(Music meets fashion magazine feature )

Different,creative, bold, a creation of his own; Milan Hightower began as an actor when he at just five years old. Since then, he has entertained the masses with his upbeat and carefree demeanor. He has big dreams and aspirations, Inspiring many with his captivating music and art.

We were able to catch up with him to get a more in-depth look into his experiences as a hip hop artist and creative vision.

Tell our readers how you got your start in the music industry.
I was in acting first. I started acting at the age of five in Off Broadway plays in New York City.
My mom kind of threw me in the game early. It was really around the whole “Lil Bow Wow, Lil
Romeo” era. It was cool to see someone around my age doing something other than football or
basketball, so I kind of gravitated towards that. I started rapping and I’ve been into the whole
industry from a young age, music, fashion, acting, everything. I really don’t know anything, but
the entertainment world.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
It would have to be Michael Jackson, number one. You’ve got to say the King of Pop. He’s
creative and he’s able to take things to the next level. Secondly, I would say Tupac. He didn’t
hold his tongue; he spoke his mind. I feel like with music you’ve got to be able to do that. I can
go as far back as the Temptations, Whitney Houston. I’ll also say Drake, Janet Jackson, Chris
Brown, I have a big list. I’m open to so much that the sky’s the limit when it comes to my

Describe your experience performing at the Sauce Gala here in Charlotte.
It was interesting because the Sauce Gala came from being my EP release event, but then it
became even bigger. It was like someone having a baby; it was like my baby. Seeing everything
come to life, it was a feeling like no other. I was like a proud dad.

Since you are well known for merging extravagant visual arts with music in an intriguing
way, can you explain what your process is when you are creating new music and
shooting videos?
I’m not a typical artist where I can sit down and write music all day. I don’t do that. I have to go
to the studio with the producer who makes the beat. I let the music talk to me and I ask myself
“What does the beat want me to say? What is the feeling?” I haven’t really sat down and
written anything in so long, but it works because I know what kind of artist I am. I allow the
music to play and then I come up with the lyrics and the hook. After I finish each song, I’m
thinking of the visuals. I guess it goes back to my acting days because I love creating visuals
that give people a run for their money and crossing boundaries. The majority of the videos I do,
I write my own treatments, cast my own people, and I plan on doing my own stunts.

Which music video of yours was the most challenging or required the most resources to
shoot and why?

The most challenging was the video for “Leaning.” We went to New York, and we worked with
a director named Fresh Press. I told him that I wanted the video to be like Gotham City and the
world is crazy. He doesn’t tell me the whole time that at the time it was New York Fashion
Week, but we’re going to a club to shoot the video. We get to the club and it’s a little different
than the type of club that I normally go to, bear in mind that I had no idea that it was also
NYFW. I eventually asked him “What kind of club is this?” and he says “Oh, this is a gay club.”
And I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool, so you tell me this now?” That was probably the most challenging
only because I didn’t know what to expect. It was a new world for me. But I have to say that
video was so cool because everyone was so creative, no one was afraid to be in front of the
camera, everything was just fun. What also made that night challenging was the fact that my
brother was too young to get in the club and he was on the song. So he had to use someone
else’s ID, but he still couldn’t get in because the ID said that person was 6’2” and my brother is
only 5’7”. So, we ended up trying our hardest to persuade the security guard to let us in. We
honestly went through so much to try to get this video shot, but we eventually made it work.

Name a music genre, if any, that people would be surprised you listen to or name a genre
you would like to explore in the future.
I guess I would say the whole John Mayer, Ed Sheeran folk music route. What’s funny is a lot of
people don’t understand that hip hop influences a lot of different genres. I would love to work
with John Mayer or Ed Sheeran and make that type of music for sure.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Be yourself. Simple as that. No matter what road you’re taken down, just be yourself. I feel like
with our generation now, people think that looking at something else and becoming that is
being yourself. No, you have to look in the mirror. Once you figure out who you are, that’s when
everything starts connecting, and that’s when time starts working with you. If you force
something that isn’t genuine, your mind and your energy is going to fight it at some point. It
might seem good in the moment, but down the road, you aren’t going to like who you’ve
become. Anybody that wants to be in the industry, be yourself and stay true to yourself no
matter what.

What message do you want people to get from your music?

The message that I want to give is to have fun. Have fun, express yourself, and everything’s not
that bad. I feel like there is so much anger and darkness in music. And when I say music, I
mean specifically my genre, hip hop. I feel like we’re in a dark era of hip hop but I think my
music, even though it’s not happy, bubblegum music, it’s a bit more vibey than most. I feel like
if you take the time to really listen to my music, you’ll realize that there is a deeper message
below the surface. I want to share a message while also showing people that you can still have
a good time.

How can Level21 readers reach you?
On all social media, you can find me at Milan Hightower. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify,
Apple Music, Tidal, everything.
We appreciate you, Milan Hightower, for being such an inspiring artist and creator! We wish you
the best of luck in all of your endeavors and thanks for the amazing interview. Stay tuned for
more awesome tracks from Milan, everyone!

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