Pick Of The Week #38: Muneshine (+ Interview)

Pick Of The Week #38: Muneshine (+ Interview)

‘There Is Only Today’ is one of those albums The Find’s entire crew is very psyched for. With production credits by the likes of DJ Spinna, M-Phazes, Buckwild, Illmind, Suff Daddy and Muneshine himself, this album is sure going to be a boom bap-esque diamond. The song ‘Starter Jacket’ as our Pick Of The Week sets the tone and makes the wait for the promising full-length release even harder…

It’s been a while since our last Pick Of The Week for Laid Back Radio. So to catch up, we made sure this new edition is a real treat for you! Toronto-based emcee/producer Muneshine hooked us up with a new track called ‘Starter Jacket’ featuring D-Sisive from his upcoming album ‘There Is Only Today’, . You can hear it exclusively at The Find Magazine, and also check out the extended Q&A.

There Is Only Today’ is one of those albums The Find’s entire crew is very psyched for. With production credits by the likes of DJ Spinna, M-Phazes, Buckwild, Illmind, Suff Daddy and Muneshine himself, this album is definitely going to be a boom bap-esque diamond. The song ‘Starter Jacket’ below sets the tone and makes the wait for the promising full-length release even harder…

You’re both a producer and emcee. Without being biased, you do both quite well. But as a kid, what got you really into hip hop: listening to lyrics or bumping your head to beats?

To be honest, it was a mix of both in the beginning. The beats were something I’d never heard before (growing up in a house where my parents were listening to 60s and 70s folk and rock) and the lyrics were so raw! When I first got into hip hop, I was listening mostly to Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Ice-T and Eric B & Rakim. Needless to say, they were discussing new topics in a new way. Being a second-hand fan of Joni Mitchell and The Moody Blues (as much as I enjoyed their music) didn’t prepare me for that.

Your real name (Rob Bakker) sounds quite Dutch to me. Can you tell us more about your family roots?

It is definitely Dutch! My dad’s side of the family is all from The Netherlands. All from Amsterdam, living there and Almere. I love it out there! Was out last in April, can’t wait to be back!

Please tell us more about the track you selected for our Pick Of The Week. What is it about; what’s the story behind it?

The song I picked is called ‘Starter Jacket’ off my upcoming album, and it features my good friend D-Sisive from here in Toronto. The song came about after a conversation D and I had about childhood memories. He and I have discovered many parallels from our past. In a way this song embodies our similar experiences.

As kids we were both obsessed with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, and like most kids our age, we wanted to rep that undying love by rocking our favourite team’s starter jacket. It’s funny, the more people hear this song, the more I hear it’s a widely shared memory.

If you have to pick an emcee or producer from the ‘golden era’ of hip hop, who would be the equivalent of Muneshine?

Oh man. I would feel like a huge douche if I were to compare myself to someone like that. I think I have my own sound, especially with my solo stuff. I’ll leave that up to the listener! I’ll tell you who my biggest influeces and favourite artists are from that era, though: A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, The Pharcyde, Frankenstein, Gangstarr, Black Sheep, Lord Finesse, DJ Spinna, De La Soul, Saukrates, and many more!

You had several major label projects in Japan. Can you explain why (‘independent’) hip hop is so popular in Japan, from your own experience?

You never know where you’re going to be embraced, but it seems like it’s rarely at home first… In my case, it was Japan. I’m not really sure what it is about indepedent North American hip hop that speaks to the Japanese listeners, but it’s definitely a big market and I’ve been blessed to be shown so much love out there. Now I just need to get over there for some shows!

How would you describe your music to a deaf person?

I would describe it as nostalgic, uniquely traditional, smart and honest. And dope of course!

What can people expect of your upcoming album?

For the last couple years I’ve been primarily focused on production and collaboration (working closely with D-Sisive, and the Twin Peaks stuff with Ghettosocks), but I’m now preparing to release my new solo record, There Is Only Today.

I did a lot more production on this record than I have in the past. It also features production from Buckwild, DJ Spinna, M-Phazes, Illmind, Suff Daddy, Boom Baptist and more. Some dope guest appearances too. If you’re familiar with those producers, it’ll give you an idea as to the direction of the album musically.

The album is really about living for the moment. I was inspired to title the record while reading a collection of short stories by Henry Miller called Stand Still Like A Hummingbird. I’ve applied different approaches to the theme to challenge myself lyrically and give you guys something I hope is interesting to listen to (and hopefully more than once!). I live my life by that title and encourage others to do the same. Who knows how long we’re going to be here, it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, all that matters is what we do with ourselves right now.

After my new record drops I’ve also got a couple really dope EPs dropping with Ghettosocks under the Twin Peaks name. We’re doing the first with our boy Boom Baptist (a ridiculously dope producer from Austin, Texas) and another with the legendary DJ Spinna. Both will be dropping in 2012.

Your biography says ‘Muneshine is by necessity an independent artist’. Why is being an independent artist a necessity to you?

It’s necessary because no one is going to believe in you or support you if you don’t do those things for yourself independently first!

You just left Toronto to go on tour for two months. Why should hip hop heads come and see Muneshine live; what makes your live show stand out compared to all the other same ‘ol hip hop gigs?

I think what sets my show (and the people I tour with) apart from the ‘same old’ hip hop show, is personality and character. It’s important to be yourself as an artist, and we make that a priority. Our shows are of course based on our songs (so there’s banging beats and a whole lot of good rap), but it’s the little things that make our shows memorable. The banter, the crowd interaction, shit like that. Our personalities are what really set us apart.

You did all production work for Lightheaded’s Pure Thoughts. How is your current relationship with the guys? Are you involved in their upcoming album as well?

‘Pure Thoughts’ was my first official release (and a great experience!). I catch up with the guys from time to time and I think we’ll remain friends for good. I’m not involved in the upcoming album (I haven’t produced for them since their second record), but of course I’d be down to and I’ll always be a fan!

Since you are both a producer and emcee, I’m going to annoy you with one of hip hop’s biggest unanswered questions. What is more important for a good hip hop song: the beat or the lyrics?

It was both that attracted me to hip hop music in the beginning, but I think when looking at the big picture it’s the artist that’s most important for the song (not even necessarily the lyrics); the performer. Being that I do both, this seems like an obvious answer to me.

The reason being, in most situations, a great artist can captivate the listener with what they expect, or they can take them out of their comfort zone and remain entertaining and dope. Look at Andre 3000. He’s incredible, and he’s evolved so much during his career. He can pick a track that I otherwise wouldn’t listen to longer than thirty seconds and make something timeless with it.

I know that answer holds artists to an extremely high standard, but that’s just how I see it. I understand this argument, I see both sides from my perspective, but it’s definitely hip hop-centric. I’ve never heard anyone from another genre asked if the music or lyrics are more essential to a great song. I think it boils down to both, plus a little magic to make a song great.

Reader’s Question by @DXstewart: What inspired the artist name ‘Muneshine’ and is there a special meaning behind it?

I first took the name in high school when I started out as a DJ. Back then it was spelled Moonshine. I remember hearing the word in different songs and thinking it sounded cool, it was something I could cut with, and it’d make a unique name. That, and I thought the name worked as DJs sort of intoxicate their listeners with the music they play (and there’s nothing more intoxicating than Moonshine!). When I started producing and rhyming it just made sense to keep the name, I just switched up the spelling to make that shit different and more hip hop, yo.

More info / Bandcamp

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.