In the mid-2000s, Supastition was a rising name in hip-hop, appearing on collaborations with fellow Carolinians Little Brother and on albums by veterans such as KRS-One, working with international producers such as Australia’s m-Phazes and the Foreign Exchange’s Nicolay, and drawing critical acclaim for 2005’s “Chain Letters” LP.
But in 2010, he left the industry.
“Seeing my kids grow up, I wasn’t around as much as I should’ve been,” says Supasitition. (His real name is Kam Moye.) “I was married to my wife and got to see my kids. But I felt like as a father, I was leaving things up to my wife, with me being in different countries and her not being able to go, and having to sit back with kids. I had to decide whether I really want(ed) this music and critical acclaim – because in music you only have a few years. I had to put it aside for a while and focus on myself as a person.”
Retirement didn’t take, though. By 2012, he was back.
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He plays Snug Harbor on Monday. It’s his first hometown show since moving to Atlanta for work in late 2013.
“As an artist of any type, you try to have what we call a ‘normal life.’ You come home and realize, ‘I can’t be one of those people. I have this fire inside me,’ ” he sayd. “I was just bored with a normal life. I had no problem going to work every day. It was after work. What do I do? Do I sit here and watch TV every day?”
When the Charlotte company he was working for as a GIS technician closed, the safer, more conventional path didn’t seem much different than when his record label went out of business.
“People say you need a real job, (that) music isn’t a real job,” he says. “I worked a real job, and it (had) the same fate as music. I was laid off. Everybody from that company was searching for jobs in that same field.”
Unable to find a job and finding it hard to relaunch his music career in Charlotte, where the Greenville, N.C., native had lived since 1998, Moye looked to Atlanta. He now works evenings and nights four days a week and focuses on recording on days off.
His acclaimed “Honest Living” EP, which he released in February, chronicles his relatable struggle of finding a job, supporting a family in a collapsing economy, and balancing his passion and artistry with a day job. He and German producer Croup are working on a full-length sequel. He’s also completing a concept album with Philly producer/DJ Stoupe of Jedi Mind Tricks that he describes as hip-hop meets Portishead.
Having only been away two years, Moye did notice changes in the industry.
“When I stepped away, bloggers weren’t the tastemakers,” he says. “When I came back, everything was digital. The whole style of music had changed. A lot of things that were played out are starting to come back. When my first album came out, I was coming from being a battle rapper. Years later, battle rap was corny. Now it’s back again. I also realize as I get older, a lot of people don’t want to hear the older guys. They want to hear other guys doing something retro.”
But the underground, which seems to nurture more career longevity, is fine for Moye.
“With some people, it’s their dream to be famous. I just wanted to make music,” he says. “The type of music that I do – traditional hip-hop – when it started to fade away on the forefront, it came down to people being able to search and find music. That’s a talent within itself, to sift through hundreds of thousands of songs and find a good group without the radio telling you: ‘This is good.’
“Hip-hop heads and independent listeners are a little more open-minded to something we haven’t heard before,” he adds. “I can love (popular) music at a party. (But I) can go to a bar and hear a group I haven’t heard before and absolutely love them. Most people listen to music everybody listens to, wear the same clothes everybody is wearing. The underground scene (has) more of an independent type of thinker.”
That may be another reason Moye’s career seems to be blossoming more in Atlanta, where the scene is larger and less insular.
“There was a lot in Charlotte for certain genres, but for hip-hop it was limited. The problem I faced was the venues were too small or too big – either 100 capacity or 500 and up,” he says. His 2012 return show at tiny Crown Station, for instance, was uncomfortably packed. But he had trouble reaching out to mid-size venues.
“I’m realistically one of the biggest hip-hop acts in the city and I couldn’t get much of a response. There’s a community, but there was a cutthroat attitude. It’s a city that really hasn’t had a hip-hop artist emerge and be handled well, which creates internal gripes. Everybody wants to be the first.”
He adds that without college radio, only a few record stores left, and few venues for live hip-hop, Charlotte lacks an infrastructure to grow a thriving scene.
“In Atlanta, people are part of something that’s already established. I held out for years, and I was trying to stay loyal to N.C.,” says Moye, who is in his 30s with children ages 21, 11 and 1. “Charlotte is going to be this amazing city of music, but I don’t think it will be in my generation. It might be for the next generation.”
He sees promise in Charlotte acts such as Lute, Ike Turner, Keyza Soulsay, also on Monday’s Snug bill, and DJ Justin Aswell, who hosts Knocturnal.
He adds: “There’s a plethora of artists. They just need a platform.”