Never declaw, and follow your dreams.
Rappers take inspiration from all sorts of places. It would be hard to count the number of verses that sprung from crime films like “Scarface” or the novels of Iceberg Slim. And modern MCs often pen bars about their current bae or their ex-bae or their bae-to-be.
But for Portland, Oregon rapper Dwayne “Moshow” Molock, inspiration comes from his love of cats.
In a recent interview, Moshow told Dose that he always felt like an outsider in his native Baltimore. He wasn’t a popular kid, and even when he tried to fit in it didn’t work out.
Like many of his peers, he had a fondness for rap music. In his teens, he found he enjoyed rocking the mic and had some talent for it. He took his hip-hop name from his dad, who was called “The Mo Show” when he played high school basketball.
At the age of 14, Moshow released his first mixtape. The subject matter wasn’t anything special?—?crime, drugs, girls, you know the drill?—?and the young rapper’s release didn’t turn any heads. Eventually he gave up rapping to focus on school.
After he graduated from high school, Moshow and his family moved out of Baltimore to the suburbs. He put himself through college at York College of Pennsylvania, earning a degree in computer science. After he graduated, he decided to pick up rapping again, this time buoyed by a new confidence in himself.
It wasn’t long before he’d find the secret ingredient that would make him a star.
Moshow wasn’t always a cat dude. But when he started hanging out with a girl who owned one, a tale as old as time played out. The cat started to cozy up to him, and pretty soon they were bonded. He ended up getting close with the girl as well.
He now shares space with a quartet of cats?—?Sushi, Megamam, Ravioli and Tally. Three of the four are striking Sphynx breeds, which Moshow dresses up in all sorts of outfits. The animals hang out in the studio with him when he records, but don’t accompany him on stage?—?you need to hit up the meet and greet after the show for that.
The whole kit and caboodle moved to Portland in 2015 and Moshow rapidly found a city much more amenable to his talents. The Rose City is a gleefully weird and inclusive place, and it opened its doors to the aspiring rapper.
“I moved to Portland to pursue music. I’ve always been my own creative person and people weren’t right always with that,” he says. “I literally just wanted to go somewhere where I can do my art and get inspired. I didn’t come to party, I came to create.”
And create he did. Since arriving on the West Coast, he’s kept up a remarkably prolific schedule of Instagram posts and YouTube videos with titles like “Cat Wine” and “Cat Emotions.” He’s made radio and TV appearances as well. Moshow has found enough success on YouTube that making cat videos is a full-time job for him.
Moshow doesn’t coast on novelty and weirdness for YouTube fame?—?his songs are clever, engaging and technically sophisticated.
Portland has been good to him. He’s performed at the city’s art museum in front of “My Wife’s Lovers,” a painting by Austrian artist Carl Kahler of 42 cats belonging to eccentric philanthropist Kate Birdsall Johnson. He teamed with the Oregon Humane Society to get people adopting from shelters. He’s also started to make sponsored videos, including one for Lipton’s Brisk iced tea.
The future looks bright for Moshow, as his fame continues to spread.
“I just found out I’m performing at CatCon Worldwide [an annual event where pop culture and cat culture converge] in August. I’m performing at SXSW on March 13th. Whatever you name it, expect it. I’m coming like a hurricane.”
Many up-and-coming rappers get their start by collaborating with established artists. When I asked Moshow who his dream collaborator was, he threw me a curveball.
“James Taylor. He’s just the man. He created ‘Shower The People With Love’ and ‘Handy Man.’ He’s just a genius. He’s one of my all time favorites.”
Sure, a cat-centric hip-hop artist teaming up with Sweet Baby James seems unlikely, but it’s not that far-fetched. Taylor is a feline fan himself, and has shared footage of his cat Ray with the world. And Moshow isn’t even the first cat rapper to rock the mic?—?real 90s kids will remember MC Skat Kat’s duet with Paula Abdul on “Opposites Attract.” In fact, here’s a whole gallery of hip-hop artists hanging out with their feline friends.
The time I spent with the cat rapper of Portland stands as one of the most relentlessly positive conversations I’ve had in months. This guy is completely genuine?—?he’s found something that works for him and he clearly loves doing it. We could all learn a lot from him, so I asked Moshow if he had some final words of wisdom for the fans.
“Never declaw. Love your cats and be yourself. Be who you really are. There are no rules anymore. Do what you love. As long as you’re doing positive, follow what you love to do. At the end of the day, it’s you who has to live in your own body. I’m here to inspire people to do their own things.”
If that includes rapping about cats, so be it. Keep your claws and follow your dreams.