Written by: Julz Mancini
There are times throughout an artist’s career when they may tend to lose focus on why they pursued their passion in the first place. In an over-saturated industry, some creatives attempt to sound like everyone else losing grasp of their unique sound that places them apart from others. While interviewing MC Zappa, it is apparent that he has stayed true to his love for hip hop, his unique approach to his gift, and his company, Too Much Phunk Records. The reader will notice the passion and gratitude MC Zappa possesses when it come to the culture.
Boom Bap Nation: What is your earliest memory of hip-hop? “Hmm…you know what? I really can’t say for sure. Hip hop has just always been a ubiquitous element of my life so it is kind of difficult to pinpoint a specific memory. My mother was always playing dancehall music, soul, and 80/90’s hip hop around the house ever since I can remember. I’ll tentatively say that it was watching “Everybody Hates Chris” as a child. That show put me onto Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim, The Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, and Aerosmith, just to name a few. I can’t possibly overstate how much that show had a formative impact on me musically. Mad respect to Chris Rock and Ali LeRoi.
Boom Bap Nation: What caused you to fuse video game music and golden age hip hop? Well, when I was about 9 or 10, I had an odd habit of listening to VGM OSTs (video game music) almost more than I listened to “real” music. Most kids my age were listening to Eminem, 50 Cent, or Rick Ross joints. But on any given day you could catch me with “Star Fox 64”, “Super Smash Bros”, “Ty The Tasmanian Tiger”, or Legend of Zelda in my headphones. One of my absolute fondest memories is playing Pac-Man with my mother. She had bought this plug-and-play TV game and I was fascinated by the 8-bit graphics and the blocky, beep boop music. When I first started getting into hip hop production I was constantly looking for new sounds to make my style unique and set myself apart from the pack. That is when I decided to incorporate the beloved 8-bit tunes from my childhood into my production.
Boom Bap Nation: Has your music received placement on any video games? If not, what video game would you love to have your music placed in? As of today, no placements thus far. However, I would absolutely love to have my music placed in a Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., or Ty The Tasmanian Tiger game. It would honestly be a dream come true to hear my music in a future installment of one of these series. I am also interested in scoring indie games. There are a lot of really talented game studios and developers out there that really don’t get enough shine. Keep in mind that while, yes, I am a hip hop artist first and foremost, I am also a composer with a lot of range. I don’t wish to be pigeonholed into only the “traditional” video games that hip hop artists contribute music to.
Boom Bap Nation: As the founder of your record label, “Too Much Phunk Records”, what makes you different from other independent labels? At Too Much Phunk Records, we value music more than anything. We don’t see music as just another commodity to be mass produced on some assembly line. We see it as beautiful art; a divine gift that deserves to be shared with the world. We also value creative control and autonomy by artists. I’ve seen and heard many cases of labels forcing artists to either censor or scrap content because they disapprove, delaying projects (sometimes indefinitely) and obtaining perpetual rights to performers’ works and even their stage names in some cases. We offer unconventional advances. We do a “trial” contract. This is to ensure the artist is a good fit for the label and vice versa before committing both parties to an intensive covenant that may or may not work out.
Boom Bap Nation: What kind of artists are you on the prowl for? At the moment, I am looking for originality, talent, team spirit, independence, drive, and work ethic…especially the last. It doesn’t matter if you are a dope artist, if you don’t have discipline, it won’t work. I’ve had to give a couple of artists the pink slip due to them slacking off. I’m looking for artists who push the boundaries of hip hop and take it to new dimensions. We don’t sign clones, copies, or facsimiles at Too Much Phunk Records. So if you tell me you’re the next Tupac or the next Kendrick, that’s nice. But I want you to tell me that you’re going to be the next YOU.
Boom Bap Nation: Who would you love to work with in the future and why? I want to work with Ice Cube, Diamond D, LL Cool J, Melle Mel, KRS-ONE, and the GOD MC, Rakim to name a few. I grew up on all of these artists and of course they have been very influential to me. There were various Golden Age albums that I would listen to several times a day; Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate” and “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, and Eric B & Rakim’s “Follow The Leader”. Ice Cube is definitely in my top 5 and you might even say I indirectly have him to thank for starting my career. I was first inspired to make hip hop music after seeing “Straight Outta Compton” with my mother. Rakim, with the style that he pioneered, has influenced every generation of MCs that came after him and I am no exception. It is a personal goal of mine to, one day, have Rakim on a Bit-Hop beat. As for KRS-ONE, he was one of the artists that inspired me to start dropping knowledge in my music. I definitely want to do a record with him where we can both drop science over an ill 8-bit boom bap instrumental.
Boom Bap Nation: What are your plans for the genre Bit-Hop and Too Much Phunk Records? I just want to rock. I suppose somewhere along the line, I want myself, my genre, and my label to become household names. But for now, all I want to do is just have fun and make dope music, make people smile, make people think, make them move, and uplift my listeners. If I become an icon along the way, then so be it.
Boom Bap Nation: Who has been both a personal and musical inspiration to you? That would be my mother, my mentor, the poet, Freedom Speaks. Growing up with her taking me on the road and seeing her, not only support our household, but touch and reach so many people with her message was a great formative experience for me. It showed me that, no matter what, no matter who you were, there was somebody that needed to hear your message. It showed me that it was entirely possible to support yourself with your art as long as you were disciplined and had good business sense.
Boom Bap Nation: What message do you have for artists and aspiring entrepreneurs? First of all, stop giving so much of a dam what everybody thinks. You think those dudes whose approval and opinions you’re stressing over are going to pay your bills? Hell No! And don’t let people who ain’t been where you are trying to go tell you how to get there. People are good for telling you that something can’t be done just because they, themselves, tried and failed to do it. Don’t go for the games ya’ll. Don’t compare your situation to others. It only leads to misery, dissatisfaction, and worst of all, distraction. Remember, you’re never going to eat if your eyes are always on the next man’s plate. Trust and believe, you’re going to suffer some setbacks but as long as you retain your consistency, passion, and love for music, you will advance. Most importantly? Never be afraid to ask for what you want and need.