By Barbara Gonzalez
Imagine juggling school work, a part-time job, writing a weekly column for the Daily Cardinal, AND opening up for popular artists such as Lil’ B or Turquoise Jeep, all in one week? That’s the life of UW-Madison sophomore Michael Penn II. As a First Wave Scholar, Michael Penn II came to Wisconsin on full tuition scholarship not only to pursue a degree in Journalism, but also to pursue his passions as a hip hop rapper. Seventeen tweets per day, two bottles of minute maid orange juice, three hours of procrastination, ….this talented student artist shares his story.
10 am: I usually wake up around this time. I’ll procrastinate for fifteen minutes; there are three alarms on my phone that go off until I finally wake up. If my phone is on, I’ll check Twitter before rolling out of bed to take a shower. I shower pensively. I’m still tired, so the shower wakes me up. You know, Wisconsin is cold, the shower is hot. It works.
10:30 am: Usually I’ll take too long in the shower and muddle back to my room in a somewhat sleep-induced stupor. I’ll clothe myself. I alternate between jeans or khakis. I mostly wear crew neck tees or button up shirts over them. I’ll throw on a pair of Nikes or basic black Chucks. Hats are a big thing for me, too. I have seven snap backs, but I only wear three primarily. One is an InkRED snapback, all black, and the other two are Wisconsin snapbacks. I also have two beanies that I wear. If I’m not wearing a beanie, I’ll have my red headphones that have my name, CRASHprez on them. I won them through a Twitter contest, the only thing I’ve ever won on Twitter. I don’t really eat breakfast anymore, I live in Chadbourne and the dining hall has dumb hours. I’m not about to wake up at 8 am just for some breakfast, not about that life.
12 pm: You can catch me in Rhetas, eating over-priced housing food. I consume one orange Minute Maid per day and two if I’m feeling plentiful. I’m trying not to drink as much soda anymore, so I’ve been drinking more water. When I don’t feel like drinking water anymore, I drink orange juice. I love it, it’s the only juice I drink. When I eat, I’m eating. I don’t work while I eat, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work well.
1 pm: I’m either in class, taking a long nap, or working. I work at Computer Sciences as a Communications Assistant for Internet Scout. Like a Boy Scout. Most of my time entails correcting things on Microsoft Word, sitting in a staff meeting and being on YouTube for a good amount of time. ‘Cause I can do that.
3:30 pm: If I didn’t take a nap during the 1pm block, I’m taking a nap now. Straight up. If I didn’t take a nap, someone’s probably going to hit me up to try to get me to do some stuff I really don’t feel like doing because I’m sleepy. But I’ll end up doing it anyway because I’ll feel like I’m being productive.
6 pm: I’ll eat dinner at Rheta’s or Gordon’s. Gordon’s has become my main joint though, Rheta’s is kind of on the side. Because Gordon’s has all the same stuff, but at least it looks nicer and I always run into people there.
8-11 pm: Procrastination. Whatever you want it to be. Sitting at my cluttered desktop. Having a school book by me and not reading it immediately. Talking to people. Facebook. Twitter. Music. Repeat.
11 pm: I begin to write my article for the Cardinal which is usually due the next day because I work best under pressure. All my columns come out in the beginning as processed rants anyway. I’m a music columnist, so I write about musical stuff. REAL musical stuff. I write about hip hop mostly although they keep telling me to branch out more because my audience is so narrow on this campus. But even if I’m not writing about rap, there will be a rap reference in there. So there. I’ve written about everything from trap music, to rack city, to internet trolls, to the duality of women hating and liking misogynist music at the same time and men taking advantage of that.
Midnight: I have rehearsal with Ian at his place on State Street. What’s my relationship to Ian? Ian’s my father. *laughs* Nah, son, he’s my friend. He’s a DJ and does shows with me. Essentially, we met through similar circles in music during my freshmen year and his junior year. I heard about him from different people, ended up talking to him on my own, then we started kicking it, and then we made an EP together and we’ve been cool ever since. We started getting shows basically just by emailing people at the venues and asking if we can open for the shows. That’s how I got the gig for Lil’ B at the Majestic. Everyone asks, “Yo, bro, are you connected?” I’m like “Nah, bro, I just ask. I ask and [my music] don’t suck. That’s it.” Now I’m connected though, I know the promoters and they’re familiar with us. If we’re not rehearsing, we’re at College Library, cause Ian lives by College and dies by College.
2 am: I’m going into my room to sleep. I usually piss off my roommate in the process because he goes to sleep extremely early every night and wakes up extremely easily. Every night, I’m so morbid that I always have to have a last tweet. Like random and introspective because I don’t know if I’ll wake up in the morning. Not even joking. You know what started that? My friend Chris, who passed away this past summer, his last tweet was “booty”. I never want my last tweet to be booty. And then with all the nice, introspective stuff Nam [John Vietnam, member of First Wave who passed away this past August] would say on his twitter? I was like nah, I’m not gonna leave my tweets on some ratchet moments never, ever. That’s why I do that. It’s real, man.