Massachusetts-bred producer MichaelAngelo has made a name for himself in the East Coast underground, working with an array of talented artists and finding inspiration from his travels. His beats have graced projects from the likes of Griselda Records, Estee Nack, BoriRock, Eto, and many more. He is also closely associated with Manteca, a label collective led by rappers CRIMEAPPLE, Primo Profit, and RLX. With an ear for catchy sample loops and an expert eye for up-and-coming talent, MichaelAngelo has distinguished himself as one of the top beat-makers to coming out of the Northeast.
The producer has been making beats for years, but his MichaelAngelo alias emerged from a recent rebrand. “When I used to go off a different producer name, the name of the game was to try to work with everyone in the city. It didn’t necessarily water my stuff down, but it kind of watered down the need for it. So when I rebranded, I made a decision that I'm only going to work with artists that I want to work with,” MichaelAngelo said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson.
MichaelAngelo's love for music began in his childhood. His brothers exposed him to hip-hop artists N.W.A., Public Enemy, and Wu-Tang Clan, which played an essential role in shaping his early music preferences. The producer’s recent work includes full length projects from each of the members of Manteca as well as with rappers like BoriRock and Eto. His process begins with a sample or a melody that catches his ear and builds from there.
“As far as making beats, I dig and find a bunch of samples,” MichaelAngelo said. “Then, I go back to them and chop them. I chop pieces that I like, and compile a good selection, so when I sit down and make the beats I have something to keep going off of. It’s like a pre-cut library.”
As an independent artist, MichaelAngelo credits his learning experiences to trial and error, experimenting with different sounds, and constantly adapting to the ever-evolving musical landscape. He emphasizes the importance of genuine connections and friendships with the artists he collaborates with, as they contribute to the authenticity of his work.
“When I moved to Salem, I didn't know anyone,” MichaelAngelo said. “I found out there was a group called Tragic Allies and just saw what they did. I would build with group member Estee Nack and did tracks with him early on. Another kid I knew ran some community-type hip-hop stuff, and he threw al.divino on one of my beats when he was just 17 and I was like ‘Yo, this dude's got a crazy ass voice,’ so I linked up with him. I actually introduced al.divino and Nack for the first time. I have a picture that I'm gonna release as part of the rollout for a project I got with [al.divino].”
“Estee Nack, al.divino, and Primo Profit, I've known all three of them for over 15 years or so,” the producer added. “It's great to see all of us coming up right now.”
MichaelAngelo's journey in the music industry has taken him to numerous locations worldwide while on tour with Manteca, including Europe and Colombia. He recently returned from an international tour with CRIMEAPPLE, which included stops in Austria, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. The producer’s travels have influenced his perspective on life and his creative process. As Manteca’s go-to producer, MichaelAngelo shared that traveling and touring with the group has only improved their musical collaborations.
“[Manteca] is a family,” the producer said. “It's more than a label. You'll see a lot of these labels out here and they might not rock with each other. They might be on the same label, but do they travel with each other? You don't see too much of that. I think it plays out a lot in the music too.”
“When I was in Amsterdam, I had fans walk up to me,” he added. “They were like, ‘I love RLX and I love Primo's stuff. But, when y’all do some stuff together. It's just different.’ And I told them that that's my job as a producer. These are my friends. It’s more than just music.”
MichaelAngelo has an exciting year lined up, with multiple projects in the pipeline, including collaborations with al.divino, Primo Profit, CRIMEAPPLE, Elcamino, and many more. “When I was chasing this dream, I was working construction my whole life,” the producer said. “I remember the point where I was like, ‘Yo, fuck it, I gotta quit.’ I had to quit the construction job because I wasn't getting enough done [with the music] at that time. I knew I was getting flooded with work. So, it was time to put the construction on the back end, focus on the music and really believe in myself.”
Though Boston remains his home base for now, MichaelAngelo has plans of relocating to Los Angeles for a year to explore new opportunities and connections. As he looks to the future, he remains dedicated to his craft, using his passion for music as a form of therapy and self-expression.
—Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at email@example.com.