Let Me Learn You Something: Von Pea

I once asked a buddy to sell me on Tanya Morgan.  He has their whole catalouge.  He’s kicked it with them on Okayplayer.com  He has hung out with them occasionally in person.  And he said, “Ahh….man…it’s like…they’re just…I don’t know!  Like…they’re funny…but its mostly in-jokes…and ummm…you know….they do their thing!”

Von Pea, one third of Tanya Morgan and member of the Lessondary Crew (along with Elucid and Che Grand who have been interviewed here), is building a career off likability and accessibility, sure, but his solo output is quietly creeping up on Daniel Dumile-levels of consistent product for the heads that already be knowin’.  He’s rocking over jamming outtakes from The Roots alongside Donwill on The Sandwich Shop, tackling Lord Quasimoto’s instrumental breaks for The Further Adventures of Von Pea, and crafting the awesomely titled So Motivational: The Most Skullduggery of MixtapesAt that’s only since late 2008 (not counting numerous production credits, cameos, and the release of Tanya Morgan’s Brooklynati).  Unlike rappers who want to forcefeed you hard drives full of free new music every day attesting to their “grind” and their Twitter footprint, Pea crafts fully realized projects before releasing them, whether they be a homage to one of his heroes or a concept album built around the realization that most of us weren’t The Man in high school. 

As one of the guys who has used the internet to his advantage while not oversaturating and annoying fans, Von Pea has released a new solo LP Pea’s Gotta Have It.  Nostalgic but never pandering, warm-hearted without being corny, it’s quietly creeping into the discussion of this year’s best hip hop releases without straying from what makes Tanya Morgan and Lessondary a fixture online and on stage…it’s the uhhh…you know..like..the fact that…they’re dope and what not…but like…it’s more I guess?…I don’t know…just….just…maaaaan, just listen to their joints!

It’s time for Von Pea to learn you something.

1.  At what point did you realize music is what you wanted to do?
1996.  Listening to Beats Rhymes and Life by Tribe Called Quest.  I realized I could make music for real if I had the resources.  I was writing rhymes before that but it was just something to do until that moment.

2.  How has New York shaped your sound or molded you as an MC and producer?
I’m born and raised in NY so its really all that I know. NY is my sound based on how I came up and what I related to. I grew up a fan of music from other regions too but when I didnt know what they were talking about, I did know what block Biggie was talking about or what the slang Tribe used meant. That lead to my music sounding the way it does…riding the trains and being around so many people while listening to artists that grew up the same way on the same blocks.

3.  Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
I admire what The Roots did. Years ago it seemed like the platinum rappers were popping and The Roots were going to be this slept on phenomenon forever…now those rappers have all fallen off and The Roots still making dope ass albums and they’re on TV every night.

4.  With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning?  Would you have done anything differently?
I don’t believe I would’ve done anything different really. I’m concerned with my next step and making sure i dont regret that!

5.  What’s hard for you?  What do you struggle with?
We’re all fighting to be seen and appreciated in the current state of music. Its too easy to hop online and grab a bunch of free songs from anybody from myself to Kanye or Jay-Z.  Just a few years ago we all would go to a cd store and buy someones new single for like 3 dollars now its online and purposely free! So its so much of it, its hard to be valued properly.

6.  Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major record label.  What are the first 3 things you do as boss?
Realistically I wouldnt know what to do lol…but without worrying about logistics I would start Lessondary Records under the major label, which means the collective I’m apart of would have real financial support and a machine behind us. Then I would bring one-producer urban soundtracks back, the way Organized Noize or Babyface or Death Row used to do. Like, I’d hire Foreign Exchange music group to do a whole soundtrack for a romantic comedy or some shit. I cant think of a third right now…

7.  What are some of your favorite albums?
Biggie-Ready to Die, Snoop-Doggystyle, Outkast-Aquemini, Kanye West-Graduation, Jay z-The Blueprint, NWA-efil4saggiN, Dangelo-Voodoo, Rah Digga-Dirty Harriet, etc.

8.  What is inspiring your work right now?
G.O.O.D. fridays is really dope. Everyone is either too cool or too jaded to really acknowledge how dope it is, I dont care how long underground cats been doing the same thing…the idea that Kanye doesn’t have to but is doing it anyway is inspiring. Just making music and putting it out free because its fun to him. I think its actually helpful to underdogs that he’s doing that…he stepped down from the mountain and he’s kicking it with the towns people (haha)

9.  What advice would you offer to someone getting into the business at this time?
Don’t quit your day job.

10.  Any words to live by?
Don’t turn your passion into a job, turn your job into a passion…and if that sounds generic then ignore it and allow the rest of us to find happiness!


Von Pea Primer

Foreign Exchange f/ Von Pea “Von Sees”

Von Pea “Boombox”

Tanya Morgan “So Damn Down”

Von Pea “Star Struck”

Follow Von Pea on Twitter


Stream or purchase Pea’s Gotta Have it at Amazon.com

Von Pea on Bandcamp


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