I saw Philly Moves live at Duffy’s Tavern the other Saturday. My tattoo parlour (London Tattoo Parlour) was throwing another grimy underground party. Grimy underground parties are an old favourite — Philly Moves is now a new favourite.
Dear dude in the crowd who said Philly Moves reminds him of Macklemore — keep your fucking dirty mouth, shut. The latter has nothing on Philly Moves.
…. cough …
Philly Moves is one part Tragic and one part Rockwell — MC and producer. Seeing these cats live rekindled my burn-on for hip hop. I haven’t been this excited about the genre since the fucking 90s yo.
I love every Philly Moves‘ track but here are the ones I became the most obsessed with, in the order said obsessions developed.
Get higher before you watch the next one …
Love to these cats for supporting the cannabis culture …
You can find Philly Moves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Redtube … I am joking about the last one. Unfortunately. They do have a YouTube channel though. So there’s that.
Check out my interview with Philly Moves below!!! Yes? Please.
Onya Ganja: If a five-year-old asked you what you do for a living, what would you say?
Tragic: “Stay in school kid or you’re going to wind up like me” and then I’d take out my false teeth and show him all my scars.
Rockwell: Make noise.
OG: If a five-year-old asked you to describe your music, what would you say?
Tragic: “Introspective, sometimes lugubrious, moody rap-poems with earthy, leather notes and a hint of blackcurrant.”
Rockwell: Talking fast about stuff we love and hate.
OG: Would you suggest the same five-year-old follow a path similar to yours?
Tragic: See question #1.
Rockwell: I would suggest it if it was something the little squirt had fun doing.
OG: What do you miss most about Ottawa?
Tragic: Proximity to family and old friends and the familiarity with both the arts scene and the geography of the area. It’s home so it has all the comfort and unspoken benefits that home brings you. That and I know homegirls there who’ll hold me down me with minimal questions asked.
Rockwell: Shawarma King on Bank and James. There is a Philly Moves article on the wall in there. They had a half page article about them in the Citizen and we had the other half. They didn’t cut it out. The platter is like 10lbs of food. Go now.
OG: What do you love most about Toronto?
Tragic: Toronto is just more alive in an arts sense than Ottawa. Ottawa is beautiful don’t get me wrong but, as far as the people are concerned, most of the population is just working to pay the bills, have some kids, buy a house, etc. Being immersed in the downtown Toronto world, one is surrounded by people who are chasing a dream of some sort; be it in the arts / entertainment world or elsewhere. That whole environment is much better for a fellow artist to grow, be inspired and work in.
Rockwell: Daydreaming about being in Ottawa at Shawarma King.
OG: Is there a song on your newest album that means the most to you?
Tragic: The stuff on the new record is very personal, not necessarily dark but just more of a window into the soul than a commentary on the world which was what our other stuff was mostly. As such, the whole record is kinda special in that sense, definitely putting more of myself as the songwriter into every song. There are songs about my ex who I’m still hopelessly in love with but who is too smart to get mixed up with me again, songs about my struggles with substance abuse, partying and promiscuity and there are songs about my struggle as an introvert thrust into an extroverted role in an exploitive industry. As far as meaning the most to me, I can’t really pick one out in particular; I’m more interested in which ones mean the most to our listeners.
Rockwell: As the producer, I don’t think I have the connection that Tragic might have since he is a lyricist. But I think this one called Weakday is pretty heavy.
OG: Do you remember the moment you realized you were in love with hip hop?
Tragic: When I first heard ‘God Loves Ugly’ by Atmosphere. It really opened my eyes to what ‘rap’ and ‘hip-hop’ could be and provided the first spark of an inspirational fire that burns to this day.
Rockwell: When Tottally Krossed Out came out.
OG: Which two tracks of yours do you feel are polar opposites?
Tragic: On our new record we have a track that glamourizes partying and sleeping around and than another one that warns of the consequences of such activity. Polar opposites yes but two sides to the same coin.
Rockwell: Little Brother and Weakday.
OG: Hip hop that you worship? Old school and new.
Tragic: Atmosphere always, Method Man has always been a favourite as well. I been fucking with the whole Wu-Tang clan forever, Biggie, Nas. As for new, big fan of Shad and SonReal on the Canadian tip and I like what Chance the Rapper and Action Bronson are doing on the non Canadian tip.
Rockwell: Beastie Boys. Drake.
OG: Who would you love to collaborate with one day?
Tragic: I’d love to get in the studio with somebody totally non-hip-hop like Butch Walker or Jack White, see what happens.
Rockwell: Butch Walker
OG: Is there a song in this world that always lifts you up?
Tragic: Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
Rockwell: Shoulder to the Wheel by Saves The Day
OG: Can you share a bit about your writing process? Pen and paper? Coffee? Pacing? Bubblegum?
Tragic: Pen and Paper of some sort. Sometimes it’s like a napkin and a pencil or the back of a phone bill and eye liner, whatever. I must be the only rapper alive who doesn’t have a rhyme book but I just leave my rhymes on paper at whatever studio I’m at, I like the idea of leaving a piece of myself everywhere in that way. The moment is very important to me, I like to write on the spot, in the studio, and record it on the same day with whomever I’m collaborating with, I don’t play with internet collabs and I hate writing something and recording it 3 weeks later because you’ve lost ‘the moment’ in which those rhymes were significant to you. Coffee and weed are both important and I write better when I’m tired for some reason.
Rockwell: Rarely do Tragic and I sit down and write a song together. I will have a beat and most times I’ll feed him an idea and he’ll bang a song out on the spot. For the last record tho, we went up to a cabin and wrote most of the album.
OG: What are a couple of the best books you’ve ever read? (Fiction or non-fiction, I don’t give a fuck.)
Tragic: Black Swan Green was awesome as far as new books are concerned, Pillars of the Earth as far as mid range oldness and The Moonstone as far as old shit. I read a lot of pulpy action/thriller/terrorist/murder/spy shit these days, Lee Childs, James Lee Burke, Tom Clancy but I also like history and historical fiction, I’ll grab textbooks on ancient rome/egypt/greece and absorb some of that knowledge too. I also am a slut for newspapers and shitty magazines of many types, sports, technology, celebrity gossip, etc. I’m a big reader.
OG: Can you define the following words for me please: emcee, rapper, groupie?
Tragic: To me MC is a rapper but not necessarily the other way around, when I’m listing what I do for a Philly Moves bio or whatever, I’ll say MC just cuz it seems more professional than rapper. The main difference between an MC and ‘rapper’ is one does it live and the other does it in his basement or living room. You’re not an ‘MC’ until you start playing shows, bantering with the crowd in between songs, etc. etc. but as soon as you put some words together and rhyme them, you’re a rapper.
A groupie is a fan who’s on the team, down to ride etc. If it’s a girl she’ll probably blow you just cuz you’re dope, if it’s a guy he’ll lift your gear onto the stage and sell your teeshirts.
OG: If Anarchy consumed Canada would hip hop still exist here? If so, how would it change?
Tragic: It would exist for sure but on a much more grassroots way. The infrastructure for the whole industry would have collapsed so it would just be dudes doing shows, rapping at anarchist rallies, writing poems for newsletters, etc. Arts will always exist no matter the society, it’s just a matter of there being an ‘industry’ behind arts.
OG: Do you have some favourite strains of marijuana? Or strains that are good for writing music?
Tragic: I’m just a straight consumer, I’ll be honest. I don’t know fuck all about strains or positives and negatives of which types of weed. I just smoke the shit and eat the shit and if it’s good I get higher than if it’s bad. I was going to do a bunch of google research and lie my way through this question to look cool but that seemed stupid and seems even stupider now that I’m typing it out.
Rockwell: My fave is Rockstar.
OG: What stoner stereotypes do you fully embrace? Are there any that you find offensive or untrue?
Tragic: I embrace the stereotype of the chilled-out laid-back stoner dude but find it upsetting that people think you have to be lazy and unmotivated to be laid-back and chill.
Rockwell: I like to think I don’t get the munchies… but I do.
OG: Is there anything you avoid thinking about when you are high because it trips you out too much? (e.g. teeth, outer space)?
Tragic: I try not to think about the future or about the shitty things that are happening all over the world.
OG: Can you tell me a little bit about the craziest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth? And would you eat it again? (Open to interpretation.)
Tragic: Liquid GHB and ya.
Rockwell: Raw Baby Octopus… and no.
OG: Where is your favourite spot to smoke pot?
Tragic: In my buddy Myle’s backyard on an adirondack chair next to the river.
Rockwell: At my studio.
OG: Favourite things about Stoner Girls?
– stoner girls always have pot
– stoner girls are open minded
– stoner girls know how to make good stoner food
– stoner girls are down to have alone time
– stoner girls seem to always be really abreast of whats new and ‘cool’, musically and in general. something I suck at.
Rockwell: Hopefully they’re holding.
OG: When you think “Stoner Girl” is there an iconic woman that first comes to mind?
Tragic: The first one who came to mind is Mill Jovovich’s character from Dazed and Confused. But that’s just cuz I’ve always wanted her.
Rockwell: Martha Washington. She was a hip lady.
OG: How many cats do you think are too many for one woman to own?
Tragic: Only the woman can answer that question and she’ll know how many is too many. she’ll power through that number and keep getting more but, she’ll know.
Rockwell: My fiancé and I have two rad cats. That’s all I need tho.
OG: Who are the cats on your Instagram? Tell me everything there is to know about them.
Tragic: They are both Jonny’s cats, Maury and Alaska (so named for her brilliant black coat.)
Rockwell: Alaska is the tiny black one. She is a runt and my favorite being ever. Morrie is the fat light brown one. He is pretty adorable I guess. He always knocks shit over and really pisses me off too… that and he takes man-sized shits.
OG: Do you have an opinion on the topic of hip hop and cultural appropriation?
Tragic: I have no idea what that means and as soon as I looked it up online I knew I not only will never know but don’t ever care to know. Music aint about theories and shit yo. I have a hard enough time making something and presenting it to the world without adding ‘cultural appropriation’ to the mix.
OG: Do you stroke your beard when you think too hard?
Tragic: I have a nasty habit of stroking my beard, whether I’m thinking or not. I also tend to pluck out my beard hairs when I’m just chilling or thinking, which is kind of bizarre.
Rockwell: I wish.
OG: How gay are you? On a scale of 1-100. So, how many dudes do you sleep with for every 100 women? Basically.
Tragic: Well, if you put it that way, I’m not gay at all in that I’ve never sexed a man. But, I’m pretty in tune with my femininity and comfortable enough with myself to do shit that straight guys might call ‘gay’ on the regular. Plus, I can appreciate a hot guy.
Rockwell: That’s a loaded question.
OG: Do you think Jesus might have been a bisexual?
Tragic: I don’t care to speculate either way, that’s like asking if I think king tut liked tigers. It was thousands of years ago and he may not have even existed.
OG: You tweeted this — “watching myself turn into a weird reclusive artist type is both fascinating and disturbing.” Can you elaborate on that please.
Tragic: most times we don’t notice the change in ourselves that others see, both physically and emotionally. But sometimes, one can pinpoint a specific thing about themselves that has changed and we become self aware in that moment, like, whoa, that’s changed. For some reason, the more I crave the spotlight, and the closer it becomes, the more I withdraw into myself emotionally and I’m aware of that happening. Not necessarily a good thing, hence the disturbing, but still, insights into oneself should not be ignored, hence the fascination.
OG: Can you touch on something you had to overcome in order to get to where you are now?
Tragic: Hmmm, life in general is a big clusterfuck of shitty things with brief flashes of brilliance that make everything worth it. There hasn’t really been one HUGE event that I’ve had to overcome but noones life is easy and we all have things to overcome literally daily before we can get to where we want to be. I’m no different, I could go off and whine about how hard my life has been and there have been a lot of setbacks in music and in life in general, a lot of loss, a lot of failure but, if you want to know all my dirty secrets I’m going to need dinner and a damn massage first.
Suffice it to say, if you want to get anywhere you have to overcome, period, nobodies born into their dream life.
OG: Do you have advice for girls looking to break into any creative field?
Tragic: Unless you’re trying to be a model, don’t sell sexiness until you’ve already made it.
OG: How do you feel about feminism?
Tragic: Again, I’ll have to be honest, I like to control myself, how I act and how I treat people; I try not to worry too much about how things that happen outside of my line of sight, within reason. I unfortunately don’t have the time or energy to save the world like I once did. Thus, feminism and sexism aren’t really issues that enter into my realm all that often. I love people who love me, respect those who’ve done things worth respecting and treat everybody as a peer until it becomes obvious we aren’t. As far as the movement is concerned, I support anyone who’s trying to get fair treatment but Im just not familiar enough with the sorts of things feminists are hoping to achieve so I can’t really comment negatively or positively.
OG: Unrelated — Have you ever watched Japanese Eel Pornography before?
Tragic: Never but it’s on my bucket list.
Rockwell: Surprisingly… Yes. Eel Soup was a popular video when we were young. Way before YouTube. That shit was just passed around. A woman funneled live eels into her butt then shot them out.
OG: Can you comment on a few women you look up to?
Tragic: The women in my family as cliche as that is, my moms, my nana and my aunts but also the mothers and grandmothers of my close friends who’ve always treated me well and been beacons of strength and love. Almost every woman I’ve got to know intimately, both romantically and platonically I respect and look up to for some reason or another.
Rockwell: All the women in my life are amazing people. Each one of them have dealt with struggles with utmost bravery and strength. My mother, grandmother, sister and fiancé. They are the 4 most amazing woman I know.
OG: What are your favourite things about springtime in Canada?
Tragic: Springtime always reminds me of school winding down so I get that warm sentimental feeling in my gut when I see the sunshine and melting snow puddles. The weather is obviously the best part, winter fucking sucks, especially the last couple months of it so when we start to round that corner, it’s heavenly. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that girls starting to break out the smaller clothes doesn’t improve my mood, so ya, getting to see some arms and legs is a bonus.
Rockwell: The smell of a winter’s worth of dog poo thawing out in the sun.
OG: Favourite venue or festival to perform at during the summer?
Tragic: Summer has always been kind to us between tours and festival gigs, the Ottawa Bluesfest is probably the biggest festival we’ve played, they pay very well, you play outdoors in the sunshine and get treated like a king there so it’s probably my favourite as far as a one-off event is concerned but, to me, summer is meant for touring; driving through the mountains, with the windows down puffing blunts and listening to raps on the way to the next show. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Rockwell: Bluesfest was always amazing.
OG: What’s next for Philly Moves?
Tragic: We’ve been working on a brand new full-length project called OLGA for the past 9 months. It’s our first sample free project and our first album we’ve really sweat and frought over. We wrote and recorded almost 30 songs and whittled it down to ten, re-recorded them and have been tweaking them for the past couple months. It’s our most ambitious project sonically and by far the one we’ve worked the hardest on. It will be dropping in the summer of 2014. We’ve also been working on new visuals to release in advance of the release and will be dropping the first of those late this spring.
Rockwell: OLGA. Our new album coming this summer!
OG: How do your Moms feel about hip hop?
Tragic: My moms is pretty cool, she was pumping Tone Loc and Run DMC when I was growing up, so she knows what time it is. It’s definitely not her preferred genre these days but she supports what I do and seems to legitimately like the music we make.
Rockwell: She has always supported me in everything I do. Including this rap stuff.
Well, there you have it everyone. Moms can support hip hop.
Thanks for your time boys and thank you for making beautiful music!
For the love of fucking gawd. I need you. Hip hop needs you.
Everyone else — be sure to watch out for Philly Moves’ concerts and their new album this summer!
Toke it easy,