RH Interview: Matt Muse

When Matt Muse released his first EP, Nappy Talk, listeners related to his vision of self-love and personal development. His integrity to relay earnest messages through music is no different for his second EP, Love & Nappyness, which comes out tomorrow. However, in the second installation, he shows a level of vulnerability that has never been seen before. As a collection of love songs, Love & Nappyness is inspired by five types of love discussed in biblical texts and Greek philosophy. Matt has been able to create a 6 track EP that addresses each one while avoiding stereotypes or cliches of what movies or even pop music makes us think love is. As a Young Chicago Authors teacher of writing and poetry, Matt makes his skills and talent obvious through his strong lyricism and smooth rap flows. Matt Muse has been able to adopt a new headspace in order to write his new EP so we sat down with him to discuss that process, his growth as an artist, and more. 

rubyhornet: Your new EP, Love & Nappyness, is out August 9th. It is the follow up EP to, Nappy Talk, and the second installation to your series ‘Nappy.’ What does the series as a whole mean to you?

Matt Muse: They are both strictly about love. The first installation is all about self-love and cockiness, while the second part is about various types of love and vulnerability. When I made Nappy Talk It was a project about me expressing self love the way that I did it by talking shit. The second half to the series, Love & Nappyness, is a lot more vulnerable and me going into a lot of insecure parts of my being but still highlighting how self-love manifests. I’m also using the five different types of love to express that vulnerability and the way that love is shown. It encompasses my whole life so you will learn a lot about me. 

 

rubyhornet: How did you get from the mind space of like talking shit, which is what you’re used to, to being vulnerable?

Matt: I think I’ve always been a vulnerable person. I just haven’t always been vulnerable in my raps. Love and Nappyness helped me get to that place. It’s easy to talk shit and have punch-lines that are super cocky. Quote on quote emo-rap didn’t translate to me initially so the process became me figuring out how I can write a song and be vulnerable without leaning and relying on the normal tropes of being arrogant. 

 

rubyhornet: It is also inspired by five types of love discussed in greek philosophy and biblical text. How did you get exposed to these texts?

Matt: I learned about them from church. I grew up a Christian and at my church we used to have this thing called the Agape Festival, which means God’s unconditional love. There was a whole feast dedicated to this idea of sharing God’s love with each other. That was the first time I heard of Agape. Then I put up a questionnaire on Instagram and asked people what they wanted to hear from me in 2019. People kept replying, “more love songs.” I don’t really like love songs, but I started to look into it. So I Googled “Agape” along with other types of love and I learned about the other four. That’s when the vision all came together. 

 

rubyhornet: You said love songs tend to be “cookie-cutter” and “cliche.” How did you manage to avoid that?

Matt: I think that automatically when you’re not making a love song about a relationship, you’re. avoiding those tropes. When five of the six songs are not about relationships then I’m already a foot ahead. There is only one song on there that is about relationship love. It is also important to avoid anything that is stereotypical and focus on what you actually experienced. Even if it sounds corny or not super deep, it is an honest experience and not cliche. It is so much more relatable.

 

rubyhornet: Your EP touches on God, self-love, dating, and friendship. What was the hardest one to write about?

Matt: Probably the song called “Saint Matthew” based off of Agape. It’s partially about our relationship with God and also about God’s love. I’m no longer active in my religion in any way, shape, or form. I had to really tap into feelings that I haven’t had in years. It took a lot for me to dig deep in order to be able to tell genuine feelings that I had about conversations with God, feelings about God, and feelings about God’s love. That was definitely the hardest because of having to go back to that mindset.

rubyhornet: “Ain’t no” was the first to be released from the upcoming album. Why did you choose it?

Matt: It was honestly the first song that I finished. It feels nice to listen to and when I was thinking, “what do I want my sound to be in 2019? what do I want people to think of when they think of me?” “Ain’t no” embodied it perfectly. Also, I knew my first release since months and months of not releasing music had to have me rapping. I think the vibe was totally different than any other song I’ve ever released.  “Ain’t no” was the perfect song to introduce a new sound. It was the best of both worlds.

 

rubyhornet: It was also accompanied by a music video that focuses on hair. What was the significance of that for you?

Matt: With the project being called “Love & Nappyness” I wanted it to look like that. I want people to watch and others vibing out while embodying what I’m embodying, which is this haircut. It was my decision to grow my hair four years ago to go against any stereotype that people held against me and the idea I have to be a certain way. With two records that reference nappy and not having a music video with that element yet, I decided to bring it into this music video. I think a lot of people heard it and they thought that it was going to be Chicago based because I say “Chi-town N***a.” I’m glad that’s what they can relate to. However, the song to me was about the line, “Ain’t no N***a like me.” That’s what I was trying to say. I feel like the video embodied that and the process of how I do my hair. I’m exposing people to more of who I am. 

 

rubyhornet: Does Love & Nappyness signify the end to the ‘Nappy’ series or can we expect the series to keep growing?

Matt: This is the last one.

 

rubyhornet: Not to get ahead of ourselves, but do you know what’s next?

Matt: I kind of know. It’s still hair related, so stay tuned.

Buy tickets for his EP release show here.

Photos: Maya Baroody

Colleen Kennedy