Mojoe – New Classic Ghetto Hip-Hop Soul
By: Mut Asheru
Southern Hip-Hop has many flavors. Many flavors that aren’t necessarily being paid attention to by radio and press. A lot of southern artists have been and are influenced by multiple genres of music such as blues and gospel and creatively find a way to weave these influences into their music. The records being produced by these largely overlooked artists are innovative and masterful, with story-telling and rhymes that are deep, mind-bending, and of course funky.
We introduce to you now Mojoe out of San Antonio, TX. Their work ethic has secured them many fans and the much sought after record deal. But the grind doesn’t stop there. Being outside of the radio norm, these fellas find that hustle is still in their vocabulary and there it must stay if they are to gain the attention they deserve.
Easy Lee (Charles Peters) and Tre (Treson Scipio) are Mojoe, a duo that has often described itself as The Roots meet OutKast over dinner with Marvin Gaye at DAngelo’s house. That’s a party that anyone in their right mind would want to attend, a free-form jam with only the tastiest beats, rhymes, and harmonies, not to mention words and emotions that truly echo the barometer of urban life. Mojoe channels that spirit with Classic.Ghetto.Soul, a timeless showcase of its sumptuous blend of world wise poetry, sweet soul melodies and harmonies, reverent blues and jazz, and Dirty South hip-hop.
“We also hope to bring some light to the fact that San Antonio has a rich blues history and not just a Tejano history, “ Tre adds, citing by way of example the many recordings that legendary blues artist Robert Johnson cut in his home town.
Inspired by legends that came before them, these two exhibit themselves as old souls that are down to earth and as humble as they are soulful.
Years before they made music together, Easy Lee and Tre shared a foundation of loving music, riding around while listening to the classics of soul and blues as well as the raw hip-hop that was bubbling up from the block. It was a space where the likes of Curtis Mayfield or Frankie Beverly and Maze could get down and get funky with the struggle rap of street poets like Geto Boys and UGK or the uplifting beats of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Not yet full-fledged performers at the time, the friends nonetheless developed the open-minded musical outlook that they express now back then.
“We are inspired by a lot of older music because back then they weren’t typecast in as many boxes”, says Tre. “That inspires us to try and follow in their footsteps”.
Throughout Classic.Ghetto.Soul, there are touches of pain (The Blues), infatuation (Yesterday), and lust (Voodoo Coochie). True Jewels, a jazzy ode to the screwed & chopped hip-hop culture invented by the late DJ Screw, contains what might be Mojoe’s most faithful motto: While you shine, I’ll grind.
In other words, there’s much more of an inner drive to work hard and refine the art than to achieve fleeting pop stardom. And in ‘A Cool Poem’, Easy Lee illuminates the foundations of rap with the spoken word style he first honed on the open-mic poetry scene.
Seeing them live is an extra special treat as these two emcees cast off an easy-going banter that draws the crowd into their sphere. It’s performing in front of an audience, which is a particularly good catalyst for the improvisation and boundary pushing that the group is known for.
Mojoe comes alive on stage with assistance from the inimitable Mojoe Family Band, a dedicated bunch with some colorful monikers: Funky Genius, Cooley High, D-Maddness, The Carter, and Nookie Coltrane. The group has steadily built a reputation for its performances throughout the South and continued to be a local favorite: Readers of newspaper The San Antonio Current have voted Mojoe as the Best Hip-Hop Group for four years running.
Sure, hip-hop performed with a live band is not a new concept, but in the south it’s still relatively new and is made embraceable by the soul-blues aspect of the music that is for the most part laid-back and pain driven.