Story by Imama Khawaja
Photos by Priyanka Podjale
Michael Hardman - better known as Mike Prsm - could be best described as a man of many talents. Clad in pink - lensed sunglasses, a pinstriped lavender button - down over a Prince shirt and purple iridescent Air Force 1s, he alternates between talking animatedly and sipping from a mug of peppermint tea. At only 20 years old, Prsm just came out with his debut album Don’t Hate Me Now this past February, but his skills don’t end there - he’s also a model and fashion designer. We interviewed him for more on what he’s up to and where he’s going.
How did you get into music?
Well, I went to an all - boys Catholic school...that shit was weird. But we had a hip hop class and that’s what introduced me to the art form of music, the technicalities. I had a little notebook I was always writing in. Then in high school I saw Chance in a McDonald’s passing out mixtapes - I was like, damn, this n*gga’s doing it. That’s when I started taking it seriously and recording.
How do you feel you've grown since then?
It’s been a long journey for me an artist, just seeing what fits me. I’ve done a lot of different styles but now I’m finally honed in and I know who I am as a person and an artist. You can never stop growing - never plateau, you feel me? That’s my motto. Never plateau.
Tell us more about your style and modeling.
I know now everybody’s got designer shit, but it’s just about how you wear it. They think if they wear designer then they can dress but most of my stuff is from thrift stores. I’ve done modeling on and off for three or four years. Lately I’ve been taking it more seriously, now I’m getting booked for actual gigs, Fashion Week and stuff.
Wait, you modeled in Fashion Week? That’s fucking crazy.
Yeah, I mean I wasn’t at like Prada or anything, but I was really in there! I remember at one show Smokepurpp was in the front row smoking a blunt - that shit was crazy.
You have your own brand too, right?
Yeah, VYG, I’m wearing my VYG jeans right now! That stands for Value Your Gift. It’s what you’d call a “collective” - it’s me and a few of my friends, we wanted something that represents us, not just as individuals but as a whole.
We did our first Lookbook last February, and we procrastinated with the screen - printing so we had to hand - paint everything the day before the shoot. But now we’re starting work on a summer collection. It’s definitely still premature, we haven’t even released clothes yet, but the first Lookbook was very successful. We want to take it to the next level. We did that all ourselves.
It’s awesome that you’re going so many different directions with your art.
I like to stay well rounded. I’m a renaissance man.
"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s greatest album because of the collaborative effort - that n*gga had Bon Iver on there."
Who are your favorite artists and inspirations?
I like the oldies, I didn’t start listening to rap until I was like, twelve. James Brown, Prince, Michael Jackson. Lil Wayne is the reason I started making music. Smino is one of my biggest inspirations too. Oh wait, I’m tweaking, Chief Keef. It’s Chief Keef. He’s the G.O.A.T. Andre 3000 is an inspiration too - he’s like the master of fusion, incorporating different elements into his music. I’m like that, I don’t want to just be one genre. There’s a folky song on my next EP.
You seem to collaborate with a lot of people.
I believe collaboration in music is one of the most important things - the best music made is from collaborations. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s greatest album because of the collaborative effort - that n*gga had Bon Iver on there. So that’s the other motto: work with your friends.
What’s a difficulty in trying to break out as an artist for you?
Social media is destroying our attention span. People don’t listen to four-minute songs anymore. Even if it’s like, really, really good - Vine ruined us. I love Vine but it fucked us up. It’s like, a two minute video on Twitter is too long.
How do you feel about what’s known as “SoundCloud rap?”
I’m not one of them motherfuckers that’s like, “fuck SoundCloud rap.” But at the same time...I love Lil Pump, but do I listen to Lil Pump on the daily? Hell nah. The only problem I have with that music is that it just isn’t gonna last. There are too many people just doing that and imitating it. In five years motherfuckers aren’t gonna be talking about Lil Pump, bro.
But there are some SoundCloud rappers that are very talented. I know XXXtentacion is very controversial, but he’s definitely a guilty pleasure. I don’t condone him...his music is so good though. I’m like, I’m not supposed to fuck with you, you’re a terrible person. But his latest album? He’s gonna last, he’s one of those examples where his music will outshine him as a person. Some of these things are undeniable.
"If you’re not being true to yourself, why should people listen to you?"
What’s important to you in being an artist?
My favorite music is the shit that’s vulnerable. I try to be as vulnerable as I can. If you’re not being true to yourself, why should people listen to you? It’s tough for people to do that but I guess that’s what being an artist is.
What's next for you?
I’m coming out with a new EP soon in the next month. It’s just a three track EP, it’s gonna be about love. I’ve been making a lot of trap music lately, experimenting with my rap flows. I’m back on my bullshit.