ONE TRACK MIND: Mmuso talks about the making of “On the Rocks”

Just before Valentine’s Day, Mmuso, a fresh af talent, graced our ears with a killer single called “On The Rocks”. Not only was the track a superlative, top-notch banger, but he dropped it here first. Real talk: “On the Rocks” should be the kind of thing popping up at Mass Appeal or something, just something big and bold and amazing. But really, I’m just gushing. I really dig this track, and I wanted to know more about it. Given that Mmuso not only emceed, but also produced, we wanted to know more about what went on behind the scenes, how the track came together, and about some of the deeper meaning there.

Check out the track below, and read on and dig in.

Never Nervous: What can you tell us about “On The Rocks”?

Mmuso: Really, it’s my point of view on relationships I’ve been in. It’s like, the first verse is the honeymoon period when everything is still sexy and new and all that, then you hit that plateau of long-term dating and, like many 20 somethings can relate to, you start questioning if this is going to be the rest of your life. The 2nd verse is the questions I’ve asked myself about monogamy, even when things are going well.

“The first verse is the honeymoon period when everything is still sexy and new and all that, then you hit that plateau of long-term dating and, like many 20 somethings can relate to, you start questioning if this is going to be the rest of your life.”

NN: What was your inspiration lyrically?

Mm: I wanted to make it personal, so I wrote the whole thing from a 1st person point of view. Once I found the pocket the words hit me. The first verse came to me like a wave. I wrote the 2nd verse weeks later when I decided I wanted to express all the different feelings I’ve felt with everyone I’ve dated as if it were a single relationship.

NN: How did you match that tonally with production?

Mm: The production is smooth, so I had to make sure I rapped it the same way. The second verse has more bite to it because at that point in a relationship, after a year or so, you speak more blatantly. It’s also when you’re more able to see clearly, and you aren’t blinded by infatuation.

NN: Tell me how the beat started? What was the first thing, the melody or the beat? Did you go into this with a specific idea in mind?

Mm: I found the sample first. I played around with it and flipped it how I wanted and then I got to the drums. Once I got the sample how I wanted it felt sexy as hell! So I wanted to give it a kick pattern that sounded like making love, haha. I also knew it needed a female voice in there to drive that point home. Then, my friend Jesse Stone came to visit from New Jersey and laid guitar chords over what I had, all finesse, and it was a wrap after that.

NN: The lyrics are especially blunt when it comes to discussing intimacy, but undercut by a very real concern about growing old and keeping that flame alive. Was that juxtaposition between the grittier lyrics and deeper meaning intentional?

Mm: 100%. That’s how I feel. Monogamy is tough, man…It goes from raw emotional attraction to a conscious work in progress. That’s weird as fuck. I don’t know if it’s natural…And Being 25 and thinking about committing to being with someone for the next 60 years when you don’t know what 60 years even feels like sounds INSANE. But, we’re all just trying to figure it out one step at a time. You gotta take a leap sometimes.

NN: Can you elaborate on the line, “I don’t believe in haikus”?

Mm: Haha! Yeah man, haikus are just too cute. They’re all neatly packed into a few lines and that’s just not life! The truth is complicated, ya know? It’s not as simple as 17 syllables. Especially when you’re talking about personal feelings in a young relationship. I believe in brutally honest conversation. That shit is tough. Haikus are…just entertaining.

“Haikus are just too cute. They’re all neatly packed into a few lines and that’s just not life! The truth is complicated, ya know?”

NN: Relative to that, how influenced were you by OutKast, especially given the reference?

Mm: I grew up on Outkast. I’m the youngest of 5 boys, and my brothers were always playing Outkast in their cars when I was like 10. A lot of those message are engrained in me, I think. Andre has an incredible sense of meaning. His message goes far beyond the words he says, and that’s stuck with me. “If nothing lasts forever than what makes love the exception?”.

NN: What drew you to Chris Rock? Were those samples culled from one particular set or from a few? What is your connection to his comedy?

Mm: It’s really just word play. I searched for Chris Rock stand up clips and because people say their relationship is “on the rocks” haha. I grew up listening to stand up as well, so I’ve heard a lot of his stand up. He’s hilarious!