Vagabond Maurice. The name brought me in years ago, and the music kept me around. Last year's album, The Dragon Who Devoured the Moon, still makes the rounds in my iTunes catalog. In preparation for Maurice's upcoming album, Watching Icarus Fly (Nov. 24) and with two singles already available, I spoke with the Chicago MC about movies, books, Bossa Nova, Liberia, and everything else under the star that Icarus tried to reach.
Hey, how’s it going? Can you describe your surroundings right now?
At the moment I’m sitting at a desk, or at least the furthest corner of a desk, that is cluttered in music equipment, speakers, monitor and a keyboard. The first issue of the Black Panther comic book is settled on top of one of the speakers, and I’m drinking some black tea while listening to jazz music (Yusef Lateef as I type this, doing some music research and such).
For anyone unfamiliar reading this, explain yourself in a few sentences. Icebreaker shit.
Um, I’m an unapologetic Black Nerd who is literary like a motherfucker – to put it in the least amount of words.
What's a normal week look like for you?
It’s probably reminiscent of the Spike Spiegel/Cowboy Bebop scenario in the sense that there used to be a lot of freelance work and teaching I used to do. Now it’s composed of figuring out the next steps to making the music and writing life sustainable, so my days vary from creative to the practical.
Everyone has a story to tell. What’s your story? You can answer this as precisely or as abstractly as you like.
I don’t think I even get to mention this as often as I’d like to, but I’m the first generation born here in America. My parents are from Liberia. Funny story, they just retired earlier this year and moved back to Africa. Last thing my Pops and Mom said to me was, “Good luck” concerning the election. It’s also dope to have family out of the country, because my Pops always sends me articles about the US to read, so I sort of always have an outside outlook of our country too.
What’s the rest of the year looking like for you?
I’m bout to travel to the West Coast for the first time! Going to LA in December to hang out with Chinsaku and create. A brotha trying to stay up out the cold weather of the Midwest. Although I know it’ll be sort of cold in Cali (I mean, but really, what is even considered cold in Cali?) I know I’ll be good. Midwest tough skin, and all that jazz.
What have you been listening to recently?
A lot of Bossa Nova and Latin Jazz, and just jazz from different countries – a brotha just building up his chops is all.
Quick survey: favorite movie / favorite book / favorite video game.
Goddamn this a hard question. I’d have to narrow it down to Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Black Boy by Richard Wright and Chrono Trigger.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Research, analyze and then practice your form, forreal. And make working on your craft a habit. Getting better at what you do is definitely work (that you may enjoy) but don’t forget it’s work. Clock in overtime for them ten thousand hours.
Do you have any final words/thoughts/shout-outs?
“Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9-11.”—A rather stellar quote by Huey Freeman, of the The Boondocks.