A rap video with midgets and people with green hair? No, it’s not a “Jackass”-inspired clip, but “Purple Stuff,” the first nationally-distributed video from Big Moe.
The concept for the Houston rapper/singer’s clip was inspired by “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” the classic 1971 film that starred Gene Wilder. The wacky visuals add a distinctive look to the project and separate it from the bevy of rap videos set on beaches or featuring hosts of nearly naked women.
“We tried to put it in the chocolate factory, and that’s where the idea came from,” said Big Moe, whose sound is smooth, relaxed and relies on laid-back, R&B-inspired grooves. “We wanted the video to make people think of that. We definitely wanted to do something different, unusual than what you’d normally see.”
“Purple Stuff” is the lead single from Big Moe’s second album, Purple World, which is scheduled for release on Tuesday. The follow-up to 1999’s City of Syrup, it also makes reference to the South’s affinity for “syrup,” the codeine-containing concoction that many Southern residents use as a recreational drug. (In 2000, Three 6 Mafia touted it on “Sippin’ on Some Syrup.”)
Although Moe acknowledges the potential danger in taking “syrup,” he doesn’t see any harm in rapping and singing about it. “It’s life, my life,” he said. “I’m not trying to persuade somebody to do it. It’s just going on. There’s songs about chronic because that’s what’s out there.”
On the second “Purple World” single, “Confidential Playa,” Big Moe takes a more traditional route. Moe sing-raps about haters, some of them spreading rumors that he’d had a heart attack in order to impede his success. Colleague Ronnie Spencer adds some dreamy crooning to the cut that would make Ronald Isley proud.
Elsewhere, UGK’s Pimp C adds some edge to the horn-propelled “Cash,” while on both “We Won’t Stop” and “Why Why,” Big Moe offers words of encouragement to fans who may be suffering through hard times.
“You’ve got to let the kids know to stay up and to stay focused, and they will,” he said. “Everybody likes to talk down or say something about somebody else. I don’t like that.”
Big Moe knows about getting a helping hand. His major break came via H-Town production/mixtape legend DJ Screw. The influential rap entrepreneur, who died November 2000 (see “Codeine Overdose Killed DJ Screw, Medical Examiner Says” ), showcased Big Moe on a number of his albums in the mid-to-late 1990s, setting the stage for Big Moe’s ascent to regional stardom.
Moe, who sings more often than he raps, found encouragement from Screw, who also taught him about how to succeed in the music industry. “He’s the reason for my success right now,” Moe said of Screw. “I used to go hang out with him. I was a rapper, but I was a singing rapper. I’m rhyming like a rapper, but I was singing. He taught me a lot.”
Moe’s work with DJ Screw helped Moe secure appearances on albums from the Wreckshop Family, DJ Jelly and Greg Street, among others. Now, with the impending release of Purple World, Big Moe has been increasing his workload with performances and other promotional duties throughout the South, Midwest and West.
“I’ve been putting in a little more work,” he said. “I’ve got to get down.”