1984 birthed many major events in American culture: the crack epidemic, the spread of hip-hop and the gritty underdog that would become the face of second chances. Maikil Everett Herndon was born that hot summer of ‘84 in Washington, DC, his life’s journey shaped by the culture in which he was raised. His family enjoyed a lot of the upward mobility and opportunities that many black families were afforded in the early 1990s, and Maikil moved to Silver Spring, MD, a diverse suburb in Washington’s
Growing up, Maikil often felt left out or alone – he didn’t have much in common with his wealthier peers, or had a group that he felt like he belonged to like some others with a strong national identity or something else that bonded them together. He was also struggling with his own identity as a Black man in suburban America: being called nigger, being put out of stores, being harrassed by the police. Maikil found solace and inspiration in the rap lyrics and hip hop culture of his time.
While previous generations tended to struggle and strife in America, heavily involved in civil protests and social movements, America in the 1990s was enjoying a period of perceived peace and prosperity. The major events that affected Maikil were the tragic and violent deaths of rap icons Eazy-E, “Biggie” Notorious B.I.G.. and Tupac. These artists had helped him to deal with his aggression and growing resentment of authority during his trivial teenage years. Through their lyrics, Maikil was also introduced to an enticing street life that he eventually explored on his own.
Maikil began to use his inherent interests and skills in music and videography to make music videos and produce beats for friends and other local artists. This endeavor was mildly lucrative and held promise, but it required financing. As drugs
and music went hand-in-hand in street life, it made the most sense to Maikil to begin selling weed to his affluent neighbors. He soon progressed to selling the more profitable drug of crack cocaine. He felt confident in the street life and culture that had been there for him in times of need, so many times in the past. Maikil felt
justified using the proceeds to begin building what would become a more
legitimate business, One City Entertainment, established in 2004.
While One City was growing as an entertainment business and brand, Maikil – now known as One City Maik, and the One City crew were living their best lives recording in the streets of Atlanta and flying around the country to award shows. As it tends to do, the lifestyle caught up to Maik, and in 2009 he was arrested; all of his acquired assets were confiscated. After a few evasive flights and courtroom fights, Maik eventually lost his freedom as well. During his time in jail, Maik had plenty of time to reflect on the culture and his role in it.
Coming home from jail in 2011, Maik was determined to become a productive member of society, and entertainment was not on his mind at all. With a criminal record working against him, he had to stabilize his life financially, beginning with retail selling furniture at the Roomstore and working his way into an electrical career. Then Maik got fully situated: he got his oldest daughter back after being separated from her while they were living in Atlanta, fixed his credit, got married, graduated from the electrical apprenticeship, became a journeyman electrician, got a general contractor license, bought his first home and had two more beautiful daughters. It was P-Feengaz from Unify Or Die Records that convinced Maik that there was more work to be done. In returning to entertainment, Maik was able to see that the landscape had changed, and thought about how he could add value to the culture. Maik already worked with and around many of the world’s greatest entertainers such as rappers TI, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, and others. He also spent time recording and attending events alongside BET and MTV, witnessing firsthand the type of lifestyle that hip hop success can bring.
In 2017, Maik reopened One City Ent. the legal way, with a focus on helping the next generation of entrepreneurs and musicians to achieve their personal goals, with integrity, while shaping culture in the process. One City Maik wants to create financial opportunities for independent content creators by providing them with resources and exposure to new fans. With the unique perspective developed from interacting with people on the streets and in jails, to middle class, business execs, and rich rappers, Maik understands how to unite and blend these different lifestyles. Maik has been recording his successes and failures since 2004, which he is now developing into a documentary. Join One City Maik on his journey as he continues to map out the path to self-fulfillment.