"To see these young men bobbin' their heads, free-styling, making positive comments about my music . . . It was an empowering and humbling experience," says Moe'Z.

Moe'Z Art: Hip-hop's Raffi?
Moe'Z Art: Hip-hop's Raffi?

Despite his struggles, Gordon is an optimist. The Beast is not a hip-hop album, and Moe'Z Art is not a hip-hop project. It's something less defined, indebted to many styles and textures. Nonetheless, Gordon has no problems conjuring the kind of braggadocio common in the genre. But while your average rapper might boast about cars, bitches, or bling, Gordon is more likely to brag about his poetic aspirations — and he isn't afraid of setting lofty standards, either. "Eleven years after starting music, I'm still unsure of exactly what my path is, but I am as I view everyone else: an artist with endless potential to blindly inspire, and change the world by being an individual."

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