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June 2019 - Ozay Moore

Lansing Rapper Brings 'Moore' Than Just Hip Hop to the Capital City

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Philippe Goudiaby

Ozay MooreOzay Moore’s journey into hip-hop began in the third grade when he received a tape recorder for Christmas. Moore would record his freestyles over instrumental tracks and play them for classmates at lunch. He continued to develop his skills through high school by working as a “hype man” for rap groups. Due to his young age, he was not even allowed in many of the clubs where the artists performed. These days, Moore no longer the wide-eyed newcomer that he used to be. In the midst of an illustrious career that has taken him across the world, Moore has become a seasoned veteran of the game and he’s passing on all his knowledge to the next generation of artists.

Moore got his career started on the west coast while growing up in Seattle, Washington. There he found success as part of the group Lightheaded. Eventually, the group was signed to a record label and Moore also got his own personal deal with another label based in Japan. He credits that deal in helping sustain him during the early part of his career.

Back then things were different for Moore, he spent a lot of time on the road, had no kids, and was barely aware of Lansing, Michigan. At the time, Moore used the moniker and stage name of ‘Othello’. Ozay MooreHowever, the name ‘Othello’ proved to be a difficult to use in today’s modern Internet-centric society. ”You can’t win against Shakespeare,” said Moore, “Even if you search ‘Othello hip hop’, you get a lot of things unrelated to what I do. It was a necessary shift in solidifying a more methodical and selective process”. A quick web search of ‘Ozay Moore’ will prove this move successful, as nothing other than the artist and related works result.

Moore became a transplant to Lansing in 2006 with his wife. They originally made the move with the intention of starting a family. Although Moore admits they did not always plan to stay in Michigan, he now proudly calls the Capital City his home. Now, after over a decade here, Moore is amazed by the evolution of the big-little city’s hip hop scene. “[At first] Lansing was mostly supported by MSU and the scene had a couple year revolving door,” said Moore, “Students were the lifeblood of the culture with many moving away to cities with larger markets because Lansing lacked the infrastructure to support artists.”

Things seem different now though, Moore believes the change has come about with the help of other community members like The Butcher, Big Perm, and Ward Skillz from LCC Radio’s Mitten Mayhem Radio. He also credits All of the Above (AOTA), a non-profit founded by Moore, has been instrumental to keeping hip hop alive in the Capital City. He describes AOTA as “a collective of like-minded artists that represent the spectrum of hip-hop culture”. AOTA includes graffiti artists, MC’s, DJ’s, and B-boys. The group mentors youth in the community through after school programs and various events they take part in each year. With a Lansing and a Grand Rapids chapter, AOTA helps provide guidance to kids across the state.

Community is a central theme in the rapper’s life. The theme manifests itself in his work, family life, and in his music. Principles like mental, physical, and spiritual health, equity, wealth, justice, and peace Ozay Moore speaks at Lansing Capitolappear time and time again in his writing. Moore’s lyricism stands out in a hip hop world where production and melodies have taken center stage. It is music with a message and a big part of what keeps the artist going. “I rap for the betterment of humanity, at least that’s my goal,” said Moore, “I think it's important for us to remember our humanity as we develop and grow.”

AAs Moore looks towards the future, 2019 is shaping up to be another successful year. Moore mostly stays busy as the executive director of AOTA along with spending time with his wife and two kids. Still, he finds time for the music and is currently working on multiple collaborative projects that are in the early stages of development. This year, AOTA is hosting a city wide mural project in September. The organization is bringing in artists from around the world to place their art on the bare walls of Lansing. The group will also have a presence at the Common Ground and Prime music festivals along with weekly shows at Blue Owl Coffee in REO Town and East Lansing.


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