An Army veteran lands himself in the Inland Northwest and, while a student of computer science, kickstarts his own career in music during a global pandemic. That’s not a story you hear every day, but it is the story of Mike Wolf, an Illinois native now residing in Hayden.
“I grew up around music,” Wolf said. “My cousins and my brothers, we would all just sit in the car and listen to beats on YouTube. You know, we’d all sit there, and we would write and then we would show each other what we had, and that was pretty much all we did.
“And they were always the good ones at this, they could freestyle and all this stuff. … But I was a good writer.”
Wolf took that talent for writing and applied it to music, situating himself between mainstream influences like Lil Wayne and Drake, as well as a vast array of others. On tracks, he involves himself with beat and rhythm with notable smoothness. His debut single, “Flow Stupid” – a track with an almost whimsical origin, a single line conceived in the shower – is assured and catchy.
Everything about Wolf’s music is about relating to the listener: “I think it’s a nice thing to be able to make music that a lot of people can relate to.”
He’s not reaching up into the world of esoteric lyricism to find some literary something-or-other, he’s writing lyrics from within himself, creating songs with the intention of being understood and of understanding.
“I didn’t have the easiest life growing up, and music helped me navigate some of those situations. It’s been there for me ever since,” Wolf said. “This past year, it really helped me out a lot as far as writing goes because I was able to express some of those feelings that I had that I didn’t really talk to people about.”
Wolf’s 2020 was certainly loaded with feelings to get on the page. The reason he got himself into the studio for the first time, back in March, was the life-changing realization that “life is too short to not do the things that you love.”
“In 2020,” Wolf said, “my cousin and my uncle had died within days of each other. I was not only struggling with that, but I was dealing with situations, problems that I have in my own life.”
The world put on him a great degree of weight, and he started to pull himself out by booking a studio session.
“I wanted to go into this and just give it everything I’ve got and never have to wonder ‘what if?’ because music has always been a thing that’s been able to help me get through situations like what I was going through in the past year.”
Trying to start a career in music during a pandemic is difficult. All the staples of early careers – playing live gigs, opening for bigger acts, collaborating, meeting people, getting to know the local scene – are impossible.
But in overcoming all of that, Wolf has released six singles, earning an audience along the way. Even though Wolf seems to have classed himself as a hip-hop act with those singles, it’s not a label he wants to be exclusive.
“I’m really trying to diversify myself. Right now, I’m working on a pop/rock song. And most of my songs are hip-hop, rap and stuff like that. I wanna be a diversified artist where I can basically make a song about anything in any genre.”
It’s an ambitious but admirable goal. While we can’t look forward to seeing Wolf’s first live performance – at least not yet – he assures that there is more music to look forward to. A few three-track tapes are expected to release this year, the first hopefully coming in April.
In the meantime, it’s school and nonstop writing for Wolf, who in spite of being relatively young in the field of recording music, has demonstrated his unceasing ambition and willingness to strive for career greatness. Check out his music on Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud.
Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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