“Yeah, it’s happening,” Mike said of his deal-in-the-works with T.I. “What I’m most happy about is, man, Tip really came to me respectful of the work I put in. Like, he didn’t come to me like, ‘How can I throw you a bone?’ He came to me like, ‘I see what you got going on. I really like what you [got] going on. I got some questions about what you got going on.’ He asked a few questions. I gave a few answers. And [he] was like, ‘I think I might be able to help with what [you] got going on. How would you feel about it?’”
Having collaborated before (maybe most notably alongside Bone Crusher on 2003’s smash “Never Scared”) and remaining in consistent contact over the years, with those conversations growing more frequent of late, the leaders of Grand Hustle and Grind Time have a longstanding relationship that helped to facilitate their union.
“We always had a real kinship,” said Mike of T.I. “And it’s real exciting to be able to have somebody who you had kinda earned your stripes with, and shared a lot of bumps and bruises [with], giving you an opportunity to expand what you doing.”
Currently, managers and lawyers for both ATL vets are ironing out the details of their partnership, but Mike expressed an interest in getting on his grind for Grand Hustle ASAP.
“I’d love to get [the deal] done by [Barack Obama’s] inauguration, the end of January,” said Mike. “But quicker if possible, ‘cause I’m just ready to work.”
Although Killa Kill confessed that talk of what will come to comprise his Grand Hustle debut effort is premature, he did reveal that two of the trackmasters behind his critically acclaimed I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, No I.D. and Smiff & Cash, are locked-in to be behind the boards for 16 In The Kitchen.
“I think that’d probably only be right,” Mike replied when asked if he planned to keep the long-planned album title for his first release after returning to the major labels. “I always said that [for] 16 I wanted to have a major platform. So God blesses this situation to be that, then I feel like I gotta hold true to my word and go ahead [with that title].”
In addition to the planned title, Mike was also asked if he has any concern that he’ll actually see a 2009 release for his first effort for Grind Time/Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records. Even with T.I.’s pending imprisonment for a year beginning in March, and previous additions to the label having yet to see their albums released, Mike is adamant that his own do-it-yourself ethic will ensure he is not about to step in quicksand by signing this new deal.
“I don’t know what happened with B.G.,” said Mike when asked about the release status of another high profile Grand Hustle signing. “I don’t know what happened with any of the other artists [on the label]. I can’t attest to that…My shit is I gotta feel like I control my own destiny…It’s up to me to make sure that I add to Grand Hustle and not just try to take from it. Any artist can get a deal at Grand Hustle and want the [benefit of the] work that Grand Hustle’s put in to provide the platform for them to do whatever and just eat off of [that]. [But] that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to add another dimension [to Grand Hustle].”
While he waits for his time to shine once again on a major, Mike is keeping his indie side alive via his current recording home, Grind Time/SMC Recordings, and in March will be unleashing the first Grind Time-sponsored compilation album, Underground Atlanta.