Happy Friday to you!
It’s hard to believe that the month of February is almost over, but I’m super excited for warmer weather, a new wardrobe and great music to serve as the soundtrack for it all. I don’t know about you, but for me music serves as a huge part of my everyday life. It’s always been there to comfort no matter the circumstance, and it is always refreshing to meet someone that shares the same sentiment.
For this fourth installment of “Millennials on a Mission”, I’d like to introduce you to a young man who is taking his love for music and using it as a platform to achieve his ultimate career goals. Although I’ve just recently started following Michell on Twitter, I am definitely intrigued by his drive, focus and ambitious nature. Not mention, his impeccable taste in only great music.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Michell Clark.
A former military academy cadet, Michell says that he has been taking the scenic route during his college career — but wouldn’t have it any other way. Since leaving the military, he appreciates the opportunity to reflect on his life’s direction, career goals and make long lasting friendships . Currently a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, Michell is strictly about his business– between work, school, and maintaining his brainchild Artistic Manifesto, there isn’t much time for playing around. “I love it though,” he says. “My college experience has been all about networking–meeting and learning from like-minded individuals.” In my opinion, music can say a lot about an individual and how they choose to navigate this thing we call life.
When I asked Michell to choose a song to serve as the soundtrack to his life right now, he chose “Keep It Real” by KYLE. Music has that unique ability to open a window into one’s perspective on life, and this track definitely provides more insight to Michell’s point of view. “KYLE talks about all of the insecurity he sees around him, and emphasizes the fact that all of the people who seem to take issue with him have no effect on him,” he says. “That’s his definition of “keeping it real.” He’s totally comfortable in his shoes and won’t compromise his goofy persona for anyone.” Never being one to fit into cliques and groups, Michell understands where KYLE is coming from. “It’s best to be completely confident in who you are as a person instead of pursuing a stereotype.”
On what inspires him to want to write about music for a living: I probably don’t have enough role models in the writing industry. Is it cocky to say that no one is truly filling the lane I see myself in in the future? I’d have to say that after writing for Pigeons & Planes for a few months, I’ve definitely grown to admire and idolize the work ethic, wit, and passion of Confusion and the other writers on their site. Besides that, many of my role models are those who have excelled in a certain field and expanded into a variety of areas once success found them. People who don’t have simply a vision of success, but a vision of revolution. People like Kanye West. Kanye started as a producer and an emcee at first, but now he’s blazing trails in fashion. He’s made films. He’s establishing himself as much more than what you first knew him for. That’s what I aspire to. I want to write about music because I honestly feel that the vast majority of music websites don’t do their research. Everyone is regurgitating what they see elsewhere, when there’s a whole global community of artists getting overlooked.
In 2009, Michell took the dare of a friend and started Artistic Manifesto. And since the website’s inception, he has had the opportunity to interview the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Chuck D, Phil Ade, Jhene Aiko and Casey Veggies, just to name a few. Moreover, it’s given him the opportunity to discover and share the work of great artists. “We don’t share music that’s wack, period.” His favorite interview to date was with Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, who he says (surprisingly) sounds exactly the way he does on a track.
On what sets Artistic Manifesto apart as a brand: I spend a lot of time researching music to ensure that I continue to distinguish my site from the pack. When it came to naming my website, the word “manifesto” always had a particular intrigue to it, even when I had no idea what it meant. It is essentially defined as a “declaration of intents and principles.” So, my Artistic Manifesto brand seeks to stick to the principles of ‘good’ music, and artistry as a whole, outlasting a lot of these weak trends and over-hyped artists. Artistic Manifesto’s meaning definitely evolved as the site grew. I have a ‘signature’ question that I ask every artist who I interview, it’s the very last question. I simply ask, “What is your Artistic Manifesto?” I end up having to define “manifesto” to a lot of artists. When I asked Casey Veggies over the phone, there was like a 30 second pause in the conversation. Pretty sure he was Googling it on his phone. But once the definition is understood, I think it brings out some of the most interesting and varied answers of all the questions that I ask.
As you can tell, Michell invests a great deal of time in making sure that the mission of Artistic Manifesto is accurately projected on all fronts. With music being such a constant and always moving force, it takes great skill to always be in-the-know when it comes to exposing great tunes to the masses.
On balancing school, his brand and keeping ahead of the curve: I have this crazy idea in my head that this will be my career. I’m still in school full-time, working part time, but my thoughts are focused on my craft. There’s a song called “Dream II” by BJ The Chicago Kid that is an amazing motivator, partially for its incorporation of Will Smith quotes. He speaks of his “ridiculous, sickening, work ethic,” and that’s what I stand by. I’m not going to have relatively chill lifestyle of the average college kid, because I don’t have goals to be ‘average.’ I push things to the limit and keep pushing.
To Michell, a “Millennial on a Mission” is someone who is in the midst of coming into their own in life. “They’ve found out want to do in their short time on Earth and is pursuing it with all of their heart, through all of the ups and downs of life,” he says. ” Everyone has dreams and ambitions, but few believe in themselves enough to follow them.” As a fellow music enthusiast and dream chaser, I’m so excited to witness the growth and expansion of Artistic Manifesto, and I appreciate Michell’s hustle in the pursuit of what he believes he has been placed on this Earth to accomplish.