Hailing from Houston Texas, Cory Mo has emerged as one of the south’s brightest stars due to his passion for music and indelible work ethic. Whether traveling around the world as on tour with Bun B, chopping it up on songs with Talib Kweli or producing and engineering for some of the biggest names in hip hop, Cory Mo is right at home. What he brought to the table for other artists was vital; now it is time for him to make his own mark.
“I couldn’t afford no studio, I couldn’t afford no beats. It kinda of forced me and my brother to build a studio in our garage, in our moms backyard. It was like, we can’t afford no beats so let’s just go ahead and get this little bootleg keyboard and see what it do.”
Cory Mo began his career as a gifted MC, but by 1999 he had a strong buzz on the Houston hip hop scene as a lyricist and a producer. He decided to produce his own music rather than waiting for others or paying for tracks that were manifestations of someone else’s vision. It was a recording session with the late Pimp C from the legendary group UGK that sent Cory’s career on a different trajectory.
“I met Pimp thru my older brother, Mike Mo. Back in 1994 my brother was in college in Beaumont at Lamar University, which is about ten minutes from Port Arthur, where Pimp and Bun are from. My brother was pretty popular on campus, he bought Pimp C’s Cadillac from him and they became good friends. So once Pimp comes to Houston my brother is like “my brother does beats, you should come by the studio.” First day I met him, we made a song. Since then we clicked, and he became a mentor/big brother type of dude.”
This new connection to one of southern hip hop’s biggest influences inspired Mike and Cory Mo to open up a state of the art recording studio in Houston. They called it M.A.D. Studios and it became the home studio for UGK and many other Houston acts. It is at M.A.D. Studios, which the brothers relocated to Atlanta in 2009, that Cory Mo has engineered, produced and recorded with artists such as Mya, Rick Ross, David Banner, Lil Wayne, Too Short, Erykah Badu and many more. In 2007 Cory Mo received his first platinum plaque for producing on UGK’s million selling album Underground Kingz. Not one to rest on his laurels, from 2002 to 2012 Cory Mo also released eleven mixtapes with prominent djs such as DJ Wally Sparks, DJ Envy and DJ Smallz. Amongst southern hip hop circles Cory Mo’s hustle is legendary.
The result of this first hand musical knowledge and experience is evident on Cory Mo’s debut album Take It Or Leave It, an artistic milestone that is sure to excite Cory’s existing fan base and turn doubters into believers. The Houston MC has spent more time working on Take It Or Leave It than any of his previous projects, and the journey this album takes you on promises to be an incredible one.
The title track, produced by K-Salaam and Beatnik and has Cory Mo himself singing the hook, starts things off with melodic horns and drums that swing like classic Dr. Dre. Timbaland associate Attitude serves up creeping pianos and smashing 808’s on the hypnotic Aww Naw, featuring 2 Chainz. Then there’s the stoned out soul of Get High With Me, where Cory invites you to ride out with him while he enjoys some of life’s best vices.
Cory switches gears on the Raheem DeVaughn assisted Do what I Do, talking to a special lady with lines like “I guess it’s just a mutual thing on the cool I can’t wait to give her my last name, I’m still saving up for that ring and if I met her in another life I’d do it again.” Coming from a city like Houston where pimp culture makes up the scenery of hip hop, this is a refreshingly honest perspective to hear. Tales of braggadocio and swagger also have their day in the sun on Take It Or Leave It. The fun Choose Me, featuring Bun B and GLC with a Snoop Dogg sample in the hook, is produced by Cory Mo and it’s rolling bass line and sprinkled piano hit hard with that OG Houston Texas sound.
Elsewhere, the boom bap provided by the track for It’s All Over provides Cory Mo with the perfect canvas to explain his lifestyle and philosophy thru rhyme, dropping bars that kill them softly with down south charm like “I love you like a play cousin but I can’t stay, the top awaits my arrival I don’t wanna be late” and “I been around the block too many times for me to miss an opportunity now, it’s not new to me now, what could you possibly do to me now, not a damn thing patna gotta google me now.”
While the album successfully navigates thru many different styles of hip hop effortlessly and seamlessly, Cory’s Houston roots are clear and present, but never more so than on the track “Still Getting Better.” It is this song that is most reminiscent of the funk infused production style of Pimp C. Many are unaware of Pimp C’s producing chops and fail to realize how important he is to the infrastructure of what came to be known as Houston hip hop. Cory Mo has carried that torch admirably for Pimp C, and on Still Getting Better Cory rhymes about how the lessons Pimp C taught him help him in music and life.
“The most important thing Pimp C taught me about producing was try not to make records on purpose. Just make classic records. Make them make sense. I think that separates me from a lot of people. I make records that I like to listen to personally, that I think are jammin.”
Whether in the studio, on the road or on stage Cory Mo has exhibited passion, professionalism and a will to grind it out that separates him from the average rapper. This drive extends to his business ventures such as his website countryraptunez.com, a home for all things southern hip hop and his clothing line Just Sayin’ which he has designed and placed items for sale at local stores in Houston and Atlanta and on countryraptunez.com as well as his personal site, corymomusic.com. Last latest musical release was Country Rap Tunez Volume Two in 2012, a magnum opus of a mixtape which featured appearances from Slim Thug, Devin The Dude, Killa Mike, Talib Kweli and more.
All of this work has led to this, a defining moment in Cory Mo’s career. he has poured his heart and soul into crafting an album that represents him properly and adds to the canon of hip hop music in the greatest way he can. Take It Or Leave It is the album that will allow Cory into the artist that he always was but never had the opportunity to fully explore.
“There isn’t a certain criteria I’m trying to meet, I am trying to do good, no great music. Whether it’s beats, whether you like R&B, hip hop, pop, it don’t matter. I’m trying to bump in your ride. I’m trying to bump in your mama ride, your daddy ride, your little nephew ride. I’m trying to do something that’s different. Classic.”
The most important thing that Pimp would always tell me, try not to make records on purpose. “Don’t make radio records, or make club records. Just make classic records. Make them make sense.” I think that separates me from a lot of other people. … I just make records that I like to listen to personally, that I think are jammin’. At the end of the day, if you’re original and creative, you can’t lose.