Ezekiel Miller, professionally known as “Ez Mil,” was born and raised in Olongapo, Philippines, and now lives in Las Vegas.
His first full deluxe LP and debut under Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, “DU4LI7Y: REDUX,” was released earlier this summer. Traktivist writer Stephanie Lamond interviewed the multitalented artist to find out more about the signing, his experiences growing up biracial in the Philippines and his thoughts on his place within hip-hop, as well as how he retains his own creative voice while under the giant spotlight that’s now on him.
Traktivist: Congratulations on the new release and signing with Shady/Aftermath/Interscope. What was it like for you to meet Dr. Dre and Eminem, both of whom you’ve talked about being huge influences on you, and how has it been working with them since the signing?
Ez Mil: Thank you! It has just been an honor for me to be even in the conversation with them, so I’ll make sure to work hard to be worthy of their belief in me!
Can you walk us through the road to the signing? We know they got shown the unfinished “Realest” track – how’d it get in their hands, and what was the process like?
Honestly, when we met we all just got distracted sharing music, and Em asking to sign me kind of even rolled off his tongue like he almost forgot to mention it that day!
When you met Dr. Dre and Eminem, did you all discuss your skill in rapping in different Filipino dialects/other languages like in “Panalo?” What were their takes on it? We imagine that must have been a great conversation.
Yes, all the conversations were indeed enlightening, and they were gracious enough to give overwhelming compliments about me rapping in other languages! They said just keep being myself.
Congratulations as well on dropping your new album, “DU4LI7Y:REDUX!” What can we look out for next? Will you be taking it on tour?
Thank you! Definitely some more motion pictures to go with the songs on the album, and yes, we’re already sifting through show appearance ideas.
You previously mentioned your experiences of being made fun of and feeling isolated/”other” because of how white you look. Now that you’re based here in the United States, have you noticed differences in how you’re perceived here as white and Filipino?
I would actually say it’s been the same because my skin color doesn’t change where I grew up, so I had to go through what any other person who grew up in a foreign land and came to the USA had to go through. Because everybody has always thought I was the average white boy until I started talking, simple as that.
You’ve talked about the pressure of being the person with the mic and the heaviness of that influence/attention (your track “Podium” definitely spells this out). Intersecting with your Filipino identity, we imagine there must be a hefty dose of extra pressure and scrutiny with so much focus on you, especially being the “first Filipino to be signed to…” etc. How have you navigated this while staying true to your own creative voice as Ez Mil?
I would say my worst days have all taught me a lesson to keep myself grounded as much as possible when there’s pressure. So as a Filipino, I would say I’m just happy to see not just my people, but also others who are really growing their interest in our culture and language.
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