TALENTED: Mikel Ameen
MEET THE younger brother of Hollywood star Aml Ameen who’s gearing up to ‘change the world.’
Mikel Ameen, the self-proclaimed ‘world music rapper,’ is hot on the heels of his famous sibling following the launch of his debut EP, The World Changer.
Although ready to finally embrace the glitzy world Aml has called home for the last few years, Mikel refuses to do it at the expense of his music.
“I’ve always put me in my music, but when it comes to getting into the industry, I’ve been met with some of the same statements like, ‘you’re really good, but people aren’t ready to hear what you wanna talk about,’” he tells me.
“I have considered [changing what I talk about] and I’ve even tried it, but when I have done that, I just don’t feel right in myself. I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I want to be signed by this person or that person,’ I wake up and say ‘I want to write music.’”
Comparing his musical style to acts such as Somali-born rapper K’naan, the 24-year-old, whose music embraces thought-provoking lyrics over a mixture of ‘orchestral arrangements, heavyset drums and African undertones’, explains he’s aware that it may take the mainstream a while to catch up.
“I’m not even trying to be a part of the industry in the generic sense. I’ll definitely be rewarded for sticking to my guns. All my favourite artists were all met with the same things until it changed for them.”
In the meantime, he’s happy to work on “helping people change the way they see themselves in the world.”
He says: “How you can see something really determines how life turns out. I feel in terms of changing the world, I see it as changing peoples’ perceptions of themselves. For me, I’m very passionate about the youths, I’m very passionate about black people in general and I’m very passionate about the human experience.”
He adds: “If you change the way someone thinks about themselves, that’s a permanent thing. That will always be passed down once that’s installed.”
As the son of a Calypso musician, a career in music was almost pre-destined for the star. His father, originally from St Vincent, once toured Europe with rock star Mick Jagger and supports his children whole-heartedly in their entertainment endeavors.
“When we were young, my dad gave us his camera and we’d film music videos; We’ve still got them. Someone like Aml knew exactly what he wanted to do from when he was like six-years-old, that’s why he is where he is now. I don’t think he’s done anything else. Someone like me, I always knew, but I wasn’t so quick to talk about it. My family has always encouraged that artistic growth. There was no apprehension on their part.”
Despite admitting to dabbling in drama himself throughout his career, Mikel says he has never felt any pressure when it comes to his famous sibling’s success.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all. That has always been there. With me and my brother, we grew up very close. So that spirit has always been there. My brother’s success has helped me to a certain degree in terms of networking and my music has helped him on a personal level. We’re not really in the same industry anyway; it’s like a different game. He’s just inspiring. I’m just inspired by what he does like any young person out there. I look at what he’s done and I say, ‘that can be done.’ I’m energised by him,” he says.
He adds: “My family really support my music. When my mum started hearing the music I was making, she got really excited. She keeps sending me samples. My dad is the same. He keeps telling me to listen to [Nigerian musician] Fela Kuti for the drums and percussion. They always talk about me to everyone.”
Although he will focus solely on music and pushing his new EP, of which he also produced, Mikel hasn’t ruled out acting in the future, which he describes as “another part of me.”
“I definitely will act again. I turned down a couple of things because I wanted to concentrate on music. I love acting as well, but music is where I’m most happy.”
Mikel’s World Changer EP is led by single The World Changer Story. The intricate three-minute video was produced by Jamaican “super producer” The Wizard, also daughter of reggae legend Beres Hammond, and acts as a tantalising taster of what we can expect from the young star.
“I just want people to feel energised by my music. I’ve noticed that people these days don’t want to settle for where they’re at, whereas past generations were always very content. I would like my music to be the soundtrack for that attitude.”
When we speak in five years, the talented wordsmith assures me that he will have “changed the world” or at least have “played a big part in it.”
The World Changer EP is available for free download via Mikelameen.com