Kam Moye is clearly one of the elite emcees in hip hop at the moment. After establishing himself as Supastition, the North Carolina native opted to switch to his real name in 2008 & begin a new phase in his career. With two critically acclaimed albums, 2002′s 7 Years of Bad Luck & 2005′s Chain Letters, and a couple of EP’s already in his catalog, Kam added to his impressive resume with 2009′s Splitting Image. In this in-depth interview, Kam speaks on a variety of topics including his transformation from Supastition to Kam Moye, his latest album, some advice for aspiring emcees and what projects he has in the works. Hit the jump for our spotlight on Kam Moye aka Supastition.
For anybody out there who doesn’t know, who is Kam Moye?
Kam Moye is an emcee, father, husband, and hard working brother from North Carolina. I stepped into the music industry fresh out of high school so I’ve been active in the business years before people ever heard a Kam Moye or Supastition song. Some may know me from my own music plus from featured on songs with KRS-One, Little Brother, Elzhi, Royce the 5’9, and a bunch of other cats.
On “No Substitute” you mentioned how you realize “the name switch probably lost them.” What was the motivation behind switching from Supastition to Kam Moye?
The main thing was that I chose to embrace who I truly was instead of who I thought hip hop wanted me to be. Kam Moye is just the shortened version of my real name. I was in a car accident a few years back and saw my life flash before me. That woke me up. I dedicated the rest of my career to making music with a purpose. I had a platform to reach people and say something positive but I wasn’t taken advantage of it.
Also, I just lost the inspiration to keep making Supastition albums. I made 5 or 6 projects of raw hip hop and it was basically falling on deaf ears. I championed raw hip hop music for years but I realized that there was more important things for me than trying to save hip hop. Not to compare myself to Malcolm X by any means but it’s like how Malcolm realized that the things that he once believed in were just a small part of the equation yet also part of the problem. Once he traveled and saw how things operated on the other side of the world, his whole mentality changed. I traveled to over 12 countries and I saw things from a different perspective. I started feeling like I was making music for a genre of people who were becoming as close-minded as the mainstream artists that they bashed. I love hip hop in general but the term underground is just as cliché as anything else. I just felt limited. I couldn’t speak on certain things as Supastition because some of my fans wanted to hear me spit punchlines, battle raps, and make nothing but boom bap type of songs. That was cool with me 8 or 9 years ago but I needed to progress. I grew as a person so why couldn’t I grow as an artist as well?
You released the Self Centered EP in 2008. Did you feel like this was necessary as a “reintroduction” before you released an album as Kam Moye?
Believe it or not, there were a lot of folks who completely missed the Self-Centered EP when it was released. I think it’s because there was no hoopla about me recording as Kam Moye until Supastition was no longer an option. Self-Centered was the rebirth and I just started building from there. I wanted to make music that older hip hop heads like myself could appreciate without feeling out of touch or immature. Most of the hip hop heads who are over 25 have started listening to R&B and all that shit because they associate it with immaturity. I wanted Splitting Image to reach those older heads who have families, day jobs, and grown men problems. Hip hop and maturity are an oxymoron nowadays. I wanted to do my part to change that. I’m not some 30 year old trying to make music for 16 year olds like a lot of these guys. If a teenager enjoys it then that’s cool but I don’t feel like I need to go Captain Kangaroo to win them over. If you act mature then they write you off as being old or an elitist. I wish I could’ve called my parents that. They would’ve whooped my ass! It’s the older generation’s responsibility to teach the young how to age with class.
Sure I may have lost some supporters because this album didn’t sound like my other releases but I’ve gained a more genuine fan base because of my subject matter. I’ve been on MTV, ESPN, and other places that I would’ve never reached before. I never did some coon shit to get there either. I think after all these years that I deserve at least some of those accolades.
You had more guests on Splitting image than on your previous albums. Were emcees such as One Be Lo & Zion I’s Zumbi artists you’ve been looking to work with for awhile?
I just went with my instincts this time around. It wasn’t something that I planned out from the start. There’s almost a paint-by-number way to making albums so that they become hip hop classics. Certain things you can do and certain things you can’t. I threw all of that out the window and went with what was natural. I respect and I’ve always been a fan of rappers like Phonte, One Be Lo, Zion I, Buff1, and John Robinson. I always told myself that when I had a good situation then I’d make sure to get some quality guests on my albums. I couldn’t get guests on my albums before because they either wanted money, turned it down, or they just didn’t come through. Ironically, most of these dudes are supporters of my music as well so it wasn’t even about the money. I’ve done plenty guest features so they just returned the favor. I didn’t know Zumbi personally so the label connected us on that joint.
Although you had a lot of different producers on this album, the sound was very cohesive. Did you reach out to them asking for a certain sound or did it just sort of fall in place on its own?
I actually had a certain sound in mind when I started recording so I selected beats based on that. Although I love my previous releases, the one gripe that I had was that it sounded like me just picking out the producer’s best beats and writing songs around it. If you skimmed through Splitting Image just to hear the beats then you’re listening to my album for the wrong reasons. The main focus is the lyrics, content, and the subject matter. I was focused on making an album of songs that complimented each other and stuck to the theme of the album.
I hand-selected who I wanted to work with as far as producers go on this project. Me and Jake One shared the same management around the time when I was recording 7 Years of Bad Luck. I’ve always wanted to work with Vitamin D. Oddly enough, the hardest producers to get beats from were the ones who I’ve worked with for years. I respected that they are at a different place in their careers but I just wasn’t a priority to them. It’s not that serious to me. You just wish them well and keep it moving. I got the producers that I wanted so I’m grateful for that.
From the outside, it seems like you have a very good situation with MYX. What’s it been like working with them, especially compared to your past experiences with labels?
Well, I’ve always been very vocal about my gripes with labels but I’ve matured and I’m just thankful to have an opportunity to release music. I still communicate with Jim from Soulspazm from time to time. He’s a good dude. My mentality about MYX is the same that I have with any label. It’s a job to me! A man who has a job paying a million dollars a year will still have problems with his employer. You speak on it, try to resolve it, and you go from there. It’s like any job… when something goes right then everybody feels like it’s because of their hard work. When something goes wrong, nobody wants the blame including the artists. That’s just the music business. MYX was the first label to ever give me an album budget so I didn’t have to spend my own money to make this album. Trust me, that alone is a good look. They are a new label but they’ve helped to introduce me to a new fan base of listeners especially on the west coast. In other words, I got love for them and what they’ve done for me.
“Da Waiting Period” has always been one of my favorite songs you’ve done. It really speaks to the up & coming emcee’s struggle. What advice do you have to aspiring artists trying to make it in the game today?
Ah man, my advice would be to think twice about why you are coming into the industry in the first place. Is it to make money or is it add your legacy to the art form? It’s not a good time enter the music business. Dudes gotta realize that you’re entering a new age of music lovers who feel like it’s their right to receive good music for free. You can’t sell bottled water to niggas who’ve already figured out how to get good drinking water for free. Artists are just the necessary casualties in this big fight between the public and record labels. Keep that mind if you are coming into the game.
Secondly, I’d tell them that they should reconsider this whole iTunes and digital music revolution without looking at all the pros and cons. Even though there are less hands in the pot, you almost have less options and rights with iTunes than you do with a record label. Artists can’t really negotiate with them on how much to sell their music for or pretty much anything else. They are going to take their percentage off the top. People complain that CD’s are overpriced but all you get is digital music for $10 or more. Is that really a better deal for your money? You’re buying digital data with nothing else that comes with it. Don’t give every record label the middle finger just yet!
Looking back on your career, what’s been a few of your best memories?
One of my favorite moments was being invited to perform on stage with The Roots during the Okayplayer tour. I remember waiting for ?uestlove to call me personally. When his number showed on the caller ID, I almost missed the call because I was in shock! The first Roots show I ever attended was me rapping on stage with them. My first European tour was one of my best moments too. To be from Greenville, NC and able to go to that many countries in 2 and half weeks was unreal. Hell, I’m still amazed that I’ve made it this far.
It feels like the hip hop world really started to pay attention to North Carolina when artists like yourself & Little Brother caught their ears. What are your thoughts on North Carolina’s hip hop scene right now?
Don’t get it confused, we’ve had artists like Yaggfu Front who had a major deal. Omniscience was the first rapper from NC to receive The Source’s Hip Hop Quotable back in the 90′s. Black Sheep and Ski were based out of here even though it wasn’t known earlier in their careers. The new dudes tend to try to rewrite history and start it from where they started. That’s not me. I always pay homage to those who helped paved the way. There were pioneers before me and the Justus League came around.
There are artists like myself, Little Brother, Kaze, J. Cole, and other rappers who are true lyricists and represent that side of the spectrum. There’s plenty of talent out here. The problem is that people out here think that there can only be one NC rapper or producer who is really doing it. When Little Brother was on a major, every other NC rapper got treated like chopped liver. Now that J. Cole is stepping up, people are brushing off anybody else who doesn’t have a major co-sign or deal. I guess the state is waiting for that one person or group to bring in the attention but that’s not a hip hop scene. Not to mention everybody claims to be doing it big so there’s no pecking order! North Carolina is a hard place to win over because there are multiple hip hop scenes within each area of NC. It’s a small hip hop scene but it’s very divided so that makes it even smaller.
Who are your musical inspirations?
I’d say the entire mid ’80 to mid ’90s hip hop era. I was the kid in the neighborhood who bought every tape or record that came out from Rakim and Big Daddy Kane to Steady B and Yaggfu Front. One month I wanted to be Slick Rick and the next month I wanted to be Redman. I’d study all of my favorites and my favorite qualities about them. Things like Rakim’s voice, Lord Finesse’s punchlines, Common’s wit, and even Andre3000′s flow. I’m not one of those folks who have a top 5 or top 10 list. Different artists influenced me in different ways.
If you had to choose one song that defines your career up to this point, what would it be?
It would probably be “Fountain of Youth” or “Let’s Be Honest.” Sometimes I feel like my opinions don’t fit the hip hop status quo but I’m comfortable in my skin. I’ve spent years trying to the rapper that I thought hip hop needed rather than just being myself. Now I’m perfectly fine with who I am and what I’ve done. If I quit today then I’d feel like I’ve defined my own success.
If you’re stranded on a desert island & can only have one album to listen to, what’s your pick?
Hell, I’d be listening to a gospel album and praying to Jesus that somebody would find me one day!
What’s next for you in 2010?
Honestly, I’m sitting on another album’s worth of material. I’ll probably just give it away for free one day. I’m sort of making a bucket list of things that I want to do before everything comes to an end. I’m working on three projects at once right now and they are all MC/producer projects because that’s the only thing that my catalog is missing in my opinion. One project is produced by homeboy D.R., one is produced by Dela from France, and one is a concept joint produced by Madwreck who has produced on almost all my projects. No they aren’t super popular producers but it’s who I enjoy working with. After those are done then I’ll figure out whether it’s worth it or not to make another solo album. Probably not though, I’m good with what I’ve done.
Any shout outs or last words?
Thanks to everyone who has ever taken the time to buy my music or come to a show of mine. I don’t feel underrated at all. I feel that I reached the people that I needed to reach and I’m humbled by that. Shout to my manager Big Dho, D.R., and all the die hard fans. Thanks to y’all for the opportunity.
Let’s Be Honest
Step By Step