With the recent release of his new mixtape, Henny On the Rocks 2: The Bottle, "Chicago-bred, California-raised" MC Paypa is closer than ever to making his dreams of releasing his debut album, Feel Good Music, a reality. With several mixtapes under his belt and a host of collaborations completed with some of the game's biggest names like Game and Raekwon, Paypa is showing no signs of slowing down. With H.O.T.R. 2, the gifted lyricist believes that the only way to move forward was to "pour out" his past.
AllHipHop.com spoke to Paypa on the eve of H.O.T.R. 2's release about the creative space he was in during the recording process, who he believes is the G.O.A.T., thoughts on Tupac's Coachella hologram, and much more. Check out our exclusive interview with Paypa below:
AllHipHop.com: First things first, your government name is Marcus Moody, but your rap name is Paypa. Explain.
Paypa: Well, Paypa was a name that I was given growing up. I played basketball in high school and middle school and everything, and I used to ride around on a bicycle with a backpack on, and everybody used to crack jokes and say I looked like the paperboy. So it started out as just a joke, and then it just stuck, and everybody was calling me Paypa for short, and I just rolled with it.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. I knew you were a military kid as well, and you lived all over the country, but where would you classify as your “home”?
Paypa: You know what, that’s the hardest thing in the world, man, ‘cause it’s like I was raised in two places equally. My roots is the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. That’s where I got my beginning, and that’s where my whole family is from, and that’s a lot of who I am. On the other side of that, I grew up in California, too, and that’s a huge part of who I am as well. If you “x” either one of them out, then you wouldn’t have Paypa, man. Chicago is my roots. What I say is, “Chicago-bred, California-raised.” It’s pretty much the same thing, like a 50/50 split, I’d have to say.
AllHipHop.com: Being that you rep California and Chicago, I have to ask how those separate regions influenced your sound and music. Did you find yourself connecting more with the music scene in one city than the other?
Paypa: Well, Chicago definitely had a huge impact on my sound just because I feel like as an artist, you sound like whoever you grew up listening to. I grew up listening to a lot of Jay-Z and then Chicago cats like Kanye, Common, Twista. On the West Coast, I used to listen to a lot of Ras Kass growing up. I would listen to a lot of [Dr.] Dre, Kurupt, and that whole thing, so I think I got my soul from Chicago as far as my passion and delivery. But I think I got my ability to play in any lane; my versatility comes from growing up in both areas and being around two styles of music.
AllHipHop.com: That makes sense. Since you just brought up Dre, I have to ask about your thoughts on the much-talked-about Tupac hologram that “performed” at Coachella. What was your initial reaction when you saw that?
Paypa: I was blown away, man. It was a real surreal experience, and I can only imagine how it was for someone who was actually there. Coachella is actually only about an hour from where I grew up. But I was blown away, man, ‘cause I was watching it, and I knew it wasn’t real and that it was a hologram [laughter]. I was like “I know Tupac is dead; I know this is not him,” and then when he came out looking so real and shouted, “What’s up Coachella!”, it just f*cked me up, man.
AllHipHop.com: Who would you say is your favorite rapper, and who is the G.O.A.T.?
Paypa: It’s the same answer for both, Jay-Z. I’ve had many conversations about who the tops were, but if you in the conversation about the “Top Five,” then it’s an argument. But my personal favorite, and who I think is the greatest of all time is Jay-Z. That man has a story for anything you might go through, from the hustle to the struggle to the love to family to whatever. That’s Jay. He did it better than anybody ever did it, if you ask me.
AllHipHop.com: Before we talk about the project, I want to ask you about your brother who lost his life to kidney failure when you were younger. I wanted to know how that tragedy helped mold you into the artist, and more importantly, the man that you are today. How do you channel your brother through your music on a daily basis?
Paypa: Well, you know, when my little brother passed away, that was a very trying time in my life. It’s crazy, because I didn’t do music; it wasn’t my thing. I played sports, but my little brother was an actor, dancer, and a rapper and, you know, I would do the rapping for fun, just joking around with him, but it was never anything I took seriously. And then when he passed away, it was odd how it happened. I just kind of jumped on it and just took it and ran with it.
AllHipHop.com: Why was signing with S.R.C. and Universal the right move for you in your eyes?
Paypa: Man, we had met with different A&Rs and different execs and everything like that. When we met with Billy J over at S.R.C., he was just real and one hundred about what he could do and couldn’t do, and what to expect from him and what he expects from us. He was the first one to believe in the project and the team and what we were doing and trying to do.
AllHipHop.com: Now, tell me about the new project Henny On the Rocks 2: The Bottle. It’s been about six months since you dropped the first H.O.T.R., which is quite a feat to release two major mixtapes in such a short amount of time, but take me into your creative state of mind as you were putting H.O.T.R. 2 together.
Paypa: Well H.O.T.R. 2 was really easy for me to put together, because I knew where I wanted to go. I had so much bottled up, hence the name “The Bottle,” so much stuff that I wanted to say and wanted to talk about and get off my chest. There were things that bothered me, and I just went in and elaborated on all of it. I had a lot of time to think while I was out on the road and on tour and that was a huge learning experience for me. The last year has been such a year of growth and development, and I just wanted to pour it all out.
AllHipHop.com: Definitely, and I think it’s interesting to see names like Raekwon, Naledge, and Chip Tha Ripper on the project since they’re each from different regions, and you have the “Chicago-bred, California-raised” mentality. How did you decide who you wanted to work with on H.O.T.R. 2?
Paypa: It all starts with the music for me, man. I go in the studio and just pick a beat and figure out what the beat is saying and how I want to approach it and I come up with the record. Then I sit back and figure out who would sound good on it. I choose to collaborate with people that I’m fans of and admire their work. I’ve got Emilio Rojas on this tape, who is an up and coming MC who’s absolutely incredible. Raekwon’s on there who is an absolute legend, and who I’m just lucky to have the opportunity to have him on my mixtape, you know?
AllHipHop.com: For sure. That record with you Raekwon, JD Era, and Nick D’s is fire, so I can’t wait to hear the rest of the project.
Paypa: Yeah, Nick D’s is my little homie from my crew from Reno Valley. He’s 18 years old.
AllHipHop.com: What’s the name of your crew?
Paypa: It’s B.C.C. Blue Collar Coalition.
AllHipHop.com: I know you popped up on Game’s mixtape Purp and Patron last year, so I have to ask why he’s absent from H.O.T.R. 2?
Paypa: It was just timing, you know? He was on my mixtape before last, Tunnel Vision, and you know, then I was on one of his last mixtapes. I was on the road, and he was on the road. We just weren’t able to make it happen this time, but that’s my partner, man. He always shows me a lot of love, so we’ll definitely be working together again in the near future.
AllHipHop.com: Looking ahead past H.O.T.R. 2, will there be another project before you release your debut album Feel Good Music?
Paypa: I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I will say for sure that I’m working on another project right now. There’s more than enough to sit with for a little while on H.O.T.R. 2 though.
AllHipHop.com: Alright, man, sounds good. Thanks for your time.
Paypa: My man, thanks. I appreciate you.
Follow Paypa On Twitter: (@PaypaTime)