Mylo The Cat's Viral Mashup Videos Celebrate Your Favorite Classic Rappers & '90s Cartoons [Interview]
Mylo The Cat has gone viral multiple times mashing GZA with Dexter's Laboratory, André 3000 with Mortal Kombat and more. In the process, he's earned props from Questlove, Posdnuos, Buckshot, and more.
What if it was possible to watch Blanka from Street Fighter rap Busta Rhymes' show-stopping verse from A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario?" Or to watch Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory rip through a portion of GZA's verse from "Investigative Reports?" Thanks to Adam "Mylo The Cat" Schleichkorn, mashups like these are just an Instagram scroll away.
A Webby Award-winning freelance video editor who got his start making mashups with his pet cat, Schleichkorn is no stranger to creating viral content. A mashup of Sesame Street characters rapping Warren G and Snoop Dogg's "Regulate" was one of his first viral mashups. Uploaded to his YouTube channel, isthishowyougoviral, in 2016, the video has amassed over 5.2 million views and 73,000 likes. But even those millions of views paled to a lack of subscriber growth. He learned the hard way that the algorithm can be fleeting.
"I was making pretty damn good ad revenue money, and then there was an algorithm change and my views per day got cut in half. And then that half got cut in half again," he said. Those diminishing returns led him to separate his passion from profit and fuel his creativity elsewhere — particularly on Instagram.
Each of Schleichkorn's 20-second videos playfully blend the anachronistic, bouncing rhymes off of rap classics with the animation of cartoon classics, hitting a sweet nostalgic spot for people of all ages. They've also amassed him 157,000 followers, including Questlove and Posdnous.
"These people are really my fans now," Schleichkorn said. "It's almost weird to say out loud now. It's a good look after all of these years.
Okayplayer talked with Mylo The Cat about his favorite cartoons, his creative process, juggling a full-time job and passion projects, and the benefits and drawbacks of Instagram video.
What was your favorite cartoon to watch when you were growing up?
In the early, early '80s it was definitely Thundercats. As I got older, it was The Simpsons. The Simpsons changed everything for me, comedy-wise. Those early episodes were brilliantly written with amazing stories and jokes. That's always the one I think about.
What was the first rap album or song that you fell in love with?
It would have to be those early Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg videos off of The Chronic. I remember hearing these and thinking, "What the fuck is this?" I was young and I had seen what I'd seen on MTV but this was totally different. My friend had an older brother who had all the current CDs that we were too young to get our hands on, so we took a lot of those. That's really where it started.
What was the first cartoon mashup you ever did?
It started with videos of my cat and videos of The Muppets. But the first one that anyone actually saw was for New York Magazine and Vulture's remix series. It was of Doug Funnie singing "Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap. I didn't even know that song when they proposed it to me but it just kinda worked. I always wanted to take that step away from The Muppets. I did so many good ones but how many can I really make? I always thought the cartoon ones were better, but I wasn't all that good at it. Once I really started working on it, I finally figured out what the hell I was doing.
Walk me through your process. How do you choose which songs go with which cartoons?
The song always comes first. There's sometimes where I have a character in mind first but it's usually the song. I have this crazy long list of songs I started in 2012 when I started making these mashups more. Every new song from back then that I can think of comes to me so that list keeps growing. If I'm doing four videos a week, like I've been doing, I just pick four songs out of my list, and then things get really crazy. I start sifting through cartoons to see what works and start listening to the lyrics of the songs over and over again. Sometimes it clicks so easily, but other times I just put it to the side for a week because I can't think of a character.
When I do find something, I'm making the lip-sync work. I don't leave anything up to chance to see if the timing matches up. I'm going in and re-animating these clips to make the mashups do what I want to do. That's when I was able to take it to the next level.
What's a mashup that you've wanted to do but haven't done yet?
For years, I thought about doing "Triumph" by the Wu-Tang [Clan]. I eventually wound up dedicating a nine-part series to it because everyone on that song deserves their own video. I thought it would've taken me a year a couple of years ago. But as I got better as an editor it wound up taking less time.
There's a couple more longer ones. Nowadays whenever I do a full-length I want it to be a Wu-Tang one. I just love the idea of doing a bunch of characters, and as a group it doesn't get better. They all have different styles and they're all good in their own way. One thing about those Wu-Tang videos is that everyone commenting on them has a different favorite member. It's kinda crazy that there can be that many different artists on a track and people still walk away with different favorites.
How do you manage to juggle a day job as a freelance video editor and working at your passion?
I always tried doing this and I'll be the first to admit that it's not fucking easy. I think it has to go back to the experience: the more I did this the less time it would take. [The video mashups] also wound up helping out my regular video editing a ton. It's all about timing and shot selection. What better way to display my ability to time stuff than these kinds of videos? If a client sends me three hours of garbage footage that I then have to turn into a three-minute video, I'm breezing through those three hours so much quicker now. Long answer short, I would say that after putting in those 10,000 hours, something just clicks.
It's still not even remotely easier at all but it does become more manageable. The last thing I'll say about this is that the second all of these dudes that I've been looking up to start following me — and even just the responses from regular users — that's enough to fuel my fire. After 15 or 16 years of creating these videos, people finally wanna see them.
You got your start on YouTube. How do you feel that the rise of social media, particularly Instagram, over the course of the last decade has informed the way that you operate?
From the start, I was team YouTube all the way. Even when Facebook started pushing video, and I was working at a marketing agency and they started pushing it, I was in these meetings saying that these aren't real views. A million views on Facebook, especially back then, didn't guarantee that a million people had seen your video. If you got a million on YouTube the comments and the engagement on it would be crazy, but it would be a fraction of that on Facebook. Even though I stayed on YouTube as the years went on I never really developed a following. Sites would post my videos and they would go viral and I would pick up a couple followers here and there. But on Instagram, these people are really my fans now. It's almost weird to say out loud now. It's a good look after all of these years.
I live in Queens so I'm on the train pretty often. Everyone I see on their phones is usually on Instagram. It clicked in my brain last year that this was my last chance. I've been trying this shit for so long and it was going great, but then it kinda stopped. I felt like a crazy person still making these videos. I figured I'd upload it to IG and see if I could get to like 20K followers. It's only been a year now and I'm up to 155K.
A lot of sites would post my stuff back in the day, and then there was a feeling that people were moving on from this older era of hip-hop. I know younger people listen to this older stuff the same way I used to listen to older music when I was younger. There are a lot of people who love real hip-hop like this, and I think that's a big part of what helped this thing take off, for real.
Dylan "CineMasai" Green is a freelance writer and general geek at large whose work can be found on DJBooth, BET, and Complex, among other sites. He believes that Bow Wow walked so that we could all fly. You can follow him @CineMasai_