With over 15 years of experience crafting tracks for mainstream and underground artist’s producer MoSS has finally released his first solo album. Titled “Marching to the Sound of My Own Drum” the 15-track album is produced entirely by MoSS and released on his very own MoSS Appeal Music label. The album maintains MoSS’ signature boom bap aesthetic while expanding sonically.
Marching to the Sound of My Own Drum features DJ Premier, AZ, Joe Budden, Ill Bill, Inspectah Deck, Slum Village, Chuuwee, Eternia, REKS, Witch, Havoc, Onyx, Red Café, Slaine, Termanology, AKA, Deuce Wonder, Joell Ortiz, Supastition, Skyzoo, Vstylez, Big Gov, Jon Connor, Willie the Kid, Guilty Simpson, Illa Ghee, Peedi Crakk, Royal Flush, and the late Sean Price.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to MoSS about his new album, his relationship with the legendary DJ Premier, and a blockbuster release for 2016 with one of the greatest emcees of all-time.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new album.
MoSS: I don’t hear it but people have mentioned to me throughout my career that my sound is a little bit different. I don’t hear it, but that’s what everyone tells me. On this album I kind of did some things that really weren’t traditional in Hip-Hop. I just decided that the best way to put that in the title was “Marching to the Sound of My Own Drum”. This album is a little bit selfish. When you go into an album you try to make singles or build around something, with this album I didn’t try to make any singles. I wanted to go after a certain sound and I’m doing it for me. It sounds selfish, but that was the best way to demonstrate or showcase what I can do. When you’re working on other people’s projects you kind of have to cater to what they want. This was the first time where I didn’t have to answer to anybody. No one could tell me what I could or couldn’t do. No one could tell me how to make things sound. No one could give me hints or advice. This is just me and that’s what the title came from.
TRHH: Did you encounter input from the emcees on the album about the sound?
MoSS: One of the reasons why this record took so long is I kept feeding beats to different artists and they kind of have to protect their brand and what they’re doing. Also just for me it’s just natural that if they’re feeling the music they’re obviously going to make a better song than if they’re not feeling the music. I always told everybody I work with, “Look, if you’re not feeling it don’t feel bad. I’d rather you come back and tell me that shit’s wack or it’s just not your thing than give me a half-assed verse just because you weren’t feeling the music.” That took a while because I had to keep kind of churning through things to make it my sound, but at the same time do something that they enjoy. Maybe half the album is not the music they actually chose, I had to re-work it. One of the problems when making a compilation album is trying to make it have synergy. One guy wants to rhyme on one thing, the other guy wants to rhyme on another thing, but at the end of the day it’s my album. I had to reel it all back in. In some cases once the album started formulating I had to go back and change some songs. Some new songs got recorded that I wasn’t expecting. I had to kind of reel those back in so they all kind of fit. At the end of the day I had the final input but I tried to make sure they didn’t spit over something that they weren’t feeling. Whenever I’ve made music like that in the past it hasn’t turned out well.
TRHH: The album’s first single “Boombastic” features Slum Village. How’d that song come together?
MoSS: I worked with Slum in the past. I did “1,2” on the Slum Village album that came out on Barak. We’ve always known of each other. I’ve always done work in Detroit in the past with Obie and other people. I reached out to them a few years ago about doing it and they were down to do it. Time had passed and that was one of the more recent songs. My manager Dan Green had been booking some shows for them in Europe. He was on the phone with them one day and I ended up getting on the phone with T3 and we made it happen.
TRHH: At one time you worked with DJ Premier’s production company. It seems like nothing ever came out of that. What led to your departure from Works of Mart?
MoSS: It wasn’t necessarily a departure where we looked at each other and split ways. It was more so he was trying something and the agreement I had was a short term thing where we were just gonna see how things worked. It actually worked out pretty well for me because there were some opportunities outside of Hip-Hop that came up. With Hip-Hop it doesn’t really matter if I’m solo or signed to Premier or Dre, at the end of the day the onus is on the producer to come up with the music that the artist is gonna take. I’m still mad cool with Premier. That’s my boy. He got busy, I got busy, and to be honest with you we never really discussed it after that. The period ended and we never really talked about it. It was a great opportunity. I’m proud of it, I’m forever grateful for it, and I think he held me down. He did his thing, but it was short term.
TRHH: I was watching something recently where he shouted you out. He’s definitely a fan of yours.
MoSS: I really appreciate anyone on this planet that enjoys my music but when you have someone like Premier it means something to me buying his records over the years. Having your peers respect your work means a lot – at least to me it does. I’ve met a lot of people in the industry but when I talk to him or am around him it doesn’t feel like I’m talking with someone in the industry or who has produced the records that I grew up listening to. He’s just a guy and that’s the best thing about him. He’s just a down to earth guy.
TRHH: What beat-making equipment do you currently use?
MoSS: I use anything. I used an MPC 2000 for years. Part of this album was done on that. Sometimes I do stuff in Pro Tools. If I sample something that has drums in it and I have to layer them it’s easy for me to do that in Pro Tools because I can line them up to the wave as opposed to try to do it with my ears. I tried Reason and I just did not get with that. I tried all those other ones and did not get with that. The only software I was able to use and I still use it now sometimes is Logic. I had an old version and they recently upgraded and it just sucks for me now. I don’t know what they’ve done but it just screwed up my work flow. What I’m finding in the last month is I’ve gone back to making beats on the MPC and sampling it in to Logic or Pro Tools and layering and finalizing it there. You can really get stuff done quickly and do quick tests and manipulate things on the MPC. Where the computer stuff is a pain in the ass. You can fine tune in Pro Tools.
I’d say pre-production on the MPC and post-production in Pro Tools nowadays. I have a couple of analog synthesizers, too. On my album I have a girl named Allie O’Brien playing flutes all over the album. She’s really good and I needed someone to bring something different. I’ll use instrumentation over the top as well. I’ll play something myself or I’ll bring her in or a guy named G Koop who has done some sample kits with Jake One. I’ve known that guy for years. He worked on the Obie record with me, too. There really is no limit. When I was younger I was stubborn and thought I had to use samples. There are so many sounds out there I’ll sample anything to be honest with you. It doesn’t really matter where it’s from. If it’s funky it’s good. I don’t think there are rules anymore. The new generation kinda changed that, which is probably a good thing.
TRHH: My favorite verse on the album was Slaine’s on “Jealousy & Envy”. Do you have a favorite verse on the album?
MoSS: No, not really. I like everything. It’s weird with the Obie, Eternia, or Big Shug records there is always something that I wanted to change. I’m actually really happy with this record. I was talking to my manager about singles and when I looked at the record I thought, “Shit, I didn’t really make any singles.” I just like how it turned out. When I listen to it I like what all the rappers did. I don’t cringe at any of the verses. I don’t really have a favorite verse. I’m really happy with how everyone went in on my record. You don’t know what to expect some time, but everybody looked out for me. I’m happy.
TRHH: You have a verse from the late Sean Price on the album and you worked with him on past projects. What was your relationship like with Sean and what’s your favorite Sean P memory?
MoSS: I met Sean Price years ago after I did “One Two Yall”. I went to New York at Duck Down Studios and that was the first time I met him. I walked in and he looked at me and without even hesitating he was like, “You look like one of the Bee Gees.”
MoSS: [Laughs] And he literally starting laughing out loud. I think Sadat X was in there. First of all I got thick skin, second of all I don’t get all tight over shit like that, and third of all I know what I look like so he wasn’t far off. When I think about that moment and the interactions I had with him that bests describes his character. I wasn’t extremely close with him in that sense. I think my manager had a closer relationship with him. I’ve always been a huge fan of his from the jump and I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of songs with him. I did “Leg Breakers” from the Big Shug album and there are a couple other records I did with him like a record by a guy named GHETTO. There’s a song I did on the Tek & Steele album, there’s “Looking Down the Barrel”, I think I did somewhere between 7 and 9 songs with him. I like them all. I liked how he spit. I liked how his charisma was on the mic. It’s really unfortunate what happened. It’s a huge loss to the Hip-Hop community and the world overall. My condolences to his family and to the label. I was very proud to have him on my album and I hope it’s a good representation of what he represented. I hope people can listen to the song and remember him in a good light. I think he killed it. I wish it was under different terms and we’d be talking about shooting a video for the song right now. Things happen. I can only offer my condolences and be proud of the fact that he was part of my record.
TRHH: Who would you say Marching to the Sound Of My Own Drum is geared toward?
MoSS: It’s so weird these days. Hip-Hop has changed so much. A lot of people have come up with these brilliant answers for this stuff but I’m going to be completely transparent on this – I don’t know. I swear this is my philosophy, I made this album and I said to myself, “I would rather make an album that’s gonna fail than do an average album.” I went into this thing saying, “I’m gonna do me once and for all.” I always wanted to do something like this like on the Ill Bill song or the REKS song with the transitions, instrumentals, and tempo changes but it was hard for me to convince people to do that. I’m proud that I did it. I don’t pretend to know how it’s going to go over with people. It may leave people scratching their heads, it may have people saying, “Wow, this is great,” I just don’t know. Some people say this to put on a good face, but if I fail or succeed I feel I’ve done what I need to do. Going forward I’ve got another project coming out early next year that’s straight hard… it’s gonna shock… it’s dope [laughs]. I’ll tell you right now I got an album coming out with Kool G Rap.
TRHH: Oh, wow!
MoSS: We got heavy hitters on that. The features we got for that record are people I’ve never worked with before that I’ve always wanted to work with. We’ve got guys from Slaughterhouse on there, D-Block, this is a record! The record should be done this weekend. We’ve got a couple of under dubs to finish and a verse to re-record. When the Kool G Rap album comes out I want people to go back to my album and see a similar sound, but the Kool G Rap album is not as experimental. I don’t know if experimental is a good word – it’s a little bit more traditional. Something came together for me on that album. I don’t know how else to say it but something aligned in the stars for me. It’s the first time in my life. The music came together on that record [laughs]. I’m really excited about that one.