Roughly 3000 miles away from his hometown of Los Angeles, MoThoro sits in a Hampton University lecture hall as he works toward his Masters of Business Administration. This historically black college in Hampton, Virginia has spawned many giants in hip-hop such as DJ Envy of The Breakfast Club, MC Ride of Death Grips, and most recently, DreamVille’s EarthGang and J.I.D. Now MoThoro, a graduate student enrolled in the five year MBA Program, is looking to join those elite ranks.
MoThoro (born Morris Taylor, now 23) is a rapper, singer, songwriter and producer who has been making music since 2011. Currently, he has several projects available on streaming services, including the three part ThoroLyfe series. Earlier in 2019, he collaborated with the singer/songwriter and fellow Hamptonian Heather, for a five-song EP titled Sesh.
The first encounter between MoThoro and Heather happened because of Mo’s friend Chris, who told him about a talented freshman on Instagram uploading clips of herself singing. The two formed a fast friendship, eventually making the songs “Believe the Hype” and “Talk My Shit” in one night. However, “Collide” — the third track off the EP — is perhaps the most intimate and provocative highlight on the project, as the two artists go bar for bar in with sexually charged lyrics. The vibe is a bit similar to “Sativa” by Jhene Aiko and Swae Lee.
“That’s lil sis,” MoThoro told SLAP. “We have a very professional type of relationship. I told her to get in and act like you’re with your significant other. So that’s why it sounds like that. It’s strictly a little sis big bro, I think she’s a beautiful and talented young lady but I don’t want that to mix with the vibe that we got going.”
The theme of Fall first comes to life in the opening tender-love song “Reassurance” but the autumn cuffing season vibe remains a constant throughout the EP. On “Not Speaking,” guitar strings and finger snaps mesh together for an energy that feels like Open Mic night at the campus coffee-house. The lyrics from Heather and MoThoro sing of a relationship dissolved but still in a close proximity on campus.
For those who have never traveled to the east coast, or spent much time out there, it’s hard to imagine the difference in climate, culture, between Virginia and Southern California.
“Coming to Hampton was definitely a big culture shock for me,” MoThoro said. “I went to Elco (El Camino Real Charter High School) which is a predominantly white school, but at Hampton I fit right in. I didn’t really have to change who I was. I was just myself. Even people who I’m cool with now would tell me, ‘When you first got here we thought you were weird’…. for things that we do in Cali like wear our socks high.”
Although Hampton University has students from around the world, the eccentric styles of a kid from the San Fernando Valley stood out from many on the east coast. Add that on to being a rapper from a city like LA which has birthed so many of rap’s elite, and MoThoro felt the pressure to succeed in his music in addition to maintaining good academic standing. Not to mention, he’s a member of Hampton’s Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
When asked how he balances classes, social life, Greek life, and a music career, he stated, “It’s been kinda tough juggling everything at once, but the thing that keeps me sane is time and asset management. This is what my parents are expecting me to excel at, and and this is where I wanna excel.”
“I want to not have to worry about school anymore, so school’s number one. Then number two is music, I’m definitely trying to grind out the music after college. [This is] something I’m trying to take serious. As long as I’m in every endeavor and every interaction, I know that those are my priorities, and they keep everything balanced. So if there’s a big party, but I have a test the next day, I’m not gonna go to the go to the party.”
After spending time on both coasts, it’s fair to wonder if the artist gets more love in California or Virginia. “That’s interesting, I talk about this to my team when we go over analytics,” he said. “When I first got to Hampton, a lot of my supporters were in L.A. I think I have a better rapport with Hampton U than LA far as fans. It won’t be hard to build that back up once I graduate.”
MoThoro plans on moving back home to Los Angeles to pursue music full time in May, after earning his Master’s degree in Business. When asked about how his music career will benefit from the degree, he said “I think [it will be in] the way I conduct my business. A lot of rappers do it because they wanna be in the limelight, not because of the love. I understand how business operates and I can be somebody who is fluent in these conversations, when you talk about things like publishing, royalties, and rights to your music. When these conversations with labels happen, I’ll be able to join in them rather than taking the backseat and having somebody else figure it out.
“I think of guys like Nipsey Hussle, who’s a boss, an exceptional lyricist, and definitely somebody who I look up to, and somebody I aspire to be like. Just having the business background will only contribute to me being a well rounded artist and boss.”