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Spend five minutes talking to Moe Green, and you may question his chosen moniker. Green, born Gregory Carter, exhibits none of the ruthlessness of his Godfather eponym. In fact, the more you get to know him, the more you realize he’s one of the most humble, down-to-earth artists in hip-hop today.
Part of that has to do with his upbringing. Hailing from Vallejo, CA, Green witnessed the struggles of a big city going bankrupt. Perhaps it’s this first-hand experience that keeps him grounded. Or perhaps it’s the fact that he attended private school until 9th grade, exposing him to musical influences outside of the inner city. “I was a TRL kid, man. I listened to Korn as well as hip-hop because that’s what my classmates were into. I’m not ashamed of that at all. In fact I think I got the best of both worlds, musically.” In addition to ingesting TRL’s late ’90s offerings, his parents fed him a steady diet of funk, R&B and old school hip-hop throughout his formative years.
With the encouragement of his friends and family, Green started taking music more seriously by the time he hit high school. It was then that he started filling notebooks with lyrics and coming up with material for what would later become his live shows. “To be creative is just me. That’s the way I am, and music is just fun.”
Moe’s delivery and lyrics mirror his personality. Instead of the flashy, hyped up party vibe that the Bay Area has been synonymous with over the past few years, his flow is more natural and, for lack of a better term, “for the people.” When asked about the Hyphy movement in particular, he states, “That stuff was going on in 2006, but what most people on the East Coast don’t realize is that it’s pretty much dead here. We’re really pushing more respectable music so we can be taken seriously. Some of that stuff was starting to get ridiculous.”
Vallejo is about 25 minutes from San Francisco, and Green credits this distance for keeping him involved in the Bay Area scene. At the same time it allows him some freedom to do his own thing outside the Bay influence. Recently, KMEL, the most respected urban radio station in the area, named him to their “Freshmen 10” list, honoring up-and-coming MCs in the region. “Everybody grows up listening to KMEL, so it means a lot to me. It’s also great to see my peers get that recognition, because they let the streets pick the artists. So it means a little more, you know?”
The road doesn’t end there, however. The KMEL nod is likely just the beginning for this talented rapper. He recently released a video for the surprisingly jazzy single “KIM,” directed by Mike Ward. The premise of the song is remarkably similar to Green’s current career path: “It’s all about forward momentum; I see it as a metaphor for the journey of life.” With the video hitting the hip-hop blogs and Twitterverse, Moe Green’s music is quickly spreading beyond the Bay borders.
Still in his early 20s, the young MC’s trajectory is certainly on an upward swing. If he can hang on to his humility and stay grounded, there’s no telling where he’ll end up. Green’s outlook on life and music is refreshing in an age where hip-hop stars are still stuck boasting about their wealth, women and fame (when they’re not busy crashing award stages, that is). “My goal is for some kid to come up to me and tell me that I’m on their iPod. That’s really what I want, to be heard. To be the soundtrack for the dreamers.”