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Mans Journey makes him I.M.Me.

SALT LAKE CITY This was the proving ground of Mike Shafer and
where he still resides, but to go on a journey, you dont always have to
travel far.
The 24-year-old lives with his Dad and brothers in their taxidermy
service shop in West Valley, Utah. It is a small business next to a boat
shop in a very industrial part of town. There is a gas station on the
corner down from the boat shop and a few others businesses around
the surrounding blocks. The familys shop is converted into a home
with a few small bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. In the back
hang foam carvings of mountain lion. Taxidermy animal heads and
bodies are mounted everywhere, scaling the walls. The place is small
and humble, but comfy.
His family started the small service and now they all work to keep it
going and bring in a lot from the business. They do fishing and hunting
of their own for recreation. A couple of the boys in the family, including
Shafer, are also firemen. Just accepted late last year to the fire

department, Shafer works 72-hour shifts at a time, and then comes


home to help with stuffing the dead animals in the shop at home. Its a
busy life, and from the surface it looks routine and maybe a bit normal
but beneath the surface his life is much more.
The path of life is usually unpredictable and the results of our decisions
the same.
Its who I was ya know, it has made me who I am, said Mike.
Even in places like Salt Lake City, commonly thought of as
headquartered by Mormons or members of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints where things would be very homogenous, life can
still lead anywhere.
Shafer started making music in the sixth grade, interested in
alternative music like Dave Matthew Band that his older brothers and
friends would listen to. He tried to start a punk band in seventh grade,
at the time hating Hip Hop music, which to him involved zero
considerable talent. Soon after he started to hang out with his older
brother who in fact listened to rap, even when fishing, he found himself
enjoying rapping along with the artists.
Now before I keep going there are two types of hip-hop, underground
and mainstream. Underground is more lyrically talented and usually
has deeper meanings and mainstream is more popular hip-hop stuff on
the radio, like Lil Wayne, commented Shafer differentiating the two
styles as he openly told his story.
Shafers admiration of rap started as he realized that it was an art
form.
As I rapped along to some of my favorite underground artist I began to
recognize patterns, "syllable control", that defined each artists flow
and gave them the individuality that made them unique.
Shafer became a fan of rap and his fascination lead to further
exploration into its culture as well.
At Granite High School in West Valley and in ninth grade, he became
associated with the underground hip-hop urban culture. Groups of
students would gather to rap battle, where he first saw other
students humiliated as they competed in the battles. At first he was
destroyed and humiliated in these battles, but he felt so drawn to the
art of rapping that he practiced in his head all day long and soon could
hold his own against others.

From there he created rap groups with friends, battling and recording
in friends basements over beats on old tape players. Over time he left
the group and stopped battling as well. The battles were dirty and
wrong because people always got destroyed and it often created
enemies. Threats came from enemies who sometimes would follow him
after school, flashing a pistol hid underneath their shirts.
Shafer clearly remembers one time he was battling between him and
his friends. His older brother was also present who made an impact on
him from that day on.
At the end of it I asked him what he thought, thinking I was pretty bad
cuz I felt like I won the battle, and I remember him telling me
something that hit me hard, and I realized he was right.
Mark, Shafers older brother who first influenced his interest in rap,
said, I told him at the end of that battle, thats not who you are. He
was getting involved in some not so good stuff that I knew wasnt
really who he was.
Mike quit battling and decided to make his own music, his way, from
there on out, but it still continued to be a dark time. His life consisted
of smoking weed, huffing air wicks, doing graffiti, and rapping,
primarily with only one friend. They would skip school and go rap at his
friends cousins house with cheap computer software programs using
ten dollar USB microphones from Wal-Mart. Around senior year of high
school his friend and others got involved in more serious drugs. Shafer
fortunately distanced himself from his friends and spent a lot of time
down by the Jordan River thinking about his life, change, and what he
truly wanted.
The other major pivot point that came along, along with his brothers
perspective, was good friends from the LDS Church.
I met some good friends that where church going type people, and I
was a member but didn't like it much. I felt pretty awkward in a crowd
of goody goods, but the truth is I had nobody else to hang out with.
Eventually, Shafer met a girl whom he fell in love with, and also served
a two-year LDS mission in order to bring others happiness that he had
found himself within the gospel. But after those two years things had
changed between he and his girlfriend. Out of anger towards her and
God, he would beat his punching bag until his knuckles bled. He was
angry that God had take away something he loved so much after he
felt he had chose to do the right thing by serving a mission.

Soon after separating from his girlfriend he continued recording music.


As always, it was a way to express himself and share his experiences.
He partnered with a friend, LNX, who had a more advanced sound and
software in Ogden. While recording a song called Loose My Mind,
Mike came up with the name I.M.Me.
At the end of the recording session, he asked me what my name was
so he could put it as the title. I told him, I didnt know, I'm just trying
to be me, So he wrote I am me.
At this moment he realized his experiences that he was rapping about
had made him into the person we was, I.M.Me, and that he used music
to share those feelings.
Shafer continued to establish his own music, making original beats
contributing with LNX and old friends from high school to form a group
called Pulse. As they worked together they created high quality music
and worked on complete albums. The group started getting the chance
to perform at shows and concerts. UP2 Homegrown was a competition
they entered with a chance to open for major artist, T.I., if they won.
When they lost, Shafer questioned if rapping was what he should be
doing and the group split.
Today, Shafer continues producing music on his own and recently his
first album, one song at a time.
I have started to rebuild, working on my own album, trying to create
something special. As far as music for me it's my passion but I am
trying to find happiness in my lyrics as well as the pain. I want people
to hear my music and I want it touch them in every feeling we have as
people: happiness, pain, anger, and hope.
Mike Shafer, aka I.M.Me, is currently competing in a Salt Lake City
talent search and is one of the top three competitors. If he wins we will
perform at a half-time show at a Utah Jazz basketball game. The
chance to perform will give him the opportunity to share his music with
even more people. His goal, after all, is to influence others for good
through his talent and love for music. The journey that he has gone
through in the twenty some years in his life has allowed him to
experience life and he wants to communicate what he has learned:
that life is a journey, and no matter what we go through, ultimately its
for our own good.
Im raw in music, but one day I hope to not need it anymore, or at
least not need to make sad songs, but even so, living is beautiful.