets.
Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom