Philly rapper Mic Stewart isn’t an easy guy to pin down. He’s a tall, somewhat scruffy fellow with a long ponytail – but as the hook in “Peaceworld (Outro)” goes, “long hair / don’t care.” Like as if to say he won’t let himself to get caught up in your backpacker pigeonholes, something he addresses more directly in the snappy single “I’m Not From Brooklyn” (performed in a jammin’ medley during our Key Studio Session with two other cuts from his new Peaceworld LP). Aside from addressing stereotypes and presuppositions, Stewart’s music focuses heavily on a Zen-like drive for inner peace and self-discovery via razor-sharp rhymes – as the story goes, he dropped out of college to focus on his musical dreams, and after a heard-fought year (and collaboration with DJ Stradegy, who backs him in these recordings) he ultimately won a Red Bull-sponsored freestyle competition and began playing stages as broad-ranging as the 2012 Roots Picnic, Chill Moody’s landmark headlining gig at the TLA in December, and this weekend’s show at The Blockley with Mobb Deep (enter to win tickets here). At the risk of saddling him with the equally loaded, constrictive “positive hip-hop” label, there is something positive about Mic Stew’s music, message and story. Dig into it below.