Run The Jewels are in full attack mode. Two critically acclaimed albums, riot provoking tours, a growing legion of like-minded fans and DJ Trackstar at the core loving every chain-snatching second. Before he DJed for the unruly duo, Gabe Moskoff was an avowed rap fan from Madison, Wisconsin. He collected magazines, played on college radio, organized gigs, wrote articles and taught classes on hip-hop, all while working full-time. A chance encounter with Killer Mike introduced him to the world of politician smacking rhymes just over five years ago and he’s never stopped pinching himself. During our chat, Trackstar often shared his appreciation for Killer Mike and EL-P’s artistry as well as genuine wonder at how his music career has panned out. He also covered being best friends with his favorite MC, T.I’s inspiring speech at a juvenile detention centre and St Louis rapper Tef Poe’s inspiring Ferguson activism.
The story of how you met Killer Mike is incredible. You saw his number printed in an article and called it on a whim. It wasn’t until later in the conversation you came up with the idea for the collaborative mixtape Anger & Ambition. Was it awkward when he first answered the phone?
I don’t think it came off as awkward, but I was going crazy in my head because I didn’t expect him to answer. I thought it was going to be some sort of answering service that asks for your email address or a sort of fan-club type deal. I did not expect Killer Mike to answer the phone, I expected an assistant or something so it definitely screwed with my brain and took me a second. I was sitting in my apartment in St Louis stoned. I wasn’t prepared for what probably turned out to be the most important phone call of my life.
He was your favorite rapper, and still is.
Absolutely, once I heard “That’s Life” from Pledge one. I was aware of him previously and I thought he was dope. I’m sure I listened to Monster for a time or two, but it wasn’t the record that stuck with me super hard for whatever reason. As rap fans we go through obsessions where we discover someone or get a new view on someone and they’re just our favourite thing in the world. Mike’s basically been my favorite rapper since and no one has dethroned him.
Not many people can say they’re best friends with their favorite rapper.
It’s crazy, he’s been my favourite rapper since ’08 or whatever and I spend more time with him than anyone except my wife. I mean that’s nuts [laughs].