Working Class Hero: Moe Green emerges in rap world while working the night shift

Patricia Kim/Staff

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If I find something, I’m (going to) go hard at it.” So says Moe (not Mo) Green, the 23-year-old up-and-coming rapper from Vallejo, California who, so early on in his career, has opened for members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and done shows with hip-hop veterans like Sean Price — no small feat for even the most seasoned rappers.

Green (Gregory Carter) has been rapping since high school, when he was a star on the football team. Today, when he isn’t recording music, writing or doing shows, Green is working at FedEx. The man who has constantly been labeled a “working-class” rapper, due partly to his lyrical content — “It’s all overtime / I had to work overtime…skip lunch so I could buy recording time” — is on his grind twenty-four-seven. “If I have a show at night, I can go to work after the show,” Green said. He claims to derive his work ethic from both of his parents and is such a hard worker that, according to him, FedEx is even trying to make him a manager. But, as he puts it, “hopefully the FedEx story will end in March (of this year).”

The man whose favorite rappers include E-40, Kanye West and Rick Ross chose his rap name in high school when he heard a sound bite of Moe Greene talking in Coppola’s “The Godfather,” though the pleasantly down-to-earth young man admits he hadn’t even seen the film when he decided on his name. When asked about his moniker, Green said, “Green could represent money or some kind of currency…(but) it could be whatever your goal is or whatever makes you happy.” And for him, that “green” is certainly his music: “Most of the time I’m just at the house recording, just right there in my room.”

In the last two years, Green has released two albums, Rocky Maivia: Non Title Match and the recently released ten-track LionheartRocky Maivia takes its name from wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and speaks to Green’s fascination with wrestling. When growing up, Green recalls that his favorite wrestler was Ahmed Johnson, even remembering his finishing move, “the Pearl River Plunge.” And, while recording Rocky Maivia, Green claims he “watched hella wrestling videos,” something that surfaces in the man’s no-holds-barred approach to rapping.

Together, Rocky Maivia and Lionheart are two of the most polished introductions to the rap game in recent years, and after many listens it’s clear that Green put a lot of time into both of them. Each album displays a level of versatility, confidence, and lyrical ability that is seldom found today, as rap artists seem to become younger and blander all the time.

The sound on both of these albums ranges from clean and fresh hip-hop beats to the more experimental, with Green rapping over tracks like La Roux’s “In for the Kill.” When talking about his sound, Green said, “I always want to be progressive in my sound.” Though Green is truly modern his selection of beats, the same is true of his lyrical content, with references to ’90s Nickelodeon shows like “Kenan & Kel,” which give the listener insight into Green’s childhood, an area of rapper’s lives listeners rarely hear about.  “TV raised me, you know. TV and Hungry Man dinners,” Green says. He even admits to watching and listening to just about everything that aired on TRL, from Limp Bizkit and Korn to ’N Sync: “I’ll sing an ’N Sync song … if the time is right and I’m drunk enough.”

Green’s candidness, both in his music and in conversation, is refreshing. He has no illusions about whom he is or where he comes from, and it shows. In a majority of Green’s songs you can hear him shout “Out Crowd” — a collective of his peers, as well as his fans, built around the notion of doing whatever moves you — which testifies to his endearing self-awareness and maturity. When talking about the “Out Crowd” philosophy, Green said: “Do you … if you like, I love it.”

The Vallejo rhymer — who says that when all of his peers were listening to the latest hyphy music the soundtrack to (his) senior year was Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere — isn’t interested in appearances, and it is a trait that works in his favor, coming through in the conviction of his lyrics. However, Moe is still aware of his age and remains conscious where he is at in his life: “I don’t want to act older than I am … I don’t want to be a hip-hop elder at 23. (I) still do crazy-ass shit.”

As far as the future is concerned, Green, the consummate worker, has a lot planned. He has nine-track album completed called To Whom It May Concern recorded with producer Rob-E that he claims will be “something big,” is working on another album called Gold Chain Theory, and even has a project lined up with the well-established Bay Area street wear company Upper Playground. On top of everything, Green is on the line-up for the 7th Annual Paid Dues Festival run by rapper Murs on April 7, 2012 in San Bernardino, where he will be sharing the bill with legends such as Dipset and Three Six Mafia.

The coming years look very promising for Moe Green and, with his skills and work ethic, you should be hearing a lot more about him very soon. In a rap game that is increasingly fixated on image, theatrics and carefully constructed facades, Green is real, an artist listeners can truly connect with: “Everybody says ‘keep it one hundred.’ I keep it one hundred and ten. I’m going to go that little extra.”

Correction(s):
This article formerly stated that the album To Whom it May Concern is free, which it is not.