This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.
BoofPaxkMooky’s vocal delivery is like maple syrup dripping from a tap: it’s slow, sticky, and sweet. Mooky doesn’t rap over beats; he butters himself onto them, expanding and retracting his voice with condensed crescendos until his touch has been thoroughly lathered over tracks. His style is reminiscent of a 1960s soul singer who stumbled upon a sizable selection of sedatives.
The 23-year-old from Tarboro, North Carolina, has built a devoted internet following throughout the past four years. There wasn’t much of a music scene in his small hometown, so Mooky flocked to social media to build his name. This connected him with producer Cashcache!, who indoctrinated him into a burgeoning Atlanta rap scene. “Cash brought Tony Shhnow and 10KDunkin to my Airbnb one night, and we clicked just like that,” Mooky tells Audiomack. “Ever since then, we’ve all been locked in.”
Cashcache!’s lucid beats have been instrumental in reincarnating Plugg music: a subwoofer-busting subgenre of Southern hip-hop spawned in 2013 by producers MexikoDro and StupidXool. BoofPaxkMooky—alongside his Atlanta contemporaries—is at the forefront of Plugg’s revival. With tracks like “Lettuce” and “Occasions,” Mooky serves as the soloing baritone saxophone in Cash’s jazz-infused take on the sound.
Until recently, Plugg production has been Mooky’s bread and butter. But his new Grimm Doza-produced tape, I’ve Been High For Days, released July 19, is a testament to his expanding dexterity. “I expected Grimm to send me some trippy-ass, new-age beats. Like the ones I usually get on,” Mooky says. Instead, Doza sent him an outlandish pack of beats that interpolate R&B samples and are decorated with lofty static-jazz riffs. Mooky completed the tape in just three days, spending no more than 10 minutes recording each song.
Because of the connections made in Atlanta, Mooky moved from N.C. to the hip-hop mecca a few months ago. “It just felt like the right move,” he says. I went to the soft-spoken rapper’s new two-story townhome, met his burly dog Earl, and discussed his craft with him in his bedroom.
Did you always wanna be a rapper?
Nah. I never saw myself being a rapper. I played basketball in high school, so I wanted to go to college and play. But then I quit playing ball as a junior in high school. That’s when I started rapping, ‘cause I was just at the crib, not doing shit.
I made my first song when I was 17, but that was on some joke shit. I started really rapping after I graduated when I was 19. That’s when I started taking it seriously, ‘cause I had nothing else to do. I was just risking it, basically.
How’d your town react when you first started dropping music?
Nobody cared. Nobody even knew what I was doing. They thought I wasn’t shit, just a dude who sold weed. All of my followers and listeners came from the internet. At that time, more people from the internet knew me than in my hometown. But when “Ta-Da” dropped, people around me started taking notice. They went, “Oh shit, that’s Mooky!”
Was it demoralizing when nobody in your town cared about your music?
Nah. I didn’t give a fuck about them. I did shit because I liked it. Bro, I’m more appreciative of the people I met on the internet. I didn’t care if people there didn’t fuck with my music because I knew people somewhere would.
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What’s your writing process like?
I punch in. When I first started rapping, I thought I had to write. But it made my songs sound so scripted. When I punch in, it’s straight feeling. It’s whatever comes to my head right at the moment. It’s more natural.
I used to write songs in school, and it would take me two whole classes to write one song. But when I punch in, I will get a song done in five minutes. I’ve made multiple songs in a matter of 20 minutes. I go back-to-back, sitting right there [points to the desk chair I’m sitting in]: I’ll make a song, play some video games, make another song, play some video games. It’s just muscle memory now.
I think your signature sound comes from your delivery. It’s slow and soulful; not quite singing and not quite rapping, but the perfect median. You’ve full-on rapped before, but never full-on sung. Is singing something you wanna try in the future?
Yeah, for real, though, ‘cause I blend them shits. I want to sing, but I want my sound to be more developed, ‘cause I don’t know how to sing at all. Once I do know how to sing, it’s a wrap. I wanna do that shit for real. If I’m gonna sing, I’m gonna actually sing.
How do you feel about being labeled as a Plugg rapper?
I’m not a Plugg rapper. The beats, yeah. But the way I flow isn’t Plugg. I’m more than that. If you’re gonna, say I’m a Plugg artist, you’ve gotta say other shit. Like, “Oh, he’s Plugg, but he’s a blend of shit too.” That’s really what it is. I’ve got some Plugg influence, but I don’t think I’m a Plugg artist.
I feel like I’ve Been High For Days solidified that.
Exactly. That tape isn’t Plugg at all. I was trying to break barriers. I know that people put me in the Plugg category. They try to label me, but nah. I be touching all the genres.
All the beats on the tape are from the first pack Grimm sent me. It’s never been like that for me. I always have to pick and choose through a pack. But that first pack he sent, I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m gettin’ on all of these.”
The order of the tracklist is the order of the beat pack he sent. It took me three days to make the whole thing. I made each song in like 10 minutes, at the most. The second I heard the beats, I was like, “Alright, I’m gonna flow like this, I’m gonna flow like that.” It seemed—perfect.
“Amounts” is nearly an R&B song. Is that a style you wanna experiment more with?
Yeah, I wanna try more stuff like that. I wanna keep pushing my sound and keep trying new things. This tape is really the first one. I’m about to make some whole new shit soon.
This project felt like an official album to me with the promotion and rollout. It’s a whole new sound, and at the end of the day, it was a risk. I kept the tape short because I wanted people to be like, “Damn, we need more of this.” Lowkey, I might drop a deluxe. I got way more Grimm beats.
By Millan Verma for Audiomack