Michael Ellis is a soldier stationed at Fort Leavenworth. In this Q5, he talks about his burgeoning success as a musician and his new deal with Bentley Records.

Michael Ellis is a soldier stationed at Fort Leavenworth. In this Q5, he talks about his burgeoning success as a musician and his new deal with Bentley Records.

1. Michael, as a soldier stationed at Fort Leavenworth, how did you react when you signed a marketing/distribution/publishing deal recently with Bentley Records out of New York City? Do you find that living in the Kansas City area has served you well in being exposed to a lot of good music?
My initial reaction was to think it wasn't real. As an artist in the music business you work your entire career with the goal of signing such deals. After speaking with the CEO of Bentley Records Luca Dayz and the executive A&R (artist and repertoire) it sank in as a reality. It's an amazing feeling to reach such a goal in my music career. We had Shark Bar in Kansas City, Missouri host our signing party. The entire situation has been an amazing feat and a blessing.
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and lived south of Atlanta in Harris County, Georgia until I was 11 years old. I spent my teenage years in a small city in Virginia called Hopewell. This is where I met the majority of my lifelong friends. It wasn't until I was stationed here in Leavenworth that I found Kansas City. That was 2013. I've been here since. I love Kansas City and plan on being here for a while after my military contract is served and complete.

2. Your previous work includes four mixtapes and numerous singles. Where were your first and second mixtapes written and recorded? Why is rap such a creative way to express ideas and emotions?
My first two projects were titled "A Different Breed" and "Greatness Awaits" and they were both recorded while I was on an overseas assignment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When under a lot of stress I find it soothing to write. I found rap music to be a very creative way to express my emotion. The reason this is so important isn't only because it helps me. It's because it helps others as well. Song is the way to anyone's emotional state. Music is related to emotion and it helps millions get through hard times. The way I see it is l, if I can affect one in a million people I'm doing something to help.

3. Where did you find your passion for rap music and how did you find your unique delivery that you could call your own and how did you achieve the crisp sound that you worked long and hard to find?
I started playing guitar when I was 14 and loved writing my own music to simple chord patterns. I found out very quickly I couldn't sing. I didn't really think of hip hop until late 2011, when one day I was on a video game and playing my guitar and rapping. That's when someone said maybe I should look into recording.
I didn't start taking rap seriously until mid- 2012, while I was in Cuba. At first it was a hard concept to grasp. I was dealing with a lot of backlash from peers and listeners. After learning more about the right equipment, delivery, cadence, and different styles I started to form my own delivery and gain a much better outlook on rap. Though I had made many strides in 2012, I was still not the artist I wanted to be.

4. How did you get the inspiration for the song “A Million Miles Away?” Why was 2014 the turning point for you in making strides in honing your lyrical abilities and finding the sound you had been looking for?
“A Million Miles Away” is one of my favorites. It was produced by Topmass Productions, a producer from Canada. The inspiration came from the soldiers around me being so far from their families. I quickly learned how hard it was on mothers and fathers being away from their children and loved ones. My roommate’s son turned 1 year old while we were there, that had a huge impact on the song. I would like to thank everyone who has, and who is currently serving overseas. We are currently working on a remastered version of the song I will release sometime soon hopefully.
The year 2014 was such a huge year for me. That's where I found my delivery and everything I wanted out of becoming the artist I am today. It wasn't until I wrote "Letter To My Brother," a fan favorite from my "I Am ME" project that I found what I needed to deliver the emotion I wrote with on to the tracks. I say it's the turning point of my career because that's where I found my style and started really grasping the concept of rap.

5. One of your fans’ favorites of all of your songs is “Letter to my Brother.” What is the song about and what inspired you to write it?
That's an amazing question. I love telling this story, because it's so personal and I know I'm not the only one going through it. The song is based on a very true story. My brother is currently serving a life sentence in prison. He began going in and out of the prison system when I was 14, shortly after his daughter, Haileigh was born. He and Haileigh have been a major influence in my music. I have helped take care of Haileigh, assisting my parents and family members with as much as I possibly could. I am a very family-oriented person and love my brother very much. He's the reason I was able to turn things around, graduate high school and go to college. He's been a very influential person in my life. The song tells the story and can be found on YouTube.

6. Why did you consider leaving rap behind for a few years and how did you get more in touch with yourself and decide to continue your artistic quest? How can people listen to, and find out more about your music?
I considered leaving the music behind because I couldn't see it going anywhere. I had a lot of doubts about myself in the music industry. I was finding it hard to find people who would work with me and finding it hard to financially support my music.
I spent a lot of time away putting my personal time towards bettering relationships with my friends. I began slowly drifting away from the music. The further I got away, the more I missed it though. After accepting the fact I wouldn't be able to leave music behind I jumped back in around 2016 stepping up my game and putting my work ethic in high gear. I began working on my best projects to date. My first EP was titled "The Evolution" and a mixtape titled "No Need For Thanks." The Evolution was meant to show fans I've evolved since 2014 and that I was back with more determination than ever before.
You can follow my Instagram and twitter @MichaelEllis_ME
You can find all links to my music and social media at
www.michaelellisme.com
You can find The Evolution online for digital download at
 www.michaelellisme.bandcamp.com

— Rimsie McConiga