Pep Love

Pep Love
After an 11-year gap between albums (his last was 2001's Ascension), Pep Love, one of the original members of legendary Oakland underground crew Hieroglyphics, is back with his latest solo project, Rigmarole. The album chronicles the struggles Pep went through and the obstacles he had to overcome in order to grow both as a person and an artist in order to push out his latest effort. Rigmarole captures the MC on point on a record that brings the listener back to the essence of hip-hop. It looks like despite the rigmarole it took to get here, the end result of Pep Love's efforts speak for themselves.

It's been 11 years since The Ascension. Why such a long wait?
I guess I just smoke too much weed [laughs]. No, the easiest explanation as to why it's been so long since my last album would be to say that I wasn't truly independent and it took me a while to become independent. You're not really independent 'cause you're on an independent label or whatever.

In the press release for Rigmarole, you're quoted as saying, "Most of Rigmarole was recorded during a time in my life when the music I was making was one of the few things that was actually working." Without prying too much, do you care to share some of the obstacles you faced?
Wow, I didn't know that was part of my press release; I thought that was just an answer to a question in an interview. The obstacles were mainly of the financial type, just sitting around worrying about money. That's not a general concept for me in my life or even really for the album. That's just me giving an honest answer to a question.

I'm embarrassed to divulge that despite being a 30-something hip-hop head, only in the last few years did I get into the wonderful, classic work of the Hiero crew. To benefit newer fans of your work, what would you say is the biggest difference sonically and lyrically between your last album and
Rigmarole?
Well, I say it doesn't really matter how old you are, it really matters that you're a hip-hop head. And the classic work of the Hiero crew is in the past; I'm not the type of person or artist that rests on laurels or tries to live off legacy. It doesn't really matter if anyone is familiar with the work of the past. And first of all, I'm Pep Love and Hiero are Hiero; they're two completely separate things. But I'd say the main difference between my last album sonically and lyrically is that was in the past and Rigmarole is right now.

The rap game is in an interesting and innovative place right now. What's your take on it and where do you feel you fit in to the whole scheme of things?
The rap game is interesting; I don't think it's innovative. The rap game? I don't fit into the rap game. I'm not playing a game; I'm not part of the game. I'm a part of hip-hop culture. Hieroglyphics just got inducted into the Zulu Nation, but things like that are more important than the rap game. What's going on in the industry, the trends? I ignore that stuff. I'm doing this for the music.

I learned a couple of interesting things about you on your Wikipedia page. You're a motivational speaker, vegan and Capoeira practitioner. How do you also fit dope rapper into that full schedule?
I got to tell you, Wikipedia is not the best source to get information about me. It's been the same information on that Wikipedia page for the whole time it's existed, however long that's been. Motivational speaker? I've never been accused of being a motivational speaker. I don't know where that came from. Vegan? Yeah, I've been a vegan. I've struggled with it, in and out. This world is full of temptations. Sometimes I'm really sharp on all of that stuff; it's beyond being a vegan, like eating raw and all of that stuff, fitness and exercise. Capoeira is something I used to do some years back. It's been a long time since I've done Capoeira, but I still consider myself a Capoeirista; I still have a connection to Capoeira. This interview and asking me questions is a lot better source of information than Wikipedia.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2012? When are we going to see you in Toronto?
Well, for the rest of 2012, right now I'm on tour with Rebelution throughout the States. Grouch was on the first part of the tour; it's been going really well. For the rest of 2012, my album releases on March sixth; we're going to a record release party in Oakland and try to get one in L.A. too and just promote that album. Hopefully go on another tour around the summer, spread the word, spread the gospel of the Rigmarole. In between, I'm going to be working on a new project I got going on called Flight School, which should hopefully come out before the end of this year. Just a lot of activity, just doing a lot of stuff. Hopefully this summer you'll see me in Toronto.

Read a review of Rigmarole here.