In the maelstrom that is a Fugitive 9 performance, one can occasionally be overwhelmed by just how much ruckus is brought. It has become common local wisdom not to wear nice clothes to an f9 show. In the moments I personally need to center myself amidst the ground-level madness, I often find myself focusing on Moe Hendrix. He’s often the only one standing a step back from the storm radius, not screaming but smiling.
Article by George Booker
Photo by Richard Perkins
Moe is a beast, and this bemused remove makes it all the more effective when he picks his spots and effortlessly bounds into the spotlight, incrementally building from a casual joker to a possessed madman roaring like a lion. Witness his performance of the absurdly thorough and unapologetic drug anthem “Dawn of the Dosage” where he inevitably ends up laying on the floor, monstrously groaning and grumbling. He’s dexterous like that, able to go from laid back to something altogether not with a momentary pitch change (cigarette voice).
“The Balance” was a standout on Hendrix’s first EP, the somewhat overly serious Pretty Poisons. Balance is something he brings to f9 with his ease and humor. The whole crew is beastly, but Moe is the only one who ever looks like he’s not trying, which is actually quite a difficult balance to pull off. With his superior follow-up Nothing Big Just Making History, he got closer to the edit in balancing his serious recording persona with the more unhinged and humorous character he embodies in live performance.
All of Fugitive 9 have been improving tremendously in their recorded projects recently. This culminated with the stellar Carbon Harbingers compilation at the top of this year, the first group effort to compete with the energy and intensity of their live sets. The end of March brings the release of the long-anticipated Moe Hendrix opus The Man, The Myth & The Beard.
The accelerating improvement of both Fugitive 9’s collaborations and Hendrix’s solo efforts are positive indications that MM&B may turn out to be the most fully realized expression of his charisma recorded thus far. There is an intimidating amount of time and talent crammed into it. Many of f9’s strongest components will be present, with verses from Cuda Brown, Whyze Oner and Dyslexia and production contributions from Deep Thawts and Sik Sense. Also dropping in behind the boards are Fan Ran and noted Neptune Chad Hugo, following up his devastating Carbon Harbingers track, “Rituals”. Local favorites also blessing the mic include Quamin, Fame P, and, perhaps most intriguingly, Mary Jane Malice of The (Muthafuckin) Hissy Fits.
Among the guest spots, Cuda was a given. He often joined Moe at the late, lamented Church night at the old 37th & Zen, now the Iguana, which used to spotlight local underground hip hop every Sunday night.
The two of them forged a complimentary dichotomy still active in Fugitive 9, with Hendrix’s engaging, easygoing presence playing nicely off of Brown’s fierce, relentless attack. Cuda inspired a lot of incredible local emcees who are inspired by Aesop Rock. Moe grew into one of the best rhymers in VA. A few years later Fugitive 9 exists, 8 deep.* According to Moe, his chemistry with Cuda Brown stretches back even further:
“We’ve known each other our whole lives. My grandmother used to babysit him. We were some knuckleheads, I swear! Started the hip hop thing…just fucking around freestyling for hours with Cuda on the beatbox. We were big Wu Tang fans, but we listened to it all. Big L, Big Pun, Capone & Noreaga, BCC, Mobb Deep, Nas, etc etc…then skateboarding and drugs led us to listening to more colorful hiphoppers like TameOne, Grand Agent, Aesop Rock, Yak Ballz, Cannibal Ox…the list of hip hop is endless”
Skateboarding and drugs may have been gateways into more than hip hop’s wacky underground. The Mary Jane feature on the upcoming album might make more sense when one notices a trend Moe Hendrix initiated in his earliest solo days that has carried into Fugitive 9. Traditionally he’s performed with local punks such as Larchmont Trash and Bad Cop just as much if not more than he has on hip hop bills. He’s performed several times with his favorite band here, the Unabombers.
“I’m tight with all the band and we’ve all partied around town together!” he notes, describing one of the best reasons to love a band. Still, he’s performed with national hip hop heroes such as Camp Lo, Murs, and a few made men in his beloved Wu: Raekwon, Cappadonna and Killah Priest.
Moe Hendrix is one of the finest VA rappers and at the very least demands a spot in the conversation of who the best is. But he clearly is not encapsulated in any easy descriptors or parameters. That’s why he’s simultaneously the nastiest and most relaxed emcee in his crew. But who is the man? What is the myth? Why the beard? Fuck if I know, I’ll probably just have to wait for the album to raise more questions. In describing his own enigma, I’ll leave it to him:
“I’m the new dirty bastard! Drugs…drinks…sex…aliens…art…cigarettes…and struggles!..x100. I’ve been doing this hiphop when most these niggas still had hoop dreams…I was varsity for the curb! Big ups to bad decisions!”
*Who is the ninth Fugitive? Theories abound, much like the 5th Beatle. It is probably safe to say that him or her, if existent, is laying low.
For more on MOE HENDRIX and FUGITIVE 9 visit:
757E Zine is a bi-monthly music, arts, and culture magazine dedicated to local musicians and artists who are not afraid to push boundaries. 757E Zine doesn't strive to be "safe" but rather in touch with what is new and unique in Hampton Roads music and art.
Contact us. for advertising opportunities.