Talking with Moses Rockwell

Talking with Moses Rockwell

If there is one word you could use for local hip hop artist Moses Rockwell it would be driven. Since the release of his first album ‘Nervous Wrecktapes’ he has toured the northeast and Europe, teamed up with a plethora of big local acts and has recently begun a four part series The Dweeb Supreme. We met up with Moses at Boulder Coffee before his release show for Dweeb Two to talk about his rap career.

How did you get started rapping?

I have been writing rap since I was ten, so that was about fifteen years ago. I started doing shows in 2008 when I was eighteen. Since the I pick up shows here and there. I work a regular job so its when I can take off. I don’t expect to live off it but that would be nice.

Your first release was Nervous Wrecktapes when was that?

I released Nervous Wrecktapes in 2011 so about four years ago. I did that with James Niche from Act Live; [the album] was just sort of a jamboree of nonsense. Well not nonsense, but there was no theme to it. It was everything I had done since I started put together and realeased.

Have you seen a lot of growth/progress since you started rapping?

I hope so. It’s hard for me to see it but hopefully other people see it. I am really critical with myself. I will listen to [my work] over and over until I see everything I should have done differently. I eventually fall out of love with it.

I don’t even like the Wrecktapes. I hate anything that is my own unless it’s the one I just put out.  When I put something else out I will hate that one too.

How do you keep inspired to continue producing more music?

Lately, I have been able to do shit that I haven’t done before. Touring and being around people that I have been listening to my entire life. I have hung out with them rappers whos poster are on my wall and now I have their phone number. Any interaction I can have with them and seeing how they have able to keep relevant for a really long period of time and continue making dope shit.

I went to an Aesop Rock concert; he is one of my favorite MCs. That guys been around since the 90’s and he has this whole body of work from his career. That’s what inspires me I want to keep growing my own catalogue across that long of a time. That’s amazing to me and that’s what inspires me.

You have collaborated with a ton of local artists since you started. What do you think about Rochester’s scene?

There are unique things about [the scene], because we have influence from all over all crammed into this one little space. It’s been going on a lot longer than I have been with it. You have people like Hassaan Mackey and others that offer a really rich history. The open mics they had at Javas coffee are still talked about like it was a golden age. I never got to experience that and we need to keep trying to build those types of things back up again.

What is the writing process like when you come up with work? Do you start with a beat or lyrics?

I start out with a beat. It is hard to get the words out right if you don’t have the beat to go off of. Normally I will put the beat in and sit or pace back and forth in my apartment. I have to be alone, no roommates no nothing, I will just sit there hyper focused and focus on the song. I usually write one verse a day, I can never do a whole song in one day. I can get the chorus done if I’m lucky.

What are your most memorable moments of your career so far?

I just love running into people from cities I have never been in and they already know who I am.

Its amazing because I am in your city to let you know who I am so it’s crazy to have people already know my songs. The internet is awesome because of that. It is cool to know you have been able to reach people without even reaching them physically.

Why did you nameyour latest album Dweeb Supreme?

Because I am a dweeb. I don’t like that whole persona people try to convey on stage. If music was filled with just a bunch of tough guys then it would just be music for tough guys. You have to just be yourself.

What is next after your latest release ‘Dweeb Supreme Part Two’?

I am doing a four part series of Dweeb. I am putting number three out in July. We are beginning to work on it now. Kae B is playing drums on it and he is a really great drummer. Sharp is playing the keys and all types of other instruments. It will be us three jamming out live and recording so it will have a real live and earthy feel to it. After that I don’t know I have a few ideas but I haven’t sat down and thought it all yet. I am more focused on Dweeb Three than anything right now.

Did you start off with the idea that Dweeb was going to be a four part series?

Yes, I want to put them all together or at least the best of each of these and put out a digital pack. I haven’t had a physical release in a really long time so I want to take the best of the four albums and put it out.

Physical or Digital releases?

There is nothing better than to hand out physical CDs. I hate being the guy telling people to go to my website to download songs. I like to be able to hold the music in my hand and see the album art.

I had a friend tell me that CDs were dead; it was a waste of money. I want to cater to people like me who collect music avidly. I know people like that and I want people like that

Do you have a favorite place to perform?

Lovin Cup. The sound they have there is crazy and the atmosphere is cool, they have food and everything. I like Boulder, they don’t do too much rap anymore, but I love the stage there.

I am still weirded out by people sitting down listening to me, but I like coffee shops. I don’t like playing too much at bars; there a funkiness to it. I know it is funny, but I love the café/coffee shop rap show. It is my favorite thing ever; that open mic night/comedy club feel has a good vibe to it.

Do you have any advice for artists right now?

I mean anyone local seems to have it figured out that’s why everyone works together. I mean they do and don’t. It’s kind of cliquey, which is a hindrance to us moving forward.

But if I had to give advice… I don’t even know what advice to give myself. I feel like a lot of artists around town they identify to a certain Rochester sound and if you are that mind state it’s hard to become more than something local. Don’t make an album named after your street because no one will identify with that. Don’t think local cause then you are going to stay local.