Pawnee/Choctaw brothers are pop, pop, popping off after Reservation Dogs debut
By Shelia Kirven
March 1, 2022
Reservation Dogs, television’s popular series on Hulu and internationally on Disney+, has become one of the industry’s most talked-about shows. Filmed in Oklahoma, it took off like wildfire and has gained serious international attention. One of the many reasons for its success is Pawnee/Choctaw rap artists and Oklahoma City brothers, Lil Mike aka “Little Michael Jackson” and Funny Bone, together known as Mike Bone.
Reservation Dogs premiered in August 2021, featuring all Indigenous writers and directors and an almost entirely Indigenous cast and production team. The series has had high ratings, been nominated for multiple awards, and renewed for Season 2. Mike Bone, as they call themselves, are recurring actors on the show, playing Mose and Mekko, who can be seen throughout each episode riding their bicycles throughout the reservation while rapping and spreading the “news.”
When asked how they got cast on the show, Bone said, “Due to COVID-19, we had to shut down all our touring in 2020. Everything pretty much stopped.” He said their manager told them about auditions being held in Tulsa for a movie, but it ended up being for a TV pilot when they auditioned.
“We just did it. We did the audition and changed up the script a little bit to make it our own. They called us back and said y’all are exactly what we’re looking for.”
“The show went together magically,” said Bone. “All the characters, all the people behind the cameras, the writers, they all worked together perfectly to make it a classic.” Mike said, “When we were on set, everybody was bragging on this being the next Smoke Signals. We knew it was going to be big in the Indian community, but we had no idea that it was going to be accepted by so many other people.”
When asked what it means to be part of a series that has broken through barriers and placed itself so highly in the world of television, Bone said, “We’ve got people in different countries relating to it, hitting us up online saying it reminds them of their cities and their towns. I always say it humanizes the Native community, and it makes people relate and see that we’re still here and we’re people. We’re still here and we’re still humans and deal with same stuff that everyone else is, and even more so in America.”
Before Reservation Dogs, the brothers’ music was found all over the internet. They were very popular, but now their fame has somewhat exploded. Due to their increasing popularity, the brothers laughed about even getting rid of a car they drove around town, which had the name “Mike Bone” painted on the side.
Mike and Bone first appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2013. “That was our global breakthrough, and that opened the doors for us to travel to different countries, not just here in Oklahoma and the states,” Bone said. “I think that broadened our fan base. We’ve got a lot of people jamming us in Tokyo, Greece, all kinds of other countries.” The brothers may look like twins, but they are five years apart, Mike being the oldest.
They write their own lyrics and produce and record their music in Oklahoma. Through their music, they want to influence others to stay away from violence, drugs and alcohol, and make good life decisions. Their honest and clean music speaks about real-life issues, many they have endured themselves, such as gang violence, abuse and homelessness. They say they strive to be positive influences for youth, promoting that a positive attitude and hard work can make dreams come true.
Mike said the neighborhoods they grew up in were poor, and kids witnessed and sometimes participated in gang activities. “I was one person who was like, I’m not going to do that again.” They said they also grew up in the Indian church, which helped. They speak about their faith in God openly, saying it does not waiver, nor do their abilities to pick themselves up and go forward.
“We stand our ground on our faith,” said Bone. “We’ve always seen God come through, whether we were stressing on it or if we weren’t stressing on it. That’s something we preach to people, that the worrying isn’t going to change anything.” Their song, “Don’t Worry About It,” talks about letting go, having faith and believing. According to Mike, his music career started by writing poetry early in life.
He said, “We grew up semi-poor, living off food stamps and things like that.” He said he was encouraged to write out his feelings. “They had me write out my problems and draw, and all in that encouraged me to write poems. Poems turned into songs. Then I saw Michael Jackson, and I thought that was an outlet because dancing took my mind off everything.”
He decided to try out for talent shows to see what he could do. After a school performance of his poetry at a gang violence awareness event at age 12, a student told him that she liked his rap. “I did a poem about one of my friends dying of gang violence, and I did it to a jazz beat.” After that, he said he decided to try and write a poem about rap. “That sparked the journey,” said Bone, who joined up with his older brother soon after.
When asked what message they want to share with our readers, especially our young readers, Bone said, “You are what you eat, so be careful what you feed your mind.” He continued, “Not only food, but what you listen to, what you absorb, what you watch on movies and tv. It all goes in, and that’s what a lot of young people don’t understand, that the music they are listening to is speaking. Those words have power. If it’s words of lack and depression and different things like that, and you’re just soaking yourself in that, you’re going to just live your life where you’re just always sad or angry or suicidal, you name it; there’s so much terrible types of music out there that’s not good for the body, for the mental health.” He explained, “Just be careful what you listen to. That’s why we make our music quality content, no nonsense.”
Mike added his encouragement, “Dream big, work hard, and never give up.” They said they try to spread what they have learned over the years. They also encourage healthy eating and they themselves try to eat as healthy as possible.
Bone said they are constantly working on new music and auditioning for future endeavors. According to the brothers, they are collaborating with some great artists and experimenting with different styles. “That’s going to be real dope, especially for all the rock heads out there,” said Mike.
Mike Bone’s music, videos and mixed tapes are available through mikebonemedia.com. Exclusive merchandise and touring information are also available on the website. Their music is also available on all streaming platforms as well.