First Look Friday: Maségo Interview
First Look Friday: Maségo Interview
Maségo photographed by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.

First Look Friday: Enrich Your Earholes With The 'King Of Trap House Jazz,' Maségo

Witnessing how dope Maségo is versus just singing his praises is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. The Jamaican-flavored, Virginia saxophonist and producer is affectionately known as an "ultimate creativist" in select circles. A very imaginative, multi-talented, impressive all-around quadruple-threat (see: "I Do Everything" from Loose Thoughts) — Maségo has earned accolades and praises from the likes of Solange KnowlesGoldLink and DJ Jazzy Jeff. What drew us to his style — besides the Pink Polo EP and TrapHouseJazz — was his crazy ability to innovate songs on the fly via his Looper pedal and his deep-rooted curiosity.

Maségo, whose star is clearly on the rise (see: Maségo collaborating with Brasstracks in the song below), is a jack-of-all-trades entertainer and entrepreneur. In addition to his studio rat habits, his sunny disposition and his laser-like focus — Maségo also has ambitions to become a tech guru within the industry. His own iPhone application, Keep In Touch, was designed specifically to help those looking to be in the game get better footing. How it works is that Network would cut out the pesky middleman and enable them to leverage their skills and connections directly to those who can make moves.

As you'll come to learn in this First Look Friday chat, this self-diagnosed "demo-itis" genius has gift wrapped an abundance of work (see: The Pink Polo vinyl) for the masses to enjoy and digest. If he isn't in the studio building on his already healthy catalog of music, he is grooving audiences with his live stage performances (see: "The Ségo Step") or wowing them with his #TrapScatting. The living embodiment of a game-changer, Maségo is bringing his soul to the forefront and as the inventor of the #TrapHouseJazz sound, we speak to him about his buzz worthy talent, his love of Cab Calloway and his work with Dallas' own producer du jour, Medasin.

Get a taste of this modern-day James Brown by listening to "Melanin Man" featuring The Brasstacks, below, and check out how Kanye West's birthday twin can confidently do everything. Learn this guy's name and commit it to memory, he'll be around for years to come. Enjoy!


Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact on both sides of the U.S. What is it that those in Los Angeles are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Maségo: [Laughs] Cool question, man. I think, in general, we appreciate people that aren't close to us. There is a fascination that is bubbling between the masses. Everyone is curious now. They wonder, "Who is he? How do they do things over there?" and on a basic level, I know that it is all peace to me. I smile a lot, I wear Hawaiian shirts because they're comfortable and it brings me to a state of serenity that fits Los Angeles. So, [with all that] they have embraced me as one of their own.

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

M: Hmmm, most cherished? I have to start with the one, the only Cab Calloway. Me and that man have the same energy. He's definitely my second pops. There is so much to say about him, so please, if you haven't done so, do a lot of research on the originator of "Hi-De-Ho"Jamie Foxx is another influence. I love him for his "I Do Everything" ability. In his career, music and comedy came together perfectly. I also super-cherish, Ebrahim, ever since back in the early YouTube days. I would watch his videos and glean the techniques he used on a loop machine to bring it all together. Nowadays, he reminds me how important family is via his own social media. I really feel [that] he understands love. John P. Kee is that country side of me. I absolutely love his energy, his James Brown-esque approach to singing. Last, but certainly not least, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. His swagger, his passion, his performance level and execution — man, he's it! I channel all of these people at different times

OKP: Your song, “Disconnected (Shorty From VA)” is really dope and has heightened anticipation for some more new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist in the DMV (Norfolk, VA)? How did you react to your first bits of press ever received?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Maségo photographed by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.

M: [Laughs] Shout-out to "Shorty From VA," on the real, thank you. Surprisingly, that song is five years old. All of the songs that I have with lyrical dexterity are in my vault. Since there are no rules in the industry anymore, I'm just playing right now. "Girls That Dance" was made in 15 minutes and pushed a lot of other songs back. As far as my early music life, well, I met a lot of amazing musicians. I'm talking about throw-a-terrible-filter-on-a-perfectly-good-photo type musicians. Post-a-collage-pic-of-you-with-your-instrument type musicians. Ole' hmmm-face-musicians! [Laughs] I love them, man. These are people such as Maxwell HunterJosh GatlingDan FosterChandler Nunally and Torrin are just a few select musicians who inspired me to harness my abilities into that #TrapHouseJazz sound and create the #TrapHouseJazz band. When I received my first bit of press, I was feeling like I was the man. You couldn't tell me nothing! I forget what publication it was, but I'll never forget the feeling. You know those "status shorties" that every college has, well, they started to come around my way. I curved them and I dove into my scriptures like a good Christian man.

OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you have overcome thus far?

M: I would say that the lack of money gets in the way sometimes. Because of that it takes longer to get things that are imperative done. When one has money, you become the priority of the  people whoyou work with. And rightfully so, it is just annoying during the come-up stage. Back when I was in college, a guy quoted me $2,000 for a video shoot without even listening to my song. Now, he is in my inbox talking about, 'I got you with the discount.' I'm telling you, man, if you listen to the music that risk won't feel so precarious. I'm worth your time and my rise [in the game] is inevitable. I am a businessman and I always have other's needs in mind. I love an advantageous situation, not "hold me down, I'll be famous later" type situations.

OKP: What are some things that you have learned about yourself that comes out in the music?

M: I am really fearful of love, of having kids too soon and of tripping over dancers. [Laughs] On a serious note, I realized I can look into the soul of a piece of music and write the song that was meant for that music. Lyrically, I can tap into old legends and talk about the things that I feel, but not necessarily have gone through. It's crazy, though. You will hear it in the new music.

OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?

M: Specifically, it was at Baby's All Right in New York with the #TrapHouseJazz band. It was the best show, hands down! I think out of all the intimate shows I've done, honestly, Baby's All Right was incredible. I love having inside jokes [with the audience] and the songs [that] I make up on the spot can be a sight to behold. There's nothing like seeing me create a beat from scratch. Sounds cocky, but, I have seen the actual-factual footage and man, I'm nice with it!

OKP: What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what that song has come to symbolize since becoming a professional musician?

M: That's a tough one, man. I guess the first song that I wrote from scratch was "Danga," which I have no idea what the destiny of that particular track is. I wrote it about the first girl that ever took my heart and did what most airlines do to your check-in bags when you're not looking. It basically amounts to saying on wax that I'm stubborn [laughs]. I went into a situationship [that] I was warned about. I was curious about it and ended up being hurt by it. It's now why I'm extremely happy, but on the cut you can hear my saxophone playing that happy-sadness feel. It is an emotion that I can tap into at anytime.

OKP: How can the music you make speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Maségo photographed by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.

M: You said it right there... just speak the truth. We do live in a time where "Young Dab," "Neh Neh Ba Ba Black Sheep" and them can have a million-and-one fans and a hit record, but so what! Ride your wave, young man, ride your wave. I just know that my wave is like a .gif or a Vine. It represents a collective change in how music is created and interpreted. A shift is happening. People are realizing producers and beats drive the music that we love. The masses definitely have basic taste, but there are plenty of [crate + sample] diggers out there who are finding and sharing gems with others.

OKP: For those on the outside who don’t know what #TrapScatting and #TrapHouseJazz is — can you elaborate and let us know how you originated the style?

M: I'm trying to lace these shoes on the game, young one. I was introduced to scatting from the great Ella Fitzgerald who made it coo to say [that] I have spent a great deal of time in Newport News, Virginia. Trap is an energy to me. My scatting has just a different energy to it than what you'll hear elsewhere. You can call me "Low-key Young Thug TrapScats," y'know?! It is when you're not saying anything but you really are. You have to feel the soul of the sound for yourself. #TrapHouseJazz is my genre, my band and my movement within this industry. It is where ignorance meets elegance, also known as a "musical gumbo". It really allows me to make my own rules, my own lane. Any musician out there that embraces the energy of trap while keeping their own musicianship, we reach out to, highlight their skills and collaborate with them. We have a secret app that we use to facilitate these relationships called K.I.T. (Keep In Touch). It allows us all to chime in on each others lives, trade resources and make us all rise. I made up #TrapHouseJazz back in high school, so whoever you think influenced me... nah, cuz, it was all me and my homie, David Conley.

OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year and why?

M: I love collaboration. I would love to work with Jill ScottKendrick LamarHiatus KaiyoteAnderson .PaakUprising Creative and that one guy Eric Lodol showed me with the symphony band mixed with electronic instruments. Pure genius! Why, you ask? It is because they are all incredible in their own way. I was telling FlyLo (Flying Lotus) the other day on Twitter that collaboration is great when two dope people come together to create something even doper. It is advantageous. I respect these people, their crafts, their ideas so much and with it combined with mine, I believe that it would be great music for the culture.

OKP: What is the overall message that Maségo is trying to present in his music?

M: Be creative and appreciate the little things.

OKP: Can you two break down the inspiration behind “Girls That Dance”...? Could you speak on the creation and production of that song for the masses?

M: Man, oh, man, what a record. So, backstory, I create loops with my RC-505 from Boss. I freestyle to the beats I make up with my friends. Any rhythm groove or anything like that is in that looper. At the time, I think Medasin remixed my song "Love Be Like," and I quickly became a big fan of his and his approach to music. It was as simple as him sending over a creation, and it would trigger this flow that I did over one of my old loops. I think originally I might have passed on it at first, which I'm glad that I didn't. I ended up re-arranging the track's ending.

Medasin changed the beginning timing of that infamous sounding sample, and the beat became how you hear it today. Fast forward, and I'm in this hotel room for a show in South Carolina. It was myself and Anthony Alston, who co-wrote "Girls That Dance" with me, and the two of us were freestyling over the beat, just trading words back and forth. In-between that, we were talking about the best traits in women. I had my recording equipment, so I sung a little something-something. Anthony told me to take out the phrase, "With my A-1's, [laughs] I am so glad he said that. We then finished it all up, sent it back to Medasin, he mixed that joint greatly and the rest, as they say, is history!

OKP: How do you see yourself changing the music industry for the better versus all of the bad stuff that goes on within it?

M: I am going to do very cool, creative things in this game. I have great ideas and I execute them excellently. As I continue to grow as an artists, get more money and fame, those ideas that I cultivated will become more grandiose and will happen faster in the public eye. On a deeper level, my songs will continue to become a part of people's lives. Songs about travel, songs about love, songs about pure fun and songs about the world's tragedies will all resonate and change the culture as we know it.

OKP: If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Maségo — what would it be and in what would Uncle Sego think about his nephew’s future?

M: [Laughs] I think you've learned already that I talk a lot. Whoever chooses to read these paragraphs of insight is a real one [laughs]. If Uncle Sego was here, he would say that his nephew, Cadalac Johnson, is going to watch Hey Arnold!, learn some jazz tracks and utilize every resource one could ever want to become one of the greatest artists living on the planet.

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for more from Maségo (and us!) by following him on Twitter @UncleSégo.