Veteran emcee Makeba Mooncycle linked up with French producer Buck Oner to create an album titled “Just a Part of Me.” Just a Part of Me is a look inside the life of the lyricist who shares stories about her lows, love, and enlightenment.
Just a Part of Me is produced entirely by Buck Oner. The release features appearances Skanks the Rap Martyr, King Monk, Seth Reger, Ms. Strawberry, Holy Smokes, House Da Beast, StaXxX, Mahog Bless, GatorGotMe, Just Mick, and Prodigal Sunn. The 14-track album comes courtesy of Anarchy Records.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Makeba Mooncycle about learning from romantic relationships, why it’s important for her to be heard, working with producer Buck Oner, and her new album, Just a Part of Me.
TRHH: Why did you call the album Just a Part of Me?
Makeba Mooncycle: Because it’s not all of me. I’m just giving little pieces of who I am and thoughts. So, it’s not everything, but it’s something. We were messing around with “a piece” “a part” “all of me” and I was like, “Well, I’m not really giving everybody everything.” So, just a part. Little pieces of what goes on in Makeba’s life.
TRHH: How did you and Buck Oner decide to do a full album together?
Makeba Mooncycle: We met back in 2007 I think on Facebook. He sent me some tracks and I recorded a song with him. I liked the energy of his tracks. A lot of them were so dope, but so different. It was different vibes. I had been writing to so many of his tracks I said, “Let’s just do something together.” That idea started in maybe 2012.
TRHH: What took so long to complete Just a Part of Me?
Makeba Mooncycle: Well he had got sick. He had a lot of stuff going on. I kind of took a hiatus. It was a lot of stuff. The music industry can be disappointing and a lot of times it’s not going to pay the bills. I was raising my son, so that was more important to me at that time than just buckling down and doing the music. Then you want to make sure that it’s done right. You want to make sure that people are able to hear it and it’s not another bunch of my songs out there not being heard.
TRHH: What inspired the single Loses?
Makeba Mooncycle: You can win or lose. I think what inspired it was it was just a toss-up. I’m going to put this out and it’s either going to go somewhere or it’s not. A lot of challenges in the music business being a female emcee, not being one that’s all out there, and not being the status quo. It was like, okay, I’m just going to go head and do this. One thing about Buck is all his songs he does all of the scratches and he’s going to put that theme in there after I do my lyrics. He somehow finds my voice or something in my voice that adds to it. He will find an interview of mine and scratch that. With Loses he already had that track and when he sent it to me I was like, “Yo, it’s perfect.” I just sat and wrote to it. With Loses we’re either going to win or we’re going to lose, and I’m not trying to lose.
TRHH: You mentioned how it’s hard for music to pay the bills; has your mentality changed over time regarding how you attack music?
Makeba Mooncycle: Yeah. When I first entered the music industry I was working on the management side. I really didn’t tell a lot of people that I wrote and rhymed. I just wanted to learn the business. When you’re just there as an artist and no one knows, at one point I was even shopping myself as my manager. When you hear what people say behind the scenes you know that 90% of it is not your music. A lot of it is payola to get your stuff played.
You have to find someone that really believes in it just as much as you. You have to make sure that you have a great lawyer – it’s a lot. I’ve seen a lot and it did become disappointing, but at the same time when you perform and do music it’s a different feeling. I guess I experienced the whole duality of it. At some points I didn’t want to do it and when you’re managing yourself and other artists you have to put your artists ahead of yourself. That’s what I tended to do.
TRHH: On the song “What If?” you speak about someone you respected stealing your style. What did you learn from that situation?
Makeba Mooncycle: I learned that everyone doesn’t present their full self. And maybe they do and sometimes people have a jealousy or intimidation that they didn’t realize that they had, that they really didn’t need to have. But it makes them do things that changes their character. It didn’t seem like that was the case when we first met. I’m kind of trusting. At the time I was trusting and kind of young. You can’t believe that this person is letting you into their lives. I’m sharing all of the things that I picked up from the experiences that I was having in management and music. I learned a lot so I would share.
A friend of mine used to say, “You know so much that you should have a consultant fee.” But I felt like information with us a Moors and as ourselves that we don’t take care of each other the way that we should. I didn’t feel like I should hide or not share stuff. That’s just a hard topic. You can hear from the song that it was very emotional. I’m glad you listened to it. You were the second person that texted me, “Who was the person that did that?” That’s just a way for me to release that. You gotta let it go. For a long time that was a part of me not doing music as well. I just didn’t want anyone else to take anything.
TRHH: Is the song “A Fool’s Story” based on a true story?
Makeba Mooncycle: Yes. Based on true events and true stories.
TRHH: Okay. I always see relationships as things we learn from and move on. Are we really fools or are relationships just situations that we learn from?
Makeba Mooncycle: I think we learn from them. A Fool’s Story was the culmination of two relationships. It was a combination of two relationships mixed into one song. Yes, I call it A Fool’s Story because at that time I felt like I opened my heart again. Then you open your heart again and you’re walking into this same situation. In that song you heard it was a split decision. With that said, I dated someone when I was 19-20. We were in each other’s lives off and on because I always felt like something was off, I think until I was 35 [laughs]. You keep going back to a situation that is comfortable because you can’t turn off love. I used to always dip. Then I found out that he was married the whole time.
I think I was a fool for not just stopping. I would move away, cut it off, and I’d run into him. He was in the industry as well, so I avoided the industry. Yeah, man, emotional. He heard the song too and said, “You shouldn’t put your business all out like that.” That’s a story that maybe somebody can reflect on as well and be like, “I was that, but I learned from it.” Have I made that same mistake again? No. Have I dealt with him after finally getting away? No, I haven’t. Would I if I see him? I wouldn’t wanna see him [laughs]. So, you never know. Like the song says I’m Ms. Houdini, when I need to disappear I can [laughs].
TRHH: You have a song called “MOVE Dedication to a Movement” where you speak about the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia. What inspired you to speak on this event and why do you think the MOVE bombing isn’t mentioned more often?
Makeba Mooncycle: When I first started performing I opened up for Erykah Badu at an Al Sharpton event when he was raising money for Alton Maddox. I met the lady Pam Africa. She spoke there and it just moved me. At that point I wanted to know all about that movement. Mumia, who wasn’t just always there in our focus became a focus. I read anything I could read or get and absorb that whole situation. I wanted to learn more. Plus, my background, I used to work with X Clan and The Blackwatch Movement. Sonny Carson was a mentor of mine. I’ve been blessed to talk to a lot of political prisoners. I used to write to some.
Something that deep that was going on in Philadelphia that you never heard of, the bombing but also the original nine people that were in prison, what led up to them being incarcerated happened before the bombing. A lot of people didn’t know a lot of what was going on. Philly is a town where you had that going on, but just like New York, Philly has its movement and its crime. You have to expose whatever you can. I know Ramona Africa, too. I wrote to her and told her that I wanted to help in any way. I listen to Prison Radio a lot and I donate money to them. I just wanted to put some light on to it. I wrote that song a long time ago. As we know, they’ve been released, but a lot of them passed away and weren’t even able to see home or see light. It hits home for me because that could have been my mom, my dad, or one of my family members.
Being in the Blackwatch movement and what we were trying to accomplish as a movement and what happened to them being young, they were in their 20s when the police were harassing them, I just needed for me and for them wanting to do something, to shine light and let people know. If they hear the song maybe they’ll want to research it and learn more about it. Mumia wasn’t part of the movement, but he was like what Harry Allen was to Public Enemy. I just want people to know that a lot of stuff goes on in this country and it’s hid from us. Everyone that gets locked up is not a criminal.
TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Just a Part of Me?
Makeba Mooncycle: I hope to be heard. It might be part of a validation. Maybe someone can hear my words and be moved by it. Some kind of recognition as an artist. I’ve been around so long. To try to have your own identity in something, I feel like I lost my time. The opportunities that I had were lost because of time and situations that happened. I hope that people hear it and be like, “Wow!” People hear certain songs that I’m on guest appearing, that’s why I put out Featuring. Featuring is features and collaborations that I did with a lot of different artists. People will be like, “I didn’t know you did that. That was you?” So, I guess with this I just want people to hear me. To hear what I have to say, maybe learn who I am, and maybe want more, because I’ma keep on giving it.
I think that’s more for me to say, “Okay, I did it. It’s out there.” I recorded all the time and then I had a hiatus because this industry can be disappointing and people can be disappointing. You can let yourself down just by being caught up in emotions. I wanted to give myself a chance and I want to be heard. I had a guy from Germany send me a voice message. It moved me so much because it did let me know that someone heard me. Just like the questions that you’re asking me, the particular songs that you’re asking me about, I know you hear me. I’m very thankful for that.
Purchase: Makeba Mooncycle – Just a Part of Me