OCD: Moosh & Twist Call Black Thought A Mentor, Highlight Their Choice To Quit Cursing In Music

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OCD: Moosh & Twist Call Black Thought A Mentor, Highlight Their Choice To Quit Cursing In Music

Exclusive: While the "City Kids" enjoyed first hearing Chiddy Bang comparisons, they now think any similarities are only on the surface.

Often in Hip Hop, there is a conscious choice made to keep content as grimy as possible for fear of coming off soft. It's an issue that's encountered constant censorship and protest among parents and certain pockets of society practically since the inception of rap music. Yet Dequincy Coleman–McRae (Moosh) and Oliver Feighan (Twist, a play on his first name) decided while still in high school to go against the grain by making a conscious decision you rarely see in Hip Hop. Wanting their music to carry a universal feel-good message, they chose to quit cursing in their songs. Rather than worry about how their brothers or grandparents would view any offensive content, they instead kept it positive, bypassing the issue altogether and creating a message literally anyone could get behind.

As Twist relayed during our interview, it's a point of pride for them, and according to their numbers on YouTube, they've tapped into an audience that identifies with the clean and hopeful sound that's come to define OCD. These two recent high school grads first struck it big with “City Kids,” a Philly anthem whose video just surpassed a million views. Highlighting their chemistry, Moosh spits “Philly's very own, we packing the terror / That tag team double, I'm 'Melo, he McNamara,” an apt analogy that highlights how well the two complement each other on tracks. Moosh is the pure spitter, coming with a more laid-back and technical flow while Twist's signature growl and frenetic delivery instantly delivers the adrenaline.

HipHopDX spoke with both Moosh Money and Twizzy by phone during a recording session in Pittsburgh a few weeks back, and during the conversation, they opened up about Black Thought being a mentor, revealed why they decided to quit cursing in their music, and offered up some relationship advice pertaining to a line from their recent YouTube hit “Hold It Down.”

Meeting Back in Elementary school: As Twist recalled, “We met in first grade. We were like six years old. We went to grade school all the way up to eighth grade [together] then we went to different high schools but kept making music, and we started rapping together [in] about eighth grade? At this point, it'll be like five years ago almost. We just graduated from high school this past June.”

Their 8th Grade Spanish Teacher (and Engineer): Moosh explained that a teacher helped them record their first song. “We had this Spanish teacher and he was also a music teacher. We had this little studio set up in like the basement of our school, and he just pretty much taught us the basics of recording, all that stuff. That's how it started, man. He was our first engineer.”

Looking Back on First Track: Twist mentioned that looking back on their first track helps put everything in perspective. “It's such a crazy feeling because the first song we ever made, we probably thought it was so cool at the time. We just listened to it like a week ago and it was complete garbage, but it was the first step, and at the time we showed all our friends and stuff. They told us they liked it but they had to have been lying. I know they had to have been lying.”

Conveying just how far they've come since, Twist continued by saying “We just had a show at the TLA [Theatre of Living Arts] in Philly, and that's one of like our favorite venues. We sold it out there, and four years ago we made our first song ever in our middle school, so that was extra, extra crazy. It felt great, man.”

Philly As Inspiration: Moosh explained that their inspirations to start rapping were almost purely local: “[It was] pretty much like the upcoming scene in Philly during that time, around like 2007. We just had some close family and friends who did the music thing, a lot of musicians. We just kind of wanted to follow in their footsteps and create our own path at the same time.”

Music or College?: Moosh let DX know that “Right now, for this time being, man, it's just music full time. We're gonna see what it's doing. College, we're putting it to the side but it's not completely out of the question. For right now [though], we're doing this music thing.”

Touring Colleges When You're Under Age: Moosh admitted that “At first, it was kind of weird. It was something we had to adjust to. Now, we pretty much know how to adapt to different crowds. At this point, man, we just cater to the crowd. Whoever's out there, we give them a good show.”

Handling Growing Buzz and YouTube Hits While Still in School: Twist remembered the dynamic well: “In high school when we put out 'City Kids,' it was December. I think it was December 22nd or 23rd, and we didn't really think anything big of it at the time. That was the first video that really got like a lotta lotta views quick and it just kept building. High school was great because we were seniors so we were already excited to be grown up and about to graduate, so [with] the music thing on top of it, it was  stressful going to school but it was extra cool. It was like a natural high, you know?”

He continued by recalling that “ we would be at parties and we would just talk to kids and they would  love our music and what we created, so it was such a rewarding feeling because everybody was stressed out about getting into colleges and we were stressed out about performing in a different state at a show. It was some different issues but it was overall such a cool experience growing the buzz while we were still in school, still with the same kids we went to school with in 9th grade.”

Their newest release, The Vestibule compared to previous releases Up Before The World and The Welcome Mat: Twist noted the distinction this way: “I think with The Vestibule, we made most of it after graduation, so I think our mindset in life was a little bit more mature, a little bit further ahead than The Welcome Mat and Up Before the World. I think with The Vestibule, we wanted it to be a little bit more on a serious note – still feel-good, still fun, but [with] Up Before the World, [we] had like a lot of younger sounding tracks, you know? [With] The Vestibule, I think we just wanted people to know that we can do the 'City Kids' thing, but we can also do 'Hold It Down' and serious tracks like 'Street Life' and 'Ridin' Slow.' We wanted to let people know what we can do besides all the stuff they're used to.”

Moosh chimed in by mentioning that The Vestibule is “where we were at that time. I just feel like each song is different. It provides something else. 'Hold It Down' is an amped-up track. It's a great performance song, and just like even like Twizzy was saying, man, songs like 'Ridin Slow' have kind of a different feel. It's kind of like a vibe-y track, you know? It provides a good contrast for the record.”

Significance of title The Vestibule: Twist broke down how one line was inspiration for their recent titles: “We had this song called 'Black Forest Gummy Worms' on Up Before The World and there's a line Moosh says, he's like 'Standing at the door while they be sitting in the vestibule,' so the first project was called The Welcome Mat. You get to the door. We're about to graduate high school. We're knocking on the door, wiping our feet off. [Then] we get inside, and now we're standing in the vestibule and we think we're in a stage where [we're] in between. We want to break out huge so bad, but we still have to get our mindset right – get everything straight [and get] a little bit more mature – and The Vestibule is kind of like saying 'We're so close but we're not inside.'”

Chiddy Bang Comparisons: Twist acknowledged the comparisons but countered by saying “I think it's more of a coincidence, you know? I think sound-wise, there might be some early tracks that we've done that sound a little bit like Chiddy Bang, but I think now, we've tried to solidify our sound. I think [it's because of] the whole black and white thing and the whole Philly thing and the young, feel-good [sound]. Their music is super cool and we support them. Xaphoon [Jones], he's a great dude. We've met him [but] I've never met Chiddy.”

He did admit that “At first, when we were getting those comparisons, to be honest, that was really cool. It was like respect, because we were looking up to them [at the time]. We still do. Overall, Philly supports Philly, which is cool.”

Future Collaborations with Xaphoon?: Twist said that they're “definitely fans of [Xaphoon Jones'] production. We've met with him before and just talked. He saw the 'City Kids' video a little bit after we put it out and he actually hit us up, just giving us advice about the industry and a lot of different stuff. He's working with a lot of cool people like Big Sean and Kendrick [Lamar], but if it happens one day, that would be super cool.”

Playing The Roots Picnic: Moosh remarked that getting the invite was “just a great feeling [because] it's a big festival in Philly. That's a big annual thing that we were just happy to be a part of. Black Thought of The Roots crew, we're like personally close with him. He's kind of like a big brother figure to us, and them reaching out and letting us rock the mic that day, it was incredible, man. The set went great and it was just real fun.”

Black Thought A Mentor?: Moosh made sure there was no speculation whatsoever when he said, “Definitely, man. We've been in the studio with him multiple times. He laid a verse for us on our remix for 'Mathematics.' It's a great relationship. He always asks us questions like 'Where do you want to go with this?' and stuff to keep us on our toes, so it's a good relationship to have.”

Twist spoke on Black Thought further, mentioning their partnership was “just crazy because he's a legend. We always say he's like every rapper's favorite rapper. He might not be the most famous or the most whatever, but that dude is a legend.”

The Philly Mentality: Twist mentioned that “The Philly mentality is crazy. The people who are in Philly, man, I think it's like more than New York. Every New Yorker thinks New York is the best, but if you're from Philly, you gotta fight for it more because it's not as critically acclaimed as New York or L.A.”

Moosh on What Twist Brings To Tracks That He Doesn't: Moosh was direct, explaining that “[Twist has] a lot of enthusiasm. He's very charismatic. We attack the track differently, and I think that provides an awesome contrast, man. He goes in there, he kind of has this growl, and it's pretty good, man. It sets the tone for the record every time.”

Twist on What Moosh Brings To Tracks that He Doesn't: Twist went grand with his response, stating that “I would match this dude up against anybody in the game right now. This dude writes the best hooks in the world. Honestly, it sounds cocky, but that dude, he's a genius when it comes to hooks, man. And then just when it comes to conceptual songs, you know, I'm always giddy and laughing and he's like 'Just chill out. Let's get this done.' He's kind of like my dad in the studio in some way, and then when it comes to lyrics and everything, dog, it's so cool to go back and forth because he'll come with his stuff, I'll come with my stuff, and every time he goes in and lays a verse down, I get pissed because I want to go re-write mine a little bit better.”

Keeping It Positive: Moosh related that the choice to remain positive was “Just to have our horizons broadened, because our fan-base is a wide range [of people]. I know for a fact that my little brother, man, he's eight years old, him and his friends listen to our music on a constant basis, and also our parents, being in their forties, they listen to the music on a constant basis [too], so [the choice is] just to keep the message right but also cool and dope at the same time.”

As Twist explained further, “We can pull up one of our videos and show our grandparents and we don't have to mute it when we curse because we don't curse. On a positivity note, it's just kind of like, that's one way that we really try and live life. [It's] like the song 'It's All Good.' At the end of the day, everything's all good, you know? People stress about a bunch of stuff, including us. The music business is crazy, but at the end of the day, you just gotta take a deep breath and just [remember] we're alive and we're doing what we love.”

Choosing Not to Curse: Twist first recalled a time when they still hadn't made that decision: “Actually, that same Spanish teacher that we first recorded with back then, we used to like not curse a ton, but we would occasionally in songs, and he would just tell us 'You don't really need to do that.' Growing up, when we listened to rap music, that's what you hear a lot, and obviously in everyday life we curse when we talk, but he was just like 'Yo, just maybe think about it.' At the time, we were like 'Nah, that's soft. Of course we're gonna curse,' and then it got to a point where we grew up a little bit [and] we were like 'He's right. Let's be able to play our music for every type of age.'”

Twist went on to admit that “It's something we take a little bit of pride in just because, I don't know, reading all this Shakespeare poetry in middle school and stuff, it's a challenge sometimes to not just curse in our verses. You might be writing a line and it fits perfect, but then you're just like 'Nah, I'm not gonna curse,' and you gotta go back and re-write it somewhat, so it's kind of like a challenge within our own skill set. If people recognize it, great. If not, that's great too.”

Why You Should Never “Settle For That Chick Who Rock Stilettos”: Twist started by explaining what he and Moosh look for in the opposite sex. “Well, personally, me and Moosh, I mean I know for a fact [that] we like girls that we can be best friends with, that can wake up in a dorm room or in the crib and just eat cereal in sweat pants and pajamas.”

He also explained there's a literal meaning behind the line. “We're short dudes, so personally I've never liked my girlfriend ever to wear heels to dances. I always say 'Yo, wear some flats so I don't look like a midget,' you know? That's just a personal thing. For that line, it was literal – I'm short, you know –  but it's also metaphorical. You don't need all the glitz and glam all the time. You don't need to be flashy. We're not really flashy dudes, so it's like stilettos, that's great if it's a fashion show, but I just like my chicks to wear flats and sweat pants or something.”

Selling Readers on Visiting Philly: Moosh started by saying “I don't want to give you the regular friggin' cheesesteak spiel. They are pretty much good, but it's like we can't even eat cheesesteaks no more because it's something we already had like all our lives, so there's no point in eating it.”

Twist highlighted how Philly holds countless memories for he and Moosh: “Look, I'm gonna just keep it simple. You got downtown, you walk outside, man, and there's this place called Rittenhouse Square, Rittenhouse Park. [When we were] in middle school, after school we used to go to the park with all our friends and just freestyle or just lay in the grass and just get Rita's Water Ice when it was a little bit hot out. We grew up there our whole lives, and pretty much every memory we have is in Philly. We met in first grade at the Philadelphia School, man, and we grew up there and we played basketball there and played baseball there. We fell in love with music and we fell in love with different girls and out of love with different girls, and to be honest, Philly is like the only place that we'll ever have our heart set in, you know, so a reason that you should come personally, it's just because we love it, you know?”

Download The Vestibule here

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