In 1991, Tony Khnanisho and his family arrived in Detroit, Michigan from Baghdad, Iraq. They were fleeing the reach of the Persian Gulf War and looking to make a new start. Khnanisho, who would become known by his stage name, Tony K, soon discovered hip-hop music, and by 13 years old started rapping and producing his own tracks.

His early sound was heavily influenced by idols like Eminem, DMX, Tupac, Nas and The Notorious B.I.G., as well as his family’s own musical background; his father, uncle and mother were all musicians. More recently he’s been mashing up the work of legendary musicians with the latest pop culture obsessions. Only a few months ago he dropped Don Killuminati: The Seven Kingdomsan epic combination of Tupac’s most beloved songs and samples from the sprawling soundtrack of everyone’s favorite orgy of unadulterated violence, Game of Thrones. 

Trying to one-up a GoT mashup is kind of like trying to create a scene more brutally perpetrated than the Red Wedding, but in memorial of the seventh anniversary of the death of the King of Pop, he’s trying. The new drop, The Hip Hop Michael, takes classics like “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” “They Don’t Care About Us,” and “You Are Not Alone” and melds them with hip-hop instrumentals. Unsurprisingly, Tony is the one behind the brand new compositions, all of which are made to complement Jackson’s melodic vocals.

Schmon, just press play. You know you want to.

You can download the mix directly from Tony K’s website or stream it below.

Words by Stephanie Smith-Strickland
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