Mickey Factz Details The Strategy He Used In His Battle With Royce 5’9 (Video)

This week (August 20), Mickey Factz partners with Blu for The Narrative, a six-song project produced entirely by Nottz. Ahead of Friday’s album, Mickey and Blu released two singles: June’s “Stay Down” and July’s “Reign.” The latter, a video, features Asher Roth and reunites three MCs from the 2009 XXL Freshmen class that also included Wale, Kid Cudi, and Curren$y, among others. However, for Mickey, some of the greatest attention of his 15-plus-year career has come from a 2021 song not on The Narrative. Last month, the Bronx, New York lyricist delivered “WRAiTH” (also embedded below). The song aimed at Royce 5’9 may be one of the most technical diss records in Rap history, and one that is surgically precise in its writing and vocal delivery. Throughout the song, Mickey switches his approach to mimic artists including Jersey City’s Ransom and Philadelphia’s RJ Payne, all while questioning Royce’s relevance, using his government name, and accusing him of relying on Eminem throughout his career.

Like Ransom and RJ, Mickey ended up as supporting cast in a still-developing storyline that chronicled issues between Lupe Fiasco and Royce 5’9. The two respected Midwest veterans launched a podcast during 2020, and recorded approximately 50 episodes. This summer, the two lyricists publicly butted heads over the craft of rapping (as detailed in a comprehensive What’s The Headline episode). As Lupe advocated for improvisational MCs at events like End Of The Weak, he seemingly ruffled feathers by suggesting Nickel Nine’s skill was relegated to the studio. The discussions happened after Royce apparently took umbrage with prolific artists such as Ransom and RJ claiming to be the best out—especially after Royce’s Grammy-nominated The Allegory in 2020. Enter Mickey Factz, an artist who has previously collaborated with 5’9, and has received praise from Lupe. Mickey has history making songs in the studio and battling professionally. At a time when Lupe used Mickey as an example of a total package MC, Factz would appear in some of the Instagram Live back-and-forth sessions involving Royce and Lupe.

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In late July, things came to a head. As tensions between 5’9 and Fiasco boiled into name-calling, freestyle jabs, and more, diss records followed. Royce dropped “Silence Of The Lambda,” before Lupe quickly responded with “Steve Jobs: SLR 3 1/2.” In the aftermath of those two diss records, Mickey Factz and Royce 5’9 ended up on an IG Live together. Tensions flared, to the point where Factz inquired about lyrics in “Silence Of The Lambda” and asked if they were directed at him. Royce suggested that those bars, which featured a symbolic attack on an opponent’s son, were not targeted at Mickey—however adding that now they were. Presumably beckoning a response, Royce later told Mickey that he felt Factz did not “check boxes” of a great MC. That conversation later involved Joe Budden, who Mickey had dissed in the past. Both Slaughterhouse MCs spoke to the Bronx lyricist in a way that caused many viewers to feel as though he was being bullied.

Just days later, Mickey unleashed “WRAiTH.” While he and Royce communicated—rather peacefully—on Instagram Live hours after the song released, Royce has yet to reply on wax—despite Mickey’s encouragement.

Lupe Fiasco & Royce 5’9 Trade Savage Diss Records

Speaking to Ambrosia For HeadsWhat’s The Headline podcast (embedded below with time codes) Monday night (August 16), Mickey Factz discussed his diss—along with a deep-dive discussion alongside Blu about The Narrative. At 31:10, AFH‘s founder mentions various career highlights from Mickey Factz, including over a decade of coverage on the site. He then asks why a performance like “WRAiTH” would come as a surprise to anybody following the MC’s discography and development. “I think people surprised by ‘WRAiTH’ because, like Blu said, there’s so many [rappers] out right now, and it’s hard to narrow down who to listen to, so people forget about certain artists if they don’t have the big marketing budget behind them. But what I will say to counter that is, my support system knew what was going to happen. They knew, and they were salivating. They know that I don’t play these games.”

In examining “WRAiTH,” What’s The Headline thematically lays out some of the boxes that the diss record checked: storytelling, impersonations, current events, wordplay, jabs, multiple flows, double-time, ettendres, and song-making. Asking Mickey what other boxes the song checked, the MC pointed to metaphor, similes, and compound rhymes. “It is what it is; I think it needed to be done at that point, and I think everybody saw that I checked the boxes.”

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At 36:20, Mickey is asked about the impersonations. “It came from a space where I felt like I couldn’t just diss [Royce 5’9] as me. It needed some shock value. I feel like me rapping like RJ Payne [or Ransom] would shock a lot of people, and then, saying Royce’s full government name and going into his style just to let him know: ‘I can do this too’ [would have impact]. For me to do that, I wanted it to be a shock,” Mickey admits. “I wanted people to be like, ‘Okay, this guy is nothing to play with. When he says he’s written for people in the industry, let’s just believe him. Let’s believe him when he says he can do this, do that, and leave him alone.’ So that’s really what it was.”

Asked if he saw the balloon effect coming from the diss, Mickey replies, “I didn’t believe it was gonna be what it was; I thought it was gonna come and go.” He points to a past diss of Budden which went unnoticed by some in the Hip-Hop space. “But I believe a lot of it had to do with that moment on the [Instagram] Live. That helped to get it out there even more because people were kind of waiting. I’m a mad man; I started to [strategize]. Like, ‘Okay, this track has to be 5:59 in [length] and I have to put it out at 5:59, so that [brought] more intrigue into people wanting to be part of this moment. Then I sent it out to different lyricists. I planned it properly. So when it was time to go on Live, these lyricists were gonna come up, and then they were already talking about the record.”

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Later in the conversation, around 43:00, Mickey Factz explains finding the Awesome J-produced beat. “I woke up that Friday morning and I went on YouTube, looking for beats,” Factz recalls. Like Blu, he’s an MC who has self-produced some of his music. Mickey adds that Awesome J did not charge the MC, given the attention of the song. However, the two plan to continue working. Properly doing paperwork delayed the song arriving on monetized digital streaming platforms. Factz adds that he was the one who dropped in the “Renegade” instrumental during a topical part of the diss.

However, most notably, Mickey Factz opens up about applying strategy to his battle. At 57:00, Mickey speaks on a life lesson and applies it to his last month. “I’m a very firm believer in being careful with what you say, how you say it, and when to say it,” he explains, pointing to legacy in the age of the Internet. “That’s why—not to keep going back to that live with Royce—but there’s a reason why I was just very humble. I used humility as a tool. Because if I’m belligerent, now it looks like I might fall into this trap of trolling. So I trolled him by convincing the people that I was getting bullied. That made them want to be a champion for me. ‘Cause I could have easily just turned up, but it was like, no, let this brew. That goes back to life and death. Legacy: what are we leaving behind that the next generation can latch onto. And when my son gets older, what can hold onto to be like, ‘My dad did this, he did this, he did that’—and be proud of it.”

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“I had something written. It was beautiful; it was kinda like ‘Silence Of The Lambda’ a little bit, but in my own way. It was a beautiful piece; it wasn’t scathing or anything like that. It was me putting it out there. But that Live, you don’t do that in front of 10,000 people; you don’t do that. You just don’t.”

Elsewhere in the discussion, Mickey Factz and Blu break down lyrics from Friday’s The Narrative. Additionally, the two MCs who have had major label tenures describe finding their greatest success independently.

Mickey Factz & Royce 5’9 Serve Lyrics That Make Other MCs Say Their Prayers (Audio Premiere)

The time codes of What’s The Headline‘s episode #58 are as follows:

0:00 Intro
1:59 Blu & Mickey Factz have an EP produced by Nottz called The Narrative
2:35 Why Blu and Mickey decided to do a project together
4:40 Mickey Factz’s father was a rapper in 1983
7:00 How Blu’s family influenced his pursuit of music
7:50 Mickey breaks down how he and Blu put The Narrative together
9:53 Blu and Mickey Factz speak about negative encounters they’ve had with the police
13:30 Mickey Speaks about performing in front of DJ Kool Herc’s building where Hip-Hop was born
18:48 Blu speaks about his earliest Hip-Hop influences
19:36 Mickey Factz and Blu discuss how their record labels folding changed their careers
25:24 The impact being 2009 XXL Freshmen had on them
27:56 Blu and Mickey Factz name the rising MCs they believe are shining today
29:24 Blu recalls rocking a show in Pittsburgh once after the power went out
30:01 Mickey Factz discusses the reaction to his “WRAITH” record dissing Royce 5’9
33:31 How Mickey got pulled into the war of words between Royce 5’9 and Lupe Fiasco
34:36 Mickey Factz confirms the boxes he checked with “WRAITH”
35:29 Blu gives his opinion of the diss records by Royce, Lupe and Mickey
36:16 Mickey explains why he impersonated RJ Payne and Ransom on “WRAITH”
37:44 Mickey discusses the impact this battle has had on Hip-Hop culture
39:26 Nottz’s role in making The Narrative with Blu and Mickey
40:38 Decoding the artwork for The Narrative
41:16 Blu speaks about his work as a producer
42:56 Mickey Factz details how he found the beat for “WRAITH”
45:00 Why Blu and Mickey decided to have Nottz be the only producer on The Narrative
46:20 Blu breaks down some of his heaviest bars on the project
48:46 Mickey discusses leaving his job at a law firm to pursue music full-time
52:56 Blu and Mickey reveal their hidden talents
55:26 Blu and Mickey discuss how death shapes the way we live
57:16 Mickey Factz explains the strategy he used in his IG Live discussion with Royce 5’9
58:51 Mickey would have released a different record if his conversation with Royce on IG had gone differently
1:00:56 Blu discusses making Johnson & Jonson
1:03:26 What’s next for Mickey Factz and Blu

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Ambrosia For Heads readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline podcast. Additionally, What’s The Headline has recent interviews with Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available wherever you stream your pods.

#BonusBeat: The official AFH playlist, which includes “WRAiTH”: