Our favorite Cat Rapper, iAmMoshow, opens up about fame, furries and feline hip-hop.
I first became aware of iAmMoshow last year in his “Cat Bath Rap” video, a charming freestyle ode to properly cleaning high-maintenance cats, which became a viral sensation. The refreshingly sincere, hilarious and pure song was just the tonic the internet needed in the hellscape that was 2016, but it wasn’t iAmMoshow’s first cat-themed contribution to YouTube. The Portland-based rapper has been dropping songs for a few years now, cultivating a devoted fan base among hip-hop heads and cat people. His EP Cat Love dropped this spring, and he recently collaborated on a line of Moshow “The Cat Rapper” watches and other gear with Grafletics. I got on the phone with the Cat Rapper to talk about his music, living with four cats, his work on behalf of animals and what he thinks of other cat-centric rap.
Your EP Cat Love just came out. Congratulations!
Thank you, thank you. There’s plenty more where that came from. That’s just a little sample.
What’s the reception been like so far?
The reception has been great. Just seeing all the preorders before the album came out… It’s been very humbling to see people support you. People don’t have to support you. It’s a blessing.
Have people been making response videos?
Yeah. We’re getting a lot of cat ladies holding their cats. A lot of Snapchats. A lot of kids. Mothers dancing with their kids… We’re just seeing the happiness it’s bringing in the cat community and to music people in general.
It’s amazing when someone who’s 80 years old comes up and tells you they don’t like rap music at all but you’re the first rapper they ever listened to. I never realized how you could say you’re a rapper and there’s a group of people who will dismiss you once they hear the word rapper: “Oh, he’s a rapper? I don’t listen to that.” So to get people to break that barrier and listen to some music with some bass in it — that’s just an honor.
I know you’ve been rapping since you were a teen.
I started rapping at 15, put out my first mixtape when I was like 16.
And it was gangster stuff.
Yeah. I’m from the projects, Baltimore City, born and raised in the hood my entire life. So I felt like I didn’t have the choice but to make that kind of music. I was always very different, but I was hesitant to show that. If you were kind of a nerd and different from the others, that was like a problem.
I feel in the mainstream it’s gotten more diverse over the years. But there was a period in the business when, if you wanted to get signed, there was this very narrow image.
Oh yeah, you gotta realize a lot of people don’t know I’m a true hip-hop head. I love music in general. I came up in the era of DMX, Jay Z, Master P. Then later on, Lil Wayne. You know, I just came up in the era when it was all about straight rap, more of the hard-core. This was before the extremely happy music was in the forefront. So when you’re coming up in the ’90s era of hip-hop, that was more aggressive. I felt like I had to keep up with the times.
Which rappers and musicians are your favorites?
To be honest with you, I’m not listening to much rap. When I start creating, I try to cut off all the music and just try to think about what I’d come up with. Because if I’m listening to a bunch of music, I go to create and that’s how you start sounding like everyone else, because you have that sound in your head.
First, James Taylor is one of my favorites. Of course, always gotta pay respect to Lil Wayne, one of the greatest that ever did it. You got Jay Z. I grew up on DMX. Heavily grew up on the Diplomats. Huge fan of Juelz Santana, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, J. R. Writer — all those people. Senses Fail is one of my favorite bands. Jimi Hendrix. I’ve been influenced by so many artists out there in general. Owl City. it doesn’t stop with just rap.
I feel like there’s a moment in hip-hop now with cats. You’re the Cat Rapper. Lil B did a song with his cat Keke. Run the Jewels released “Meow the Jewels.” I was wondering if you’d heard any of that and had opinions.
I saw a few Meow the Jewels videos. I thought they were dope.
I just think it’s interesting that cats are getting more and more into hip-hop. It’s kind of a new thing. Other than Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat or something.
I got you. Yeah [laughs].
Do you remember the first lyric you wrote about cats, or when you first started putting together that first song?
I guess I have to go back. I said something like this: I love cats. I love cats. Dogs are cool, but we all know cats rule. I’m chillin’ with Sushi, hands in the air. My baby ain’t got no hair.
I think that was it.
My mom has six cats at home, and we got four cats here. We’re just living the cat life and I’m the Cat Rapper, you know. I love music. I rap. I love cats, cat ladies. I love cat people. I love everything about cats. I’m a positive person. What you see on the internet is what you get. I’m just keeping it real. I’m the Cat Rapper. That’s just what it is.
You have your “Adopt a Cat” song. Do you work with any animal shelters or organizations?
Absolutely, all the time. I just did shows for the Humane Society in Oklahoma and Washington. I have close relationships with the Humane Society here in Oregon and all over. I do a lot of work with them and the cat adoption team. I was told we got all those cats adopted that were in the “Adopt a Cat” music video.
I’m a musician. I’m an artist. That’s who I am. But the first goal for me is making sure animals get help. That’s the whole reason I do this. Making sure cats get into great homes is the first goal. So I’m always at the Humane Society, whether I’m visiting, helping out, doing an event for someone, doing a show — it always goes back to me doing shows at the cat lounges and being at the cat adoption places.
What are your live shows like? Do you have cat themes beyond the lyrics of the songs?
Yeah, I got cat themes. I got furries: I got people who dress up in full fur costumes. I never know who they are because they’ve got on giant fur suits, which I think is dope. But, yeah, I get a lot of fans who say, “It’s great to meet you. I want to be a cat,” and it’s just like “Oh, okay. It was great meeting you too.” My fan base varies from kids to ladies in their 80s and above, or below, and then I get the music heads. Like my performance at SXSW — those were maybe cat people but you couldn’t tell that. You could just tell these people were here for music. And then when I have my show at the Humane Society, I can tell the audience is cat people.
I have a question from a friend. She wanted to know how you found the courage to take a bath with your cat without a shirt on — she was worried about you getting scratched and said she’d be so scared to do that.
Ah, man, to be honest with you, people always ask me how I train my cats to climb on me, to sit on my head — you know, do the bath thing. This is literally just my life. I can’t really explain it. I didn’t do anything. I’ve had Sushi and Megamam since they were almost one month old. I’ve been rapping with them since the beginning, before Ravioli was even born. It’s just the connection of me spending 24/7 with my cats. I’m a full-time cat man. I make my music. I do my shows. When I’m not doing my shows, I’m home with my cats. This is really my life. I think it’s the connection of just them being very comfortable around me and fully trusting me. When I walk into the house, they immediately run to the door, and the climbing… I have to have “Warning: Cats May Climb” in my house. It’s just the bond I’ve had with them since birth. They’ve never given me trouble with baths. I recorded that cat bath video, but I have to do that every few weeks. You know, high-maintenance cats and the oil, and making sure their skin doesn’t get infected. I’ve just been doing this for a very long time. It’s just what we do.
Now, if someone else tried to put Ravioli or any of my cats in the bath, that wouldn’t work out well. Again, I travel with my cats. I’m with them all the time. They know what it is. When they get nervous, they come to me. They know when they’re in my hands, or my lady’s, nothing’s gonna happen. So it’s just a 100% complete trust system.
Can you tell me about cat wine? Do you actually give it to your cats?
Yeah, they drink some cat wine. I don’t give it to them all the time, but they have drunk it for sure. Cat wine is just a nonalcoholic beverage you can have with your cats, if you want to be romantic. If you’re into wine, you can drink it with your cats and the cats like it for sure.
What does it taste like?
It’s mixed with beets instead of alcohol. It tastes a little beety. But the cats — they’re crazy about it.
I think you should try it out. Yeah, give it a shot. Let me know what you think.
You said the EP is just the start. What’s next for the Cat Rapper?
Straight heat. A lot more personal. I open up a little bit more about who I am, give people a little more understanding of who I am, and talk about even bigger topics that I want to cover. I wanted to give people something to hold them over for a little bit, but I’m coming right back.