Growing up in the middle of nowhere Kansas doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for an aspiring hip hop artist. Sean “Modo” Jones grew up with the normal influences of small-town living, including an affinity towards rock music, while at the same time his brother began listening to rap. So, what began as a sibling rivalry about the qualifications of rock and rap ultimately became a passion that quickly changed into aspiration.
Throughout high school and college, Modo continued to expand on his musical aspirations, but after graduation, the 9-5 grind began to swallow him like many others. Then the sudden passing of his brother in 2018 caused a new personal understanding of what really is important in life. For Modo the passion to be successful and influential through his music had never been relinquished and he knew that he wanted to dedicate his life to the development and expansion of his artistry.
Modo’s unique and eclectic lyrical content is the emanation of a rigorous process. A true artist who is not afraid to expand outside the box or try something new or different. Branching out and swerving lanes is far from taboo in Modo’s world, in fact it is just part of the course. His scientific-like method of studying individual artists, breaking down their style, and utilizing the information to acquiesce his own expansion of his expression has allowed for the constant advancement of his craft.
His engineering talents allow him to create every aspect of his music and shows the true skill level and dedication he has as an artist. An obvious result of the discipline derived from mixed martial arts training earlier in life accompanied with a drive for self-progression.
Modo’s influence goes far beyond his music. His love of hip hop and the local scene accompanied with a goal of leaving a positive impact and helping to further the genre has led him to constitute new opportunities for not only himself but other artists as well. Creating opportunities that allow local artists to showcase themselves and do something that doesn’t happen a lot, get paid.
Hi Modo! What do you love about hip-hop music?
Modo: Honestly, the thing I love about hip-hop the most is the storytelling you can do. It’s just fun to play a beat and talk about whatever the hell you want and evolve those concepts into songs. Letting your creative side take over and flexing your lyrical ability, making catchy melodies, creating a statement on a certain topic, there’s really no end to what form your stories can take.
Do you think in some way, living in Kansas has made you hustle more and become better at what you do?
Modo: Most definitely. I grew up in a single-parent low-income family in a small town. Once I realized the concepts of progression and I was able to see the bigger picture I worked my ass off to pass everyone in any aspect of life and I was able to create a financially stable life for myself while pursuing my dreams. At this point, I’m really just worried that I’ll never be satisfied and I’ll keep working to reach higher and higher, but right now I’m enjoying the challenge of rising through the ranks.
What types of change do you feel your music can initiate?
Modo: I think my music will inspire those to realize that nothing is out of reach, it all just depends how much of your energy you put towards a certain goal. To be honest, I don’t have the typical hip-hop or artist appearance (which also benefits me because I stand out in a certain way), but when people hear my music or see me perform live I’m able to catch people off guard and really attract a diverse audience to the idea that anyone can do anything they set their mind to.
If you had the power to change one thing about the hip-hop industry to help independent artists – what would it be?
Modo: I think the biggest thing I would change would be the income rate from streams. I realize that companies have to make money and have investors to answer to, but when a giant platform like Spotify with millions of users only pays $0.0043 per stream, yet a smaller platform like TIDAL pays $0.0125, it makes you think about what artists could actually be getting paid. It’s already hard being in an era where very few people actually purchase songs/albums already, meaning a lot of smaller artists lose out on a lot of money for their actual art, and rely on merch and ticket sales to survive. Then you throw in the current pandemic and venues close, making it even more difficult to survive as an independent.
Your single “Gluttony” is awesome, also I love the groove. What inspired you to write it?
Modo: Thank you, I appreciate it! Gluttony is from the LP I released in January this year called The Seven Deadly Songs. Each of the songs is based on one of the seven deadly sins and named appropriately. With Gluttony I wanted to highlight aspects of life people can be gluttonous in besides just-food. Sonically it was inspired by me listening to a lot of Joyner Lucas and Logic at the time, hence the faster pace with witty punchlines. The goal of the overall project as a whole was to reveal to myself and listeners various areas in our lives that we allow sin to have control over. It was a very humbling and fun concept to tackle and was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, so that’s a plus! haha
What are some newer projects that you are currently working on?
Modo: I can’t dive TOO deep into what I’m cooking up currently (it could spoil the hype build-ups coming soon), but I will say I’m working on diving into a lot more personal concepts. I recently released 8 singles and 2 remixes throughout the quarantine/summer and they were more focused on catchy sonically pleasing structures but still having a deeper meaning to them. So, I’m honestly looking forward to switching it up again and getting more personal. Got to keep the audience guessing, right? haha
Who do you think are the top 3 rappers doing it at the moment, and why?
Modo: I would have to say the top 3 rappers right now would be Drake, Russ, and Jack Harlow. Not that these are my favorite 3 right now, they are just making the right moves in different ways. First Drake, not only cementing himself as all-time great many times over, nothing the guy does misses. He’s very good at capitalizing off of younger rappers coming up with a pretty good buzz and linking with them to be exposed to younger audiences and stay relevant to secure more relevant longevity. Russ is quite frankly the best independent hustle right now IMO. Whether or not you like the dudes music, studying his business philosophy and the moves he made to get where he is and still retain all the ownership to his product is huge for up-and-comers to learn from. Lastly, Harlow. Dude has worked his ass off for years and has shown he can be lyrical, promote conscious themes and make viral bangers. With his recent XXL freshman appearance and riding the success of “What’s Poppin’?” I think he’s in a position to solidify a very long career in the industry.
What non-musical entities and ideas have impacted your music?
Modo: I’d say the biggest thing is really just my life! I’m also a huge nerd for many things like anime, video games, sports, religions etc. It gives me so many different concepts and thought processes to inspire the music and fuse with my own life events. It’s like one big crazy sandbox in my head! haha
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Modo: I really hope at the surface level people can just enjoy what I make sonically and then after that anyone that is inspired or helped in any way by the content I create is a major bonus.
So, what are your plans for the future?
Modo: Hustle! Haha. I really just want to continue to grow my brand and fan base, killing live shows, and improving as an artist. I think as long as those things keep happening there’s no telling where I’ll end up. And then when it’s time to hang it up I’d love to tutor the next young Modo and teach them everything I learned so they can surpass me one day. Circle of… art??
To learn more about Modo and his music:
Some of Modo’s songs:
Lucky – https://song.link/i/1523920000