When it comes to painting vivid pictures through lyricism, few artists in the hip-hop landscape can do it quite like Mike. The enigmatic emcee, with his introspective rhymes and hazy soundscapes, has carved a unique niche in the realm of hip-hop that’s as intriguing as it is inimitable. Mike’s fully versed in the art of storytelling, a trait manifest in his meticulous breakdown of life’s complexities through a rap verse. Bouncing around the world, and immersed in cultures from London to his native New York, Mike’s narrative is a diverse sonic tapestry that’s rich in detail and candid emotion.

One standout track that embodies these qualities is ‘Burning Desire’. Amongst the trove of heady tracks on Mike’s discography including ‘Intro with Klein’, ‘Zombie’, and ‘Golden Hour – feat. Larry June’, ‘Burning Desire’ stands as a testament to Mike’s lyrical prowess and his innate ability to weave intricate stories through his rhymes. This song is a brilliant showcase of his knack for musing over life’s nuanced experiences and framing them in poetic, thought-provoking verses.

Breaking down the lyrics of ‘Burning Desire’, a track from his extensive repertoire, is a deep dive into Mike’s thought process and his ability to articulate everyday observances and profound introspections into compelling bars. The lyrics of this gritty, evocative track are a real testament to the raw honesty and intricate storytelling that has set Mike apart in the hip-hop dining table. So let’s get into it. From ‘Intro with Klein’ to ‘Let’s Have a Ball – feat. mark william lewis’, here are the Breaking down the Lyrics on ‘Burning Desire’ by ‘Mike’.

1
Intro with Klein

Opens the gates to an immersive narrative, creating a dark, romantic horror with a comedic twist. Using clever wordplay and potent metaphors, MIKE captures the struggle of a mediocre mask carver from the Dan tribe, sandwiched between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The carver’s masks, once the subject of ridicule, become the embodiment of his burning desire for recognition. His failed attempts stoke the fires of revenge in his heart. As he awake one day, he’s met with a delightful surprise. This intro doesn’t just set the tone for the forthcoming tracks, it’s MIKE’s way of metaphorically invoking the ‘spirits’ – themes of struggle, acceptance and vengeful desire – that dance their way throughout the album. It’s a masterclass in storytelling, delivered with MIKE’s distinctive lyrical prowess.

2
Dambe

Grappling with love, hardship, and the struggle for success. Throughout the song, his lyrics weave a narrative of navigating life while holding onto hope, even amidst heartache and hardship. With references to car trips and long days, MIKE portrays an unwavering loyalty to his loved ones, a steadfast commitment to his journey, no matter how challenging. The string-pulling imagery suggests he’s carefully crafting personal relationships just like his music, yet acknowledges they can both be sources of great pain. His aspiration to rule the city reveals his ambition, yearning for success and respect, reflected by the Scarface and czar references. As he closes, he lets his audience know that his demeanor hides a range of emotions, from rage to desire, a testament to the complexity of his character.

3
Zap!

An exploration of the grime-coated underbelly of the city through the lens of a man in restless pursuit of meaning, substance, and stability. MIKE weaves vivid vignettes of urban life, oscillating between bracing realities and visceral dreams. He frames himself as a global voyager, but feels shackled by the city’s horrors and insecurities, finding solace only in brief moments of levity (“Pretty lights”). He portrays a grim thirst for survival (“Niggas dry, now we taking trips to find water”), a relentless grind (“I’m living life, I might hit the strip with 5 quarters”), and the captivating allure of his persona (“Magician MIKE said I gotta hypnotizing aura”). He also underscores the relentless strain of street violence, financial struggles, and permeating deceit. Tinged with desperation, yet resilient in spirit, “Zap!” mirrors MIKE’s turbulent navigation in a world fraught with danger and disillusionment.

4
African Sex Freak Fantasy

A lyrical exhibition of desire, ambition, and brotherhood. The track highlights MIKE’s unyielding pursuit of respect, symbolized by the “cheese” or wealth he’s eager to accumulate. Yet, even as he craves worldly success, MIKE also emphasizes his personal principles, as shown by his refusal to compromise his artistic integrity, an act symbolized by the ‘green text’. He likewise pays homage to Keith Sweat, evoking the sweltering intensity of his own grind. MIKE also paints a stark picture of the struggles his community faces – highlighted by the reference to his brother’s hoodie and ski mask in summertime, a potent symbol of crime and desperation. Finally, the song emphasizes loyalty, showing MIKE’s tight-knit circle supporting each other against external threats – a solid reminder in the ever-evolving hip-hop scene.

5
Snake Charm

When it comes to “Snake Charm” by MIKE, the brother is laying it all out, raw and unfiltered. MIKE’s lyrics depict a sincere reflection on his struggles with loneliness, the harsh realities of his environment, and the grind of the music industry. His lines are filled with potent metaphors; he talks about ‘controlling the hisses’ — a clever reference to controlling negative energy and staying focused. The recurring theme of loneliness is palpable; he’s navigating the ‘unholy abyss’ of the city, grappling with feelings like ‘Romeo did’, encapsulating the essence of tragic love and yearning in the urban landscape. MIKE talks about the ‘culture of sin’ and his revenge-focused mindset, underscoring the hardships and the resilience embedded in his journey. It’s a cold narrative, but MIKE doesn’t shy away from it; he faces it head-on, embracing the lessons it brings.

6
plz don’t cut my wings – feat. Earl Sweatshirt

The song is a journey into MIKE’s struggles, reflecting his battles with both internal and external pressures of life. He portrays himself as battling to keep his spirits high, symbolizing his resilience with the metaphoric wings which he pleads not to be cut. MIKE talks about keeping low, stacking notes, and moving away from cheap clothes, signifying upward mobility – a recurrent theme in his music.

He’s also seen posing questions to ‘P’ and ‘G’, perhaps alter egos or acquaintances, challenging their actions and decisions. The chorus is a mix of defiance and vulnerability, with repeated pleas not to cut his wings. Earl Sweatshirt’s contribution provides an added layer of depth, increasing the song’s emotional intensity. Overall, “plz don’t cut my wings” serves as a poignant reminder of MIKE’s journey and his determination to overcome adversity, showing why he’s revered among his fanbase and peers in the hip-hop landscape.

7
REAL LOVE with Fashionspitta

MIKE delivers a heartfelt plea to an unnamed lover. The track unfolds like a lingering spoken word piece, laying bare the rapper’s deepest longing and admiration. His request is simple but profound: to love this person today, yesterday, and likely, tomorrow. That love manifests in small ways, such as waiting for their arrival or planning a casual date. It’s an echo of love in its unvarnished truth, stripped down of any pretense or posturing. The anticipation MIKE portrays – the anxiety and awe in waiting for a lover – is a sentiment that resonates with many. The track closes with an unanswered question, leaving listeners in the same suspended state as the protagonist.

8
U think Maybe? – feat. Liv.e and Venna

“U think Maybe?” sees MIKE teaming up with soulful artists Liv.e and Venna. The track is a contemplative journey, introspective and raw, diving into the depths of MIKE’s internal struggles and experiences. His seemingly disjointed, yet deeply meaningful lyrics paint a gritty narrative of self-discovery and resilience. The song delves into themes of personal growth amidst adversities, exploring the emotional toll of living a life that’s ‘half-short’ yet filled with experiences akin to ‘horrors from the past lore’. With references to the difficulties of maintaining integrity (‘I could afford to get black balled’), the burden of legacy (‘I’m taking dad’s torch’), and the struggle for self-identity (‘Faults that define me/Balling with your last born’), MIKE ensures the track is hard-hitting and relatable. Venna and Liv.e’s ethereal vocals cascade over the hauntingly minimalistic beat, amplifying the introspective mood and giving a resonating presence to the track.

9
Zombie

On “Zombie,” MIKE navigates the relentless grind of life with a rawness that hits you in the gut. He speaks on the all-too-familiar feeling of hustling hard but feeling like you’re not getting anywhere, like a zombie just going through the motions. The pressure he describes isn’t only from the outside world, it’s also internal – he admits to having ‘shitty answers to give’ as a response to his struggles. Trust issues also make a heavy appearance here, particularly in the lines about feeling sick because he can’t trust a friend. MIKE’s lyricism portrays a world of uncertainty and disappointment, contrasted against the occasional glimmers of hope and familiar comfort like the ‘sunny’ weather in Atlanta.

10
Set the Mood

The lyrics, cunningly layered, reflect a duality of the street-level realism and his personal aspirations. MIKE spins a tale about his environment in the trenches, with striking imagery of heavy drinking, potentially dangerous situations, and an undercurrent of gritty determination. He underscores the importance of patience when it comes to leveling up and highlights the harsh reality of those stuck in a ruthless cycle of violence. Additionally, he embarks on a vulnerable exploration of desires, from simple pleasures like food and drink to deeper emotional yearnings like the longing to escape the grim reality. With “Set the Mood,” MIKE sets you on a rollercoaster ride through his life, capturing the gritty beauty of his reality with each bar.

11
Billboards with Anuoluwapo “Sandra” Majekodunmi

An introspective piece that delves deep into MIKE’s psyche as an artist. The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of MIKE’s struggle as a rapper, grappling with fame, wealth, and expectations. He ruminates on his journey from being an unknown rapper tweaking in his crib to seeing his name on the billboards, always keeping in focus the reality of the rap game’s hustle.

The lyrics also reveal the paradox that MIKE lives in – multiple aspirations to chase, yet wrapped in a sense of dissatisfaction. He candidly opens up about the pressures of his profession, including the mental toll of always being in the spotlight. He touches upon the emotional weight of the industry’s competition and his own struggles with isolation.

Thematically, MIKE delivers a charged performance, with sharp lyrics that highlight his complex relationship with the rap industry. Each verse is a raw and honest reflection of his life, inviting listeners to step into his personal journey filled with trials and tribulations, success and setbacks, dreams and despair.

What stands out is MIKE’s ability to translate his lived experiences into potent lyrics, offering a deep-dive into the hard-hitting realities of the rap game. This philosophical approach sets him apart as an artist who isn’t afraid to bare his soul in his music, earning him a unique spot in the hip-hop landscape.

12
98

A somber trip down memory lane, embedded in the gritty realities of his past and present. The track sees him vividly narrating his struggles – from relocating across states, through his psychological battles, to his quest for inner peace. There’s a raw, unfiltered honesty in his words; it’s as if he’s ripping out chunks of his soul, and slapping them onto the beat. There’s little glamour here, but instead we find Mike navigating life’s pressures with the blunt force of a rhyme-spittin’ slam poet. His uses vivid metaphors like the “fire escape” in lieu of a fireplace, suggesting survival in the cold world of the city, and “za”, a popular term in hip-hop for marijuana, adding a layer of authenticity to his jargon. He finds solace in substances, implying a form of self-medication. Mike rhymes about identity through his initials M.I.K.E. since ’98, a reference to the artist’s life journey starting from the year he was born, 1998. This piece sees Mike at his most introspective, laying bare his life’s tribulations in his raw, inimitable style.

13
Do you Believe?

MIKE serves a sonic sermon that captures his unapologetic attitude and hustler’s spirit. The bars paint the picture of a steadfast individual, navigating his journey with a resolute mantra – it’s his way or the highway. Infusing this headstrong belief in himself, MIKE illustrates his relentless insistence on maintaining control of his destiny. His entrepreneurial mindset is evident in lines touching on ambition, adverse circumstances, and the grind to emerge victorious. This intense soliloquy is also an ode to loyalty and self-belief, revealing his moral compass that aligns with the mob’s code. MIKE also adds layers of vulnerability, touching on personal struggles and baring his teeth-stained journey. It’s a raw, no-holds-barred narrative from a man standing firm in the face of life’s adversities, holding fast to his vision amidst the noise and chaos.

14
Burning Desire

Channelling raw emotion and introspective themes, addressing self-doubt, perseverance, and explorations of identity, MIKE lays bare the struggles of navigating the rocky terrain of life. Through haunting metaphors, he articulates his life-long battle with adversity, touching upon the influence of his mother’s wisdom and his attempts to rise above societal expectations. The song charts a journey through dark times and a quest for self-betterment, underscored by MIKE’s aspirations to find himself amidst the chaos. Addressing themes such as coping mechanisms, purpose, and self-love, MIKE ultimately presents a relatable narrative of human struggle and resilience. His storytelling prowess and lyrical dexterity shine, as he constructs an intricate soundscape, laden with introspection, raw emotion, and an unflinching honesty that’s quintessentially ‘MIKE.’

15
THEY DON’T STOP IN THE RAIN with TAKA

Pulling you into his world with an alluring narrative, this song starts with a description of a pause in a concert due to a looming storm – a fitting metaphor for MIKE’s own career in the hip-hop industry, marked with challenges and intermittent breaks. When the song “Burning Desire” kicks in, it feels like a phoenix rising from the ashes, accompanied by relentless drive and tenacity.

The artist unpacks his struggle with recognition in the industry, noting that his contributions often get overlooked. However, this external validation doesn’t shake his self-assuredness as he continues to navigate his path in music. He connects this personal struggle with race issues, addressing the societal bias trying to ‘erase’ him.

Despite these trials, MIKE remains genuine, generous with his wisdom and resilient to the industry’s trials. The lyrics illustrate his commitment to authenticity and resistance against compromise. The hook ‘MIKE in uppercase me, As simple as my name be’ hammers in the idea of self-affirmation in the face of external negativity.

Around the narrative of public perception and societal bias, MIKE weaves a sub-theme of romance and dreams, adding an additional layer of depth to the urban tale. His storytelling, at once intimate and universal, leaves a powerful imprint on the listener, making “THEY DON’T STOP IN THE RAIN with TAKA” a definitive standout in MIKE’s discography.

16
Baby Jesus

MIKE’s poignant lyricism shines through on “Baby Jesus”. He uses his pen game to paint a vivid picture of an internal struggle, navigating through grief, longing, and the harsh realities of life. The track captures MIKE’s personal journey, referencing his trips to ‘Parisia’ (Paris), hinting at a desire for escape. There’s a critique of idle minds and the potential darkness they can manifest. MIKE acknowledges living a “fried” lifestyle, hinting at substance use as a coping mechanism. The line, “New York city’s baby Jesus, make honeys seizure,” is a nod to his status in the underground hip-hop scene while also touching on the thrills and perils of fame. In the end, distrust and disillusionment surface as themes, mirroring the complexities and uncertainties of the human experience.

17
Ho-Rizin

MIKE’s verses tell a compelling narrative about the struggles he faced – grinding from a life of couch-surfing to gaining respect in the industry. The opening lines showcase him reflecting on his financial progress, yet paranoid about those who might be after him for his newfound wealth. He pays homage to his mentors, acknowledging that Thebe (Earl Sweatshirt) schooled him on the various facets of the music hustle. MIKE also addresses his past, revealing his struggles with homelessness and substance abuse, but he reframes these hardships as lessons in resilience. Towards the end, MIKE crowns himself, exhibiting his power and impact “in the city like a Ralph rugby”. This track, laden with gritty honesty, is a raw testament to MIKE’s journey of trials, tribulations, self-empowerment, and ultimate triumph.

18
Mussel Beach – feat. El Cousteau and Niontay

The track opens with bay-side luxury represented by a backdrop of ‘chandelier lights, marble floors,’ before transitioning into grimier elements of his past, evoking a journey from street corners to high fashion soirées. MIKE’s eloquence imbues the track with a sense of gravitas, as he moves from portraying opulence to expressing the harsh realities of his gritty past. His braggadocio is balanced with introspection, highlighting the complexities of his experience. The song culminates in a declaration of his ascension beyond his past, a testament to the resilience of a spirit that refuses to be stifled. El Cousteau and Niontay’s verses provide a compelling counterpoint, adding a layer of nuance and depth to the narrative.

19
Sixteens

The song serves as a stark commentary on the realities of balancing personal ambitions and family obligations. MIKE’s wordplay paints a vivid picture of his struggles; lines about ‘mental stampedes’ and ‘broken family crumbles’ depict the turmoil of his psyche and family life. The title “Sixteens” likely refers to the 16 bars in a traditional Hip-Hop verse, underscoring the poetic nature of his ruminations. MIKE goes hard on the duality of his existence, from wrestling with self-doubt and substance abuse, to chasing dreams, dealing with resentment, and grappling with the need for freedom.

20
should be! – feat. Lila Ramani

The track sees MIKE matching his bars with the signature ethereal vocals of Lila Ramani. The lyrics depict a struggle, a conversation with oneself about persistence in the face of adversity. The repeated verse “Fevers gonna break I know” functions as a mantra of hope amidst the challenges, affirming that the hard times are transitory. MIKE’s layered approach to the lyrics demonstrates his ability to encapsulate human vulnerability in its purest form. In this wisp of minimalistic lines, he channels the raw essence of hip-hop – resilience. “should be!” is a testament to his lyrical genius and his unique ability to convey depth through simplicity.

21
What U Say U Are

A powerful exploration of identity and perception, drenched in the gritty realism of the streets. The song takes listeners on a journey through MIKE’s mind and life experiences, confronting the stark realities of the struggle for authenticity in a world driven by materialism and false assumptions. The lyrics reveal MIKE’s ambivalence about fame, his refusal to let material gains define him, and a plea for authenticity. The repetition of the line “Tell me what you say you are” serves as a challenge to the audience, urging them to question their own identity and values. As MIKE navigates the terrains of London and Prague, he does more than geographical hopping; he’s wrestling with beliefs, challenging societal norms, and ultimately looking for truth in a world of facades.

22
Golden Hour – feat. Larry June

With Larry June delivering the guest verse, both artists paint vivid depictions of a life of fast money, luxury cars, international travels, and swagger-soaked nights spent in clubs. The track showcases MIKE’s ability to deliver sleek boasts with a sense of effortless ease, while just as comfortably juggling introspective musings on his elevated lifestyle and the obstacles he’s navigated. Larry June, on the other hand, adds a distinct West Coast flavor to the mix, dropping lines about his prowess and wealth, punctuating the audacious mood of the track. The song is a testament to the artists’ unabashed embrace and candid expression of their journey, blending materialistic prowess with a dose of undeniable self-awareness.

23
Let’s Have a Ball – feat. mark william lewis

MIKE collaborated with mark william lewis, pulling back the curtain on their personal battles and reflections. The song is a heartfelt, introspective piece that opens up a conversation about internal strife, the struggle between vulnerability and resilience, and how these life experiences shape one’s outlook.

The song delves deep into the tumultuous journey of life, subtly yet powerfully addressing mental health, encapsulating the struggles of ‘being alive’. MIKE’s artistry shines through in the lyrics as he navigates the dichotomy of life and death, implying that neither is easy. He explores his personal journey, hinting at perseverance during darker times, and inspires by encouraging listeners to keep moving forward.

The repeated line “I’m not your enemy” is striking, hinting at a plea for understanding and empathy from the world and his inner self. The phrase “You mean the world to me” adds a layer of depth, perhaps suggesting a love interest or a close relationship. Overall, MIKE, with his raw emotion and potent lyricism, delivers an impactful song that resonates with listeners by uncovering universal human experiences.