Mention Moufy’s name in any high school in the suburbs of Boston and you’ll definitely get a chuckle or two.
The 20-year-old performer from Roxbury may not be the best emcee around, but his love for Boston shines through the majority of his hit songs and is so infectious that it’s hard not to appreciate what he’s doing for the city.
East Coast vs. West Coast will likely remain the biggest rivalry in hip-hop history, but New England has never really been a hub for conflict in this regional battle. In the words of veteran rapper Eminem in his hit song “White America,” “Hip hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston.”
This line was in response to the flak that he and many other hip-hop performers were receiving from enraged parents and political figures, many in the Boston area, over explicit lyrical content. So in turn the city has yielded a scarce number of performances from big ticket rappers and has become a laughing stock in the hip-hop community, which views Boston as a conservative place hell bent on making sure teens stay away from bad role model musicians.
So when someone like Moufy drops a hip-hop mixtape as popular as “Boston Lights,” released in 2011, it’s more than just a big deal. It’s a sign that the “East Coast” is making its presence known in more than just New York and Philadelphia.
“Boston Lights” was by and large a party soundtrack filled with catchy jams like “Throw My 3s,” “Profile Pic” and “Fantasy Girl.” Those listeners who dug deeper than the mainstream radio hits found very substantial songs that were about more than smoking pot and spending money.
“Miss Newton,” for example, is one of the songs in which Moufy’s phenomenal storytelling abilities are on full display. It follows the story of a white girl from the suburbs, Miss Newton, (named after the city of Newton, which is predominantly caucasian) who stops focusing on school work and is only obsessed with her image amongst her peers.
Things start going downhill for her rapidly when she starts drinking and hooking up excessively, gaining a reputation for being slutty among her classmates. When she meets a student named Willy Johnson who wants to help her turn her life around, she is inspired to quit her bad habits and start anew with him.
Unfortunately, after four weeks clean she goes out partying again. Willy tries to contact her and when she doesn’t respond he goes in search of her to make sure she is OK, but arrives at the party to find that she is having drunken sex in front of a crowd of cheering kids. Her downfall starts all over again, but one morning Miss Newton is so overwhelmed by her situation that she cuts her wrist in the shower to escape the constant teasing over her shameful actions.
Not since Immortal Technique’s “Dance With The Devil” has there been a song which has told a story in such a strikingly poignant way. Every line of “Miss Newton” is written with brutal precision, and the haunting, guitar-dominated beat complements the words well.
Regardless of whether it’s a fun song or one which carries a message, Moufy delivers his rhymes with a flow that he can mix up very well. He almost seems to slow down time on tracks like “Dark Knight” and “Inhale” with a slow, lazy drawl. On the other hand, he is just as comfortable keeping up with energetic beats such as the ones on “I’ma Ball” and “Throw My 3s.”
Moufy’s background is key to explaining his appeal. Hailing from one of the more violent and impoverished areas of Massachusetts, bad role models were everywhere as he was growing up. But it was his education that kept him from joining that crowd and got him into a position to kick start his music career. Thus, he feels like he can relate to both ends of the cultural spectrum in his songs.
In a 2011 interview with the Boston Globe, Moufy said, “The reason that we have a lot of the inner-city kids from the ’hood but also suburban fans is because we can bridge the gap. I know everything about the streets. I never sold coke, but I could tell you the prices. And I’ve been going to these schools, so I know what those kids listen to.”
Those who believe that hip-hop has no hope in Boston should swing by Moufy’s performance at The Iron Horse tonight at 10 p.m. and see how wrong they are. Accompanied by opening acts Matt Maratea and Chris Lombardi, Moufy will be putting his city on his back in what promises to be a hell of a performance.
Ayush Kumar can be reached at email@example.com.