Kid Mitch: Tempe Underground Rapper
STORY BY Uché O.Z.
Photography by Jonathan Brewer and Drew Winters
The City of Tempe is a very sunny city with the population being under 200,000. Home to the very famous and highly diverse Arizona State University, the city carries the permanent vibe of an innovative and creative community. This creativity is evident in its culture, arts, music, and its artists; one of such artists is a rapper by the name of Kid Mitch.
Kid Mitch, born Aaron Christopher Mitchell, is a Chicago-born/ Colorado raised rapper based out of Tempe Arizona and a Communications senior at Arizona State University. Mitch has been making music for as long as he remembers; his knack for recording music and playing instruments dating back to his childhood and stemming from his dad's musical prowess. I had the pleasure of visiting his dad's house and seeing the recording room. It was a vast and tidy arrangement of musical instruments and studio equipment capable of executing every musical function one would ask of a professional studio.
In 2015, Kid Mitch released his first professionally done Project, titled KMEP (Kid Mitch Extended Play), on Soundcloud. KMEP was very welcomed by fans, with his least played song "Get Enough" gaining more than 1300 plays and his most popular song "Don" surpassing 10k plays on Soundcloud. The song serves as a window to his rapper alter ego where he portrays his growth as an artist to his listeners. It is also a political reference to President-Elect Donald Trump, with its timely release at the height of Trump's controversial campaign, just months before the November elections. " I want it like I just want it all, I want it like Donald Trump wanna build a wall", Mitch raps. After listening to Don, one might easily begin to identify Mitch's witty amalgamation of word play on an accurately laid out drum loop complemented by an overtone of instruments.......or not. Regardless, it is his cunningly crafted words, and his meticulous blending of lyrics over the right instrumentals that is his art form.
Listen to "Don" below:
It's 3pm in December. I'm riding shotgun in Mitch's Nissan Altima. He pulls up to the corner of a street ridden with apartment complexes all claiming to be Lakeside property, knocks on one of the glass doors and we go in to what seems to be a studio setup.
A couple months earlier, he had invited me over to his abode. His house was located in what seemed to be a middle-class neighborhood. We had walked in through the back where I met two very high spirited gentlemen lounging by the pool sporting very cold brews. Mitch later introduced them as his fraternity brothers. Mitch had given me a tour of the house and shared some of its history with me. The house gave off a steady bachelor-like vibe, and as far back as Mitch could recall, previous occupants of the house had been older fraternity brothers. Every piece of furniture was strategically placed and rooms were named after the very specific purposes they served. One of these rooms served as his recording and engineering studio. "This is where the magic happens, this is where I make my beats, this is where I record my bangerz", he says. He then proceeds to play me some unreleased songs and instrumentals.
Months later and we're at a recording studio on Tempe Town Lake. This particular unit is housed in one of Tempe's overpriced luxury units and is serves as the place where Mitch writes and sometimes engineers his music. The recording studio is just about the size of an over-furnished one bedroom apartment. A corner is sectioned off with at least 3 sofas. One section is very colorfully lit. There's a bunch of camera lights, green, white, and black screens that serve the purpose of a backdrop. The actual studio equipment consists of a keyboard with about 51 keys, a drum pad, 2 microphones, 3 headsets. Today, he is going over some instrumentals and putting touch-ups on his lyrics.
Mitch is sitting on one of the swivel chairs and bobbing his head back and forth to an instrumental. On the table, right next to a piano is a 12 year old bottle of (Johnnie Walker) Scotch. He pours himself a quarter glass and downs it in half a blink of an eye. "I've been putting in work and i'm taking these shots like my name is just Scottie Pippen", he spits. After long hours of witnessing Mitch's creative process, it is apparent that the Tempe artist is very fastidious in his song making. His lyrics are synonymous with a unique poetic style that mirrors his emotions and portrays his state of mind. He thumbs through his Instagram page (@realkidmitch) as he replies his fans' messages and comments. We talk about hobbies and influences on his music. He mentions industry icons such as Eminem and Wiz Khalifa. He tells me a little bit about his childhood, his battles, and his triumphs. He credits most of his life's achievements to his family, friends, and fraternity. "Without their love and support, I wouldn't be here", he says as he slaps down another quarter glass of Scotch. "They come to all my performances, they yell in the crowds, they turn up."
KMEP2 (Kid Mitch Extended Play 2) is set to release in January 2017 on Spotify and iTunes. It features at least 9 songs, with Mitch hoping to shoot at least 5 music videos for the mixtape.
Eventually, more artists begin to troop in the studio. A fashion designer, an audio engineer, and Mitch's professional cameraman by the name of Drew Winters also come in. Winters brings out his camera and starts shooting. Mitch keeps bobbing, spitting, writing, not paying any attention to Winters. The resulting photographs appear to all be candid; nothing forced. One look at Winters and you can tell he's very proud of his photos. The little recording room is soon overwhelmed by a very groovy vibe. Being around them, you could sense it, you could smell it, you could feel it; their eagerness to create.
Listen to KMEP1 below: