Pep Love is one of the most respected rappers in hip hop (as well as a personal favorite). Hailing from Oakland California, he made a big impact on the underground circuit as a member of the legendary Hieroglyphics crew, and especially with his solo album Ascension which I found incredibly inspiring. Now with his new album Rigmarole just released (listen/buy here), he is back in the spotlight. It’s a solid effort of dope beats and especially rhymes that you can expect from Pep (review coming soon). We had a chance to interview him about the new album, among other things. Check it out…

What’s the origin and meaning of ‘Pep Love’?

Pep comes from my attributes: Purpose – Expressed – Poetically. There have been other rappers and DJ’s with the word “love” in their names that came before me.

What’s your favorite song off this new album and why?

There is a song entitled Reflections that quite poignantly illustrates certain things personal to me that give me a sensation when I hear the song. But I wouldn’t characterize it as being my favorite song on the album.

What role do you play in the beat making process – and what influences your selection of beats?

I make beats. I listen to records and chop and loop samples. I didn’t make any of the beats on this album, but I was definitely involved. As far as what influenced the selection of music for this album; it was more about a certain feeling of putting forward a workman type effort that expresses the concept of the rigmarole in musical form. Gritty but vibed out at the same time. No fancy dancey type music on this record.

You seem like a spiritual dude. How do you balance that in a hip hop/street culture that values being hard and tough?

I’m more of a hip hop dude than anything. So hip hop is my spirituality or at least an avenue towards it. Creativity and artful expression is why I love music in the first place. And my goal is to be a pioneer in the culture so I don’t have to worry about trying to be cool or hip because I’m trying to be the best and blaze a trail. And its seems to me that the supposedly hard and tough rappers are more spiritual than I am because you always see them with crosses and Jesus pieces around their necks. Not the kid…

With respect to your privacy, what has been going on in the years since Ascension?

The Rigmarole…Hahahaha…I’ve been dealing with the realities of trying to create and trying to make my songs pay.

Who’s your favorite artist/rapper at the moment? Are you listening to any non hip hop?

I don’t have a favorite. If you want to know what I listen to, log on to and check out my blog where I will be posting links to my latest free playlist/mixtapes bi-monthly under Pep Love on the homepage.

You’re stuck on a desert island for life. Which 3 albums would you take with you?

Songs in the Key Life – Stevie Wonder

Fantastic – Slum Village

Rigmarole – Pep Love

How was the tour with Rebelution, and did you learn anything on this tour?

It was great! I always learn something new on every show. I learn how to better apply myself to my music every time I have an opportunity to practice my craft. This is why opportunities like a tour with a band the magnitude of Rebelution are fundamentally enlightening for me…

What are your thoughts on China and Chinese culture? (we are based in China)

I would have to say that I don’t know a lot but I am interested to know more.

Any advice for aspiring hip hop musicians/rappers?

Keep your bond with other artists strong and don’t worry about having everyone like your music or like you. Do it from the heart and with persistent passion. Spend as little time as possible around the other people that don’t actually create but act as authorities or gatekeepers in the music business. I’m talking about the record company people and the booking agents and the publicists and the promoters. They can all be your friends, but from a distance. Don’t allow their perspective to poison your creative perspective.

What can we expect from Pep Love in the near future?

More music and infinite growth…My continued quest for the best!