It didn't take the rapper MIMS long to come up with the title for his debut album. Both of his parents died by the time he was 13, and it was his love for and dedication to music that kept him focused on success and out of trouble. That's why the Washington Heights, New York, rapper named his first album Music Is My Savior. The title carries additional weight, too. "If you think of Music Is My Savior as an acronym, it stands for my last name, which is Mims," says the rapper, born Shawn Mims. "I wanted to be a little clever about it."
Clever also describes MIMS' smash single "This Is Why I'm Hot." It makes a certain amount of sense that the cut -- a skeletal, braggadocio club track that gives nods to classic New York rap, Midwest Hip-Hop, the Southern rap scene and the hyphy movement -- has become so popular in clubs and on the radio. The song's producers, the up-and-coming The Blackout Movement, double as DJs. "They understand what the mentality of a DJ is and that's where we broke the record, the mixshows," MIMS explains. "The DJs broke the record, and when a DJ creates a record and another DJ listens to it, they have a connection. I think that's why a lot of DJs appreciated it."
Fans have made "This Is Why I'm Hot" one of the biggest songs this century, too. Part of the song's appeal comes from MIMS' willingness to embrace and acknowledge rap from regions outside of New York. "For so long, I think that New York has had this arrogant approach to hip-hop and it's always been, 'We're from New York. We are hip-hop,'" he says. "A lot of times, we don't necessarily pay homage to those outside our market. We have every right to be proud because of hip-hop being created and started in New York, but we do have to pay homage that some of these areas are making great music, like Chi-town, the Dirty South, the West Coast."
MIMS will keep the clubs rocking with the equally potent "Like This." With heavy bass, a tempo ideal for dancing and a catchy chorus, the song is a perfect soundtrack for dancefloors. "I wanted to take a club approach and make a dance record," he says. "I wanted to keep the lyrics semi-simplistic. I'm not lyrically overstepping myself. I'm keeping myself in a pocket to where I feel people are going to recite the words and be able to feel it."
Despite the good-natured vibe he gives off in his music and as a person, MIMS didn't feel that his positivity was being reciprocated. Even though he was hustling his music and working hard at breaking through on a national scale, he wasn't being successful. That friction led to the confident, brassy "It's Alright." The song is a confident declaration of his resolve to succeed. "I don't care what nobody says about me," MIMS reveals. "I'm going to do what I've got to do and keep it moving. Hence, the title 'It's Alright.' You might not know anything about me, but at the end of the day, I'm doing my thing and I'm not worried about the hatred."