The south is known for its unique take on everything from food, to hospitality to music. The consistent theme in all things southern is comfort, it feels good. The hospitality caters to you, the signature food is rich and flavorful and the same ingredients are present in the music. Southern music makes you feel good from first earful with its flavorful basslines, just the right amount of seasoning throughout the melody, and leaving you with a smile; totally satisfied. If southern cooking requires a chef, southern music is best served up by producer Cory Mo.
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Cory Mo couldn’t be more authentically southern. Music was a part of his family environment for as long as Cory Mo can remember and his fascination with instrumentation was a part of his DNA. During elementary school, Cory’s grandfather sang in the church choir and would let him mess around on his organ from time to time. His uncle Kenneth also played the drums at church and would allow young Cory to bang out on them whenever he was around. As a youngster Cory Mo’s playlist was a mash-up of smooth R&B and gangsta hip hop. “Smokey Robinson, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, NWA, UGK, & Outkast, that’s a weird combination but that’s what I like.” The combination would later make sense in his smoothed out funky productions that could thump against the trunk of a car, but also give couples something to grind to on the dance floor.
Cory Mo recalls starting to write poetry in the 5th grade and being intrigued with using words to tell short stories. “My old brother “Mike Mo” who is 6 years older was in a really popular rap group in high school and I wanted to be like him so I stole all his cassette tapes, like Run DMC, NWA, Big Daddy Kane, Geto Boys and the Beastie Boys. I liked Ice Cube the most so I use to write his lyrics down and study them line for line. That’s how I learned how to write verses,” Cory Mo recalls.
Writing verses turned into bars and eventually turned into songs, birthing Cory Mo the artist by the time he entered high school. Trying to work on his craft without the money to pay for production was motivation to start producing his own records. “I started producing when I realized I couldn’t afford to buy beats to rap on. My brother Mike and I put our money together and bought some studio equipment. The first piece was an MPC 2000-XL Drum Machine, a midi keyboard controller and sound module called the “Proteus 2000.”
Once he started production, Cory Mo became obsessed. He began studying other producers for their approach to sound and soon found particular ones that he considered musical mentors. “I love Dj Quick for those funky horns & drum patterns, Mannie Fresh for those double time hi hats, Dr Dre for those slappin snare drums & vicious pianos, and I can’t forget N.O. Joe & Mike Dean for all the funky bass lines & classic albums that they produced for UGK & Geto Boys that molded my sound into what it is today,” Cory Mo explains.
The maturation process for Cory Mo’s production moved quickly due in part to his natural instincts when it came to sound. His own project began taking off and he was quickly becoming one of the rated next emcees of southern hip hop. While his artist stock was rising, his production was eclipsing into a signature sound and becoming more sought after. Soon he was being asked for beats from other Houstonian artist and soon his production leaked outside the Lone Star state and Cory was producing for artists all over the southeast. In 1997 Cory went on his first tour as a hype man for former Geto Boys member Big Mike. Cory explains, Even though I was fresh outta high School I learned a lot on that tour & being around Rap A Lot records at such a young age taught me how to handle and understand the music business for years to come.
“One of the first songs that I produced that was released nationally was on Devin The Dude’s album in 2004 the song is called “Anythang” and it’s still one of Devin’s biggest songs to this day. it’s a super funky classic home grown country rap tune with a “Rick James” sample in it from a song called “Hollywood” that gave me the respect I needed in Texas to become one of the south’s go-to producers.”
Eventually Cory Mo’s connection with UGK became connected with his identity. His “little brother/big brother” relationship with Pimp C and Bun B put him in a position to be heavily involved in their movement as well as production on their legendary projects. Cory toured as a hype man for Bun B while Pimp C was incarcerated and when Pimp came home he also toured the country with UGK. Like many artists, he realized his dollars were much longer on the production side so he focused on his production and hard work paid off in huge dividends.
Houston’s go to hip hop producer was living a dream when his world came crashing down with tragedy. The death of Pimp C stole Cory Mo’s music inspiration and resulted in him leaving painful memories behind in Houston and relocating to Atlanta.
After taking some time to re-group, Cory Mo applied his homegrown hustle to the streets of Atlanta and it wasn’t long before he was sitting across from artists like Gucci Mane, Killer Mike, Big KRIT, Scotty Atl and many more. His production has recently become a hot ticket with singles on Big Boi of Outkast, hot new duo “Ayo & Teo” and TLC’s newest project. Cory Mo’s discography is riddled with southern hits but it includes more than just southern joints. “Yes, I’m mostly know as a southern producer because of the multiple records that I have produced & hundreds of songs that I have engineered for UGK, but if you check my discography you might find that I produced for every demographic there is.”
In addition to his production, Cory Mo has created a blog for independent artist worldwide called CountryRapTunes.com established in 2012, which later grew into an internet radio station called “Country Rap Tunes Radio” in 2017, to pay homage to the entire Southern Hip-Hop Culture which was inspired by his late friend Pimp C. He also has launched a T-Shirt line called “Jus Sayin Clothing” and of course he still heads the wildly popular M.A.D. Studios ATL.
When asked for his long term goals, Cory Mo says he looks forward to his work as a producer not only being remembered but more importantly respected. Much like the south’s reputation, Cory Mo is known as one of the most accommodating producers on the map. His sound is undeniable and compliments each artist that he collaborates with. Like a plate of country fried goodness, it’s a sound that artists and listeners alike instinctively crave and can’t help but return to time and time again.
Written By: Christal D. Jordan