The Bay Area is well-known in Hip-Hop for its versatile rap styles and its do-it-yourself attitude. Acts like Hieroglyphics, E-40, The Coup, Too $hort, Paris, M.C. Hammer, and the late Mac Dre all blazed trails and left their own unique marks on west coast Hip-Hop.
Hailing from Vallejo, California Moe Green is the next emcee trying to blaze a trail and leave his own imprint on this thing called rap. Green doesn’t wear a rapper suit; he’s his own man. His sound is familiar and foreign all at once. Moe Green is raps everyman and what you see is what you get with the 24-year old emcee.
The Real Hip-Hop chatted with Moe Green about his latest EP Lion Heart II, his love of professional wrestling, and his upcoming release, R.I.P. to the Dreamer.
TRHH: Why’d you decide to make a sequel to Lion Heart?
Moe Green: Well because I wanted to keep that going, man. A lot of people liked Lion Heart. After Lion Heart fell into the shadows a bit I didn’t really have hella stuff coming out. I been in the lab working so I wanted to show people that I’ve been working. It’s a refresher course. It’s stuff that wasn’t just on Lion Heart that we remixed. We took stuff from Rocky Maivia and remixed that. It’s a cheat sheet/update. If you haven’t heard of Moe Green before, this is what I’ve done before with a new energy to it. If you’ve heard the music before it’s just a whole new look for the song. It’s a crash course to keep the story going from what I was doing before. I’m still on the same path.
TRHH: Tell me about the new single, ‘Keep on Movin’’.
Moe Green: That’s me and my boy Touchscreen Trell and Joey Cool. Those are like my brothers, man. We’ve been cool for so long it’s just about time we finally got together and got on a track together. It makes sense to get them on that song because we’re all at different places in our lives. They were both at the video shoot originally and were edited out the video. The Out Crowd is my crew. We’re homies that came up together and we’re just trying to raise the bar for the art. That’s why we call it the Out Crowd because we feel like we’re trying to set a higher standard than what everybody else is doing. It’s not like we’re knocking what everybody else is doing but let’s keep progressing. A lot of people like to stay stagnant. We feel like we’re individuals in what we’re trying to do. I think it’s one of the standout tracks on Lion Heart II because all three of us told our stories. I spoke on a situation out here like, “Thirty two shells, no return, man I’m outta here/It’s fucked up laying in the casket, but your momma here.” My friend out here in Vallejo got killed by the police. He had no weapon or nothing. He was an unarmed man and got gunned down. My city is so crazy. We went bankrupt a couple of years ago and just bounced back from that. We gotta get to something better. That’s what we’re all about, keeping it moving.
TRHH: Why do you think the Bay Area has this history of police killing innocent civilians?
Moe Green: I don’t know, man. From the Oscar Grant thing to the Panthers, I don’t know, man. In Vallejo they’re some of the highest paid police. I don’t think there’s too much going on for them to be acting like that. I think they’re trying to prove a point or make a statement. The Oscar Grant situation was on tape! The only reason my friend’s thing isn’t as big as that is because it’s not on tape but it was the same thing. My pops hits me all the time like, “I’m scared for you and your brother,” and he’s not scared about the people in the streets, it’s the police because they can do it and get away with it. They’re just running around doing what they want and I honestly can’t tell you why they have that kind of ambition. It’s usually cases where the person doesn’t even pose a threat to them. I can’t call it, bro. I just hope we can put something together to stop it. Me and my homies are trying to put a voice to the people who are acting emotional. We gotta sit back and try to figure something out. It’s kind of hard because when you hear stories like the one out there recently where they told the guy to put his hands up and when he put his hands up they came to the car and just started shooting. What are you supposed to do? I can’t call it, but the Bay definitely has a history of that.
TRHH: You spit some very honest stuff regarding your status in the game; do you ever think about quitting the rap game and doing something regular?
Moe Green: Yeah, man, all the time. I’m not ashamed to say that. I asked one of my big homies, “Do you ever think about quitting this rap shit?” He was like, “Every day.” I asked him why he keeps going and he said it’s the only thing I know how to do, it’s all I want to do is this music. It all boils down to that. I didn’t start rapping to get girls or get popular. I really love music, it’s in me. I see my parents work and they hate where they go to work at. They hate their job and are tired of working there. I don’t want to be that. I’m not knocking my parents. They took care of me and my brother and did the best that they could. But when I get their age I don’t want to be stressed out. That should be the goal for kids to always try to do something better than the parents did. I want my kids to do something greater than I’m gonna do. I see my aunts and uncles and they’re stressed. My dad always told me the most valuable thing is peace. You can’t buy peace so if I can find peace in my music and live off of that I have to go for it. I’m 24 right now and there is no time better than now while I’m still young instead of being forty years old and start rapping. E-40 and Too $hort been in the game twenty something years and are still putting out albums—they love what they do. The music is in you.
TRHH: You come from an area with a rich history in rap, but your style isn’t really like emcees like E-40 or Too $hort. Who inspired you to want to be an emcee?
Moe Green: 40 did really. My parents are from Oakland so growing up I heard hella M.C. Hammer. We moved to Vallejo when I was 2 so I grew up hearing Vallejo music like E-40. In preschool I met this dude Earl and we became best friends. I didn’t find out until first grade that his dad was E-40. The first person I ever met in preschool was Droop-E. We were walking from day care and E-40’s song was on the radio and his mom said that’s his dad. My dad went out and bought In A Major Way. I heard that and I was like, man dude let’s do this music! My biggest influence is 40.
As I got older Kanye’s College Dropout really did it for me. Even people like Missy Elliott. My cousin, Missy is her favorite rapper. We used to hoop and she’d play Missy all the time. The originality I get from people like 40 and Missy. The aspect to just be you and do you came from Kanye. I see stuff like that and it influences me to find my own lane in music. Even though my sound isn’t like 40 and them they found their own sound. Mac Dre is a big influence on me also. I don’t necessarily have the same tales but I’ve been around the same stuff they’ve been around and been in the same stuff that they’ve been in. I try to push a different lane because I feel like everybody does that.
TRHH: Based on you dropping Rocky Maivia and Lion Heart I know you’re a big wrestling fan. When did you first become a fan of pro wrestling?
Moe Green: As long as I can remember because my mom used to watch it. It used to come on Saturday mornings and I’d watch that. As I got older we got the Blockbuster card and I’d go and rent the 1988 Survivor Series or Royal Rumble because I was born in ‘88. [Hulk]Hogan was fighting Deebo from Friday and I was trippin’ that Deebo used to wrestle. My first every Pay-Per-View I saved up all month for the 1995 Survivor Series. Pops let me order it. This was before everybody had the black box and was getting Pay-Per-View’s for free. I was saving my lunch money and doing chores to get the Pay-Per-View’s at the end of the month.
The Rock is my favorite wrestler of all-time. It kind of died down in middle school. In elementary school we’d have our own little crews like the Nation of Domination, DX, and the N.W.O. We used to bring our toys to school, we’d bring a mat out on the field and we’d wrestle. I was rock bottoming people and all kinds of shit. It died down when I got a little older. I went to Monday Night Raw last year. I still watch the Pay-Per-View’s when I can. I’m still trying to get into it though ‘cause I got a few homies that’s still deep into it. Growing up I had a next door neighbor that was a super wrestling fanatic. I’d look at him and he was hella old but still watched wrestling. I figured it wasn’t too weird to like it. I used to get the wrestling ice cream bars, I had a stack of the wrestling cards, I had the belt that Shawn Michaels had, the Bret Hart glasses, and the Stone Cold shirt. I was deep into it.
TRHH: I’m a wrestling fan, too. I’m older than you though. I’m 36 and it is weird being almost 40 and watching wrestling. People look at you funny.
Moe Green: But I grew up watching older people watch wrestling so it’s not even that weird to me. I got out of it when I started playing sports but I still try to watch it. That chick AJ, she’s hot. I was like man who is this? I gotta start watching it again.
TRHH: [Laughs] They’re putting clothes on her now, though.
Moe Green: I know, man. I’m not really messing with that. I try to stay in the loop a little bit.
TRHH: So you said The Rock is your favorite of all-time?
Moe Green: Yes, but before that it was Ahmed Johnson. I fuck with Ahmed Johnson. He was the first black Intercontinental champion. The Rock came out and was talking hella shit and I started fucking with The Rock. I just decided I’m going to start fucking with the bad guy. That’s when The Rock became the bad guy and gave Farooq that big ass picture of him for his birthday. The Rock is hella cool. He’s my hero bro, even to this day I want to be as cool as The Rock one day.
TRHH: What’s your all-time favorite match?
Moe Green: Even though The Rock is my favorite, my favorite match is the Iron Man match with Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Or the Hell in a Cell match when Undertaker tomb stoned Mankind on the tacks.
TRHH: That match actually sucked.
Moe Green: I’m like this motherfucker got tomb stoned on some tacks! These dudes are trippin’! It was another Hell in a Cell…
TRHH: Shawn and Undertaker?
Moe Green: Yeah! Didn’t he throw Shawn from the top of that shit?
TRHH: No that was Mick Foley.
Moe Green: Yeah, I was like did this motherfucker just die on TV? This shit is crazy! The Iron Man match was dope. I never seen anything like that before. These motherfuckers was fighting for like an hour and shit. I used to get into arguments all the time about wrestling being real. I’m like, fuck what y’all talking about, these motherfuckers actually getting hurt out there! Let me throw your ass from the top rope and see how that shit feel. I like the last match with the Undertaker and Triple H, that shit was dope. I thought Triple H was gonna kill that motherfucker with that chair.
TRHH: How’d the ‘Window Seat’ joint with Erk Tha Jerk come about?
Moe Green: My boy Fly Commons was putting together a project and he gave me the beats and told me it was whatever you want to use it for and I can use it for my project too. I did the song but I was looking for something happier. A lot of the beats I was getting for a while were sounding the same. He sent me the new beat and I was messing with it. He asked what I felt like getting Erk Tha Jerk on there and I said let’s do it. Erk’s the homie. Erk got on it and my boy Joey shot the video. We just banged it out like that. Me and Erk are homies so it was no problem at all. It was actually cool shooting a video with girls in it too, that was dope. It wasn’t no Chief Keef video. It’s always dudes in his videos. We finally got some girls in the motherfucker.
TRHH: When are we going to hear the next full length Moe Green album?
Moe Green: Right now I’m starting this trilogy based on Dante’s Divine Comedy where he goes from inferno, to purgatory, and paradise. What I’m really doing is taking people through that journey. Before I was the dreamer and my stuff was real ambitious like “we can make it one day,” that’s not really where I am in my life. It’s like, I told y’all this shit, now it’s time to go. We got a chip on our shoulder. I’m done being Martin Luther King. It’s time to put my Malcolm X hat on and go get my shit. I feel like I need to solidify my spot in this shit. I don’t want to be a run of the mill rapper where you see their name pop up and that’s it. I really could be a factor. I’m about to go and buy Kendrick’s album today. I don’t see why I can’t get it crackin’ how Kendrick’s got it crackin’ right now. I’m gonna go and support that because I really believe in that music. I feel folks could believe in my music the same exact way. I got something to say and I’m taking people on a journey from the bottom to the top.
R.I.P to the Dreamer is coming. It’s a darker album, it’s based on me killing the dreamer–he’s gone now. We have a whole new me. My life has changed since then. It’s been a year since Lion Heart dropped. A lot of things have happened and I’m in a transition period. I want to take people through the transition with me. R.I.P. to the Dreamer is going to be an EP and the final one is going to be full length. I’m building up and taking people through the journey bit by bit so they can process what I’m going through. Thriller was only nine songs, so I don’t have to give you twenty songs. You should get my point in six or seven songs. You should understand what I’m really about and you can run it back.
I get the influence from Atmosphere how they do their EP’s. They have real concentrated projects but they still get their point across and it makes sense. I don’t feel like I’m getting cheated. Some people give me twenty something song projects and I’m like, dude, I don’t wanna hear all this. It’s not consistent. Take your best ten and give me those. I’ll play them over and over again. I really want people to understand where I’m coming from before I give them the whole joint. My stuff has never been super-long. Lion Heart II is a catch up but the next project is really concentrated. I’m in the studio right now mixing the final tracks. I’m going to put it out around Halloween. I know it’s real soon after Lion Heart II but I really want to get this story out to people. I’m trying to bring some art and a concept to it because if it don’t have no purpose it’s just music floating around.