Date: 02/20/2010 Print This Post


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The Model Beautiful Artist Of Native American, Greek and Italian
Heritage Gets Rolling With Two Soon To Be Released Singles,
The Urban Pop/R&B Vibin’ “These Boys” And The Club
Groove-Driven “You Can’t Touch It”

Catching a glimpse of Mo Wiley ( for the first time, you wouldn’t guess that the model beautiful, refined looking Bay Area based artist is breaking incredible ground as a female gangsta rapper. Her heritage is Native American, Greek and Italian, she’s finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in biochemistry, and to survive as a single mother, she’s held a variety of cool high profile jobs—everything from clinical assistant for a children’s ICU to Unix Systems administrator for electronic arts and real estate loan officer. She’s also been an EMT and volunteer firefighter.

So dig deeper. Get to know her ‘cause she’s gonna be around a long time. Delve into Wiley’s rough and tumble, hard knock past growing up in rough hoods in Oakland and listen to her stories of partying with her mom’s friends the Hells Angels as a kid, watching as her brothers were taken away to a foster home when she was 11 and being raised by her grandparents.

She may mention her years in an out of juvenile hall that began when she beat up a boy at school and included being mixed up with crack cocaine cookers and dealers. When she was 19, she did 18 months in county jail for a revenge driven home invasion kidnapping at gunpoint. She was spared more hard time because she was pregnant with her second child at the time of the incident and nobody wanted to see her raise her kid in jail.

Though she cleaned up her act and went straight a while back now, all this adds a gritty vibe and real street cred to Major League Ballin’, her highly anticipating upcoming debut on Kent Entertainment’s FirstKut Records. Already a popular club draw in Northern California with a huge fan base in Oakland (where she made Club 17 her home base), Wiley is matching her lofty ambitions with action, starting her career with big time players in the rap biz. Not only is she working with the “Godfather of Rap” (and Kent owner) Morey Alexander (who launched the careers of rap legends like N.W.A, Easy-E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre), but her album was produced by one of FirstKut’s most popular artists, Slick (from Slick and the Shock Mob).

Beyond solid hip-hop grooves, compelling R&B melodies Wiley’s charismatic delivery of tough, in your face rhymes, Major League Ballin’ has a unique edge inspired by hard rock bands like System of a Down. The album’s due to drop later this summer, but the release of the first two lead singles is happening any day now. She’s already doing a video for the mainstream urban pop/R&B flavored “These Boys”; “You Can’t Touch It” is a tougher, club grooving rap track. As part of a unique promotional strategy, both songs will be hitting clubs around the U.S. before the release of Major League Ballin’.

One of the most unique aspects of Wiley’s music is a mix of influences that’s unusual for an artist launching a career as a gangsta rapper. Her mom was a bassist and she and her uncle introduced young Mo (whose real name is Sara Monique, named after Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile”) to everything from The Beatles and Marvin Gaye to The Whispers and The Commodores. But her lyrics are her life and her aim is to help urban kids growing up in difficult circumstances (like she did) aspire to something beyond the despair that seems handed down through the generations.

“Being a gangsta rapper for me is taking all of my hard life experiences and expressing for people what I went through from the time I was growing up through my young adulthood,” Wiley says. “This is my way of giving back, of trying to portray the life of a violent teenage dope dealer as something that is not cool. I asked myself, how do kids growing up as gangstas know anything is possible beyond their streets? How can they learn there’s more out there for them? I chose to be a gangsta rapper because I wanted to contribute to the lives of kids in this environment, because all I went through is what they’re going through. I want to be a role model, an O.G. for them now that I’ve been clean and on the right track for a long time.”

Trying to figure out a way to support the first child she had at age 15, Wiley first tried to break into the music business at 17 but more practical concerns got in the way and she began working at legitimate jobs in non-artistic fields. She was doing loans for a real estate company a few years ago, and when business started slowing, she got back to her passion for songwriting and rapping. She looped a favorite Mobb Deep instrumental through her computer and rapped over it, then sent the track via myspace to top hip-hop producer Rick Rock (of The Federation).

Rock replied that he was caught up in other projects, but he hooked Wiley up with Big Omeezy from Sik Wid It Records and E40’s manager, who in turn connected her with Doey Rock. She began working on tracks and doing club dates around the Bay Area, including one show opening for The Federation and another for Askarix from Ward of the State. In Vegas later on for a real estate convention, she met other big players from the Bay Area rap scene and learned about Slick, Morey and FirstKut Records. She went to L.A. to cut some professional demos and started booking time with Slick at his home studio in Vegas.

“Morey came over to hear what I was doing and I told him my story and about my desire to be a role model for millions of kids who live in poverty,” she says. “I told him my songs were about things like struggle, having focus and empowering women to take charge in life and not always be so dependent on a man. He could feel my street cred immediately and liked the way I rapped and the wisdom my tracks imparted, and it was exciting to sign with his label.

“I thought to myself, ‘Who better to work with than Morey Alexander, who knows everything about making rappers into influential superstars?” she adds. “Besides working with one of the greatest advocates of West Coast rap, the most exciting thing for me now is learning how to put tracks together with guys like Slick and others who are the best in the industry. It takes a powerful explosion of ideas to make a great album, and I think we had that going on when we were making Major League Ballin’. I want to evolve as an artist over time, incorporating some of my childhood musical skills, when I learned sax and clarinet, and also work towards becoming a stronger vocalist and better dancer. I believe it’s important to be more than a great rapper, but the whole entertainment package.”