“Risk is a bitch we all seem to know—Conquer the fears and watch how you grow.”*
*From the song “Some Othawordz”
This song by Michael Heathen could be a clarion call for a generation. Any one of the alphabetized generation would get it — X, Y, or Z. If there is one thing Michael Heathen and his label G.L.O.A.T. are well aware of, it is their audience. They make their music for a generation — one that will survive.
Michael Heathen and his partner G Champion are the managers at G.L.O.A.T., and they do everything, both in front of and behind the lens. To know how they got to where they are now, just listen to their music. That’s what I did.
This article is based on an interview (and podcast) that TikiKiti hosted. They are fellow small-business owners, and as such, we had much in common. This includes the desire to help other independent artists struggling to find a way in the world of modern music marketing.
As I said earlier, they do everything. To be more specific, their music videos attest to the versatile company they have built. A standout in this team is Jourdan Boyle, the director and editor of some of the videos. The ones that got our attention were the AI (artificial intelligence) videos, the first being “Plank.” In this video it’s easy to spot Michael Heathen’s history with a metal band. Mix Boyle and Heathen together and this intense fantasy comes to life.
It is clearly evident how tight team G.L.O.A.T. has become when you watch “Monivation.” This video is a short film about a bank heist — and they pull it off. There are so many little details required to tell this kind of story. The camera work and editing are flawless. Watching this video makes it easy to see that Jourdan Boyle is no stranger to fast-paced storytelling in under three minutes. Watch “Whispers,” featuring FlaccoZ, for another action-packed thrill ride. Jourdan likes to experiment. The video to “Elevators” is all green screen. Champ tells of his complete confidence in Boyle for this video, and his amazement at how well it turned out.
Even though their library goes back a few years, if you watch successive videos it is easy to see how this company has grown. Each production is more detailed than the last, both technically and in terms of the stories they tell. This ability to grow is based on their foundation of communication. This is paramount: they understand that when you put others in a position to succeed, they also succeed.
Champ and Michael each came into this business with their own goals. Michael says he has achieved many of his goals; Champ has many more he has yet to achieve. But they both agree that they now need to work on the goals of the business. It is these goals they share and are focused on.
As obvious as it sounds, they use their art to process their emotions. Champ recognizes that his music is an outlet for his anger, resentment, and other strong emotions; it has a way of leveling a persons mood. He wants to help people with their moods. Be it snapping out of a bad mood or needing a good cry, he is there for his listeners. The emotions and feelings he works with are his reasons for making music. And one reason why their music is so different from other rap and hip/hop. This plus the lyrics rise above all the distractions.
Michael says he’s an empath — and empathy is the foundation for writing good music. He feels for others. He writes to tell others they have control of a situation, that they are not helpless. For him, a song is a journey he can create. Sometimes, when he listens to others, what they are saying becomes an obstacle to what he is feeling and trying to say. His music is an opportunity to work around these obstacles.
Champ puts it all into perspective when he says that he likes to write about things he’s felt in life, things he has seen, things he’s been through. He says his music is different from how Michael expresses himself. Champ writes about things he’s seen other people go through. This is a shared sense of empathy they both have, and it is paramount in how they run this company.
This perspective is why they mesh so well, and it is why G.L.O.A.T. is on the cusp of a breakthrough. They have a worldview they know their audience shares.
“Take the plunge to sink or swim — you gotta make a splash by diving in.”
This lyric from “Plank” is a recurring theme in Michael’s music. As with the lyric from “Some Othawordz” at the top of this article, he writes about finding the courage to understand who you are as an individual. He believes in taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others for the problems in your life. This is the meaning of the song “Tip Toe” and the video that goes with it. Subtitled as “Welcome To Your Feelings,” here he raps:
“I don’t care about your feelings — but it makes for good music.”
He realizes you can’t help those who will not help themselves. This approach helps him to write music that talks to people on their own level, as he hates music that talks down to people.
For the immediate future, they have some very practical goals. Michael has an album coming out on February 2 next year. This has been in the works for seven years and he’s ready to be done with it. They have a vision for producing their own podcast and a comedy/improv group called “Sketchy Guys.”
It is easy for me, your humble narrator, to see so much more coming from G.L.O.A.T. It is their focus and their worldview that will drive their direction. When we talked about the current state of the world, it was difficult for them to express their fears and frustrations about the events they see every day. “Humans suck,” Champ said. They both agreed that “people” — the mass of those who prefer being spoon-fed on what they should be thinking and feeling — are the ones to be fearful of. Champ says that these people do not even have a minimum sense of curiosity about the world they live in.
Michael echoes these sentiments by saying that just talking with your neighbors will do more to change the world than anything you hear on the news. He gets disheartened when he considers the herd mentality he is up against, but not enough to stop him from trying to counter this attitude with his music. “Everything needs to be questioned,” he says. He talks about working with Ax, another artist from G.L.O.A.T., on a new album, “No Justice, No Peace.” He wants to do his best to counter all the misinformation he sees every day, but with his music.
Two weeks ago when TikiKiti published another article called “The New Young Turks,” in which we discussed some of the new artists we have found and how they are going to change their world — and the world at large. All of these artists have laser-like focus on their paths and how they can fit into this turbulent world. They are dedicated to their craft and will not be stopped.
Part of being an independent artist in today’s world is a level of self-reliance and determination rarely seen before in the music business. These artists don’t see big record deals coming their way. But Michael Heathen speaks for many when he says, in “Some Othawordz,”
“You gotta do you to get where the loot is.”
This could be the motto of an entire generation. These artists have no faith or patience with the old institutions of big record labels and the industry specialists that come with the territory. They know they can depend only on their own talent, skill, and determination to succeed.
And G.L.O.A.T. is showing the way.