Joe Moses is a proud man: proud of his parents and family, proud of his four children and proud of his commitment to giving back to the community that raised him. Now 33 years old with plenty of years of experience in the music industry, the Los Angeles rapper is steadfast in his values, and prides himself on loyalty above all else.
“I come from an old-school generation, how my family grew up,” Moses said. “Five dollars, I’m in debt with you. Two dollars and fifty cents, I’m in debt with you. A dollar, I’m in debt with you. It’s loyalty over everything.”
On his new EP “SuWop,” years of cultivating those relationships has paid off, in the form of high-profile features from longtime friends such as Ty Dolla $ign, Future, and Snoop Dogg. The project sees Moses returning to his musical roots, with songs he wants people to feel and resonate with rather than the “ratchet” music he created earlier in his career. Creating the final tracklist was a painstaking effort, however; Moses recorded 290 songs before selecting only seven to release to the world, and credits his Artists and Repertoire representative for assisting in the year-long refinement process.
“This time I just did me, I felt comfortable in the studio and was more relaxed,” he said. “My A&R Shawn Barron helped me get through a lot and coached me through a lot. I don’t give him enough credit, just being there for me, and stepping up and helping me get my situation.”
Moses saved the most introspective moments for last on “SuWop,” spilling his shortcomings and regrets on the outro “Good Dad.” With personal lyrics about his own situations with the women in his life, the story is very much his own, but Moses hopes that others in his position will heed his words as well.
“It needed to be talked about, not just about my baby mama,” he said. “It’s about men in general, always putting the blame on women, when sometimes it’s us. This lifestyle changed me, I was a strong individual but it changed me. I take all the blame for my actions; you can hear it in the song, but everybody knows what they signed up for.”
On “No Yee Sh*t,” Moses breaks down his lifestyle over classic West Coast production. Snoop Dogg, one of the region’s pioneers, assists the song with a smooth, effortless verse. Moses was quick to praise the legend for being an integral part of his own journey.
“Not even big bro, that’s like an uncle to me,” he said about their relationship. “I watched Snoop become the man that he’s became, and he watched me become the young man that I’ve became. I go to him any time I need some good game, good conversation, from a person who’s been through it.”
Lately, Moses has been following Snoop Dogg’s path in another avenue as well: getting involved in youth football. Moses is currently the owner of the Los Angeles Chiefs, which is part of the Orange County Junior All-American Football organization. Moses makes sure to use his platform and resources to uplift the kids outside of their regular schedule.
“I get money for these kids, I spend it all on the L.A. Chiefs,” he said. “I take them to football games on Fridays and Saturdays, I spend time with them, I love them like they’re my nephews. We go on trips, we go to Magic Mountain and do all that. That’s like my pride and joy.”
Now that he’s established himself in the community and the industry, Moses embraces the opportunity to give back in the form of advice as well. He often plays the mentor role to those in his circle, pushing them to create the necessary change in their own lives rather than waiting for outside circumstances to boost them upward.
“I’m trying to make my people take positions and jobs; creative control and building community resources,” he said. “When we start taking positions as a culture, black people will be much better. We’ll have mom-and-pop street stores and 99-cent stores, and we’ll run things a lot differently.”
That self-starting mentality has empowered him to improve his own situation. Previously, Moses says his lack of focus was impeding his career trajectory. Through self-reflection and conversations with those around him, however, Moses dramatically improved his work ethic and eventually parlayed his talent and connections into a deal with Atlantic Records. Now, he recognizes the potential magnitude of the moment in front of him, and revels in his desirable position.
“I’m nervous, but I’m excited,” he said. “I’m blessed. From what I come from, shootouts in broad daylight, robbing, stealing and hustling, this right here is a blessing. I wouldn’t take this for granted for anything in the world.”