MOOSE the Coolest scrawled his first rap lyrics on a piece of colored construction paper in the fourth grade. It was a heartfelt rhyme—a gift for Motherʻs Day. Though he doesn’t recall the words, it was a landmark moment for MOOSE. The love that he conveyed for his mom sparked a passion for expressing himself through music.
The time between then and now found the 26-year-old rapper, producer and DJ bouncing around from island to island to desert. Born in Quezon City, Philippines, his family moved to Makakilo, Hawaii when he was 7. In 2006, Las Vegas became his new home, and his appreciation for the city quickly grew.
MOOSE’s love for Las Vegas is manifested in all of his music, but never as much as on his new four-track EP, City Never Sleeps. Released in late March, it features a mix of soulful, jazzy beats to smooth R&B and head-bobbin’ hip-hop. It’s an ode to the city and its artists, showcasing both the Las Vegas lifestyle and some of its brightest stars. The title track features MOOSE alongside fellow emcee Marion Write and singer and The Voice alum JR Aquino. “Vegas Is a Mfka” features Trade Voorhees, G. Reed and Blair Norf detailing the melting pot of talents and cultures that coexist in Sin City.
“It’s a condensed story about how it is to be a millennial, musician or artist in our city,” MOOSE says. “You can listen to any artist [and] they’ll shout out their hometown, and we’re listening and singing to the lyrics about their hometown. I was like, ʻHold up, people need to be singing about Vegas.’”
Since the release of the EP, MOOSE not only caught the attention of people from all over the nation but from all over the world. “That’s one of the most fulfilling things,” MOOSE says. “ [They] enjoyed the music when I’m talking about my city, my hometown.”
His love for music and Las Vegas has made MOOSE one of the city’s standout acts. His take on music sets a unique trend for the future of Las Vegas hip-hop. “Not a lot of people make it into the industry from here,” MOOSE says. “[But] that’s the thing about Vegas, it has such a new culture. Everybody here is a transplant; their whole culture or style is from another place.”
Not only is MOOSE motivated to changing the music scene for local artists and giving them a sense of place, but changing the way music is progressing.
“Hip-hop is its own culture. It has its own rhythm; it has its own soul,” MOOSE says. “I want to put more musicianship and soul back into modern sounds … not the genre of soul music, but music from the soul.”