Sacramento battle rapper Chase Moore tries to shed his warrior ways
Is Sacramento emcee Chase Moore more than a battle rapper?
Everybody already knows that 23-year-old Chase Moore is a good emcee. Go ahead, type “Chase Moore” into Google and you’ll find video of some of his rap battles—most memorably a battle against Vokab, where he quips, “You’re one lame rapper / spitting wack and soft / so let me put your name backward, bitch: Back Off.”
It takes a second to even comprehend what Moore meant by that (“Let’s see, Vokab backwards is bak ov, which sounds like ‘back off.’ Ah, got it.”). But it’s that kind of clever wordplay—the kind where Moore studies his opponent and bends the language to humiliate him—that sets him apart when it comes to battle rhymes.
At the recent Cap City Rap Battle held at Sacramento’s Blue Lamp, Moore was pitted against Flossalini, a street rapper not exactly known for entering competitions. And it showed. After Moore spit lines like, “Haven’t you seen the kid’s sound? I’m murdering shit now / and I’ve seen your little promo photos and that Burger King crown,” the audience cringed. It was hard to watch. Totally unprepared for the battle, Flossalini had to forfeit his turn. “It’s all in good fun; it’s all hip-hop,” said Moore, the clear winner of that the evening.
But for the Melbourne, Australia-born emcee, the novelty of being known for competitive rhyming—even though he’s really good at it—is starting to become a glass ceiling. “It’s just promo; it’s just another avenue for people to know who I am,” he says. “Battle rapping is like And 1 street ball, but I’m also trying to play in the big leagues, too.”
It’s true, battle rhymers aren’t exactly known for stepping out of their competitive arena into the mainstream limelight. Take, for instance, emcee Supernatural—arguably one of the best freestyle rappers alive, but the guy couldn’t craft a decent song to save his life. “It’s like, 95 percent of those battle emcees are dope, but their music sucks,” Moore says. “For me, I’ve been battling on and off for years, but it’s always been about the music. … I’m really focused on songwriting, hooks, layers, bridges and sequencing.”
It helps that Moore grew up in a musical family—his father, a piano teacher, encouraged his son’s fascination with instruments. As a kid, Moore learned to play piano and drums. His new album, Moore to Chase, due out mid-July, will display not just his fascination with words (“I have a song that’s six minutes long that’s literally a timeline of everything I’ve done,” he says) but also his prowess for production.
Take, for instance, “Chase Is Buzzing,” with a jarring sample that repeats “Chase is buzzing / Grapes by the dozen” backed by eerie synths industrial enough to make Front 242 jealous. On the flip side, production can be just as innovative when Moore utilizes a lively Arabian folklore backdrop on “Flame.”
Lyrically, Moore shines when he’s flexing his skills as a battle emcee and applying them to a story line, as he does on the track “Lonely,” where he takes a few minutes to thank the important people in his life: “I know sometimes I deviate from my course / but real talk, Pops, I appreciate the support.” Aww.
With help by producers DJ Epik and John Furtado Yuen, rumors of Moore’s album are already creating quite a stir in California, and it’s evident that the kid is onto something.
“There comes a point where you can be a good rapper for so long if nobody knows about it,” Moore says of his attempt to transition from battle emcee to studio emcee. “Being the hottest emcee in the cipher is cool for a second, but I don’t know—”
What he was about to say was, there has to be something more than just battling all the time, right?