Album Review: Moka Only – Lowdown Suite 2: The Box (2009)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Potholes
Part-soul, part-jazz, part-psych, Moka Only has drawn from extensive musical influences for his latest sprawling creation, Lowdown Suite 2: The Box. However, this is nothing new for the award-winning Vancouver rapper/producer. Moka Only has been making noise within the hip-hop community since the early ’90s, and hasn’t let up. And it’s a good thing, because 2009’s Lowdown Suite 2: The Box stands amongst his finest work to date.
One of the most enthralling parts about the music here is its refusal to fall nicely into one category. Sure it’s a hip-hop album, but it’s much more than that. Full of timely breaks in the middle of songs, airy abstractions, and lofty keys, the production is sound and never dull. Check out the quirky soul sample over the sticky drum loops on “Trudgin”. Tracks like that and “Mothballs” draw potential comparisons to the type of left-field hip-hop coming largely from Stones Throw’s collection. But then Moka Only slips right into “Isn’t Over”, a rap about making a love relationship work, thrown right over classic boom-bap style production. What works fantastically about the production on this album is the lo-fi, atmospheric, chill-out essence of it all. Fitting somewhere neatly between Dilla and Pete Rock, Moka Only proves that he can take production in two different directions – experimental and classic – yet find ways to melt everything together.
Moka Only finds the ideal calm flow to match his stellar production. Tracks ruminate on and on about simple everyday life scenarios – on “Bored (feat. Psy)”, the two rappers actually go on about being bored (or not) in the house – the kind of rhyming that at times drifts towards free-associative. The overwhelming sense of ease with which the music and raps are delivered doesn’t require heavy processing. The topics remain fairly basic, yet are sharp with intricacies in each verse for those who do prefer to dissect lyrics. Lowdown Suite 2: The Boxis a sweeping statement from an artist who deserves every bit of respect he gets and then some.
justLISTEN! Moka Only x Ron Contour
Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au
Moka Only – How Do You Feel Today
Ron Contour – Rontario
The justalilhype! Crew had a rare opportunity to sit down with cousins Moka Only and Ron Contour. With all the conspiracy and confusion on the internet, many identity questions arose due to the speculation of the likeliness of these two family members. Left and right, there were people accusing Moka to be Ron, and vice versa. However, the justalilhype! Crew is here to prove it all wrong. We sat down with both of these hip-hop artists and we asked them some general questions and many personal questions.
Moka Only is an international hip-hop star, most known world wide to be a part of the hit group, Swollen Members. While it may not be openly known, Moka was part of founding group and even came up with the name. He tells us that he left the group only because of his urge for individuality, not because of an argument between him and front man Madchild. Moka also talks to us about the importance of his trips down to California which shaped him to be who he is today.
Because Ron Contour had some French-Canadian background, he spoke a little bit of French to play around with us. However, for the most part, Ron was quite shy and kept quiet. We asked Ron many questions about his background and his reservations, and he tells us about his ever changing background and many reservations downtown. Today, he tells us his background is Tim Hortons.
Also joining us for the interview was June Ten, a good friend of theirs, helping Ron with his shyness. June Ten’s music had caught the ear of Moka Only and from there, a strong friendship ensued.
Continue reading below as Moka Only and Ron Contour sat down with us and had a two hour long chat about theirs, and Vancouver’s, hip-hop history.
Can you please tell us a little more about yourselves?
M: Well, my name is Moka. I’m an MC but I feel, first and foremost, that I’m more instrumentally inclined. I like to do beats and vocals comes second.
R: Mon nom est Ron Contour. Je suis un DJ et MC du rap musique. Je suis un rectangle. In English, my name is Ron Contour. That’s all. I’ve come a long way, now… no that’s for jokes. I do raps and sometimes beats, but not as much beats as raps. And girls tolerate me.
“Moka Only” is a stage name. Can you tell us about the startings of this name and how “Moka Only” came to be?
M: “Only” is because I wanted to be the only one. The name was a nickname, and it came to be because everyone called me “Moka” back in the day, because I drank so much coffee. I was a graffiti writer so I changed it to “Moka 1” because no one else had it and I was the only one – anyone else that was calling themselves “Moka” would be “Moka 2” or whatever. On the real! It became evident that every rapper wanted to put a “1” after their name just to copy the graffiti writers, because that’s where it all came from. I got tired of it so I changed it to “Moka Only”, which is basically the same thing – “Only” is pretty much a variation of “1”. I had so many people come up to me over the years asking me what it meant. “Do you only like dark skin girls”? Nah, any kind of girl will do.
And Ron, is that your real name?
R : I’m sorry but I’m sort of old fashioned. I stick to my artist name and that’s what people care about. They don’t care about a Jason Smith. It looks like there’s going to be a wee bit of a thunderstorm with lighting and thunder.
Moka, can you tell us about the early stages of your career? You have been raised to fame during the golden hip-hop era and furthermore, you have a large reputation within the hip-hop scene. Can you tell us about the origins of Moka Only?
M: Well, originally, I’m not even from the scene – I spent my childhood on Vancouver Island, where I met Prevail and my homeboy Ishcan, also from Vancouver Island. In the late ‘80s, I had a group called “Sound Advice”. I swear that this was the only rap group, or the first rap group, in Victoria. It was me, MC Juice Dub, DJ T-Double, and MC Degree and it didn’t last that long, but it taught me a lot. From there on, 1992 hit, right in the middle of the golden era. I thought, “Well, Victoria is pretty limited,” so me and Prevail moved over here in Vancouver. Prevail and I had our own group, kind of like a split sphere and for the first few years, I lived in Vancouver and California and we just rocked shows – freestyle stuff. We were the only cats that I knew of spitting things off the top of our heads. We didn’t have demos or mixtapes, nothing. We just made up freestyles wherever we went and that’s how it began.
And after that? How has it been from ’92 until now?
M: A rollercoaster. Some not as good, but mostly good. Between ’93 and ’94, Prevail and I moved to California and spent a lot of time in San Diego and Los Angeles and that’s where we really earned our stripes. We hung out with a lot of the OG’s and they really put us in our place. They basically told us “This flies and this doesn’t, but it’s your opinion. We’ll just give you some suggestions to help you get better.” We hung out with quite a few members of the West Coast Rock Steady Crew chapter. To be hanging out with anybody that was with the Rock Steady Crew was like, “Ahhh!” It was the nuttiest shit ever. We were living in San Diego with a bunch of graffiti writers and a couple that represented Rock Steady Crew, my man Quasar in particular. Man, those guys showed us so much love and showed us so much shit. California had a lot to do with my career – I wasn’t immediately embraced in Vancouver. It’s funny how being in my home area, people would shun it, yet when I go to California, I’d get major love. We met so many nutty and crazy people.
The hip-hop scene was just way more accepted in California.
M: Yeah, it was. Vancouver wasn’t really on the map for much except for Expo ’86 and Bryan Adams, at least that’s what it seemed like. We met up with Dilated (Pupils) when they were just starting and when they just put a 12 inch together, you know what I’m saying? I’m friends with Evidence still, from 16 years ago. Matter of fact, he was up here a little while ago recording a new album so I made a contribution to that.
M: Yeah man, that’s all I can say. I don’t think I’ve talked much about it that much in interviews, about the impact of California on my career. The graciousness of and the acceptance of the west coast American hip-hop scene was just astounding.
It’s at these times and ages which make the biggest impact on an individual the most.
M: Another thing about that is that your mind is very emotional too. That’s why we always look back at our teenage years and just think that it’s so pivotal. It’s what shapes us as to what career you go into, what music you listen to, what kind of girls you’re into, it all happens at that age. I was 19 to 20 at that time. I was 20 years old in the Golden Era! That’s no joke! That’s so emotional! Even in Vancouver, when things were popping off, there were so many events popping off and early rap contests. We even had the DJ Sound Wars that lasted until ’95. It was just a rap and DJ contest and even graffiti and it was held out at UBC. There were people that would come as far away as Chicago and it was a big deal. It is a part of the Vancouver hip-hop scene that hasn’t stayed documented, you know what I mean?
Yeah, DJ Flipout told us a bit about it.
M: Yeah, I remember seeing Flipout way before was even Flipout or before What The Hell or before him and Madchild had their group, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, Madchild was in the Rascals then.
J: Yeah, that’s history right there.
M: I remember when Craig Mac came out with the “flavor in your ears, 1000 degrees” and then I had “big mac and chesse, you’ll be on your knees with the ecoli disease”. I flipped it into this food shit and the crowd went nuts. It was so crazy back then. It really wasn’t about money. It was about making a living, of course, but the creativity meant everything. When Puffy started coming out with his own stuff, people here were like, “Ugh,” and only the girls liked it. All the guys in the real hip-hop scene were interested in the styles a rapper had. Breaking was huge too. It was just so much more integrated in the scene.
Now, each of the scenes are quite dispersed. DJ’s have their own stuff, the breakers have their own stuff and everything is very commercialized now.
M: It is and I’m happy that dancers can make a living now. The big break dancing wave came and gone from the ‘80s to the ‘90s.
M: One thing that I noticed was that graffiti writers always existed without hip hop. I remember seeing all these graffiti on the walls and I imagined them to be bboys and listening to hip hop with cargo pants and everything. But I met them and they’re into rock and roll and they’re into Guns N’Roses. Hip-hop is founded based on nuts and bolts and putting things together like you’re MacGyver and being original. Now, it seems like commercialization has flipped everything on the ends and made it OK to bite and cool to pretend to be somebody else and it’s accepted. If you’re doing something really abstract or left field, it gets pushed under. The only thing that has done is that it has created a fertile ground to bring the underground back up from ground zero.
Yeah, for sure. One of our biggest fears is listening to really dope underground rap artists and then seeing them change as they need to accommodate to commercialization and then what we love them for disappears.
M: Well, here’s the thing. Our hero’s, we wish them success and we want to see them survive, but we don’t want to see them change their music to do so. Where I’m at, at 36 years old, I’ve seen some highs and lows. I’ve had some really good and well off years and in the past, I’ve had some really low years. I definitely want to be rich and be rich off my creative soul but I will never change my sound to do so. I’ll build it and let them come, and I believe in that. I believe that any one can make a vital living off what they do – they just have to keep hammering it out and people will come and check it out. It’s funny because a lot of guys my age that used to be in the rap game, they came and went as if it was a fun kid thing to do. I have no intention to slow down – I might even speed up, more than anything. Imagine me saying the same lines when I’m 60! As for beats, you can keep doing it. Look at the jazz community! That genre of music contributed heavily to hip-hop. If they can do it, why can’t we? How come people are saying that someone who is 35 is too old? Hip-hop is too young for anyone to put those “you’re too old” kind of rules on it. It never mattered before. You know Guru, rest in peace to him, but when Guru and the gang stuff started, he was already an older cat, and Public Enemy for instance.
J: Even from an outsiders point of view, even for all these other cats here, Moke’s is still relevant. Not relevant as in the time, but more like it’s timeless. He can’t stop, even if he wanted to. You can see people in their careers and they’re trying to work with younger cats to stay with the crowd –
M: The guy’s are trying too hard!
J: Yeah. What [Moka Only] has done is beyond what the normal rap artist has done and this dude needs to be documented. I’m telling you. Preserve this dude’s work. I don’t think the same cats who have come up the same time as he has is working as hard as he is. They’re all like, “Oh, my skills have diminished. I might as well fill this in and do this and do the quota.” Moka is abundant with material and that’s hard when you get older and have bills and responsibilities.
M: Here’s my thing, check it out. For instance, when a man gets older, the general consensus is that he gets wiser so he gets better with his words. So why is it that in hip-hop, when some dudes gets older, they get worse with their words, when rap music is just an extension of rap which comes from conversation. Does that mean that when you get older, you start speaking more juvenile or stupid? I really want to name names right now but I don’t want to call anyone out.
J: I got a few right now off the top of my head but I don’t want to say it.
M: There were some guys that were just on top of it in the ‘90s and they were the flow masters. I don’t know if they got lazy or they didn’t recognize the world is still revolving around them, but their rap flows got so basic. Sometimes, I’m wondering if they feel the need to cater to a “stupider youth”, so to say. Are you supposed to get dumber? I’m just saying, how is it possible for somebody to run out of words in ways to express their life just because they’ve gotten to an older age? Perfect example, Master Ace. That guy is on fire and he’s legitimately old school. That guy is still thriving and he’s so sharp and he’s got to be in his mid 40’s.
M: Right now, rap is so accepted. Kids here, they were born with hip-hop being accepted. Back in the day, we would walk around and people would look at us. It wasn’t because we were black guys or asian or Hispanic guys. It was just that we were like martians, the way we dressed and the way we carried ourselves. We would pop up anywhere and cipher. It was just this exclusive club and if you ever saw someone that fit the hip-hop description, then you could just kick it with them and chances are, it’d be cool, unless it was some territorial and gangster stuff – that stuff is different.
R: I like turtles.
Going back to you introducing Ron in the hip-hop scene, not only do people often criticize him as being your shadow, people are saying you two are the same person. What is your take on that?
M: This has happened so many times with artists who have siblings. Take a look at the Jackson siblings. People were actually like, “Why don’t Michael and Janet ever appear at the same place? They are the same person!” Just let ‘em. I let people guess whatever they want to but they’ll know the truth. All I can do is paint a picture and people can perceive it however they want to. And you know what? If that’s what people want then that’s fine too. I think there are a lot of mysteries in music that make it more fun. If people don’t believe it, all I can say to them is to enjoy it, regardless, because it adds to the mystique, or hate it with a passion.
And what about you, Ron? We heard you were discovered at a family reunion by Moka. I think there’s some confusion about that and maybe some magazines didn’t do their homework.
R: That’s not true. I always rhymed with my cousin but I wasn’t discovered. I just started to build and he said he wanted to help me out. I’ve heard the same things that you’re referring to as far as, you know, the family barbeque or get together, and that sort of stuff is not true. It is lies and fabrication. As Moka was saying, it just adds to the mystique.
J: That is propaganda. That is just pure slander material. Ron Contour freestyling at a family reunion? That doesn’t even happen. Who made that up?
Ron, your look is very European, from the scarves to the coats. What is your direction with that?
R: You picked up on that. I have this sort of fascination with the UK, you know, which is evident in my speech and everything. It’s just something that more interesting when you pretend like you are from somewhere else, not that I want to be somebody else. It’s all shits and giggles. I’m not Moka, though. I like doughnuts.
What’s your fave?
R: Honey crullers.
Nice. And can you tell us a little more about some similarities and differences between you and Moka that people should know about?
R: I’m interested in insects. Or sex. Just sex, drop the “in”. I was doing bee keeping for a while and it got boring after a while. You paint yourself in a box sometimes and you got to break free of the box. I’ve never taken much to Christina Aguilera. In ways we’re similar is that we both like food. It’s a theme we have in our music, separately and together. Pause. I would say he’s just more outgoing than I am and he’s not that outgoing. I always have my dreams and wishes and hopes to be someone who’s a world play and on constant adventure. I’m more of an author in my rhymes where Moka is more about regular stuff. Mine include dreams and boats that I like to own.
J: He’s got catelogues of boats of different sizes and everything. Boats and boots.
R: Timberlands. I’m very influenced by the ‘90s.
M: I’m influenced too, but just less.
R: Sometimes, I think it’s still the ‘90s and have these flashbacks. HATCHEW!
J: Boats and boots, Ron Contour, that’s it. Boats because if you think about it, you’re floating on water which is basically walking on water. Miraculous in so many ways. And boots, you need something to walk on water with and what better than a nice pair of Timberlands? Ron Contour.
Hey, Moka, can you tell us about your involvement with Swollen Members back in 1996 to the prime times of 2002 to 2005? How did you influence the hip-hop group’s direction?
M: Swollen was interesting. It really happened by accident – it didn’t have this master plan. Prev and I were still doing this split sphere thing and Madchild had just come back from The Bay area and he was trying to make some noise for us and stuff and we just kept running into each other at places. He knew who we were and we knew who he was. We started having rhyme sessions and ciphers and stuff and one day, we were sitting around and we just wanted to make this super group. It was actually Madchild’s idea to have us three and DJ Kilocee to DJ and “It’d be like the craziest Vancouver shit,” – those were Madchild’s words. I was with it but I was kind of hesitant in the way that I haven’t made much noise with the split sphere and I wanted to build it up more, but I thought this was the way to do it. That never really happened. We recorded a few songs, Swollen Members the early incarnation around ’96 or whatever, and people heard them around the way. I made up the name, too, for Swollen Members.
Oh really? How did it come about?
M: We were really drunk. We drank alcohol and we were like, “What should we call our group?” and Madchild was like, “’The Fat Dicks’,” and he had something there. I said, “How about ‘Swollen Members’?” and we laughed about it but we kept it. It’s always a running joke now. There would be people just saying fat dicks all over the radio and all it means is just fat cock. We made meaning to it. Like, “Swollen Members, Extended Crew”, and that was what we said for safety. I think I was more inclined to do things on my own so about half a year or a year I just said, “Hey guys, I’m going to do my own thing, but let’s still crew up.” We continued to work together but from a distance, while Swollen kept building their name as a duo. ’99 came around and we started to work together a little more because Mad had built up the label, very meager but he was able to put together some 12 inches. I didn’t rejoin the group again, officially, until 2002. It was kind of a tough go and I had success with some of my own stuff, like “Lime Green”. The balance between two was difficult. I always looked at Swollen as a temporary thing, always in and out, but it was all love. Towards the end of it, I wasn’t satisfied with the direction that it was going in. I thought it was good and it definitely showcased musical talent, but I just wasn’t satisfied with it. I was interested in dipping in other stuff and it was nothing personal – in fact, we still kick it. Madchild just moved in next door to me and I see him all the time. What else can I say? I guess I don’t want to risk being one of those people that are like, “Hey check me out, check out all that I’ve done,” but there are a couple things that I’m proud about. We sold more records than any other Canadian hip-hop artist at that time and obviously Drake is now sneaking up on us. We made our mark and got Junos and stuff. It’s cool to win an award and stuff, but it doesn’t measure you as a person.
Moka, Madchild went through some serious drug addiction, recently.
M: Yeah, but he’s done with that.
How did that affect you personally?
M: It was very sad. We had grown apart and barely talked, but it wasn’t a negative thing. They were just busy doing their own thing and it was a difference of lifestyle. They continued to do things with Swollen but then I would hear things about [the addiction] and it couldn’t have been true. When I was around Mad and the group, he was very anti drug and very outspoken against it. It was me and him that would hang out while everyone else got drunk and partied. He didn’t smoke weed or anything, and I didn’t do drugs all my life. Well, with the exception of some tokey-toke. But to hear that, it saddened my heart when I saw him do a video blog confirming it. Then I heard through other mutual friends how bad it had gotten and I didn’t know until I started seeing him again. He’s clean now and he’s got his shit together and you should hear some of his new stuff now – it’s right back on the hip-hop stuff. I’m not trying to put him on blast but he told me recently that he just wanted to be an artist. He said, “I’m not worried about money, I’m not worried about all that other stuff. I just want to be an artist. I’m really inspired and I’m listening to all these cats. I just want to come off and flip rap,” so that’s really good to hear that. When I met Mad, it was just hip-hop, hip-hop, hip-hop and that’s where we came from. For him, someone who’s officially inducted into Rock Steady Crew, it’s crazy now. A lot of respect to him, for short. People say that we don’t like each other but me and Mad are similar in a lot of ways. Our music may be vastly apart but it’s still a brotherhood.
Do you see yourself being more involved with Swollen over the years?
M: Yeah, I see that happening. It may or may not be with Swollen but it will be with the individual members of the group or it could be with both him and Prev. It could be just some other collabos. I was talking to Mad and we were thinking of some rhymes – just raw rhymes over beats. It could happen. This year, I’m excited to hear a lot of the new things coming out, like Kanye’s album being produced by Q-Tip and Madlib. It’s a testament that things happen in cycles and the underground is going to shine again. People are going to remember what skill was, what character was and what personality was. Not to say that rappers haven’t exhibited that over the past few years but it’s been more on the back burner, you know what I mean? Making money has been the theme, making money and V.I.P. If you’re going to rap, you got to really rap now.
Has your experience with Swollen Members glimpsed you the difference between money and fame with the true love of music.
M: I honestly think that it’s going to get better or at least go through a cycle where it appears to get a lot more interesting. You see it happening more now – you see some of the indie rock and someone is playing the lutes and the recorders too. I think we’re going to see more of that in hip-hop, transisting from an over capitalist era to an era where it’s just bringing good music to people. The old industry model with the record companies and all that, it’s falling in on itself, through a number of reasons and I don’t even want to name them. The people that really care about music, they are going to keep doing music and the ones that weren’t in it so much for the love of music, they’ll find other things to do, like real estate or some shit.
Speaking of making music with weird instruments, we saw the video of you using a whole bunch of weird machines to make music.
M: Oh yeah!
Which one makes the most unique sound and which one was the hardest to find?
M: That’s me, man, I just want to make some freaky stuff. It’s not so much the hardest to find, it’s more the most money I spend on it. The Mini Mo Keyboard and I had to put in $5000 to buy that one keyboard. I could have bought a used car or put a down payment on a car or some smart shit, but of course I put it into music. All the money I make, I just put it back into musical instrument because I like music that much. I don’t buy clothes, although that’s important too. I would say the Mini Mo is my most important piece of equipment because you can make any sound with it. It’s an original keyboard and it’s got all these kinds of oscillators and switches on it. From one hum, you can mold or shape the sound to create anything from raindrops falling to radio static and drums even.
And Ron, have you used any of Moka’s many instruments?
R: He’s more experimental. I like it simple, like the ‘90s. It just suits me more. Things like that.
Ron, tell us about the collaborations between you and Moka.
R: I usually tell Moka to do my beats because I like them. I’m a product of the ‘90s so I like to carry that essence, back with PM Dawn and malarkey. What was the question?
R: Oh right. I just get beats. That’s it. Pause. I get music from him. He also taught me how to make beats.
M: He actually produced a song on my Lime Green album and it was recorded in ’99.
R: Sort of nervous right now. June might have to help me answer a few. And I want to clear it up right now. The moustache is artificial. The moustache and glasses is something I wear that makes me feel comfortable. I’m not like my cousin who can just talk to anyone. I just get nervous in situations like this. “Why are you asking me questions and all this?”
In the past, Moka, you’ve done a lot of collaborations with artists such as Jeff Spec and Prevail, etc. How do you think collaborations spark the creativity?
M: Man, most of the people you mentioned happened because of the deep friendships that we had. I don’t reach out to many people, most of the time, they reach out to me. I reached out to June Ten because I was so intrigued by his music but other people, like MCs, I don’t reach out. I love the art of MCing but I seem apprehensive to reach out to other MCs to work with. I like doing collabs best when there’s money involved – that’s how I make my living. I highly encourage people to pay me to rap because when you put out an album, people put it up on torrents and they can get it for free. It makes it tough for people like me to pay the bills and eat food and not die. When people reach out to me for collabs, that’s one of the things I count on. I will do the best job, regardless of who the artist is. I still do some collabs for snakes and giggles and then I do my collabs to not die. That’s crazy! I haven’t had a day job since 1993!
What was it?
M: I was serving coffee, oddly enough. I was serving snacks and coffee at a bingo hall. It was very undesirable and I thought, “Well, I might as well take the plunge.” I knew I could do it. That goes back to what I was saying before about the peers that were talented and then quit. I don’t think they thought it was real and thought it was a dream. “Oh, the dream is over, time to get back to reality.” Why couldn’t you believe in art being your career? I don’t understand.
Why hasn’t there been a full Ron Contour x Moka Only?
J: Just stop. Stop pressing the envelope on that one.
OK. What do you think your music styles are?
M: OK, as for getting inspiration, I would say jazz has been the most instrumental, pardon the pun. I’ve been listening to jazz ever since I was a kid. I was the weird kid – while everyone else was listening to Bon Jovi, I listened to people like Eddie Harris. I was a loner but it didn’t matter as long as I had my jazz, jazz and rap. Jazz was most important because it’s complexity is never ending. If you were to get into jazz, it’s some difficult stuff – you don’t know where to start but it’s infinite. It has such a rich history, even in Vancouver. It taught me a lot about how to flow on a rap. It has spontaneity and intricacy – it has two can have two different time structures – that’s crazy!
M: Here’s what I like about hip-hop. A lot of times, in pop music or other genres, it takes a hundred people to screw in a light bulb – you got the instrumentalist, the artist, the writer… I only need me. It’s exciting and it’s grassroots to be able to make something from nothing. That’s what I like about hip-hop. The rules aren’t the same. People tries to impose rules on hip-hop but nothing really sticks. You just do what you want to do or you just be a beesh and listen to somebody else. I have to be my own promoter and everything – who else is going to work for me? I reached out to you guys, remember? I don’t have somebody doing it for me.
R: It’s just rap. I like the boom and the bap. That’s it. I like jazz also, but I like the boom bap. I like the boom and the bap. I’m stuck in my ways, I guess you can say.
And Ron, in terms of your album art, we’ve been through a lot and many of them look like they are straight out of a porno. Have you been approached by any producers to make a porn?
R: I’m going to put it out there right now. I have every interest in doing porno work. None of the acting stuff, I just want to fuck. I don’t mean to curse, but that’s all I want to do. If there is anyone out there reading this interview and they want to consider it… the name is a sexy name. I just want to bone and I want to be paid for it on film.
For you newest album, Saffron, can you tell us a bit more about it?
R: It’s trash. I liked to do it because it was out of my element. When Moka introduced me to Factor, I instantly took a like to his music because it’s so far different from what I was doing before. Madonna. He was using folk music samples and I thought it would be a new texture. I think Factor and I make a good team. There will probably be a follow up album sometime soon. Duhhhhh…
And the music video for your single, Glad, has a Sasquatch in it with a paper bag on it. Can you tell us a bit more about this one?
R: I want June Ten to answer this one.
J: Ron really believes in some weird shit. Some really out there stuff. People are always looking for the Sasquatch and stuff but if you put a paper bag over top of him, you can mistake him for any North American man. Putting that over his face enabled him to blend in with the normal crowd, including Ron and the two ladies in the video.
Throughout the interview, you’ve mentioned a lot about your desire for women. How has this affected your music?
R: Everything is libido based. My boom and my bap, they come together because it’s this fire in my loins. I hate to say it like that because it sounds disgusting but it’s true, you know. I have a big penis, what can I say? I don’t even know how to say it. I have this huge sexual drive and it’s been the base of a lot of things. It’s unfortunate that women have found me only tolerable and to think I don’t have any qualities. I read that, you know? That’s not saying bad things, that’s good. That’s a step above denial. My family jewels caused me to produce family jewels.
Through Ron Contour’s eyes, what is the perfect woman?
R: One that doesn’t talk so much. What I mean in that is that we’re so in sync that it’s just a quiet understanding. It’s just all quietness and submissi… just an understanding.
What is the future for both of you?
M: Future of Moka Only? I’m just going to keep making music. I don’t know, I don’t have a master plan. I don’t have this plan and have my own things. I just want to do music and I want to do jingles for commercial. The other night, I made a Doritos commercial just for fun. I’m just going to keep doing music.
R: I’m psyching up my nerves up so I can perform. I just want to make money. I want to remain a quiet lifestyle but still reap the benefits of the Booty Tree, so to speak. It’s really simple: I’m really simple. I like stuff. All these rap MCs and they want these things. I just want to sit in a fishing boat in my Timberlands and just fish.
Ron, how has your background changed you over the time?
R: My background… it changes depending on where I am. I change depending on where I am and it always looks different.
J: Right now, his background is Tim Hortons.
M: Yes, it’s true.
R: But, you know, my background could change at any given moment.
How is it like to live in Vancouver right now?
R: I spent seven years in the Prairies in Canadia, and it was an eye opener for a while, but then it got sleepy. I took all those years off music because I was so disenchanted with the results of the first album. I don’t want to talk about the first album.
M: And me putting my picture on the first album.
R: Yeah, that didn’t make it easy.
J: I don’t know how he did it, but he got into the art department and put his own picture instead of Ron’s on the first album. Sheer disrespect. I don’t know how this family operates.
M: It served a purpose, though. I’ll be literal about it and it is because we needed an easy way to break him in. We thought that we could pretend that it was an alias of mine, but as you can see it’s been a bit of a sticky situation.
R: It’s all been improving. It’s so vibrant back in Vancouver and I’m closer to my cousin. I’m near the ocean again, which is really important because I bathe in it all year round.
What side of the family are you on?
R: His mothers… you know what? Moka, if it’s alright with you, I’d rather not talk about family stuff so much because I’m opening myself up and I’m nervous. There are more chances of flight… you know “fight or flight” and I choose flight. I’m not much of a fighter, I’m a lover. With all due respect, I do respect this chance to talk, but that’s just one I don’t like stuff.
Now, you being so shy, it’s weird because you being in music, you’re supposed to be up and out there performing and talking about your music.
R: Moka, you understand? You’re the same way.
M: Yeah, man.
R: That’s our similarity. I guess I just have more reservations than he does. For instance, I have this reservation downtown at this restaurant and I’m not going to say which one it is. Next week, I have a reservation for a flight to Toronto. You know the rapper Danny-O? We have an album coming out soon. He’s on my new Rontario project. I mean his cousin is. Stomach Dog’s got the heat! He says he’s dangling dolphins in fecal matter to all men. So, yeah, I have many reservations. I have made lots in the past and I’ll make more, guaranteed. Janet Jackson. In the first album, I talked more about fancy stuff but give me McDonalds and I’ll be satisfied.
What is HYPE?
M: One word answer: overblown. Let me see, how about this? You know how someone HYPEs up another artist and it doesn’t live up to the HYPE, it’s just a frenzy. HYPE can be a great thing. To me, it’s Michael [Jackson]. HYPE is simply energy and I’ve used it many times. HYPE is just the essence and if you are HYPE in hip-hop, you’ll always be able to make a good flow and be good. The antithesis of that of course is, “HYPE is equal to propaganda.” I ignore that aspect, HYPE is an energy to me, HYPE is a positive.
R: HYPE to me is a machine that’s behind the person that allows the person to gain exposure. I guess, more or less, Moka said propaganda, and that’s more up my alley. As a business, you need some sort of structure to promote your business. To me, that’s HYPE. It’s an avenue just to get known. Just like me sitting here doing this interview. Big up. Big up to all the “Yay” sayers and big down to all the “Nay” sayers. Downs to all the confusionalists and big ups to the sensationalists. It’s just interesting to make new things from old things and to design… to design… a motif or something that shows who you are. Just keep your body situated, eat well, and guts operating.
Moka, in terms of your personal life, you’ve dated a girl named Shauna Baker. All relationships are important, whether they involve people in the public or not. How has the media affected this past relationship?
M: I don’t know if I can talk about that one, man. It’s really touchy and it’s a whole world hurt. I’m sorry.
It ain’t easy being Moka. Sure, it looks like he’s having a blast in his new video for Once Again, romping around the Beaches with his numerous girlfriends, his downy ’fro billowing in the summer breeze, not a care in the world. But behind the scenes, things ain’t as sunny as they appear.
Think about it. Since the early 90s the Langford, BC, child has gone from the local freestyle ranks – hawking tapes out of the trunk of his car Too $hort-style outside high schools from San Diego to Toronto – to showing and consistently updating his eccentric, jazzed-out, low-end, stress-free version of hiphop and soul music before the whole continent on three spandex-tight BattleAxe solo LPs: Lime Green, Flood and Lowdown Suite.
But because he was in one of the country’s biggest hiphop acts during the early 2000s, he’s been typecast by most people as that guy who sang all those catchy jingles on Swollen Members’ hooks. (And, man, did those ever get annoying.)
Tonight at the Drake, backed by the top-notch Quartertones, he’s officially unleashing album quatro, The Desired Effect. Moka’s trying to break the Swollen paradigm with this LP, and it’s forced him to walk the tightrope between underground and mainstream. He’s striving to commit to his true love (“the dirt”), but he must also make his record shiny enough to move units, so he can, you know, have money to live.
The album’s strong pop aspect was also a bit of a compromise, he concedes, for his new distributor, Nettwerk. As a result, The Desired Effect is so aurally polarized, it might not really help clarify his image.
Popular but misrepresented, famous but not rich, long-established but at a point where he has to prove himself all over again – what could possibly make Moka Only’s situation worse?
“I have a hemorrhoid, man,” he confesses suddenly in his familiar West Coast twang over the phone from the warehouse district of East Vancouver where he lives and records. (Apparently, it’s also the place to score crack.)
“I don’t know how the hell I got one. Never had a hemorrhoid in my life, and it’s really disturbing me. I gotta take care of this before I go on tour, man. It’s fucking with me, dude. It’s really causing me some stress right now. I don’t know what brought that up.”
I do. I’ve just inquired about his first single, which was produced by the Matrix (the trio of Scott Spock, Lauren Christy and Graham Edwards, who added the quintessential pop shimmer to Avril’s Complicated and Sk8er Boi and glazed and basted songs by Britney Spears and Hilary Duff). Guess he’d rather not talk about it. I keep pressing.
“Yeah, that’s about as shiny as you’re gonna get me,” Moka says of Once Again, a banked two-year-old Swollen track originally intended for a release on Virgin America. It’s definitely sparkly, and it really sticks out on the enjoyable but uneven stir-fry that is The Desired Effect. The CD is his most outgoing effort, with guest shots by MF Doom and grub-textured production by k-os, Jay-Dee and Oh No, whose berserk organs sound like the work of a hockey organist on crack (perhaps picked up in Moka’s neighbourhood).
“This wasn’t an album where I tried to sit down and make a focused effort thematically,” he admits. “It’s not that at all. It’s basically a compilation from a three-year period. I could’ve sat down and whipped something up from start to finish, but I wanted to go at it from a different perspective. So I just dipped into the stash and assembled what I thought went well together.”
If there’s any testament to Moka’s total infatuation with music, it’s that stash. Heaven forbid, if anyone wanted to rub him out tomorrow, he could release enough posthumous shit to put 2Pac’s ghost to shame.
“I got ADAT after ADAT tape filled up with music,” he begins, taking inventory. “I have four different hard drives filled up with songs at my house and another at the studio. I got tons of stuff, man. I got half-finished things and beats that were dumped onto cassette tape even, cuz it’s a whole different vibe sonically.”
So now that he’s released his most accessible joint, expect his next album to be on some ol’ next-dimension shit. He welcomes the chance to have full creative control, as he had with BattleAxe.
He denies being a control freak, but despite an expensive music video on national rotation that will assuredly be his highest-selling album to date, Moka will hit the mean streets after our call to sticker ads for The Desired Effect. Let’s just say he’s never been afraid to take charge of his career.
“Yeah, I gotta have my way. I am flexible. I’m smart about things, that’s what I have to say about that. But if I can get my way, goddammit, I’ma take it.”
Moka’s soul still carries some of the post-breakup depression suffered when he left Swollen Members one member less swollen. He addresses the grief in one of his new songs, the 100 Grand Remix, which has him explaining why he felt more like six than seven figures.
“I knew I was doing what I had to do,” Moka explains, “but I felt a little bit sad about it because we had accomplished so much. We did some stuff that no hiphop group has ever done in this country, and I’d been around them solidly for, like, a three-year period.
“I felt a little bit down about that because I was like, ’Okay, I need to jump back into my solo stuff, but how am I going to do this?’ So I tried to come up with an attack plan, and I felt just a little bit, how you say, malaised about it.”
There’s a pause, and I hear him laughing a few feet from the phone.
“Man, what the fuck? Keshia Chanté’s big orange tour bus just rolled up outside my house. I think Keshia’s a bit lost, cuz this ain’t the neighbourhood for that kinda stuff.”
Moka Only Studio Tour + Gear Madness
OCTOBER 18, 2008
Well… Moka Only gets my vote for studio tour of the year/producer interview of the year. No promo nonsense… just a bunch of equipment, musical instruments, and sincere focus on making music and exploring sound. Moka Only actually took the time to show pretty much every device that happened to be lying around his home studio. Interestingly, he doesn’t particularly care for Pro Tools or Akai’s MPC line… make no mistake though, his gear collection and production is serious.
[Respect OStRANgE for the heads up!]
Tools of Choice:
- Roland Portastudio VS-2480 w/ separate monitor
- (3) Alesis ADAT LX20’s
- Nord Lead 2 keyboard
- Roland Juno 6
- Korg Triton
- Boss SP-303
- Roland SP-555
- Denon CD Player
- Fender Rhodes Electric piano
- Yamaha CS1X
- Yamaha B50
- Realistic Concertmate MG-1
- Casio SK-1
- Yamaha CS-01
- Pocket Trumpet
- Toy piano
- Casio CZ-5000
I hear 2010 has been a real big year for you so far, after some much needed dental work and a license to drive. How does the new independence feel?
haha.. I don’t know about dental work.. some jerkoff started that rumor and the label thought it was funny for my bio so we kept it for giggles. My teeth are fine.. its not like i have wooden teeth. I’ve survived worse. Right? Anyhow, 2010 has just started so I’m gonna cross my finger and hope for the best. Its really like a wet balloon if ya think about it. Could slip or pop, either. I know it’ll be good. Got the fat record deal with Fake Three records. Checky is a cool label boss. Factor is the man.
There is much confusion when it comes to you and Moka Only. Can you set the record straight for the listeners what the deal is?
What’s the confusion? I don’t see how people compare us other than we are first cousins. Stylewise I’m doing stuff he would never do. That’s no diss but c’mon, lets face facts. I’m older so I know more than him… nah… haha joking.
How annoying is it for you to have people continually confusing you with your cousin Moka Only?
Wasn’t this what you were kind of getting at with your last question? Yeah, holy turtle, you bet its annoying but amusing too. I mean, we DO look similar and there was that initial confusion when Moke broke me into the game in 99. He thought it would be smart to bill my first album as Moka Only Is Ron Contour… But NOW look.. a thousand doofus’s are putting things on the internets like “Moka Only AKA Rontour”… bunch of apple morons, you know? Who are they? Electric scientists? Is these tha people that are going to run my countries in the future? Hope not. hawhaw!
You disappeared shortly after your 1999 release. The word on the street is you left the rap game to pursue some honey dips and bee keeping?
Yeah, basically the first deal soured and Moka was pretty busy with his music so I took time off to learn how to make my beats better and yeah, i was living in a small ranch house in Kelowna for a min and i had taken over the last tenant’s bee hive, if ya can believe that. Crazy, huh. I went to a workshop then and learned about how to care for the beez and cleaning the hive and extracting the honey. It was fascinating. I did get stung once or twice or three times over a couple years and I think I may have developed a partial allergy. I went to the doctor about it but he told me it wasn’t a allergy so who knows. Needful to say I gave up beekeeping. It bugged me being away from music so long. I have my stories to tell so…
Is there any truth to the rumours that Moka Only discovered you freestyling at a family reunion?
hehe.. kind of.. I mean, he always knew that I was the rap guy that was into doing some raps but I don’t think he really knew how skilled I was until 95 at a fam reunion and a couple of us were freestyling. I knew that Moka was already doing some stuff and had been living in California and meeting people but. I NEVER sweated Moke for hookups… it happened naturally, as it often does for family, ya know? Pass the torch, pardon the pun. From there on we stayed in close contact and he got me into rap things and those type of situations with rap.
Do you think distancing yourself from Moka Only on this release and working with Factor will be enough to break free from his shadow?
Honestly, let me address that… I’m gonna address it like this.. I think Moka’s pride gets in the way sometimes and he bites off more work than he can handle and gets himself into situations where he is trying to balance like 20 projects at one time. He had always done the bulk of my beats but around summer 2008 he didn’t have time to work on a new project for me so i hollered at Factor and we started Saffron. Factor is dope so i knew it would turn out swell. We crafted the album slowly though… over a year, actually. Summer of 2009 i started working with Moke again for the album The Beach and it was dope. Moke hit me with a bunch of beats for another project that i finished in last November called Rontario but I’m waitin’ on releasing that one. For now I’m going full steamy ahead with this Saffron. Its a safe bet and it will unfold like a napkin. Totally.
Saffron is your third release and you teamed up with Factor and Fake Four. How did that connection come about and what was it like working with Factor?
Oh i just knew Factor through Moke cus they had done occasional work together since 2001. Simple shit. Factor is easy to work with… creates the beats, we sit with them and then he kinda zones out and doesn’t talk… at all… for a long time.. So I just do raps at him and we put it all together. Then we usually eat some food or whatever. Typical type rap stuff, ya know? I try to come flexi with tha verbals. Verbals for gerbils, i always say.
How would you describe Saffron?
Let me break that down.. the Saffron sound… well the title has Ron in it.. and saf. Factor’s other nickname is saf and its short for moneysacks, in a roundabout way plus where he is from in the Canadian prairies its all yellow with Saffron so there’s a dual meaning. Its like two meanings… in one! The sound is like raw veggies. its something that isn’t in rap and is a step away from my usual shit with Moke. Although the stuff i do with Moke is magic too. Three. Ummm… Factor and me used a lot of folk music type vibes on this album. To bring out a special mood. A new mood that feels like the flatlands. We tried some uptempo stuff too. Even Def Three is on the album! I dig it.. its mellow and nice and hyper. The both. Both of the vibes. Mellow yet it can be hyper. you know?
You just released the first single “Glad” accompanied by a video directed by Stuey Kubrick. Is the Sasquatch in the video a friend of yours? Why did you make him wear a paper bag on his head for the video?
You didn’t get the underlying theme of the hairy sasquatch in the vid? Remember my song “Hairy Gumdrops” from 1999? Well go back and check it… there’s messages. And also in the vid i think its apparent that the squatch is trying to fit in with civilization and does not want to be spotted, other wise it’d be like the movie E.T. and guys would come and take him away… so he was just hiding, but we had to turn him loose cus its the right thing to do. That’s what we were trying to get across. You can’t always get the cookie AND the cake. That’s the message.
What does the future hold for Ron Contour?
The future of Ron… well… more raps. I’m kinda like Moke, in that sense… I just care to do music and build on that. Me and him are the only ones of our immediate families that do music so we gotta represent. I mean, it wouldn’t be very cool if we quit and did normal jobs, now would it? Nope. I’m happy doing some raps and beats.
Any last words, shout outs, stories etc?
I gotta shout out the monkey kings, my homie flan-dog, din din and my homeboy mic-grabba and pinchy and betty the sweater. As for stories, yo.. I ate this weird muffin two days ago and it gave my the shits something terrible. I went to the movies with my homeboy’s girlfriend cus they were fighting and anyhow, we were halfway through the movie and i kept have some farts come out of my bottom and it was getting worse by the min, and pain too. I didn’t think much of it cus we were eating that stinky movie popcorn so you couldn’t REALLY tell what was a fart or what was just food.. and then BOOOM.. my guts were twisting and i had to bounce to the toilet. I sat down and just spray painted that toilet… let me tell you! When I was done and wiping up, I heard someone come in the mens room and say somethin’ like “boy, it stinks in here”… so i said somethin’ like” what the eff do you expect? its a frigging TOILET ROOM ” or whatever and that shut him up.. I mean, its crazy that people make comments like that when they KNOW damn well where there are. I mean, how is it supposed to smell in there? Like some nice candy or a bunch of the flowers or something? Anyhow, I went back into the theater but the girl I was with bounced… She left her soda and the rest of the popcorn so i gladly finished that off and then I went home and watched the late news on tv or whatever. SO… yeah… that’s a little story. Some REAL rapper life shit! Stuff that most cats won’t talk about but its real. I’ve always been the type of nigga to keep it accurate as far as what really goes on so thank me later… or now. Thanks for the interview, doggie. Go pick up that Saffron. It will shit your pants!
Man y’all can’t talk about stats without putting your boy Moka in it…
Platinum plaques, Junos, 7 MMVAs (Much Music Video Awards), roughly 36 albums and counting… Canadian emcee, Moka Only, took the time to chop it up with us. Canadian Hip Hop, collaborations, ADAT, and everything in between is covered.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us a little about yourself and what you bring to Hip Hop?
I am Moka Only, some know me simply as Torch. Depends on how in depth the person is with my music. I’m just a beatmaker/producers/emcee/doctor. I came up in the Vancouver, Victoria BC area. I’d like to think that I bring a sense of adventure and maybe mystery to music.
What artists, Hip Hop or not, did you grow up listening to and who would you say influenced your style and music?
Somehow I was always interested in piano singer/songwriter types like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles or Elton John, Billy Joel, etc. Then I started getting into jazz at a young age. Once I had become immersed in Hip-Hop, I would gravitate toward the more left-leaning artists like Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, (A) Tribe (Called Quest), etc…cats that used jazz or progressive textures in they music and abstract raps.
When did you decide you wanted to become a fulltime musician? Can you describe that particular moment?
I can’t ever think of one moment where I wanted to go full time with music. It was always an unsaid vibration. As a kid I would show out in grade school and stand on my desk and sing and stuff like that. I was a shy kid but when it came to music I had no problem sharing. There was never one single moment though.
Do other musicians criticize your work? Who would you say gave you the most import piece of criticism, and what was it?
I’m not too in tune with what artists are saying about my work. I don’t do the research to see what’s on other peoples minds. Usually they actions define how they feel like for instance, cats that reach out and want to collab’ or whatnot, that’s an indicator obviously. I live under a rock in some sense and I avoid a lot of the social scene and status quo-isms of the biz. I definitely get a rush thinking that cats that I look up to admire my work in return but its not fuel that I require. As long as I can blow my own mind, then I’m happy.
What are your opinions on major labels, and would you ever sign with one?
It seems that major labels have they work cut out for them right now. Most of them are about the bottom line and of course they are. Its business but one advantage of going with a major is the capitol they can put up for promotion where as indie cats dont usually have that advantage therefore it can be a very slow build. There are advantages to both and I’ve tread water in both sectors. I want the major money but with an indie outlook. I’ve signed with majors before and had my work help up and been dropped ‘cause I didn’t play ball i guess. lol
How do you think Canadian Hip Hop is currently progressing?
I hope Canadian hip-hop is progressing, haha. I hope hip-hop in general is. Yet at the same time, I don’t feel it affects my endeavors so much. I’m always going to stand out to the left side of this thing. I think hip-hop in general could stand to loosen up a little bit. A lot of cats seem so conservative now in they approach…and the beats that the general public hear on the radio and stuff… bah… too many guys chasing the goose…and there IS no goose to chase. Just go nuts and enjoy your own mind. That’s how I feel. Don’t ever feel like you have to do what ya don’t want to do, Canada! Sheesh. There are a number of progressive artists in Canada though. Wont name names, they know who they are and the listeners should too.
Did you encounter any difficulties emceeing Canada; was it widely accepted as it is now?
I don’t think I had too many troubles emceeing in Canada but listen. I never set out to stamp my self as “Canadian rap”. I just do what I do and have lived in both U.S. and Canada for the last 15 years. Travels and all that made me see that its silly to limit yourself with the titles. Sure I’m proud to be Canadian but I’m also the type of dude that never wants to be stuck in a box, so to speak. I think thing may have even been easier before due to the fact that once illegal downloading and the overall dumbing down of North American culture came into effect that people expect everything for nothing therefore it devalues art and it even shows on the tour front as well. I almost can’t wait until the music industry completely crashes and people wake up and start giving back something in exchange for hardworking musicians. You’ll see.
How do you think people perceive Canadian rappers? And what’s your thought on Canadians being reluctant to listen to Canadians in favor of Americans.
Well I am just not sure. Perhaps my view is that in underground hip-hop culture Americans who are deep in it are always going to show respect to Canadian hip hoppers. Here’s the thing; the longer you keep suggesting there is such divisions then it is going to perpetuate that notion. I wish Canadians would stop making such a deal about it. As for Canadians supporting Canadians, that’s cool but just support stuff if its dope. Shit, I’m NOT going to support a Canadian rapper just for the fact he or she is also Canadian. That makes no sense whatsoever. THAT’S what I’m talking about as far as conservative attitudes. People lowering they standard in what they chose to listen to and I have run into a bunch of people in Canada that DO seem to only support Canadian rap. That’s redic since it wasn’t even created here. Let’s just nurture it to the best of our abilities and share it, that’s all.
What’s your thought on Drake being widely accepted now, when he was rhyming for quite sometime before?
My thoughts about Drake blowing up only now? Shoot, that’s just the nature of the buzz and sometimes the power of the co-sign. Just because you’ve been rapping or whatever for a long time doesn’t automatically mean you are ‘in there’. Skills take a long time to hone and obviously Drake has made good use of his years building raps. So kudos to him!
Who is your favorite Canadian emcee?
My favorite Canadian emcee has two thumbs and is doing this interview right now, this guy, me. Thank you.
You said you made a number of albums and saved them on ADAT tapes, but your ADAT broke. Did you get a working ADAT to get your albums out?
Haha, anybody out there with a working ADAT LX-20 model, hit me up! I got a ton of ADAT tapes filled up and waiting to see the light. Stuff from 2000 to 2003, some of my fav’ stuff I’ve ever done was from that period. I feel nostalgia when I think of then. I still have a normal working DAT machine and tons of DAT tapes I’ve been through lately and found some jewels, well, at least stuff that I think are jewels to me. I will definitely get a replacement ADAT machine and some of that stuff will come out for sure!
Will you ever drop an instrumental album?
Already dropped instrumental album in 2006, It’s called The Station Agent. There will definitely be a lot more inst’ stuff coming, since that’s my fav’ shnit to do! And I like turtles.
You released your 6th Martian Xmas this year, but Martian Xmas 2005 seems to be a myth. Did that ever come out? Or were their some issues with the release that prevented it from dropping?
Martian Xmas 2005 is mythical to a degree BUT, it was completed and I cannot find the master. I have most of the songs in ruff form on cassette tapes and some of its good. I may just master off that and throw it out there. I want people to sweat me for it a lil’ more first. LOL. At the time I just felt it wasn’t strong enough to release. But now listening to the songs from it I feel differently about it. It’ll happen.
How is your cousin Ron Contour?
Oh Ron? Yeah, umm, he is a handful but I’m pleased at his productivity. He’s been knocking out the jams lately. Only trouble is that it’s more work for me, since he usually only wants to rap on my beats so that’s time consuming to make all his beats plus all my own works. He did an album with Factor G that’s coming out in March called “Saffron” so it’ll be interesting to hear what he has done with that. Factor (G) is dope so I’m sure the results are sweet. Ron got tons of stuff in the cannon waiting to release upon the crack of the world.
The next Ron Contour album, Rontario, is set to be done with Crunk Chris (Legendary Entertainment). Chris can also produce, so will you guys split the production? Or will either one of you guys handle all of the production?
Oh, as far as that Rontario project, yeah, I did more than half the beats. My homie Nebz Supreme did a few and Crunk did a couple I think as well. I flew out there to meet up and oversee plus be in the radiant vid’ but Ron gave me the wrong film time and I missed it, well mostly, you can see me complaining in the end of the vid’.
You’ve worked with many different people before, who would you say is your favorite person to work with?
I don’t like working with anybody, really. Ok, that’s a lie but I like working on my own best. Psy is a lot of fun to work with though and Ishkan, yeah, that needs to happen again. Bootie Brown and I have the new rap group, The Goolenaires and that’s been fun so far, he’s fresh with it. It’s going to be popular. Man, too many cats to name here really, (I) done work with a lotta cats where the process was cool. But I’m best alone, under, my rock.
Will there ever be another song with MF Doom? More Soup seems to be a favorite amongst the fans.
More Soup is a fav’ to me too, I don’t know what Doom’s been up to. Probably never happen again. I don’t know if he gives a flying fig Newton. Doesn’t matter to me, we made one lil’ classic joint and that’s fine by me. I’m happy.
Will you ever work with Ishkan again and release another Nowfolk album?
Like I said, I hope it happens. If Ishkan is interested and motivated in working with me then for SURE! And the album will be called Magnesium Opium.
I heard a rumor about an album with LMNO, is that still in the works?
I have a couple old joints with LMNO, maybe in the future we will do work again. I’ve spoken with him recently. If he is interested in working with me then cool, sometimes I cant tell if cats give a flying fig Newton or a wooky cookie about doing work with me. It doesn’t matter. If it happens naturally then it’s meant to be. I aint gonna sweat nobody. Let nature take its course.
Will that album with Mr. Brady ever drop?
Me and Brady’s album is finally gonna drop sometime in the spring. Gotta find a label that’s willing to give it a decent push first, it’s an interesting project.
Will the album with Evil, “Zzbra”, ever come out? I heard it was done, but Urbnet is holding it back.
URBNET is not holding back anything; this “Zzbra” thing is a complete fabrication. It’s a myth. Evil is a dope emcee but we’ve never worked together yet… I don’t know who started the rumor… I even saw some fake artwork for an album we purportedly made… bah… all myth. I think, anyhow. Maybe there’s an imposter Moka who made an album with Evil. Evil has flavor. Maybe Kutmaster Kurt will put out an album called Zzbra. Who knows, MYTH.
This decade has now come to a close, is their anything the decade hold for you? What is your favorite ?project you released this decade?
Im glad this decade is over, I’m looking for a fresh start. Lowdown Suite 1 was a fav’, as was Carrots And Eggs and Station Agent. I felt that I stepped it up with those releases. Lowdown 2 was cool as well. Some I like more than others, naturally. I’m sleepy right now. This tour is draining me. I’m drained. It’s good.
Any last words?
I never give last words, everything is a continuation. I’m looking forward to this new world of ours and for the backpack to rise again. I’m looking forward to getting that old shit off the ADAT and into your earphones.. I looking forward to good food and working with rock artists that are interesting. I am looking forward to working with Tegan and Sara. I’m looking forward to reading this interview. I’m looking forward to sex, lots of sex. I’m looking forward to touring hard again. Keeping it all moving and one last thing: Yaggfu Front is coming back and I’ve been in touch and will hopefully be involved. Peace!