Interview: Cory Mo
Published on August 15th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
When we spoke to Talib Kweli last week, he recommended us to check out the work of Houston’s Cory Mo. We wasted little time in tracking him down, and it turns out he’s quite the all-rounder.
As well being a rapper, Cory Mo is also a prolific beatmaker whose CV includes production credits for the likes of Lil Wayne, Too $hort, Mya, Erykah Badu, Rick Ross, David Banner, Underground Kingz (UGK) and many more besides. All this has been undertaken at Mad Studioz, which he runs alongside his brother Mike Mo, and somehow they even find the time to run their own clothing label Jus Sayin.
Having already released a string of star-studded mixtapes and compilations, Cory Mo is set to drop his debut album Take It Or Leave It in October; but we’ll leave it to him to tell you more about that…
Tell us about Take It or Leave It…
I started work on it last November. Talib Kweli approached me and asked me to put together a project so he could release it on his Javotti Media imprint. I said, “Hell yeah! I’ll put an album together.”
The album is scheduled to drop October 22nd and it features Big K.R.I.T., Talib Kweli, Bun B, Mya, Raheem DeVaughn, Devin The Dude, Chamillionaire, Daz Dillinger, Starlito… I got a couple more guest appearances too, it’s really action-packed.
How did you come to be affiliated with Talib in the first place?
In about 2003/2004 he came out to Houston and he needed a studio to record in. I run a recording studio in Houston and in Atlanta, so he was referred by a friend of mine and he ended up coming by the studio.
He booked out eight hours with me and we just stayed cool, kept in touch through our mutual friends.
Is it also through your studio that you’ve come to work with people like Snoop Lion, Killer Mike, UGK and so on?
Oh yeah. I’ve been running the studio since 1999 and it’s primarily the home recording studio for UGK, Pimp C and Bun B. Pretty much every record you’ll have heard from 1999 up until when Pimp passed [in 2007], my brother and I probably recorded it, mixed it or had some kind of musical input on it.
Pimp C and Bun B would have a lot of friends come by the studio so we had a chance to work with so many people. Everyone who came to the studio to work with UGK ended up recording with myself and my brother.
I see you’ve also worked with Erykah Badu. What’s she like? She seems like a big personality…
Yeah man, she’s really something else. She came to our studio because she needed a sound booth to record an interview, and she gave me some incense. I’ve actually still got some of the incense because I don’t even want to burn it!
She also came into the sound booth with a tuning fork. That was new to me, man, no one had ever come to the studio and pulled out a tuning fork before (laughs). Working with Erykah Badu was definitely a highlight; she’s a very nice lady, and iconic at the same time.
Do you think of yourself primarily as a producer or a rapper?
I would say it’s kind of both. I mean, I started out rapping back in 5th or 6th grade and I only started producing in ’98 or ’99, but I love producing records. I love sitting at home all day being lazy and making beats, but then again I love to get on that stage and get the crowd going.
So it’s a little bit of both. I would say it’s more like a ‘Kanye West of the South’ kind of thing.
Will you be touring the album, and if so do you plan to come to the UK at any point?
Man, I would love to! I’m going on tour with Talib, Macklemore and Big K.R.I.T. starting in October, and I’m not sure when we’re going to come to the UK but if Kweli comes then nine times out of ten I’m gonna be with him.
Tell us about your clothing line…
It’s called Jus Sayin Clothing and I’m really into the merchandise. There’s a big mark-up on material as far as the clothing game is concerned and I’ve been working on it for a while.
You can go to the website jussayinclothing.com to check out the designs. We sell mainly online but we’ve been speaking with two or three large distribution outlets so it’ll be available in the actual stores.
The clothing game is where it’s at; I think it’s pretty much the future. I’m definitely going to keep making music but you get more of a return on your investment on the clothing side of it.
Finally, which have been your favourite albums and/or mixtapes from 2013?
I like Jay-Z’s album, and I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar, T.I. and Kweli’s album from this year. Other than that, I’ve just been working on my album and we’ve been promoting a lot of hip-hop that we grab hold of from the blogs, not just southern hip-hop but from everywhere. It’s a way to give back.
Cory Mo, thank you.
Take It or Leave It will be released on October 22nd through Javotti Media.