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Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

January 24, 2012 at 6:00 AM

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Interview: Issue, teenage son of E-40, teaholic

Photo by Issue

"With the Pipes" by Issue feat. Droop-E (prod. Giorgio Momurda)

It takes a bugged rapper to challenge E-40 for uniqueness, but the Shakespeare of Bay Area hip-hop has a worthy competitor in his high school student son Issue. While papa's streetwise songs slap in car stereos worldwide, Issue swerves into his own lane and speeds off into the distance, rapping/tweeting constantly about drinking tea, driving Dodge Vipers and the superiority of a drug-free lifestyle. His music combines Oakland's mentally free "#based" hip-hop with ambient/industrial/psychedelic influences, mostly from the UK. For being drug-free, it all sounds very drugged. Some might call it "not very good." I would counter with "brilliant and open," especially his stuff with Seattle producer Giorgio Momurda.

Below is our very lightly edited interview. I tried reaching Issue by phone but he insisted on email, to be more careful with his answers. His new album "Moonroof 2" is available with several others ("Pig" being my favorite so far) at

Congratulations on "With the Pipes" featuring your brother Droop-E and a producer from our neck of the woods, Giorgio Momurda. I truly think it is next-level hip-hop.

Thank you brother, Giorgio sent it to me and it was amazing. Droop-E and I were already in the studio so we decided to rap on it. It took only a couple minutes honestly. Hopefully we can do it again someday.

You've been on a crazy free download mixtape spree over the past few years — with the three-part "E" series, "Mopar," "Moonroof," "Pig" and now "Moonroof 2." What's behind the productivity?

Just pure drive, trying to get my name out there by doing the weirdest sounds I can find. I do sip tea while I record. It calms me down and makes my voice real lazy. I will release the "Moonroof Part 2" very soon, then "Chief". The "Moonroof" series has a theme to it. I try to get the smoothest songs I can find and then rap on them. The "Vintage Series" ("Pig" is this series) is basically a free album. There was a couple of samples but Schwarz, Giorgio Momurda, Babe Rainbow, and myself did all of the production on the tape. Really soon I will start selling my albums after these series are done with.

When did you first get active, musically?

Started when I was 11 years old. I always wrote music when I was younger but at first it was just all beats. I made 250 beats on Reason and then I switched to GarageBand and then after that I switched to Logic. All in all I probably made 400-500 beats. As for my songs I made 5 concept mixtapes before the "E" Series. I felt like I wasn't supposed to give my music out just yet. Then I turned 15 and sent out my first mixtape, "The E." Got a lot of feedback and that's how it started.

You have a song called "Got My License." Did you make that when you actually got your license? I feel like I'm watching you grow up through your music...

Yeah haha. I love cars, so as soon as I got my license I HAD to make a song about it.

Is the Dodge Viper your favorite car?

Yes, the design on it is ungodly. It looks like a snake from the front and it is as fast as snakes strike! Something about them is amazing. I do love Ferrari and Lamborghini but they're overpriced. The new 2013 Dodge Viper will show its face in April at the New York Auto Show so I might go there to check it out.

Your music goes through many moods. One is silly. Would you describe yourself as a class clown in school?

Haha not at all, I'm very quiet in school. Music is where I release all of my amazing words to the public, through songs.

All your tapes have a strong Aphex Twin/Boards of Canada vibe. How'd you get into that electronic hip-hop type music from the '90s/'00s? You would have been in elementary school when their albums came out...

Yeah it doesn't make sense but I listened to Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Peaches and Moby. All of them are legends in their own way. I look up to them because they're extremely different and that's what I am trying to do. I found Aphex Twin while I was hearing some music in the background at school. It was "Windowlicker." I heard it while I was younger but I forgot what it was called and who it was by so I used Shazam to record it. Then I went home and fell in love with it. Boards of Canada came while I was doing some serious research on that type of sound and then I found them!

"Pig" has guest rappers from England and Wisconsin (Akira the Don and Juiceboxxx) and producers from Seattle. How did you meet them?

I met Akira The Don through Twitter. He heard my music and followed me, then I heard his music and had to get him on a song. We did two songs "17 Year Old Blond Girl And A Bottle Of Acid" which was for his project and then we did "The Lamborghinis" which was for my project and it all worked out. We will drop our project "World's Finest" in a couple of months so I'm very excited about it! Schwarz and Juiceboxxx are real close so I found Schwarz on my Facebook music page and we linked up. Found Juiceboxxx the same way with Akira, through Twitter. They were exactly what I was looking for, that club dance/pumped music, quite amazing.

What is the Luns? It's a group you've mentioned to me before that I don't know.

I found Luns on a blog, I think I typed in Electronic music and that popped up. I found his/her/their Bandcamp and it was amazing. Chopped up sample from the 70's or 80's. I loved it and then that gave me the idea of making "Moonroof." Luns aren't popular but it sounds amazing. I just wish I heard more from them.

"Resarte" by the Luns

I think it's funny when you use different accents to rap. You do a good "surfer dude" and "idiot man." Are those people you know?

Haha no, but there's a guy named "Dude" in real life and I try to speak like him. Dude either shows up in the beginning of a song or during the breakdown of the song or even at the end. I try to make him a former stoner that turned to tea for his high. I try to make it part of my Drug-Free movement.

Do you have a favorite song you produced?

At the moment "Mars (Everything)" off of "Moonroof 2" is my favorite right now. But that I actually produced might have to be "The Lamborghinis" with Akira The Don.

"The Lamborghinis" by Issue feat. Akira the Don

I heard you drink tons of tea. True? Can you prove it by taking a cameraphone photo of tea cups or a can?

I LOVE TEA BROTHER! It's the liquid wisdom!

I heard you don't drink beer and are drug free. True?

Never did a drug in my life brother and never will. No beer in this system! All tea.

Your dad raps about cheap wine a lot, and your brother raps about it, too. I have this vision that you all go to the corner store together and they get Carlo Rossi, but since you aren't 21, you get AriZona. Then you all go outside and "cheers" each other. Has this happened?

Haha we haven't done that yet but I got a feeling it will happen soon.

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