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Mikeyy Austin is quick. His rhymes are quick, his wit is quick he even picks up the phone quickly, only letting it ring once before answering for this interview. And at only 20 years old, the Lansing hip-hop artist is quick to give back. In the last year, Austin has not only released his debut full-length album, “L I F T E D,” but has also raised $4,000 in scholarship money for community high schoolers.
“It’s been in me for a long time,” said Austin of his need to create music, who has been writing and performing songs since he was only 5. Currently, Austin collaborates with hip-hop artists around Michigan, writes and performs original music with his band, the Happy Medium, and participates in educational, music-based community outreach programs with All of the Above Hip Hop Academy.
It’s obvious that the arts are more than just a hobby for Austin, they’re a creative force of communal good for the young hip-hop artist. But not everyone champions artistic output like he does.
For some, the arts are viewed as more of a hobby than a career. As a graduate of Lansing’s Eastern High School, Austin knows that this view can be dangerous, leading to art programs being defunded at the high school level. Austin took this budget deficit problem into his own hands and started an initiative to raise money for the arts.
Austin started a run of shows hosted at the Robin Theatre, called the REO Town Sessions meant to bring local artists together regardless of genre, artform or medium to raise money for high school artists.
“We wanted to make the sessions bigger than just a campaign or hashtag,” said Austin, who wanted the shows to have a lasting impact. Austin raised $4,000 in donations from the REO Town Sessions that went to Eastern High School students with plans to pursue the arts after high school. The money will go to the college or secondary education program of their choice to enable them to pursue their passion.
“We wanted to dispel that myth that the arts are just like a hobby,” said Austin. “For the students who want to pursue arts, we want to let them know that it is positive, that it is constructive and that there are a lot of life lessons that you can learn through the arts.”
With a growing career in hip-hop and a show at the Robin Theatre this Friday, Austin looks to the future to keep connecting with artists, book more shows and release new music. But his biggest endeavor has always been community outreach.
“I want to use my music as a platform to give back to the community,” said Austin, and as that platform expands, he hopes to do bigger and better things. With next year’s REO Town Sessions, Austin hopes to raise $10,000.
Austin’s scholarship is a reminder to students that the Lansing community supports them and their passion.
“Whether its tuition, books or whatever they many need, the money is there to tell them we support them in any way possible,” said Austin.
UP (LIFTED) 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 30 $10 Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington, Lansing (989) 878-1810, TheRobinTheatre@gmail.com therobintheatre.com