Capitol Hill Block Party | Capitol Hill, Seattle | July 24-26, 2015
Jarv Dee, chief operating officer of the Moor Gang — Seattle’s tight, eclectic and most talented lineup of rappers since the Mass Line collective — turns street-oriented party rap into a scathing critique of itself on his recent album, Satellites, Swishers & Spaceships. The dexterous MC directs technically proficient barbs against foes real and (sometimes) imagined, which allows for a more expansive listen than you might think upon first spin.
Jarv spent a few minutes with 206UP for this week’s entry of THE SIX. Read on below.
206UP: You open the record with an audio clip from an interview with Jordan Maxwell, a well-known conspiracy theorist and philosopher. How does the content of this clip inform the rest of the album and, ostensibly, your view of the world in general?
Jarv Dee: There are a lot of lies in the world and in rap music, and I felt that his particular clip touched on what’s happening in both those worlds. I feel like some up and coming rappers [and] aspiring artists feel you have to do certain things to be [successful]. The internet is a gift and a curse: a gift for rappers to be able to spread the word of their music without a record label’s help, and a curse by giving voices to those that are ignorant. The clip is pretty straight-forward and is definitely something I believe.
“Mind of the Masses” and the “Fox Urban” interlude seem to work hand-in-hand with each other: both describe cyclical modes of deception and thought, neither of which leave room for nuance or real hard truths to be uncovered. Do you think this type of thinking was at play when Northwest Folklife canceled the Moor’s show?
Due to last minute censorship and miscommunication, we as a collective decided to decline the invitation to participate in the Joke Life, I mean Folk Life, Festival.
Talk about the earliest days of the Moor Gang’s formation. When and why did you decide to form the collective?
Me & Nacho started as Bad Ass Yellow Boyz with Steezie NASA and felt like more heads were better than three. All the Moor Gang members were already around us so we decided to clique up and make moves together.
What would you consider your greatest musical success to be at this point in your life?
It’s just the simple fact that I’m even being heard and listened to. That’s success all in its own.
In your opinion, what are the best and worst things about summers in Seattle?
I’d say Seattle summers for me personally are a gift and a curse. It’s great and enjoyable, but it’s a bitch when I have to work in that hot ass sun!
What projects do you have in the works?
I have a few collaboration projects in the works right now, one with my bro Kris Kasanova from Brooklyn. We’ve been working on that for a while, but getting our schedules to align and finishing our own projects have gotten in the way. I also have a few possible projects with a few Moors and possibly a member of Kingdom Crumbs. You’ll just have to stay tuned to iamjarvdee.com to find out more!
Moor Gang general Jarv Dee dropped his Satellites, Swishers and Spaceships long-player a couple weeks ago. You should grab a copy for yourself and learn just why, on paper anyway, the Moor Gang continues to run the deepest, most skilled collection of rappers in the Town.
SS&S is often predictably turnt, profane and violent — exactly the characteristics that Moor Gang’s detractors will evince as to why this clique’s music plays secondary to the “message” rap of other crews who better fall in line with Seattle’s quasi-Socialist aspirations. Whatever.
No other Moor Gang release to date has exhibited the type of smart, pointed, sub-textual critique of this city’s rap standards like SS&S. Jarv exposes the privileged truth-sayers — like the Seattle Weekly author who penned this bit of criticism on fellow Moor Gifted Gab’s album Girl Rap — as writing from the inside of a pristine vacuum, blissfully unaware of potentially troubling outside empirical evidence.
The actual truth plays much more dirty and in different ways: there’s the luxurious, fully objective version which lubricates debates about the looting in Baltimore and Ferguson only to result in heaved gobs of responsibility politics getting splattered about; and there’s the even more insidious, damaging version which Jarv points to on tracks like “Mind of the Masses” and its accompanying interlude, “Fox Urban.” Jarv echoes similar concerns as the Moor Gang’s lofty-perched critics over what gets rapped about — drugs, violence, misogyny (the fundamental “Re-thug-lican” rap tropes as they’re hilariously coined here) — but from a position of greater authority than those uninvolved in actually creating — and, sometimes, living — the art. Jarv’s practice of hip-hop fuels his very livelihood, and so does the demand of accountability fuel the critics’. If the rapper is taking the time to question his motivation, shouldn’t outside observers be doing the same?
Satellites, Swishers and Spaceships is conspiratorial and paranoid because to remain otherwise means giving in to the “Mind of the Masses.” It’s a tug-of-war for which we all have a losing record, Jarv included. “Re-thug-lican” rap keeps bitches and guns around because there’s often nothing better to replace them with. Sure it’s the creature eating its own tail but, hey, at least there’s food.
We missed this Nacho x Jarv x SAT Beats one-off when it dropped back in early August: “DB Shooter” (not to be confused with DB Cooper or DB Sweeney.)
Steezie’s co-pilot is his plug and his plug is “The Chemist.” Sometimes his girl will go get it. That’s about it for this one.
Moor Gang teammate Jarv Dee touches the East Coast with Brooklyn’s Kris Kasanova and THC Billy Badda$$, and NYC’s Justin Rose. “Bogu$” should be played at high volume, preferably in a residential neighborhood.