Exclusive: Moosh and Twist retrace their Philadelphia beginnings, including advice from Black Thought of The Roots and the plans for their "Back To The Basement" project.
The Roots have been making music longer than Moosh and Twist—and probably most of this site’s average readers—have been alive. Black Thought brutalizes mics and can still crack jokes nightly on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” while Moosh and Twist occasionally dress up in plushy costumes. To the untrained eye, it would seem the only thing OCD and The Roots have in common are their Philadelphia origins.
But the more you talk with guys from OCD, the more it becomes apparent that they’ve been listening to their elder statesmen from the Illadelph. And while you’d expect The Roots’ drummer and de facto mouthpiece ?uestlove to provide them with advice, the seemingly surly Black Thought has been the one dropping jewels on Moosh and Twist. When you hear them talk about crafting the feel of a record and an ever-increasing tour schedule, the influence is apparent. The OCD sound is more accessible to the mainstream than Do You Want More?!!!??! But the work ethic is clearly there. As for the result? Well, let’s check back in another 20 years.
DX: It seems like you guys have been on the road pretty consistently these days. And you’re really, really doing this. Does it feel like you’re really, really doing this?
Moosh: I think at one point it was like a 35-city tour, this summer, which was right after The Roots Picnic. And it was just crazy, and not like it used to be, where a show was a big thing when we were younger. [Back then] we were like, “We have a show this week, and let’s kill it!”
Twist: Yeah, hype as hell.
Moosh: Once you have a show every day of the week, it’s pretty crazy. So getting into that momentum it pretty dope.
Twist: Yeah, the tour was awesome. And we would just get in patterns of 10 days in a row of shows [and] a day off. And on our day off we would all be at the hotel like, “What do we do today?” But we get into a groove, and touring’s awesome. It’s the best.
DX: Is it surreal to think about. I mean, you guys met when you were kids at The Philadelphia School. And you guys started putting out videos and making songs really at the birth of the Internet Era...like the birth of YouTube. You were like a primary success story of this new medium. Is it a bit surreal by any means to think that like, “Yo, we’re 19 now, but we’ve really got like six [or] seven years of reps in now?”
Twist: Yeah I mean, it’s definitely crazy to think that everyone else is rapping, everyone else is putting up videos and we just got a little bit of success. So it’s pretty cool. I guess it feels surreal. We started recording when we were in eighth grade. That was like five years ago. So yeah, I guess to people who don’t really know us, it’s like, maybe it happened a little quickly. But we’ve been putting in work for a while, and it just never really took off until two years ago, you know?
DX: The Vestibule seems like it’s coming from a more matured perspective. Was that the intent going into that project? Did you wanna project that or is that just kinda what happened?
Moosh: Yes and no. We did, but it was just in that spot in our lives...we kinda just got older, you know? And it wasn’t really like the high school thing anymore, because we were both 18 at the time. It was just crazy at 18, 19 years old. So it moved to a different point gradually. But like this next project we’re doing now, it’s kind of like The Vestibule and The Welcome Mat fused together.
DX: What’s the title of the next project?
Twist: It’s called Back To The Basement. For the first mixtape we put out, we were seniors, Up Before The World, [that was our] introducing everyone to our music with a full project. Then we put out The Welcome Mat. We were about to graduate high school, and we’re standing on the welcome mat knocking on the door of the game, trying to get in. So then we put out The Vestibule. We’re in the door, but we’re still just chilling right there. And now this project is like a combination of all that. We started recording in the basement of our school and our homie’s crib—in his basement. So this is just to take it back to how we started, just recording videos and putting them out. We were just doing what we wanna do from inside. And like Moosh was saying before, not fabricating anything. I dunno...the project is awesome. We’re so excited to put it out. It’s crazy.
Moosh: Yeah, it’s gonna be something dope, so I’m excited to just get it out there.
DX: When’s it coming out? When are you releasing it?
Twist: I dunno, we can’t say...
Moosh: That’s the question right there. But it’s done, and it just needs to be mixed and mastered, chopped up and everything. But we do have a video out now off it, it’s called “Casino Girl.” So everybody should check it out, “Casino Girl” on our [YouTube] channel Twist135.
DX: You noted that you wanted to work with [Noah] "40" [Shebib] for example [and] rap with Andre 3000. Two amazing names obviously, who did you work with on this latest project? Any new collaborations that you’re...
Moosh: Pretty much just like in-house, man. We’ve just been keeping it in-house ‘cause I feel like at this point, we kind of found our sound together. In the beginning, we would get different beats from different cats and say, “This is a hot beat. Let’s go over it.” Where now we kind of got our sound, and we know the guys we like to work with. We got a great, great, engineer, this dude Tyler Nicolo out of Philly. And uh...
Twist: Yeah, DK man. This kid from Baltimore—DK The Punisher—he’s nasty. He produced “Hold It Down” [and] “Dream On” for us. He’s nice. And this homie Six out of, uh, the DMV area, he’s awesome. Dude it’s...I can’t wait for you to hear it. We’re excited about it.
Moosh: We might have to play some joints afterward.
DX: I think that’s a good idea. I would love to hear some new OCD.
Twist: We got you. We got the good headphones.
Moosh: Say no more, man.
DX: At the 2012 Roots Picnic, right before going into your last song of your set, you mentioned to the crowd, “Yo, last year we came here, and we rocked. We were in the tent section and now we’re on the main stage.” What did that feel like? Did it capture all of the momentum that you had? You’re on the main stage at The Roots Picnic, you got a thousand people in front of you.
Twist: It was surreal, man. It was crazy.
Moosh: It was just crazy. Even though as an artist you never really see the progression, it kinda just happens. But we kinda just saw it like, last year we were over here, and now we’re over here. So it was just dope to even be on the main stage, and being from Philly, that’s something that happens every year up out of the last five or six years. So it was just dope to be a part of that and be on the main stage and rock out for the whole town.
DX: What’s the most painful critique you’ve heard? You’ve received some from Black Thought, and I know you guys consider him a mentor.
Twist: Well, one of the things that he really drilled into us was when we were in New York with him. He was asking us, “Yo, what do you want your records to sound like?” And we were playing some stuff for him and we were like, “Oh we like the way it sounds right now.” He’s like “Nah, nah not like the record that you played for me...your record, the album, debut album, when you guys are on, you know, the album.” And we were like, “Damn, I dunno.” It was like a year and a half ago, and we didn’t really think about that far [ahead]. The Roots put out, what, twelve [or] thirteen albums? So that’s how he thinks, we was thinking on a small scale, he kind of drilled that into us that we gotta think on a bigger scale. Monumenta instead of just right here. That was kind of crazy.
Moosh: It was just funny ‘cause we were in the studio man; we were chilling. It was late at night, and I was dumb tired like, I wanted to be there and everything but I just wanted to go home. I knew I had a long drive ahead of me. And he was like, “Yo, yo what’s the record?”
Twist: And we’re like, “Yo we like the record, we played it for you.”
Moosh: He’s like, “Nah, what’s the record?” So we’re like yeah man we’re...
Twist: So I think it’s like, it’s nothing we could sit there and be like this is what our album is gonna sound like. But over the next year, year and a half, two years we’ll come up with it. And that’s the exciting part—never knowing what’s gonna happen next.
DX: Right, right. You know everything The Roots organization has done to expand and solidify the reputation of Philly Hip Hop. They’ve worked with everybody. It’s kind of amazing to think about, but I think this is a really interesting time in Philly Hip Hop too with a younger generation. You know, with OCD, with Chiddy Bang, Xaphoon Jones, STS, Chill Moody, Hank McCoy...I’m very, very interested in the scene. Is it as exciting on the ground in Philly? Because the thing I think is interesting about Philly is that Hip Hop isn’t the biggest music in [the city]. Is there an excitement around Philly Hip Hop when there’s R&B and Neo-Soul....
Twist: At this point, it’s a lot of competition. There’s just a bunch of talented dudes, and we’re in that list. We just wanna be the best out of Philly. Meek Mill is killing it right now, and he’s like the king of Philly. Meek is poppin’ right now. But besides Meek, its like you said, Hip Hop isn’t really in the forefront to the rest of the country. It would be awesome if we were next out of Philly...
Moosh: It’s just dope hearing the other stuff out of Philly, and just to think people are making like R&B and gospel music. Whatever it is, it’s a lot of stuff coming out of Philly right now. To know these people are from the same neighborhood as you is dope. People are mad talented, so it’s good to know we’re part of that and say, “Yeah we’re from the same place.”
DX: Who’s the first chick you ever took to Rittenhouse Park?
Twist: Damn, uh, that’s crazy! We were probably in like...
Moosh: It’s probably the same girl.
Twist: Probably in fifth grade...who would you say?
Moosh: I don’t know because, well she lived...you know who I’m talking about.
Twist: Oh, there were these sisters, it was a chick and these two twins.
Moosh: Three sisters, and two of us. Think about it.
Twist: The Shad sisters: Laura Shad, Emma Shad and Veronica Shad. Veronica was the smart girl. She was about to, she was gonna be a doctor one day.
Moosh: She hated us.
Twist: We were young, and Laura was like two years older than us. She had a fat butt, and we were trying to get her.
Moosh: You know when you were young, the first girl in school to get boobs and it’s crazy.
Twist: We were like, “Damn!” She was a year older than us, and she got boobs before all the other girls. So I’m like “Yo, what’s up?” They lived in an apartment in Rittenhouse Square, so we would go over there after school. We thought it was the coolest thing ever. We were friends with their doorman, and we would crack jokes with him. We thought we were awesome, but we were like, 4”8’, short as hell, thinking we were killing it.
Moosh: I think they were the first.
Twist: Yeah, they were probably the first. We don’t really talk to them a lot anymore, but they’re doing their thing. They’re all becoming doctors and lawyers and all that.
Moosh: They’re at University of Penn being smart people right now.
Twist: We’re probably gonna have to link up with them for some legal issues, or some doctor issues...I dunno. We’ll figure it out. That’s a crazy question.
DX: In 2013, what’s that look like for OCD?
Twist: You tell me, what do you think? What do you expect...what do you want?
Moosh: We’re trying to flip it [laughs].
DX: That’s an honest rebuttal...I’ll be honest, man. I want you guys to be as common a name as, like a Meek Mill right before he got signed. I want you guys to be as common of a name as like a Dee-1 is right now, on a national scale. I think the message you guys project is something that people need to hear. Everytime I go see an OCD show, I feel a little bit taller. I think that’s a good thing.
Moosh: It means a lot man, so we definitely can’t let you down now. We gotta do it.
Twist: This project, Back To The Basement, it’s gonna be pretty cool. I’m excited for it, and then after that another tour...keep doing it in 2013. That’s a good goal.
Moosh: It’s also 2013, just the little stuff, making sure we’re in good health [and] ready for the tour. Every little thing.
Twist: Living life to the fullest.