Dwayne Molock admits himself that has always been a little weird.
“I’m just a regular guy that raps with his cats,” says Moshow.
As a kid, he claims he felt like an outsider in his own neighborhood. Growing up in Baltimore, while other kids his age were out on the corner, Molock just wanted to stay home and play Dragon Ball Z or listen to James Taylor music. He started rapping at a very young age, and dropped his first mixtape when he was just 14.
“I grew up in the projects,” he says, “so I was rapping gangster stuff and pretending a life that I didn’t really live.” After a while, he put down the mic. “I just didn’t feel comfortable rapping about things I didn’t do,” he says.
Molock now lives in Portland, Oregon and he’s returned to music, and this time, he raps about what he knows and what he loves.
He raps about cats.
When he visited WW’s office, the 28-year-old wore a yellow shirt with light-black stripes, a burgundy jacket over a navy sweatshirt, and a light-pink scarf patterned with black cat silhouettes. Tali—one of four sphynxes he owns, and wearing a shirt covered in sphynx faces—walked back and forth on a conference table, looking for a good scratch and a pet. Molock reached into a small cat carrier and petted the second cat who was also in the room, Tali’s daughter, whose name is Sushi. His other two cats, Mega Man and Ravioli, stayed home at day..
The cat-rap game actually appears to be working. Molock now has nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram. His video for the song “Cat World” has well over 10,000 views on YouTube. He’s been featured on KGW-TV, and this week he’ll be rapping live—not at a club, but at the Portland Art Museum, in front of Carl Kahler’s My Wife’s Lovers, the so-called “world’s greatest cat painting.”
Molock sings under the name Moshow, a shout-out to his dad, a high-school basketball star whom everyone always called “The Mo Show.” The name, he says, is “just me saying thank you, Dad, for creating me.” It’s clear that Molock loves his family dearly as much as he loves cats…well, almost as much. As a gift for graduating from high school, his mother moved the family out of the Baltimore projects to Essex, Maryland. Molock then attended York College of Pennsylvania where exposed him to a kind of diversity he had never seen.
“I grew up in literally an all-black life,” he says. In college, the situation reversed: He was one of the only people of color.
“I remember going to my first party,” he says. “I was used to music and people dancing, and then I go downstairs and it’s just a keg and people playing beer pong. It blew my mind!”
Beer-pong culture shock was followed by another new experience: meeting his very first cat. “I grew up not having animals,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was missing.” The cat’s name was Queeny. She belonged to a friend whose house Molock would sometimes study at.
“It started with her standing right there staring at me, and I was like, ‘Man, I need to get this cat away from me,'” he recalls. “And then two weeks later, she was closer, and I was like, ‘All right, it’s not that bad.’ And then a month later, next thing I know I’m getting rubs on my legs, and I’m like, ‘OK, I can deal with this.’ And then a month later, she was sitting on my lap, and I was like, ‘How did this even happen?”