INTERVIEW with versatile wordsmith MUENSTER

Muenster is a versatile wordsmith, a polished and flashy orator, and a prolific national performer. This Austin native/Denton transplant is not your typical Texas rapper. The rhymesayer’s résumé boasts more than a decade of experience and dedication to his craft, evidenced by hundreds of live performances, several Warped Tour regional circuits, and a collection of meticulously crafted recordings that seemingly have no low points. His albums are the listen-on-repeat kind, ones that never give you the urge to skip a track (which is a rarity, especially in the hip-hop community). Muenster seamlessly blends an array of vocal cadences reminiscent of the UK grime scene with a delivery as varied as a late-90s Project Blowed mixtape.

Listeners will find sincere, insightful poetics that aren’t afraid to grapple with provocative social and political topics. His cerebral, timely lyrics result in a more fulfilling experience than your typical club banger, but Muenster’s tracks still bring the bang. He showcases technically complex delivery matched with quick-paced lyricism, which comes off as natural and almost effortless, deploying surgically sharp enunciation and precision that somehow results in an insidiously listenable swagger

  1. How long have you been performing and recording, and when did you first realize that’s what you wanted to do?

Muenster: Geez, a long time for the ladder question…..  Probably 5 or 6 years old on the bus making up songs and band names and pretending to perform to rocks and dinosaurs…. I won the 6th grade talent show by covering Wayne’s World’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody…. The rest was written in stone for me I had a couple leads in some plays growing up, chipping my teeth if you will along the way, I started performing as Muenster in the early 2000’s in Austin, TX I had started rapping at house parties and at small lil DIY studios down there before moving up to Denton, TX forming a few bands and being a part of the groundwork of the Hip Hop scene there, I’ve continued to tour, gig ,and record as a working independent musician for over 15 years and it’s kind of a trip sometimes to think about all of the connections we make with the people we meet along the road, the fans, the fellow artists, the single serving relationships and the ones that last a lifetime. I wouldn’t give it up… I won’t give it up until they “Pry this microphone out of my cold dead hands” …. (Did I do that right?)

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?

Muenster: From a rap perspective, the most memorable artists I remember first hearing and being amazed by were on the Rap Masters tapes … so Eric B, Rakim, Fat Boys, Just Ice, then Run DMC, Fresh Prince, even Tone Loc and Candyman (of all people)…. were the first beginnings of Rap music I heard, from there it went on to the Wu Tang, and Tribe, and DE LA SOUL, and Organized Konfusion… THEN I found Rawkus, which lead me to Soundbombing which lead me to El-P with Company Flow which gave us all half of RTJ and then I found Duckdown… so I mean Sean P of Helta Skelta, Smiff n Wessun …. I mean…  LaFace records and Outkast and Goodie Mob and Killer Mike with Dungeon Family which gave the world the second half of RTJ….   But … then I found west coast underground hip hop about 14 or 15 and my whole perspective on style and syncopations and effectively what was “Hip Hop” changed for me as I found artist from the Good Life Café and Project Blowed… Freestyle Fellowship, Hip Hop Kclan, CVE, ATU …to Heiroglyphics, and RasKass, or Saafir and the Hobo Junction to The Living Legends….. These dudes all helped shape me into the MC I am today. Coupled with my affinity and love for Jazz music which I feel directly impacts my music creation equitably if not more so than even some of the greatest rappers ever have.

People like Jaco Pastorious and his group Weather Report pushed the boundaries of what was defined as sonically sound, along with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, or Chick Korea and Return To Forever… The entire Fusion Jazz genre is all around such a huge influence on my beat selection and what I’m comfortable pushing the boundaries on. Of course legends like Miles, or Coltrane, Or Parker, to Wayne Shorter or George Benson… all have had such a huge influence on me. Peppered in there is years of Punk/Ska influence which I think have always kept me on the edge of authoritative conformation.

  1. If any, which current artists do you listen to and respect for their artistic endeavors?

Muenster:  I’m hella into some Anderson Paak: Oxnard right now that is probably the most on repeat album I have listened too in a while, for me.  All three Run the Jewells albums stay on heavy rotation….. Of course were lucky to have Black Thought, and Royce, and Joyner, and J.Cole and Kendrick (usually) continuing to remind billions of listeners that there is still substance when you look for it. Shout out to Vince Staples and Mac Miller ….. I respect what J.I.D. and the Earthgang folks are putting out. I want to give a huge shout out to Ceschi for what he’s continuing to do for independent artists with Fake Four, And lastly, and most importantly, as my label mates over at Gitmo Music. Stu Brootal is making waves over in the UK, and one artist I want say is standout amongst my own camp is my main mellow, Ritchy Flo, a musician/magician who makes incredible beats and raps really good. Shout out to my whole team!

  1. What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music?

Muenster: I’ll keep this one short. If nothing else, that all we have is what we leave behind, so I’m speaking on it, life, liberty, love, pain, experience…. I hope people listen.

  1. What do you think separates you from the crowd of young artists emerging right now?

Muenster:  Beat selection, subject matter, approach maybe? I dunno man, were living in such an oversaturated time for Hip Hop music in general, not to mention everyone seems to have the bars set so low (double entendre intended) as to what it is to be great, or whom they have to look up to in the culture. It used to be about inspiring and vocalizing a movement, a way to speak up AGAINST what atrocities have been implemented and systematically conditioned about the experience of the less than white, affluent male in America. And for those of us that have a platform to speak on, too many are driven by the material, the present moment, and too often indifferent to the greater whole that we are.

As MC’s we are huge influencers. Culturally, musically, artistically, and most importantly, politically, we have to consider what it is we are representing, both in body and in in mind. In conclusion, I hope what separates me from the rest of the masses is through my message, I make you create your own dialogue. Whether it is to make more art or to inspire more minds, I just hope it reaches into a part of our collective energy and makes one say, huh I never thought of that.

  1. When writing a new song, where do you usually start with the lyrics or the beat?

Muenster:  ALWAYS the beat…. I mean for me, I approach my verses like a solo in a tune, so I need to hear what the whole is before I can create my place within it.

  1. Do you produce all the beats and write all the lyrics on your songs or do you collaborate with outside sources in any of these cases?

Muenster: On my last project, Radio Dogpile (Available EVERYWHERE music is sold on line) I produced a good few of the beats as well as working with producers at home and abroad to create the entire sound I was looking for. I ALWAYS write my bars, word for word, and collabo heavy on the hook/chorus combinations you hear on my tracks.  With Weirdope, which releases in just a couple weeks on Gitmo Music, thanks to CEO Keldrick Scott I really chose to sit back and just be the artist on this project.

I had an executive producer/executive engineer, Guillermo Zepeda who is the mastermind behind Valley Of The Kings Music in Dallas Texas, (a recording studio and artists development group who have some of the most active “Major” clientele through their studio walls while Talent is in the DFW area. I can’t really speak on the most recent Louisiana native who had a session shortly after my last mixing block, but safe to say it was Bad Azz).  Because I was able to just record and sit in on the mixing I truly got to be an artist and enjoy the process from the outside instead of handling all of the creative operations aspects of pressing CD’s and coordinating releases and distribution

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or high point in your career so far?

Muenster:  Oh man, DEFINITELY performing with, making music with, and working alongside some of the legends I mentioned earlier, coupled with the many years I was blessed to be a part of the Bring It Back family at Van’s Warped tour, the only DIY independent hip hop instillation throughout the tour. Having accomplished those things alone have made this entire journey so far so amazingly worth it. The amount of experiential ROI if you will you get from these things is just not able to be put into words, next to simply incredible.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music so far?

Muenster:  I would say, quite simply loss. Whether it be familial, or fellow friends and artists along the way, loss, is the single most difficult thing that we all have to endure as part of the human experience. But to me, all life is suffering, at birth and at death, and all that which is in between is what defines living itself.

  1. Do you prefer working and creating in a studio environment, or performing live in front of an audience?

Muenster:  I cannot stress that this is an unfair question enough hahahahaha. I love both so much. I think … they are almost symbiotic in the sense that especially for a MC, one goes to the studio to create music to one day perform in front of people. It is less about one or the other for me as it is a part of the whole process. I live to write new music, to record it, to get it out to the people, and have them hear my message live, so they can take it

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of artistry and entertainment?

Muenster: Wow! I identify with this question so much and have to say that Weirdope is to date, my most politically charged work of art. With the climate of divisiveness and over reaching abuse by authority against our own citizens, especially black men of color under the age of 35 it is now more so than ever a necessity, nares say I a requirement to speak up and out about these atrocities at our doorsteps. The amount of indifference by good people and cognitive dissonance by those unwilling to open their eyes to the truth create more of the division and abandonment of moral fortitude that is so sadly prevalent in these days and times.

  1. Which aspect of being an independent artist and music label excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?

Muenster:  There is a certain value and worth to being in control over the aspects of how your brand and your art is received by the world. Being a part of an independent music label that is Gitmo Music, it is really a testament of grit and tenacity that is fostered with each release we work on and each artist that we develop. The indie grind aspect of being self-made while having a team of people to have your back when you need it is incomprehensible.

13 Reaching audiences usually involves exploiting media opportunities, and possibly working with a PR company. What’s your perspective on the promotion opportunities available to indie artists today? Are there any specific improvements you’d like to see?

Muenster:  It’s a shark tank, dog eat dog, ant vs god world out here man….. If you do not eat the food on the table (of which there is so much out there) than the only one to blame is the artist themselves. Take me for instance; If I wasn’t out grinding the blog scene, the publication scene, the promotor scene, than how could I expect to get coverage? With as many songs and albums coming out as often as they do, it is a far-fetched notion to think that an MC can drop some art in 2018/2019 and that the world will take it by storm and run with it. If you dint invest in yourself, your image, and your brand first, how can you expect others to get behind you?   I

  1. Are you satisfied about the way the music business works in today’s digital age, or is there something you would change?

Muenster:  I would change the amount of transparency that exists for the common artist/ Unless you know music business law and terminology a lot of times cats will get caught up in the “notion” of success and not research enough about monetization techniques, split sheets, and contract verbiage (this last part on you tho homie) .

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?

Muenster: Chopper, Bar Heavy, Eclectic, Conscious, Anthropological, Substance, Cognition, Woke, Different, Style.

  1. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?

Muenster:  In short: I do. I personally have a Spotify, Pandora, Youtube, Bandcamp, soundcloud, Songtradr, Fandalism, etc…  As well as all of the various platforms the label has as well.  Without utilizing these available avenues for streams and visibility artist in the modern era are just shooting themselves in the ears.

  1. Could you tell us something about your “Weirdope” LP? Does it have a specific backstory and message?

Muenster: Absolutely it does, I approached this album as a social commentary for the current pulse of hip hop and the state of our union. I decided to represent my brain on both halves of the pole if you will.  It is a 14 track project that I intentionally split down the middle from a subject matter and production stand point. The first half is a statement on my interpretation of the current pulse of rappers and hip hop music in the current age. The second half takes a much more political look at the landscape of America as well as offerings of solutions and ideas of being the change we want to see. All in all it is a representation artfully of how my brain works mechanically.

  1. What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music? Do you have a video you would recommend fans checkout so they can get in touch with what you’re doing?

Muenster:  I think that if you are not dropping 4-5 visual off of each project than you are doing your audience and fans a disservice because of how the human mind works. For example I just made the first visual for the first single off Weirdope, which is the lead in track entitled: Message.  (Here’s the link )

I purposely ran this for an entire 45 days before the upcoming release to garnish some attention and set the pulse for the rest of the project. Its highly political and highly focused on the emergence of the F#$% boy Soundcloud Rapper and its pervasive presence in both hip hop music but criminality on a whole, equally centered around the second half of the song and its imagery and references to the abuse and murder by police systematically. Did you know for example that in 2017, fifty three thousand years of life were lost due to police violence in this country….. 53,000 years…..   WHOAH…. Anyway, I digress, visual media is so essential for any artist looking to further their image and grow their brand. Period.

  1. What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?

Muenster:   Oh man …..  Ok….   So I’m like 16…. Zoned out at a huge concert park where an Ozomatli concert was happening (do you want to hyper link Ozomatli? ) and at the end of the concert tey do a huge drum line where the whole band creates  percussion pit and they marched all through the crowd. Anyway , I run in to Charlie Tuna at the end of the line and he’s just talking to people thanking them for coming etc…  and he gets over to us and Im all clammed up (Ive been writing raps for all of like a month at this point, but if you can’t tell form this interview so far, I had been eating sleeping and breathing in Hip Hop… this guy’s hip hop .. .for years and years and all of it lead up to these moments *Message…) So I ask him if he has any advice for me cause I just started writing bars and messing w beats and  and and and… and hes like “ yo man….  Just stick with it, don’t let anyone tell you to stop, and if they do, don’t listen to em…  “

That ^^ really resonated with me more than any other experience up to that moment.  This is saying something in itself, I mean growing up in 80’s/90’s Austin was something out of a mythological book. It’s long gone, the stories seem farfetched, and all the people left to tell about them don’t want to out fear it will bring about a massive plague [of people in this case]. So I mean I had my fair share of Stevie Ray Vaughn sightings or free concerts at Auditorium Shores growing up… but that one stuck with me… and I have listened ever since…..

As far as not following some advice… I don’t know man… I have been told all kinds of things by all kinds if folk about how to make it doing this or that… but the one key thing that it comes down t for me is authenticity. Just being genuine, here and now, and showing up.

  1. Do you have a specific musical vision hidden somewhere in your closet, or mind, that you would to see happen one day?

Muenster: I would really at some point like to be able to create the ideas I have story boarded out that just honestly far exceed my budget as an Independent artist, but yes, absolutely….  I have an over the top production for one of the songs on Wierdope called Get It Right … with Airplanes and Fog Machines and Swimming Pools…….. White Walled Cadillac’s and 80’s mullet wigs… so … Who knows!


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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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