Mogli the Iceburg is Trying to Change How We Consume Hip-Hop
The name Mogli the Iceburg is sure to illicit a certain response upon hearing it. Some might say “Wow, what a dope name,” others may say, “Wow, what an awful name,” but either way, you’ll remember it, and there lies the genius of it.
Mogli is part of Rapzilla’s 2017 Freshman list, and aside from the interesting name, which he breaks down for us, he has postured himself to be quite the unique and versatile artist.
If you went around and asked some of the up and comers and moderately established indie rappers of Christian hip-hop about Mogli, they’d probably reply, “marketing wizard” (most did).
As part of nobigdyl.’s indie tribe. crew along with Jarry Manna, Mogli provides much of his marketing prowess to their developments and plans. He also provides that same advice to his fellow emcees.
“I’m a very analytical numbers driven person. Even in my creative process, that’s how my brain does things,” he revealed. “I went to school for marketing. I have a marketing degree. I do that and videos for a living. I make decisions dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars for a business.”
He takes this grandiose approach and applies it at a much smaller level to keep the creative cogs turning.
“As long as I’ve been doing things, people have been scrambling around to figure out what the heck is going on with the music business. Just because someone was successful in the early 2000s doesn’t necessarily mean they can repeat that success now. Things are changing faster than a school program can teach,” he said. “With me, I’ve very much tried to have a complete comprehension on the fundamentals of business in and of itself and just be able to universally apply it to whatever situation.”
While this “Do it Yourself” attitude seems to fit the moniker of indie tribe., it’s not necessarily their message.
“[It means] We are indie, everything is just us. We are talking about thinking independently and being independent of the world and being able to go and burn your own path. I’m not anti-label, I’m pro glorifying God, I’m pro, creative control, I’m pro taking risks and being brave with art and if somebody is willing to invest money in a business sense, I’m down with it but it has to work out with our vision and mission.”
Mogli’s mind has always been focused on the music industry. His story begins as a child growing up in a Christian home with a mother who was a singer/songwriter and a father who was a songwriter, guitarist, producer, and engineer within Christian music.
His mom’s brother was a bassist and songwriter in several successful bands in the 80s and 90s while his dad’s brother was an engineer/producer who worked with the likes of P. Diddy and Tupac to Ozzy Osbourne.
“My parents didn’t let me listen to a lot of rap growing up. What really got me into music heavy, especially hip-hop, were rock groups like P.O.D. and Linkin Park partly because at the time they were rapping about more real life substance. They were kind of doing emo rap before Kid Cudi and Drake, and it was clean,” he admitted. “Beyond that was Eminem, who is not a black rapper and T-Bone, my first Christian rap experience.
He continued, “Seeing P.O.D. and Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park), those were the only people that were rapping. They were the only ones that looked like me (more on what that means in part 2). Being a little kid, I didn’t think hip-hop was even an opportunity because I wasn’t black. Those guys let me think I can be like them.”
Building off the rap/rock experiences mentioned, Mogli was very much into all sorts of rock music, being it a metalcore band such as Underoath or something more alternative like Switchfoot.
He learned to play guitar and was part of an orchestra, and does most of his own production and engineering for projects.
One example of his musical abilities, the song “Run for Cover” on the album DREVMCVTCHER, is in 7/8, 5/4, 7/8, 4/4 time signature. In retrospect, most raps are written to a standard 4/4 measure. So there is just quite a bit going on here.
Essentially, Mogli the Iceburg is his own record label. He can provide everything he needs from a musical, marketing, and video production standpoint.
“Between production and mixing, that’s my philosophy. Why would I pay someone to do something I can do myself. I’m more able to offer artists other things too.”
Another big part of Mogli’s appeal is his willingness to risk take and push the boundaries of what hip-hop is. For instance, he opens his latest project, Synesthesia, by singing the first verse of “Blink of an Eye.” It’s not like a rap hook R&B type singing either, it has such a different feel. He also does the extremely rare for a rap artist, cover song. He does the song “Ghetto,” a cover of P.O.D.’s classic track from their 2001 landmark album Satellite. Not once does Mogli rap on it. The song is all singing and even does some heavy rock screams on it. The whole thing is re-envisioned as a soft piano ballad carefully arranged by Mogli.
“I think a lot of people are open to different types of music but there is mental divides and culture divides that hinder people from venturing into those areas,” he said. “So the music I like, I wanted to introduce my fans to and I wanted them to see where I’m influenced and want to introduce them to music that I love. Something that’s crazy to me just looking at the music business as a whole.”
He then spoke about how cover songs are industry standards everywhere but rap music. Part of it is, it’s not cool to rap someone else’s lyrics but the other half is many of the artists aren’t versatile enough to experiment with something, not hip-hop.
“A lot of the people that are falling into the hip-hop label aren’t really rappers. Post Malone isn’t a rapper. He isn’t really R&B, but he’s singing songs. It’s melodic songwriting,” said Mogli. “I’m not gonna cover a rap song, but I’ll sing. People are cool when Mac Miller sings, people are cool when Drake sings or when Kid Cudi sings. The timing is right, I’m gonna start doing covers and make them my own because I produce. I think that could be a wave of the future.”
He’s currently experimenting with this cover song soundscape now.
“I try to master the technical element of creating music before I move on to the creative side. So for me, I’m playing around with a lot of super hits by hardcore, alternative, and even metal from the early 2000s and seeing how I can reimagine these songs into a 2017 friendly genre,” he explained. “I’m focusing on arrangement and production and recording techniques because I don’t have to think about writing a killer song. I’m gonna get the formula on how to reimagine the song.”
He stated that a cover would not be on whatever his next project will be but he’s currently playing around with tracks by Underoath, Incubus, Switchfoot, Third Eye Blind, and Breaking Benjamin.
Mogli the Iceburg
Last but not least, the name Mogli the Iceburg. Where does it come from and what does it mean?
“Some people think it’s terrible, some people think it’s awesome. Regardless, people remember it. If I just went by Mogli plenty of things will pop up, but Mogli the Iceburg is just one.”
Interestingly enough, the emcee did his market research on this name choice too. He said the name Mogli is very common in other parts of the world and is essentially the “Bob” of Pakistan. That’s why adding the Iceburg helps out.
“When I was young, I looked like Mogli from the Jungle Book and had long shaggy black hair, was lanky and had super dark skin. People just called me Mogli,” said the rapper. “I used to play basketball in high school and people called me Iceburg because my last name is Horenburg. That was my nickname. When I started rapping I put the two nicknames together because of the rapper OJ da Juiceman. I was like, ‘Oh, three names is a thing now’?”
So there you have it. The OJ da Juiceman inspiration you’d never thought you’d see. Check back with Rapzilla in a few weeks to read part two with Mogli the Iceburg. Check out Mogli’s newest single “You Can’t Hold Me Down” below: