The year was 2005. Producer/engineer Mike Dean, who got his start working on some of Houston’s most storied rap albums, invited Cory Mo, and his brother, Mike Mo, out to Los Angeles for some hang time. They ended up at a recording session for a young, charismatic artist named Kanye West. At some point during the session, Kanye asked everyone in the studio to make their way into the sound booth. Confused, but intrigued, Cory and Mike obliged. Kanye requested that everyone in the booth shout, “We want prenup, yeeeaaah!” Look in your Late Registration liner notes and you’ll see Mike Mo credited as a sound engineer on “Gold Digger” and “Drive Slow.” And, well, you know how the rest of that story goes for Mr. West.
For Cory, that was also the day he met Mr. “Ism” himself, GLC; beginning a professional relationship that has continued on up to “Chose Me” (also featuring Bun B and Snoop Lion) off of Cory’s newest offering, Take It Or Leave It, released via Talib Kweli‘s Javotti Media. Cory also hints that he and GLC were working on a project entitled Pimp Fiction before Kweli commandeered Take It or Leave It– which is the project Cory sat down with OKP (at his Money At the Door Studios in Atlanta) to discuss today.
Watch Cory Mo & Talib Kweli’s video for “A Lot More To Give” below and keep scrolling for the full interview.
OKP: How did you first link up with Talib Kweli?
Cory Mo: I think it was initially through Dave Dar. Kweli came to Houston and needed a studio. I was already cool with Dave and he gave Kweli my info. But I was also hands on with the engineering side of [Talib's two collaborations with UGK] “Real Women” and “Country Cousins,” so, probably the first time we met was 2003 or 2004.
OKP: With Talib Kweli essentially A&R-ing Take It Or Leave It, was there a certain sound you two were going for as you picked the beats for this project?
CM: There wasn’t a particular sound we were looking for, I was just happy that somebody even gave a damn enough to even try to help me put together an album. I’m so used to doing it all by myself for so many years, man, any input from Kweli is good input as far as I’m concerned– plus Kweli knows I’m not trying to pick no beats that’s extra wack. And the fact that I didn’t have to produce everything kind of freed up some of my creativity so I could focus on writing.
OKP: Which beats on this project made you stop in your tracks and pick up a pen and paper?
CM: The title track, produced by Beatnick & K-Salaam, and “Ride With Me.” When I first heard those beats, I instantly started writing to ‘em, and I made sure [Beatnick & K] didn’t play ‘em for nobody else. I got that feeling with all the beats they produced on this album, so big shoutout to them, they really really made this project what it is.
OKP: Where did you record Take It Or Leave It?
CM: I recorded some of it in New York, but I recorded 90% of it in Atlanta.
OKP: Does your Atlanta studio give you a different vibe than the one in Houston?
CM: I’ve got my studio set up in Atlanta the exact same way that my Houston [one] is. The same color schemes, the vibe, the UGK plaques, so it still gives me a sense of Houston. I’m always in my Houston mind state whenever I do anything. But the studio is always busy and full of Atlanta’s finest.
OKP: Who’s in the studio with you today?
CM: DJ Burn One is in here right now. We’re about to shoot a video for the bonus cut on the Japanese release of Take It Or Leave It, “Watch & Take Notes,” which Burn One co-produced with me. You never know what’s gonna happen when Burn One is in the studio.
OKP: Who else has seen the Money At the Door Atlanta studio?
CM: Erykah Badu came in here one time to do an interview in my soundbooth. She walked in the booth and pulled out some damn tuning forks, sparked up some incense and turned the lights down low.
OKP: We heard that if you make eye contact with Erykah Badu, you instantly melt into a puddle of yourself. Is that true?
CM: Well, I tried not to make any contact with her because I heard the same thing! [laughs]
>>> Cory Mo’s Take It Or Leave It is out now and available on iTunes.