“I was scared…the only girl in a group of guys, my clothes way too big! Someone gave me the mic and even though I only remembered the first few lines, I freestyled the rest and got a standing ovation!”
This is what Washington, D.C. based MC Mychelle Lee remembers of her first live show as an inexperienced 13 year old rapper with big dreams.
Influenced by music icons MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, Sade, KRS One, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and Jay Z, a young Mychelle fell in love with Hip Hop when her mother gave her a book about the culture, suggesting she learn about the history of the art form she had begun showing a serious interest in. Inspired by DJ Kool Herc and other pioneers, Mychelle felt she had finally found a home in Hip Hop culture as graffiti, djing, breaking and rapping captured her imagination. It wouldn’t be long before Mychelle put pen to paper and crafted her first song.
“For about a year, I had the Black Album, The Low End Theory, Nirvana, Nothing is Sound, City of Evil, The Absolute Best of the Doors and Hypnotize by System of a Down in constant rotation, one after the other. That was the time where I really started to understand how much I wanted to be in music.”
Over the next few years, Mychelle studied the culture intensively while paying her dues rocking shows at various school events. Honing her talent, she committed herself to being a positive voice for Hip Hop and wrote what she calls “Life Music”, tackling real issues that the average person can easily relate to. Over time, her hard work paid off as she began winning talent shows and building a small but dedicated fan base. It was now time for her to focus on producing her first mixtape.
“I didn’t know what I was doing. I bought equipment and recorded everything myself. I went online, did my research and learned from those who were successful at it.”
Unfortunately, during the recording process, Mychelle fell gravely ill and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which causes the body’s immune system to attack the stomach.
“Being the youngest person in a nursing home and not really understanding why you’re there kind of puts you in a crazy mindset. At some point you’re just like enough is enough, get me out of here so I can do what I want to do. I don’t belong here in the first place.”
Afflicted with debilitating pain and extreme fatigue, Mychelle heroically recorded two mixtapes, both times released only a week after surgery. In 2014, she created an animated short film titled “Spaceship”, chronicling her battle with Crohn’s disease, which would garner the attention of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and would become a feature story on their website. The score from the movie would later become Mychelle Lee's debut single in 2016, titled "Spaceship 2.0".
Following four difficult years, Mychelle is now in remission and continues to perform across the region opening for acts such as Georgia Anne Muldrow, Bahamadia, Ras Kass, Sa-Roc, and performing at the historical Howard Theatre and The Fillmore Silver Spring as part of the female empowerment collective, Resurrecting Queenz. When she’s not volunteering with the CCFA or helping people affected by IBD through her blog, she’s taking her time putting together the pieces to her forthcoming EP, “The Laws of Inertia”. Aptly titled to reflect the ebb and flow of both movement and stillness Mychelle has experienced throughout her life.
Mychelle wants her music to encourage listeners to overcome their obstacles.
“No matter what negativity may try to come in your life, it doesn’t have to stop or hurt you. Take it and run with it towards whatever positive direction you want to go in, and win. We the Untouchables and We Take the Cake!” Mychelle Lee is living proof.