Art Start program helped Miky Solano leave behind life of crime, find voice via music and rapping

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/24/2011-10-24_art_start_program_helped_miky_solano_leave_behind_life_of_crime_find_voice_via_m.html?r=entertainment

Art Start program helped Miky Solano leave behind life of crime, find voice via music and rapping

BY Jacob E. Osterhout
DAILY NEWS FEATURE REPORTER


Monday, October 24th 2011, 4:00 AM
Miky Solano, 20, an ex-youth offender from Gowanus, finds his voice as a rapper.
Jacob E. Osterhout for News
Miky Solano, 20, an ex-youth offender from Gowanus, finds his voice as a rapper.

Until recently, self-expression was never Miguel (Miky) Solano’s strong point.

In fact, for much of his two decades, the only thing the Brooklyn native (who bears a striking resemblance to the rapper Big Pun) was good at was getting in trouble.

To be fair, growing up in a hard-scrabble part of Gowanus, trouble was easy to find.

Then Solano grabbed a microphone in an Art Start recording studio and suddenly he was Miky, a master freestyle artist who could put into verse the day-to-day challenges of a young man struggling to rise from the streets of Brooklyn.

“My high school wasn’t teaching me anything, so I dropped out and got in trouble with the police,” says Miky, describing his experience as a 15-year-old Mexican-American being arrested for possessing 90 bags of crack cocaine.

“I was looking at seven to 15 years in prison, but I was young and lucky, and only got probation.”

That’s when Miky discovered the One Mic recording workshop run by Art Start, a 20-year-old organization that offers art programs in homeless shelters and as part of alternative-to-incarceration programs throughout New York City.

With the motto “Art saves lives,” Art Start believes that the creative process, be it musical or visual, has the capability to transform the lives of at-risk youth.

“This is a place for all of us to come and express ourselves,” says Billy (Spiritchild) Martin, a spoken-word artist from the Bronx and One Mic program director. “Self-esteem and discipline is what we are aiming for. To have this communication through hip hop is very important, so that the students can share their life experiences.”

By his own admission, the One Mic program, which has a rotating group of 15 students, has changed Miky’s life, instilling in the 20-year-old a sense of confidence.

“The first time I came to the One Mic studio, I was real quiet because I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t really know what I was doing,” says Miky. “I was interested in music and liked to create beats by banging on tables, but I didn’t have the right equipment or anything. Then I slowly started to learn what I was doing.”

Miky teamed with teaching artists like Spiritchild to learn how to expand his vocabulary and properly put together a song.
“I didn’t know about song structure initially,” recalls Miky. “I would just write a lot of words, sentences and rhymes. I didn’t even know what a bar was. He pushed me to use more vocabulary, write in 16 bars and to actually have a logical flow to my lyrics.”

Miky (c.) hangs out with his friends at the Art Start recordin studio in Manhattan. (Jacob E. Osterhout for News)

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/24/2011-10-24_art_start_program_helped_miky_solano_leave_behind_life_of_crime_find_voice_via_m.html#ixzz1biSG7oQS

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Two years later, Miky, who earned his GED and has a day job at a funeral home in Brooklyn, attends the One Mic workshop twice a week for four hours and has recorded more than 20 songs.

“I don’t know anywhere else where I can go and use a free studio,” he says, noting that an equivalent studio would cost at least $60 an hour.

“It’s a good studio, too. All the equipment is top of the line. I try to pass that appreciation along to the new people who come in.”

It’s not the product, however, but the process that Miky enjoys.

“I come not only for the studio, but the people, too,” he says. “It’s all about the music and exchanging ideas.
Everybody has a different talent. There’s the producer who is good at making beats, the singer and the rapper, and it’s important to work with them all.”

Spiritchild nods in agreement, emphasizing that One Mic is not a talent contest.

“This is not an artist-development program,” he says. “Not everybody here is trying to be a professional MC. Many just want to socialize and hang out and write. This is simply an opportunity to be heard.”

In fact, Miky’s big dream isn’t even to become a rap star, although if it happened, he says, “I wouldn’t complain.”

Instead, he’d like to be a politician and help shape America’s immigration policy, a very important issue for both of his parents, who immigrated from Mexico.

He believes participating in the One Mic program will help him accomplish those dreams by improving his focus and communication skills.

“Before One Mic, I wasn’t committed to anything, really,” he says. “Now I know I’ve got to get serious. Once I open up my mind, the songs just pour out of me. I have a clearer vision of what I want to be. This growing-up process can really help everybody.”

YOU SHOULD KNOW

To hear Miky rap, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/mikybless. For more information on Art Start, visit art-start.org.

josterhout@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/24/2011-10-24_art_start_program_helped_miky_solano_leave_behind_life_of_crime_find_voice_via_m.html#ixzz1bijRToeF

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