Let’s take a step back in time. The year is 2008. No, it was 2009; 4/20 to be exact. I was hanging out in the computer lab of the residential building I stayed at during my time at Saint Peter’s College. For some reason or another, I landed on a review for Asher Roth‘s first album Asleep in the Bread Aisle. Mind you, at this point, I really didn’t pay any mind to reviews; I liked to form my own opinions with out any optional outside influences. Before I even had the chance to read the first sentence of said review, the dude sitting next to me turned to me and asked, “Hey, how’s that Asher Roth album?” Now, I never really interacted with this guy while at SPC, but I knew him as the dude who you could catch freestyling around campus. Even with his obvious interest in music, I was thrown off by his genuine interest to hear about some rando’s opinion and I answered with a confused, “I don’t know?” As simple of an interaction as it was, that moment stuck out to me for some reason. It could have been the fact that I thought my confusion could have been misconstrued for intended rudeness or the fact that I was amazed there were actually people who gave a fuck about music reviews. Most likely, it was the latter.
Since then, a lot has changed: the college has turned into a university, I ended up finding the value in reading music reviews through writing them as a journalist, and that psychology/sociology major from the computer lab is now known for much more than just being that dude who freestyles in the quad.
Fast forward six years later, rapper Fresh Moss has released seven projects, joined the hip hop collective LVLYSL alongside fellow Newark native Neako, and is getting his own music reviewed on various outlets. Now with his latest EP Mirage Island out, the Jersey-bred artist took the time to talk with RESPECT. about building off of his following, possible OVO affiliations, gaining television production credits, and moving past creative blocks, amongst other topics.
RESPECT. Magazine: While you were in college, you definitely still managed to keep up with rhyming. Was college your back-up plan or was it meant to supplement your career as an artist?
Fresh Moss: College wasn’t a back-up plan; it was a part of my plan. I was the first male in my family, at the time, to go college so that was very important. I actually liked school and I had a academic scholarship. Honestly, I went too because I wanted to educate myself more. Ironically though, college did supplement my career as a artist. If I hadn’t went, I don’t know if I would’ve made it this far.
RM: I’ve heard about how hard it is to get a hold of Neako. How did you end up linking with him and being a part of the same collective, LVLYSL?
FM: We’re from the same city and knew the same people. During that time, I just was starting to make noise and didn’t wanna stagnate my career, but I didn’t have a team or help from anybody that knew about the blogs or underground hip-hop scene. The only person I saw with real traction was Neako. He was doing his thing. A close friend of mine put me on to him. I reached out, we worked on a record, and stayed in contact after that. Two weeks later, he was going to perform on tour with Wiz [Khalifa] at the last show on his Green Carpet tour. I got invited to go, we had a great time, and the rest is history after that.
RM: Who do you look towards or what resources do you utilize for motivation?
FM: Honestly, I look towards myself for motivation. I’ve only been around since 2010, but I’ve accomplished, experienced, and seen a lot in the last five years. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it; I’m a testament to that. I can’t even count how many times I’d say I’d be a rapper or I’d write for this person or I’m a do this and do that and then these things actually happen. I, also, use being overlooked as motivation. I do everything myself: from planning to investing in my own career. I feel like I’m the true definition of a DIY artist. A successful one at that, but I don’t get the credit I deserve.
RM: Recently, you’ve been dabbling in television production. Specifically, I heard you wanted to work with Adult Swim and we’ve all seen what that platform has done for Tyler the Creator and Odd Future. What are you looking to contribute to the network?
FM: Adult Swim is on my things to do list. I have a few ideas that I wish I could elaborate more on but then my ideas would get stolen before I’ve even gotten a chance to implement them.
RM: Based on your social media accounts, one might conclude there are hints being thrown out of an OVO affiliation. Do you have anything in the works with that camp?
FM: Roy Woods, OVO’s latest signee, is a good friend of mine, him and the entire OVOUTU camp. I was recently in Toronto with them when I was working on Mirage Island. Nothing is currently in the works as of right now. I just support my friends and they support me.
RM: When you hit a creative wall or feel like you’re plateauing in your career, how do you change things up to change your situation and energy?
FM: Usually if I can’t think it’s because I’m thinking too much so I get on the highway and just drive. Being involved with TV production and working with different networks helps because there’s a constant flow of creativity for me to draw from at all times.
RM: With your latest release Mirage Island, what kind of impression or vibe were you looking to have listeners walk away with from the project?
FM: Mirage Island is a reflection and collections of thoughts that I condensed into seven songs. I wanted to give listeners a diverse project and insight into how I was feeling at that time about life, music, and the world.
RM: What does success look like to you, career-wise?
FM: Success is accomplishing your aim or purpose. If you’re able to do what you love and you’re able to make a living off of it then, to me, that’s success.
RM: Considering the landscape of music today, would you be ok with simply having a huge following and being able to eat off of their support (i.e. album sales, merch, booked performance, etc.) versus being signed to a major label, getting radio spins, and being a household name?
FM: To a certain degree because, as artists, you can only manage so much. Your team can only manage so much. With that being said, it’s up to what your goals are. Every artist wants to be [a] household name. You don’t have to sign to a label to necessarily do that. The following I have now allows me to earn a decent income at the moment, but if I’m the one investing all of the money and I want to become bigger, I’m going to need to expand fast and efficiently. A lot of the time, the only way to do that is through a label, fashion, or endorsements, but I’ve found another way that’s been effective for me especially being [an] independent artist at the moment and that’s television!
For more on Fresh Moss, check out his official site.
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