|Mike "Pizon" Scala|
|Birth name||Michael Scala|
|Born||December 2, 1982|
|Origin||Queens, New York, United States|
|Genres||Hip hop / Rap|
|Occupation(s)||Rapper, Record Producer, Lawyer|
|Labels||La Scala Entertainment
Head Nod Music
|Associated acts||The Fam, Timid, EJ|
Michael "Mike" Scala (born December 2, 1982), also known as Pizon, is an Italian-American rapper, record producer, and lawyer. He is the son of actor Michael Scala (aka Mikey "Shades" Scala), who played Sally Gaga in Martin Scorsese's first feature film Who's That Knocking at My Door?. The Pizon alias is derived from the Italian word paesano, which literally translates to countryman.
Born December 2, 1982, in Queens, New York, Pizon initially broke into showbusiness acting in plays alongside his father. His interest in Hip hop peaked upon listening to rap music in the dollar van on his daily commute to Cardozo High School. By the time he graduated in 2000, his focus shifted to pursuing Hip Hop as a full-time career. Though he went on to attend college and become the first member of his immediate family to earn a degree, music remained his top priority.
Eager to establish himself independently, Pizon founded his own record label La Scala Entertainment (named after the famous opera house in Milan) and signed himself as the flagship artist. In 2000, he recorded the single "Dozo Dawgs" with three of his high school classmates and used it as a springboard to release the first full-length project on his label, 2001's Battle Mode compilation. In 2002, the follow-up compilation XIV:XIX was released on La Scala Entertainment/Third Visional Records. Pizon executive-produced and appeared as a performer on both albums. His first solo project, The Growing Pains EP was released in 2002 and featured guest performers Timid and Killah, artists he met while producing the aforementioned compilations. Pizon, Timid, and Killah went on to release The Lost EP in 2003, a joint effort that included seven collaborations and one solo track from each artist. The trio decided to use the project as a promotional tool and made the entire album available as a free download. It included the now famous Pizon solo track "Angel Wings" (a remastered version of the song would later appear as a bonus track on his 2006 full-length solo debut) and an introduction from Hip Hop legend Jaz-O. That year also saw the release of The Fam Mixtape, a project conceived by Pizon protégé EJ that featured previously released and exclusive new songs and freestyles from Pizon, Timid, Killah, EJ, Analyze, and Da 27th Element, who collectively called themselves The Fam. The success of these releases led to Pizon securing outside work as a producer, and the Pizon-produced "Funky Nassau" by Mr. Fayce received national airplay in his native Bahamas (Pizon also produced "Danesha" and "You Don't Know Me" on Mr. Fayce's 2003 release).
In 2004, Pizon and Timid began co-hosting OneTwoOneTwo Radio on the online network HipHopFundaMentalz (iHHF) after receiving on-air training by WNYU. In addition to playing a mix of mainstream and independent Hip Hop, the weekly show featured discussions on current events, commentary, interviews, and more, and included the controversial "Ticklish Thug" segment which poked fun at the vast amount of homophobia in Hip Hop. Guests on the show's initial run included Jin, Slim Thug, Brooke Valentine, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Rob Swift, OC, Q-Unique, and others. Despite rumors that the show was making the jump to satellite radio, it went on indefinite hiatus in March 2006 as Pizon and Timid decided to focus on completing their solo albums. The show returned on August 28 of that year with a special edition called "The Masturbatory Hour" (in which Pizon and Timid welcomed special guests Pizon and Timid to the studio) on Psychopathic Radio.
On December 2, 2006, Pizon held his album release party and birthday bash in his hometown of Queens. His debut full-length solo album I Am Hip Hop was sold for the first time at that event and subsequently released internationally via his own La Scala Entertainment label. The album featured production by Domingo (Big Pun, Fat Joe, Eminem, G-Unit, KRS-One, Rakim), Kno (CunninLynguists, Lil Scrappy, Jay-Z's White Albulum), Versatile Music Productions (Cam'Ron, Jim Jones, Fabolous, Young Jeezy), and Pizon himself, and boasted guest appearances by Deacon the Villain, Timid, EJ, Aday, and others. It was a concept album that tackled many subjects and detailed Pizon's personal progression, using karma as a recurring theme to tie the songs together. The song "Streets Never Change" was first leaked as an early buzz track off the album in 2005 and received notable play on college radio throughout the country. Closer to the album's release, Pizon sent "Four Letters" to radio and it quickly picked up momentum despite limited circulation. "Drastic Measures" was later introduced as the third radio song for the album, however "Four Letters" continued to receive more spins. Due to its prolonged success, it was named the official single and a video for the song was announced. The I Am Hip Hop DVD, featuring concert footage from the album release party, was offered for free with donations to Pizon's initiative to fight domestic violence, Hip Hop Is Not the Enemy.
In March 2007, Pizon signed a deal with the legendary Rawkus Records, who recognized him as "one of the 50 next important Hip Hop artists," for their Rawkus 50 campaign. In September 2007, Pizon appeared in XXL Magazine for the first time as a result of this deal. On November 27, 2007, I Am Hip Hop was officially re-released worldwide by Rawkus and made available from major retailers such as Amazon and Virgin Megastore. The iTunes Store would later honor the Rawkus 50 as one of the best independent Hip Hop projects of 2007. Pizon also received accolades in 2007 for his appearance on Random's 20th anniversary Mega Man album Mega Ran, which made waves in both the Hip Hop and video game worlds and was named one of the best underground Hip Hop albums of the year.
During October 2007, Pizon began co-hosting the syndicated Pi and I show which aired on cable television in the Washington, DC area. It was essentially an enhanced radio broadcast, using visuals such as photographs, scrolling text, and video footage to supplement the audio. Episodes were also streamed online. For its innovation, the show was later nominated for a Monty Award.
On December 1, 2007, at his Family Reunion 2007 concert featuring fellow Fam members Timid and EJ and other members of the Rawkus 50, Pizon announced his new project, And Then There Was One. It was a digital-only release on his own label, La Scala Entertainment. According to Pizon, much of the project was recorded in complete isolation and focused on his coping with the losses in his life detailed on his debut album. Originally made available via Snocap on December 11, its official release would come one month later, debuting on iTunes on January 11, 2008. It is also available from other key online retailers. Lyrics from the song "Low Gravity" were later sung by Chris Brown on the Jordin Sparks hit "No Air," which would receive a Grammy nomination.
In 2008, The Fam's debut studio album Family Business was announced with the official roster cut to Pizon, Timid, and EJ. Starting in June, subscribers to The Fam's voicemail update service were able to hear a song from the album in its entirety. On July 4, the album's lead single "Dreams Come True" was serviced to DJs. Its commercial appeal helped bring about some crossover success. WPGC-FM in DC was the first major station to break the record. However, it would soon be featured on various mainstream-geared playlists, podcasts, and mixtapes. The song's performance in clubs and on radio landed it on several record charts. In September, the Family Affair mixtape was released as a free download. Hosted by the fans, it contained the "Dreams Come True" single and other new tracks, acting as a precursor to the album.
During the summer of 2008, Pizon additionally joined fellow Queens native Nas and MoveOn.org at a rally outside the Fox News headquarters to protest the network's alleged racist slander of presidential candidate Barack Obama. Pizon's own coverage of the protest was featured on major Hip Hop websites such as AllHipHop and HipHopDX, and he himself appeared on many news broadcasts and programs such as the Colbert Report in the aftermath. His involvement with politics continued in October, when he performed and spoke at a rally at Morgan State University aimed to register students to vote. He then worked with the Obama campaign in Virginia to help students vote early in the week before the election.
On December 31, 2008, Pizon performed alongside Timid and DJ Girl 6 at the New Year's Nation party in Los Angeles. This event was notable as it marked the first time Travis Barker and DJ AM performed together since the plane crash that September. With surprise performances from Warren G and Paul Wall, and everyone from Dr. Dre to Axl Rose in attendance, it was one of Pizon's most high profile appearances.
The second single from the Family Business album "Get Off My Ass" featuring Kon Artis of D12 premiered on the radio and Vlad TV in March 2009. The album was released on June 2, as a collaboration between La Scala Entertainment and Head Nod Music, to critical acclaim. To help promote the album, The Fam hosted the Underground Cypher 4 mixtape. A music video for the song "Inferno" was released in April 2010. The video was later mentioned in USA Today.
A new Fam EP titled Floodgate, containing a new group song and solo tracks from each member of the group, was released in June 2010. In early 2011, Pizon appeared on the We've Got A Pulse (i.e., Hip Hop is alive) project featuring exclusive material from him, Crooked I, Royce da 5'9", and more. He was a regular performer at the Casbah Nightclub at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, but proclaimed he would no longer appear at venues associated with Donald Trump as long as Trump continued to exploit the birther controversy. Pizon later co-wrote a parody called "Toupe Fiasco" that addressed the topic. The song was played on the radio by Chuck D, who declared him one of the few members of the rap community to speak out on the issue.
Pizon has performed throughout the United States, and has appeared as a special guest on Internet, college, and mainstream radio stations. His music has received local and national airplay in the US and overseas. He's also rapped at the New York City Marathon every year since 2006, and made several cameo appearances in the second season of MTV's Yo Momma. He appeared as a zombie in Zombies: A Living History, which aired on the History Channel.
2012 Congressional campaign
In October 2011, Scala announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination to represent New York's Sixth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Due to redistricting, most of the district would become part of the new Fifth Congressional District, and he instead opted to run for that seat. Despite rumors embattled Congressman Gregory Meeks would step down amidst criminal investigations and corruption charges, he also declared himself a candidate. Scala qualified for the ballot, marking the first time Meeks would face a primary challenge since taking office in 1998. Two other candidates, former New York City Councilman Allan Jennings and accountant Joseph Marthone, additionally qualified.
On January 4, 2012, Scala's congressional campaign made the front page of popular social news site Reddit. He received favorable coverage in the Queens Chronicle and Newsday. The Wave, the largest newspaper in the Rockaways, endorsed Scala, writing: "The Wave tradition is to not endorse a candidate in primary elections, but we are breaking that tradition this year because we strongly believe that the present Congressman, Gregory Meeks, has to be moved out of office for the good of the Rockaway community and because we believe that Mike Scala, a young man with good ideas, is the person to replace him." Scala also received endorsements from political blogger Gatemouth, former attorney for the New York State Senate Democrats, and an Indian newspaper in the district. He spoke at local gurdwaras and received an appreciation award from the Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Sikh Center in Richmond Hill.
Scala was the first candidate to call for a public debate in the race. In early June, the three challengers and a Meeks representative met at a candidates forum in Springfield Gardens. Scala criticized Meeks for voting for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which cut Medicare and education, and for being funded by corporate political action committee dollars. It was reported that, of the challengers, Scala leveled the "strongest and most pointed" criticisms of the incumbent. Meeks' representative responded by suggesting the criticisms were naive.
Meeks benefited from endorsements by President Barack Obama and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as a reported 83-to-1 funding advantage. The Democratic primary took place on June 26, just weeks after Scala graduated Brooklyn Law School. On election night, the New York Times projected Meeks would win the nomination with 66% of the votes. Scala had reportedly amassed 1,417 votes with 92% of precincts reporting. His final vote tally was later reported as 1,694. He was the only challenger to win districts, winning Assembly Districts 23 and 38. He came within 20 votes of winning Assembly Districts 25 and 27. If elected, Scala would have been the youngest member of Congress.
It was later reported that Board of Elections officials were involved in an "all-out effort" by the Democratic party establishment to wrongly disqualify votes in at least one similar primary that day.
- The Growing Pains EP (2002)
- The Lost EP (with Timid and Killah) (2003)
- The Fam Mixtape (with The Fam) (2003)
- I Am Hip Hop (2006)
- Rawkus 50 presents I Am Hip Hop (re-release) (2007)
- And Then There Was One (2008)
- Family Affair Mixtape (with The Fam) (2008)
- Family Business (with The Fam) (2009)
- Floodgate (with The Fam) (2010)
- La Scala Entertainment - Request Pizon on the radio
- Hip Hop Press: Releases: Rawkus Records to re-release Pizon's debut album I Am Hip Hop on November 27
- Hip Hop Is Not The Enemy
- Rawkus Records // Rawkus 50
- Amazon.com: Rawkus 50 Presents I Am Hip Hop [Explicit]: MP3 Downloads: Pizon
- Notherground Music Blog: Rawkus 50 Best of 2007 on iTunes
- Best Underground Hip-Hop Albums of 2007
- Montgomery Community Television
- "DJ Girl 6 on Page Six, album updates and more «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- The Hype Magazine: 03/05/08
- Hip Hop Press: Releases: The Fam "Get Off My Ass" featuring Mr. Porter
- "Love from DC’s #1 Radio Station «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Dreams Come True «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Rapper Nas Delivers Fox News Petition, Says Network Is "Scared" (VIDEO)". Huffingtonpost.com. 08-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-15. Check date values in:
- "ColorofChange.org Petition - The Colbert Report - 2008-23-07 - Video Clip | Comedy Central". Colbertnation.com. 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Pizon at Morgan State Voter Rally 10/2 «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Helping students vote early in Virginia «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Travis Barker, DJ AM To Perform At New Year's Eve Party - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV.com. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Show Recap: New Year’s Nation 2009 «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "The Fam live interview on 103.3 FM in MA, 3/1 «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "The Fam :: Family Business :: Head Nod Music/La Scala Entertainment". Rapreviews.com. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Market yourself to get employers' attention". Usatoday.com. 2011-11-30. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Rap & Hip-Hop Music Reviews, News & Interviews". RapReviews.com. 2010-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "BB & RapGodFathers.info - We've Got A Pulse!". Rapgodfathers.info. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Chuck D speaks on Toupe Fiasco «". Pizonishiphop.com. 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- CD Baby: PIZON: I Am Hip Hop
- "Scala Seeks Democratic Endorsement For 6th Congressional.". Queens Politics. 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Meeks talks jobs, trade, the economy and more". Queens Chronicle: Eastern/Southeast Queens News. 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "I'm Mike Scala, IAmA candidate running for Congress to unseat a 12-year incumbent. AMA. : IAmA". Reddit.com. 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- January 06, 2012 (2012-01-06). "Upvote: This week on Reddit, politics and 2 billion pageviews". Daily Dot. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Scala For Congress In Democratic Primary | www.rockawave.com | Wave of Long Island". www.rockawave.com. 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Scala for Congress. "Room Eight Blogger, Gatemouth, Endorses Mike Scala for Congress". PRLog. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Mike Scala for Congress - NY's 5th District in Queens & Nassau County - Sikh Center awards Mike Scala an appreciation award". Scalaforcongress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- by Queens-Politics (2012-05-04). "Scala Challenges Opponents". Queens Politics. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Bockmann, Rich (2012-06-14). "Candidates for Congress spar • TimesLedger". Timesledger.com. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- Bockmann, Rich (2012-06-27). "Meeks takes Democratic primary in a landslide • TimesLedger". Timesledger.com. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Finance, insurance are Meeks’ biggest backers | Queens Campaigner". Queenscampaigner.com. 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "New York Congressional Primaries - Election Results - NYTimes.com". Elections.nytimes.com. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "NYS Board of Elections Returns". ny.gov. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- September 15, 2012 (2012-06-14). "Scala eyes Meeks’ congressional seat - Queens Chronicle: Eastern/Southeast Queens News". Qchron.com. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
- "Troubling actions by Board of Elex members". NY Daily News. 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
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