2020 was a busy year for Moe Green. After releasing a couple of EP’s, Green took part in projects released by the Bay Area collective, Grand Nationxl. The Vallejo emcee ended the year by going back to his wrestling fan roots, with a project called “Moe Green Rap Superstar.”
Moe Green Rap Superstar features appearances by D. Bledsoe, Lil Joey, Siddiq, A2thaK, Blvck Achilles, Oakland Hearts, Droop-E and former pro wrestling star, Virgil. The album is produced by DJ Flow, Chris N Color, EVO, HTK Knowy, Ammbaataa, and Dj Basta.
The Real Hip-Hop had a spirited conversation with Moe Green about realizing his powers as an artist, the events that led him to question God, and his new album, Moe Green Rap Superstar.
TRHH: Why did you title the album Moe Green Rap Superstar?
Moe Green: I don’t know if it’s a funny story, but it came from some shit that was funny. The name came from me seeing a picture of Virgil. Wrestling fans know Virgil. He was Ted DiBiase’s sidekick. So, Virgil goes to these conventions with a banner that says “WWE Superstar Virgil.” There’s a guy who made a site called LonelyVirgil.net. Do you know about this site?
TRHH: I don’t know about the site, but I know about the pictures.
Moe Green: Okay, well it’s a site called LonelyVirgil.net and he compiled all the pictures into a tumblr. The same guy has a radio show, I think it’s called the SR Show or something, and Virgil went on the radio show and was like, “You’re the guy that made this fucking site?” He realized Virgil was kind of crazy. People who know wrestling know who Virgil is, but at the same time he wasn’t getting no love at these conventions, but the shit said “superstar.” So, he’s like, “No matter what, I’m always going to be a WWF superstar.” If you win a championship with Bron and you’re the last dude on the bench, you’re still going to be regarded as “NBA Champion such and such.”
Regardless, this man feels like he’s a superstar and I thought it was hella funny. I said let me get back on my wrestling shit and do a tongue in cheek type thing, but at the same time a super-inside wrestling joke that you have to know to catch. My first project was Rocky Maivia, then I did Lionheart and Lionheart II. I was super into that early, but I got away from those titles and themes. I’ve been traveling with some homies and they were like, “You gotta get back on that, bro. That was your thing, that’s your era.” I wanted to find something that wasn’t hella obvious, but cats would catch. It was a tongue in cheek type thing, but fuck it, Moe Green Rap Superstar.
TRHH: How were you able to get Virgil to record the intro for the album?
Moe Green: I was going to hit him direct. I went to his Twitter and saw he had an email up there. I was with my partner at the time and he was like, “Why don’t you check that site Cameo or something, bro?” I checked and Virgil was on there. Who is setting this up for Virgil? I reached out and told him what to say and what I was going for and he knocked it out.
TRHH: [Laughs] What’s his Cameo fee?
Moe Green: His Cameo fee is like 70 bucks, bro. I thought that was on the high side. That’s some boutique shit. Why is the fee so high, bro? It’s all good, I guess.
TRHH: Undertaker is charging $1000.
Moe Green: Undertaker charging $1000, so I guess Virgil charging $70 is cool. It was some other people on there that were cheaper than $70 and were more famous than Virgil. Hey man, everybody’s got a price. Mick Foley wants $100, bro. I could have gotten Mick Foley for $30 more dollars. Virgil is a superstar, what can I say?
TRHH: On the song “Next Gen” you speak about the naysayers and not needing their approval. As a creative person, is there ever a point in time where you can completely tune out critics?
Moe Green: It depends who it’s coming from. For instance, with me and how I like to model my career and life after, I don’t really look for certain critic’s acceptance. People who like music, listen to music, and whose opinion I respect, I want their opinion. As far as critics saying, “he should do this or that” I’ll still take it all, but if you’re hating and if I don’t respect your opinion in the first place, I’m not going to respect your critique. I can’t talk to my nephew, who is on the song, about Attitude Era wrestling. He doesn’t even know. That’s not his thing. If you tell me this project is dope I respect your opinion because I know you know what you’re talking about. If my mother comes to me like, “This new MF Doom album hella weak” I’ll be like, “How you know that shit weak?” It might be a bad example, but I’d rather just create and if you like it, you like it, and if you don’t, you don’t. It’s all love. You can tune them out, it’s easy now. Just turn your phone off.
TRHH: On the song “Meadows Drive Part Two” you talk about your legacy after you pass and you say, “Hard to not talk about death when it stay in your sight.” How often do morbid thoughts take over your mind and how important is it for people to say good things about you once you’re gone?
Moe Green: That’s a good question. As a kid, I used to freak out about death because it’s the unknown. You can have your belief systems. I grew up going to a Christian school and reading about everything going on. At the same time, you don’t know. Even Sam Cooke said “I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky” in ‘A Change is Gonna Come.’ You don’t know. The unknown was kind of freaking me out. Then you get older and the people in your life start leaving and you’re like, “Hold up, this is getting close to home.” Over the past few years I’ve taken a lot of losses in my family. Family is just dropping and I’m like, what the hell is going on? It’s hard not to talk about death when it stays in your sight, but what are you going to do while you’re here?
You’re only here for so long. Lord knows when you’re going to get called up or going to be doing something else, as I like to put it, “They’re going and doing something else. They’re not doing this no more, they’re doing something else.” What are you going to do while you’re here? Are you going to affect change? Are you going to affect somebody’s life in any kind of way possible? What I do music is, I do music. I help a lot of people out in my personal life. I give what I can. As my dad always says, “I want to leave more than I’ve taken.” I just wanna do my part and make my mark while I’m here, because like I said, when I was younger I always tripped about leaving my mark or just leaving, period. What’s next? Am I going to get to fulfill what I want to fulfill? Am I on the right path? What am I really doing here? Nobody knows. In my music I touch on a lot of that stuff, because that’s what goes through my mind. Not to be on some depression type shit, I’m just getting these thoughts out.
TRHH: That’s something that I struggle with too, because we don’t know. I think religion kind of screws us up a little bit with the fear of judgment and all. I have a friend who is an atheist and he said, “Nothing happens when you die, you just turn off like a computer.” That sounds more pleasant than being judged for my sins [laughs].
Moe Green: It sounds way more pleasant, right? I feel you. Religion be throwing a wrench in everybody’s shit. Growing up my pops used to watch conservative TV and liberal TV. I’d be like, “Why are you watching this conservative shit? I know you hate it.” He was like, “I gotta know both sides to see what the hell I’m dealing with.” In every discussion I try to understand both sides. I’m not an atheist personally, but I can see where he’s coming from, fully. If I feel like there is nothing going to happen to me when I die, what’s stopping me from wilding out right now? Certain people need certain things to keep them in line, but that also goes back to the discussion on if people are inherently good or inherently bad.
It’s a whole ‘nother thing; what’s your conscience like? Where’s your conscience even come from? What are your moral standards? It’s a whole slippery slope. I like having these discussions with people because I want to find more understanding about these concepts, because I don’t know what the fuck is going on. If I turn off like a computer that’s kind of weak. You know how you watch a movie and you watch the credits and if there’s nothing after the credits you’re like, “That’s it? This is some M. Night Shyamalan shit. That’s it?”
TRHH: It makes you feel insignificant. I think about it a lot like, “So, they’re just going to throw me in the ground and that’s it?” It makes you feel like an ant. Like you’re just disposable. I personally believe there is more.
Moe Green: Yeah, exactly. I think there is more. Just the concept of even life, for instance, my wife is pregnant right now and I’m tripping off the fact that there is something in her that’s alive, growing, and moving around right now. Where did that come from? We create all types of iPhone’s and whatever, but where did the soul come from? It’s more unanswered questions for me. I’m just curious where it comes from. Where did this soul come from? Where did my conscience come from? It’s not like we are inanimate objects. It’s weird, I got too many dualities. We’re not inanimate objects, but at the same time what are we if you throw us in the fucking jungle and the lion is about to fuck us up? Are we better than the animals ‘cause we can talk and shit? They talk too.
TRHH: What really makes us better than animals? Science will say because of our brain development we can do more shit than them. We can create, they just survive.
Moe Green: Ain’t that what we doin’ too?
TRHH: [Laughs] Some of us.
Moe Green: We just surviving with bells and whistles. At the end of the day, we just eat, sleep, and shit. That’s what you’re trying to do and that’s what the fucking lion is doing. He might not have a nice ass Sealy Posturepedic, but he straight. He got a whole pack of motherfuckers he kickin’ it with, he having all the sex he want, he got hella kids spread out, he growling, he doing what he gotta do, and that’s his reality. If I say this it’s going to come off racial, but it’s not racial. The Last Poets had a song called “The White Man’s Got a God Complex” and humans have the god complex in general. We do all this shit, we’re better than animals, all right, you have no weapons and the animal has no weapons, put y’all in a room, who coming out? It’s a line on the “Circle of Life” that says, “’Til we find our place, on the path unwinding.” When I read that line as a grown man, I got choked up, blood. We’re all trying to find our place on this path. We all got a part to play in this ecosystem. We all got to play our part.
I heard Young Guru say on a podcast once how earth is perfect and man is kind of fucking it up. You gotta think, bro, everything you need is already here. You need food? You can grow some vegetables. Animals are already here; you can kill the cow or keep the cow and drink the milk. We’re going down a rabbit hole, but you got whatever you need right there. You can eat the apple, throw the apple away, the apple seed makes new trees for more apples. We’re fucking shit up with GMO and we can’t even find apple seeds from an apple to make a tree no more! Roads and buildings ain’t normal. We’re supposed to be out here with grass skirts just kickin’ it. The islanders are having a good ass time, chillin’ bro. It’s all about what you really need and what you want.
TRHH: What you’re talking about is capitalism. The need to make money off shit has fucked up everything. We’re fucking up the earth in pursuit of money. I’ve got a friend who went to Kenya and met with Barack Obama’s grandmother, Sarah…
Moe Green: Hold up, real quick. Is his family like “somebody” over there? Why would he go just to talk to his granny?
TRHH: He went there to build a school or something. She’s a big deal over there. He asked her what she thought black folks in America needed to do and she said, “Stop following white people’s ways.” Not on some racial shit, but European society is about that money. From slavery to trade, everything they do is geared on getting rich on the backs of other people. In the process, we’re fucking up the world. I think there’s some wisdom in her words. It’s easier said than done, because we’re in it now. We’re in the same rat race.
Moe Green: It’s ingrained in us now, but it’s not naturally how we did things. I talk to people about capitalism all the time. It’s funny because I talk to my pops and he’s like, “Fuck capitalism” because he thinks someone is being taken advantage of in every situation. I’m like, “Well fuck it, we’re here, so, now what do you want me to do?” It’s a whole ‘nother thing. He jokes that I’m a capitalist because I’ve always been on some entrepreneurial type shit since I was a kid. It was like, okay I want this toy, how do I get this toy? You either go cut this grass or you sell some cans or something. You’ve got to do something to earn this toy. When I found out people go to work to earn toys I thought I would get a job, but I wasn’t old enough to get a job. So, what am I going to do? I’m going to sell baseball cards, comic books, and sell candy at school.
All my shit started from me wanting this thing and figuring out how to get it. Those types of traits do come in handy in this type of society, but at the end of the day, we’re here and we’ve got to kind of deal with the cards we’re dealt and make the best out of that shit. My partner said, “You want liberation? You better move somewhere else. You ain’t gonna get that shit here!” You want to be liberated? Go somewhere else. America is done with that shit, blood.” That’s not what the program is here. It’s not what it’s built on. Combat Jack said, “This is not a glitch in the system. This is how the shit is supposed to work.” It was designed.
TRHH: The song “God’s Voice 2” speaks on the triumphs and tragedies in your life. Has faith in God alone guided you through the joys and pains that you’ve experienced?
Moe Green: Yeah, it has. Not alone. I reference my pops a lot because I bounce a lot of shit off of him. I don’t have older brothers. Like I said in the song, my cousin Reg passed away and he was in his late forties. My aunt passed away around the same time and she was 63. These people were older than me, but they were relatively young. It’s a trip. Going through all this stuff I was talking to my pops about God and dealing with that. I sent him something about somebody struggling with their belief in God and I said, “This is what I’m dealing with.” He was like, “Yeah, I feel you, but at this point in my life I have to look at God as a source of strength.” I asked how he still deals with that considering what we’re dealing with, his thing was, it’s the only thing he could lean on when he had cancer last year. He said, “It’s the only thing I could lean on when I felt like I had nothing else.”
That’s also part of my foundation. Like I said, I went to Christian schools growing up and my grandfather was a pastor. I have all this stuff going on and I’m like, “what is the reasoning?” I won’t say I lost my faith, but me and God have been going back and forth since 2007 when my uncle died in a car crash. I was like, “What is the point in that? Why did uncle Dave die like that? What was the reason?” That didn’t make any sense to me. Why did this have to happen? Ever since then I’ve been like, “What is really going on?” I’ve been going back and forth with God, but the fact is, you still believe there is a God there to go back and forth with. It’s like, “You’re there. I need some answers.” On the first verse I’m talking about being a father. Yeah, it’s cool, I’m going to be a father, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic and my wife got laid off. I’ve got to hold this shit down to the neck. We’re a young couple trying to get it off the ground. We got married and bought a house within the last year, now the baby is here, we’ve got a dog, bought some guns. Now she’s laid off and it’s like, “What the fuck do we do?” I have no choice but to succeed in this shit, regardless.
I’m not just talking about in music, I’m talking about in life. And music is part of my life, so something’s gotta shake. The second verse is talking about my aunt and my cousin, who I have voice notes at the end of the record from them. I just wanted to know why, man. One week, Reg is cool, then the next week he’s in the hospital and they’re saying his heart is bad, next thing you know he had a couple of strokes during his surgery. What the fuck? I just talked to him! What are you talking about? He was cool. But life is a trip. My aunt had pancreatic cancer. I’m in charge of her whole estate, getting her life insurance and all that shit together. I need answers for this shit. The people who are the best are dying, but the evil are still living. What does that say about us? Donald Trump is out here still thriving, but the best people I’ve ever known in my life are dying, bro. I can say I lean on God for answers, but I’m still in the middle of it trying to figure it out.
TRHH: These are the hardest questions that a human can ask. There is no answer. We won’t know probably until we meet God. We can’t make sense of it.
Moe Green: I’ve tried to though. When I was 18 growing up in Vallejo your friends start to get killed. I was 18 when my first partner got killed, right down the street from my house. I’m like, Why the fuck would Lay get killed?” He was the best rapper I knew, period. I said it on the Grand Nationxl album, “What if Lay never died? The best rapper I knew.” Dude, you was rawer than everybody and we were only 18. We were rapping together, and at the time we had kind of fell out and were doing our own separate thing. What was the point of you dying at 18? Then I tried to rationalize, well, what did he do while he was here? He taught all of us how to record ourselves, you taught all of us to low-key do this music shit. I didn’t know how to record myself, I didn’t know about Pro Tools, none of that shit, until I was rapping with him. The same skill-set he taught me is what I used to make this project 14 years later. Maybe that was your reason for being here? To teach us this, and you might have taught someone else some other shit, and your job was done and that was it. That’s the only way I can try to rationalize the shit. Maybe whatever you had to do on this earth was done with, and now you’re on to doing some other shit because your job is done.
It’s tragic how you had to go out. I say on the song, “Maybe the pistol Revelation and the bullet rapture.” Maybe that’s everybody’s own personal story how it ends. I try to rationalize it that maybe everything he had to do on this earth was accomplished in that time. In 18 years, you did a lot of shit, bro. You affected a lot of people to this day. Me teaching somebody else how to record on Pro Tools is from him! They’re going to pass that skill on. As simple as it is, a lot of people don’t know how to record themselves or set their own recording studio up in their house. Me telling my young homie how to do it is coming from him, so, he’s still being passed down through that. It’s all a trip. I got my hats I do that say “Don’t Die.” Do some shit that’s going to last forever. Make your mark on this earth. It doesn’t have to be no famous shit, just give something to somebody that they can keep passing down some kind of way. Like my Pops said, “Leave more than you took.” That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to leave my art. I give people this kind of shit and hopefully they fuck with it and it resonates with them. If not, check me on the next release.
TRHH: The last time you and I spoke was right after I started The Real Hip-Hop in 2012. How would you say you’ve grown as an artist since we last spoke in the Lion Heart II era?
Moe Green: I remember I was in the booth actually doing the interview, which is funny. I’ve grown as an artist, I can’t say I’m more honest, because I was always on the same thing of thing. But what I actually realized was self-actualization. I finally realized who I was as a man, a human being, and as an artist. All the time I was doing music and getting love, but I never really saw it that way though. Because my life never really changed. I was still going to work. I wasn’t one of them dudes that was living off the land. I did do that for a minute, but at the same time I was still living with my folks. I didn’t see any crazy lifestyle changes. So, it was like from that time to now I kind of realized, “You actually have made some strides in your life, you have become something, you actually can harness and own your craft, and you know who you are.”
I was searching for that the whole time. Who am I? Can I do this? Will people mess with it? How much am I able to do alone? How far can I take this? How far can it really go? Do I care how far it goes? From then to now, it’s more so realizing just my power. Not power in the sense of ruling over stuff, but power in the sense of who I am as a person and realizing my abilities. You know in the movies when a kid first gets his superhero powers he starts blowing everything up because he doesn’t know how to use it yet? Now it’s like, okay, I know how to use it, and I’m just going to use it a lot more instead of just dropping shit and fading off. From then to now I guess I kind of grew up.
TRHH: Who is the Moe Green Rap Superstar album made for?
Moe Green: It’s made for other superstars [laughs]. Nah, it’s made for somebody when they’re at that point — the person who is starting to understand their superpowers. The person who is trying to understand, “I’m not feeling myself on some cockiness, but I know my abilities now.” On songs like “Need Your Love” I’m rapping with my partner and I’m having fun. We’re having a good time on these songs. It’s for the person who knows their strength now and has also dealt with some things that brought them to this point. Like, “This is what I went through to get here, but I’m here now, so, y’all can’t fuck with me. What you gonna do? What’s the worst that can happen? I’m going for it.” People who understand their powers and are willing to lay it on the line, ‘cause why not? What’s the worst that can happen?
Purchase: Moe Green – Moe Green Rap Superstar