Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with D.C.’s and Strange Famous Record’s Seez Mics. Together we discussed the DC Underground, signing with Strange Famous Records, capitalism, their latest EP “Cancel The Guillotine” and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you?
I am well, I am grateful, and I am ready to cut the mustard. I already cut the cheese. Ok, I’ll cut it out.
2. What artist inspired you to want to seize the mic? Have you collaborated or met this artist? Additionally, you see mics. What do you see other Emcees doing on the mic?
I was initially inspired by an adolescent desire to get props from people I looked up to. Eventually, I grew to seek an internal mix of pride, relief, and satisfaction.
I have indeed met Seez Mics, and technically everything I’ve ever done has been a collaboration with him.
I often see other MC’s doing unspeakable things on
the mic: mumbling, cupping the mic, rapping, etc. It’s tough to watch.
3. You’ve been a fixture of the DC/MC underground. When were you first introduced to the scene? Why do you think it has been overlooked? Besides yourself, who are some emcees and poets you recommend readers check out?
Around 1997, I was introduced to the Freestyle Union cyphers in Washington, D.C. by Big Deep (Deep is now part of the famous production team 2 Hungry Bros.) I quickly expanded regionally, then nationally, and eventually globally, but my creative spirit will always be in those cyphers.
I think the DMV has been overlooked for the simple fact that no DC-based rap artist has had sustained commercial success. That speaks volumes about how success is defined; I’d argue the DMV has been very successful in the sense of creativity and influence.
Priest Da Nomad
4. You’ve taken part of events such as Scribble Jam. When going up against another Emcee, such as Franco, what is essential in winning over the crowd? Are there lyrics or tops you feel are low hanging fruit?
Win by staying focused on your opponent, reacting to the moment, and taking the leap of faith to actually freestyle. Peace to Franco, he did all of those things and beat me.
Low hanging fruit are things like current events, using the word “lyrical” while being lyrical, insulting your opponent’s sexuality and/or mom, stating how many times you will shoot your opponent, stating how many times you will shoot your opponent’s mom, and stating how many times your mom will shoot your opponent’s mom’s mom.
5. Eight years ago the ghost began to chase you. Are you still being chased by the ghost?
We all spend our lives being chased by the ghost. Eventually, a few of us learn to do the chasing. Eventually, even fewer of us learn to stop and ask the ghost if we can just talk things over.
6. Mustard has observed that humans in the United States live in a capitalistic society. How can humans become educated consumers? Could you share more about your time with Educated Consumers?
In my opinion, capitalism is the best economy to date because it is honest about human nature. Socialism is too naive about greed, and the Marxist notion that socialism will eventually lead to a successful manifestation of communism has never actually played out; in fact, it’s led to millions of deaths a few years- see the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, China’s Great Leap Forward, and Facebook.
To that point, there will be a better economic structure than capitalism in the future. Humans can become educated consumers by developing that superior economic structure sooner than later.
I’m proud of what Educated Consumers accomplished and have fond memories of the experience.
7. Could you share more about your college radio show? What type of music did you feature? How did your relationship with Sage Francis develop? Did you know him previously since being a guest?
It actually wasn’t my show; the host knew I was a big Sage Francis fan, so they asked if I would do the interview. Since the show was primarily about independent music and featured a lot of independent rap, I was repeatedly asked to interview other notable figures of the genre.
If I remember correctly, Sage first heard of me at Scribble Jam. From there, my work in Educated Consumers kept me on Sage’s radar and eventually EC did a few shows with SFR artists. Sage and I really bonded over Eyedea’s passing; what had been a cordial peer-to-peer relationship became a friendship, all of which led to Sage offering me a spot on the Strange Famous Records digital roster. I also co-hosted a podcast called Chrome Bills for a few years, and Sage was kind enough to be a guest twice.
8. You get offered to sign to Strange Famous Records. What was your initial reaction? How is it being label-mates with Sage Francis, B.Dolan, and Dope Knife?
My initial reaction was that the offer itself is perfect, as is the timing. I started making music in 1999 and kept at it for a lot of reasons, but making money was never one of them. After 17 years of creatively being somewhere between steady growth and running in place, I needed to either arbitrarily choose or somehow be forced to accept it was never going to generate enough money to warrant the time and energy I’d been putting into it.
The offer to join SFR came in 2016 not long after I’d gotten engaged, and I knew that my music “career” (hobby?) was going to slow down considerably once I was married. It was one thing to be living check-to-check when I was a single brooding artist, but I now had a wife and (eventually) children to consider.
The only part of making music that I always enjoy is actually making the music. So, the SFdigi deal was perfect: I can focus solely on making the music and SFR can put out quality music without sinking a bunch of money into costs they wouldn’t recoup. It’s win, win… then win some more.
9. Strange Famous Records is certified fresh. What keeps Strange Famous fresh?
Our bodies are composed solely of silica gel packs. The downside is we are completely dehydrated at all times, but the upside of everlasting freshness is totally worth it.
(We’re talented, humble, and hard-working. There’s no secret recipe.)
10. Your first record with Strange Famous was “Live Long Enough to Learn.” Could you share more about this release? What do you hope humans live long enough to learn? How can humans overcome the difficult times?
Since LLETL was my first BIG LABEL RELEASE, I felt more pressure making it than any other record in my catalog. Thankfully, SFR offers a lot of leeway to their artists and I was able to make mistakes in private before going public with the error-free end product.
I choose beats from several different producers, a process which has pros and cons: LLETL has an eclectic vibe that never truly settles on a specific tone. I initially feared that would be a drawback, but now I view it as a strength in that it showcases my ability to remain honest within several different skins. I recorded and mixed with my longtime friend and collaborator Max Bent and the mastering was done by Master The Sound, both of whom really helped keep me open to new stuff but within my established bag of tricks.
My favorite part about making the record the collaborations: we had a blast shooting the video for “Do It Anyway” with a bunch of homies, and I got to do bucket-list songs with Sage Francis, Slug of Atmosphere, and Open Mike Eagle.
I hope humans live long enough to learn that the most important lesson is the balance of pain and joy.
11. What is your creative process?
I choose from one of three processes:
- Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. Sometimes I don’t rhyme at all, like right now, for example.
- Get a beat I want to hear hundreds of times, then develop or choose from a list of pre-existing concepts I’d like to write about. Eventually send a rough mix of the song with my vocals to the producer so they can edit the beat as they see fit, then redo my vocals until I feel they’re perfect. From there, I’ll try to work with the producer to add contours and nuances to give the song its own personality.
- Cover myself in canola oil and roll (completely naked, mind you) down a busy intersection BUT only when it’s snowing.
12. “Cancel The Guillotine” is your latest release and one Mustard has had on repeat. You claim to be uncancellable. Could you elaborate more on that?
At the present moment, my profile is such that there simply aren’t enough people who care what I think to warrant the time and energy to cancel me.
However, as my inevitable and meteoric rise continues, I am sharpening my rhetorical skills which I will eventually unleash during heated but productive debates on social media.
13. What steps can humans take to cancel cancellation?
Don’t dehumanize people who reasonably express differing opinions from your own. If you do, you’re a horse medicine swilling threat to democracy!
14. Are there any chances of you joining Epic Beard Men? Possibly as a one-off?
Absolutely not. I am in a boy band called Bellicose
Beered Boyz, and we’re gonna see EBM in the shaving cream filled streets.
15. What is next for Seez Mics?
Artistically, I will continue making and releasing music on Strange Famous Records. Personally, I will try to be the best husband and father this world has ever known.
16. Where can readers listen to your questions?