Your new project, The Self-Centered EP, dropped out of nowhere and under your name Kam Moye. What made you want to release the EP for free download?
Kam Moye is my government name but it's shortened because my full name is difficult to pronounce. I felt like it was time to go in a different direction personally and musically. I started to feel limited doing records as Supastition because certain fans who liked my music expected me to make the same records over and over. And in all honesty, I'm not the same person I was when I released my first album in 2002. I wrote most of that album 10 years ago so who I was then and who I am now are completely different. So instead of throwing this new sound on my older fans, I just chose to create a new name. I mean, let's be real, the stuff that I'm talking about as Kam Moye isn't going to appeal to the average teenager. I'm talking about racial stereotypes, marriage, raising kids, my dislike for going to clubs and all that. I wanted to make music for people who are going through the same things. I just needed an outlet to speak on some serious issues so that's where the Kam Moye side came from.
And I made it free because I don't expect people to blindly buy music in this day and age. Some artists who have albums out that don't even have fans yet. Plus with the economy, who the hell can afford to pay for all the music they want? Let's just call it free music to go with your stimulus check (laugh).
In looking at the title and lyrical content of The Self-Centered EP it seemed like you wanted the entire focus on you and the issues you’re facing.
Indeed. I wanted to give listeners an opportunity to know me personally. Like when you play this record, I want you to feel like you know me better as a person and not just as a rapper. There are people who wrote me off as being angry after hearing my first album and no matter what I did after that I couldn't shake that stigma. I had worked with so many artists that it was hard for some people to figure out who Supastition was or what my sound was. Now I'm focused on building my own brand instead of being seen as a part of someone else's movement. I've been on records with KRS, Little Brother, Royce, Elzhi, and plenty of other people. So when people bought my albums I think they expected me to sound exactly like them or that particular sound. At the end of the day, you need your own fans who genuinely support what you do as an artist. Not fans who are there because of who you have worked with or who you are affiliated with. So with Self-Centered, the focus is on me, period. There were no big name artists or producers on it so if you listened to it then it was because you were interested in hearing what I had to say.
Do you notice a different response for Kam Moye as opposed to Supastition?
Yeah, I definitely see a different response. I'd get love from Supastition records but it was more of the "you are a beast" or “dude can spit” type of responses. I used to focus on trying to be seen as one of the illest and get that respect. After awhile I realized that none of that shit really makes a difference when you look at the big picture. I'm not knocking it but I knew I'd eventually grow out of it. When you do music with substance and concepts then it sticks with 'em a little longer. I've gotten heartfelt messages from fans who have heard Self-Centered and said it spoke to them personally. It's inspiring to know that others can relate to the struggles you go through. I'm making music for a different purpose right now. It's more positive than my past joints but I'm not trying to force everyone to listen to it because it's not gonna be for everyone. But the music is here for those who want to hear it or want an alternative to what's in the limelight.
Are you going to do any Shock G/Humpty Hump routines at shows with Kam Moye and Supastition?
You ain't even gotta worry about that! Another reason for recording under my real name was to poke fun at these cats who are afraid to be themselves. Everybody is extra-hood and hardcore as hell just to fit into the tough-guy persona that comes with street music. I know dudes who rap street shit all day and haven't ever done half of what they talk about. Making songs about driving Escalades and selling coke but then calling me asking for rides and money for cigarettes! Hip Hop has created this false reality that everybody from the hood is hard and street dudes. So instead of speaking against it, I'm just giving my point of view and showing you that there are some brothers who want to better themselves and not glorify the negative. All of us don't want to be Avon Barksdale! It's like, ‘Ooh, you think you're too good to sell drugs, nigga? (laughs) You're holier than thou because you will do whatever it takes not to live that way? I got family members doing time and they've always told me constantly not to trade my freedom for some bullshit. If you have to hustle to get by then by all means do what you have to do but just don't bash people who are trying to do something more than that.
I’ve been following you since 7 Years of Bad Luck dropped and a lot of your albums have a real focus of showing how lyrical you can be. It seems to me that you’re trying to talk about issues as opposed to showing how nice you could be with the pen.
I just came to a point where my priorities changed. I've been gradually moving into it if you listened to my last projects. I had Worst Enemy and Evil Money which were concept songs on my last project. Then if you look back at Fountain of Youth, The Williams, and Yesterday Everyday, they were all songs along the lines of what I'm doing now. Instead of trying to prove that I can rap my ass off, I'd rather let my track record speak for itself. A lot of people in my corner talked down on me about doing something more positive or using another name but those cats don't live the same life that I do. That's just the nature of people I guess. I told people years ago that Chain Letters was my final Supastition album and I started hearing that I was retiring or quitting music. Even then, I knew I was going to start going by Kam Moye on records and going a different route. I just never spoke on it until now.
On “Where and Why” you said you “don’t feel challenged of writing average songs.” Has that always been your mantra throughout your career?
Yeah. That’s what I’ve been going through the last couple of years since. Things changed for me. People that were real close to me passed away or went to prison. I stopped putting records out with Soulspazm so I basically had to start over from the beginning in my opinion. In February 2007, I had a car accident that totaled my car and I damn near hit rock bottom because of all the setbacks I went through. All the lil' rap homies and friends disappeared so that was like a wakeup call for me. It just showed me how plastic this industry can be and how things can be taken away from you that easy. After going through that I didn't even look at things the same anymore.
Plus I'm a father so that plays a part in the decisions and make music I make. There are a lot of rappers out there with children but they make very degrading and disrespectful music. My kids look up to me and what I do for a living so I gotta be careful about how I present myself to the world. My daughter goes to my MySpace page to hear my music. How can I raise her to be a strong woman if I’m making songs about smacking chicks on the ass? (laughs) I just wanted to do more music that reflects my real life rather than what's supposed to be the cool thing to do. And we’re at a point where our world is changing around us. Instead of complaining about it, I choose to do my part through my music.
Some artists I’ve talked to said being a father never affects their music and some say it affects everything they do. How does being a father affect your music?
I was a father at 16 so it’s a little bit different than the average cat who has a child later down the line. I was a father in high school and it's not something that I'm proud of but I'm not ashamed of it either. When people were preparing to get their license and whatever, I was preparing for a daughter. By the time that I got to be 20 or 21, my mentality was a lot different. I’m raising a teenage daughter right now when I’m still young myself. I look back and think about the fact that I made my mother a grandmother when she was only 30! You learn from your mistakes and it makes you smarter. That definitely plays a big part in my life. Some people don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions. Of course, everyone can’t always make positive music because that's just not realistic. There has to be a better balance though. I just wish that more people would take responsibility for what they do and say instead of saying, “I’m not a role model.”
When I was growing up my real father wasn’t there but I was so engulfed in hip-hop that it got to me before the streets could. I don’t think people understand how much influence the music can actually have on young minds. Kids can quote the lyrics to a song better than they can the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes.
It’s refreshing to hear an artist take responsibility for the messages they put out.
Definitely. I've said some disrespectful things as Supastition that I regret and it affected me later down the line. You learn from that once it comes back to haunt you. I mean, if you're out there making songs about selling crack, can you really be mad that people are assuming you are guilty when you really do get caught with crack? I'm not going to pretend to be something else at the expense of entertaining other people. A lot of cats make songs about having money, strip clubs, and driving fly cars, which is cool if that’s the life you live. But I’m not going to put that out there if that’s not how I live. I don't have a problem with artists talking about that and I'm not bashing it but it's not realistic for some. You got a dude rapping about making it rain and wearing $1000 jeans on one song, then you hear him an interview talking about how he's getting jerked by his label and how he hasn't made a dime off of rap. That's not directed at anyone in particular but It just doesn't add up!
“Black Enough” touches on a very sensitive topic dealing with stereotypes and perceptions about what makes a person “Black.” What inspired you to write “Black Enough”?
Basically my personal experiences coming up. Especially with being from the South and how it is with the separation among Black people, whether it’s light skinned, dark skinned, southern, and northern people. It's like that whole Willie Lynch theory all over again. Even though that's more of an internet hoax, there's some truth to how easy it is to separate people. So “Black Enough” was inspired by me seeing too many people being stereotyped by different races as well as us stereotyping ourselves too. There’s certain stereotypes like “Black people ain't supposed to eat this” or “Black people ain't supposed to talk like that”. It's like some invisible handbook that determines whether you are black or not. I remember hearing this guy saying soccer was a 'white boy's sport' which was on of the most ignorant comments I've ever heard. Do you know many Africans play soccer? I'm not trying to be some pro-black activist or conscious dude but there are certain things that make a difference to me and I'm not afraid to speak on them. If a label comes along with it then so be it.
My daughter is half-Asian, am I not Black enough because of that? Get outta here! When I go overseas and walk the streets in other countries, they are going to see me for who they think I am. I have been called 'nigger' and all types of names in other countries even at shows. I just feel like we need more artists and people to show that we are intelligent and not what the media portrays us to be. I remember watching a DVD of the Yuself Hawkins Memorial concert and KRS-One came out onstage and asked “how many intelligent black people do we have in the place?” The place went crazy! When was the last time you honestly heard about a person getting signed because they were talented and intelligent? There are plenty of intelligent artists out there but you'll never see them marketed like that. If you got a college degree and you've been shot before, which one will they use to promote your album? You already know!
Have you found racism and stereotypes to be worse in your home state of North Carolina, other parts of the U.S. or in other countries?
It’s probably equal depending what parts of NC you go to. I used to think that I experienced more in North Carolina from growing up in a small hometown but then I started traveling to other parts of the world. I remember being in one country and flipping through the channels. The only Black people I saw on TV for three days were on MTV and reruns of The Wire, Cops, and Roots. Not saying every place is like that but it wakes you up to how the world looks at you, your country, and your generation. For some people, they're closest contact with Blacks, Latinos, and Asians are usually through music. Music plays a big role in how minorities are looked at.
On The Self-Centered EP you spoke about leaving Soulspazm. What’s your current label status?
I was never an exclusive artist on Soulspazm. We did a joint venture deal and I licensed 2 projects them for a couple of years. During that time, I could still record with anyone I wanted plus I kept my masters. I was never feeling the Rawkus situation from the jump too much though. That's where I had to draw the line between being a fan and a being a business man. I had to ask myself, “am I really going to benefit financially from this situation or just look like I'm doing alright financially to the rest of the world?” I honestly felt like I would get more publicity from it but when the smoke cleared I would still be struggling and not be able to walk away with my music. I’m self-managed, negotiate my own deals, book my own shows, record my own music, find my own producers, and do almost everything else if I have to. You think I'm going to do all of that and just hand my music over for someone to own it forever because it's the standard? Nah, no thanks. Call me crazy or whatever but I'll sell my couple thousand records over here and be good before I do that. There was no beef or anything but I was looking at the long-terms effects of signing a contract. I got love for Soulspazm and for what they’ve done for me so I’m grateful for that. They've never done me wrong as far as business goes so I can't be mad at them.
Will you stay independent of any label in the future?
I’m one of the few artists who enjoys being independent because I have the freedom and creative control. For one, I don’t make the music that major labels are interested in putting out right now. I'm not blind to that fact or feeling like I'm the one person who is going to single-handedly change the game. That ain't happening unless you got serious money behind you and co-signers! If someone is interested or sees my vision then I'll be more than happy to sit down and talk business.
Do you have a fanbase that’s solid enough to where you could tour on your own and make enough money without any other supports in place?
I make decent money from touring, merchandise, and collabos but I'm not living outside my means so I'm cool. I always have a million things going on at once just in case something falls through. I learned that the hard way. Music isn't gonna be here for me forever. It comes down to having a business sense. Some people want to just be rappers and that's cool. They want to record their songs, do their shows, and let everyone else do the other work for them. But it’s always been about more than just rapping to me. At the age of 13, I was reading books on the music business and just talking to different people trying to learn about the biz. If you don’t know alot about the business side then you'll feel like everybody’s trying to screw you over because you don’t really know what's going. So with me I just try to be hands-on with everything, man.
You’ve worked with producers like Illmind and M-Phazes before anyone knew who they were. What new producers should we be watching for?
Definitely watch out for my boy D.R. from North Carolina. He’s definitely crazy with the beats. I’m working with Veterano from the West Coast who is real serious. I’m working with Eric G from Seattle who has done some work with Torae, Skyzoo, Big Treal, and some others. He actually produced the “Black Enough” joint. I don’t work with producers because of who they are. That means absolutely nothing to me. I work with cats because I like their sound and because we can make some dope shit together. You can be from Bolivia for all I care (laughs).
What is the next move for Supastition or Kam Moye?
My next project is my full-length album under Kam Moye. The album is going to be called Splitting Image. It’s a play on the words meaning visually I’m still the same person as before but my mentality and subject matter have grown. That should be done real soon. I got a close teams of producers and artists I’m working with on with that. So far, I got joints with D.R., Khrysis, Symbolyc One from Strange Fruit and of course I’m still working with M-Phazes. I'm gonna be speaking on some serious issues on the full album. We are about to re-release the Leave of Absence EP from last year on CD with three new tracks. I’ve probably done about 30 guest appearances as Supastition in the last 2 years so you should be hearing me on a shitload of records in the meantime.