Behind the mask: Issue’s love for tea, beats and Pink Floyd

Emma Gritt

issue Behind the mask: Issues love for tea, beats and Pink Floyd

We’ve all got issues. But a crippling sense of self-doubt, or deeply hidden paranoia isn’t what fuels 18-year old California-born rapper Issue’s musical output.

He got his moniker from his older brother, who says it describes how he is a “problem (issue) in the music industry.” Kudos from family members is rarely worth much, but considering Issue, aka Migliore Ferrari, is the younger sibling of The Pharmaceuticals’ Droop-E, it’s actually quite an accolade.

It wasn’t just the name that his brother bestowed on him, but also the basics of making the music that has hip-hop fans excited about this new masked contender. “He taught me how to make beats, chop samples, record,” he says. It was also a tweet from his proud big brother that brought him to the attention of established hip-hop bloggers three years ago and started him on his current journey.

Issue stays hidden behind a mask, whether the physical one on his face or the quote marks he uses on Twitter “to show that I am a philosopher because the wisdom from the liquid (tea).” Ah yes, the tea. While at points his rhymes about cars, women and mansions are cookie-cutter rap, the only ‘green’ you’ll ever hear him boasting about is the type you find in tea bags. He’s yet to reach the MTV Cribs level of homeownership, but jokes that by rapping about it he’s preparing for when it all comes together.

He’s aware that wearing a mask will bring inevitable comparisons to DOOM, but interestingly Issue also loves WWE monster Kane. He’s also a total Italophile, with one of his many free downloads being called Waves Of Italy. Once you’ve exhausted the scores of mixtapes, free tracks and the like, get ready for an album “full of singing and stunting”, dropping this summer.

How would you describe what you do?

I describe it as art, a painting, a visual for listeners to get what mood I am in or how I am feeling at the moment.

So when it comes to working with producers/other people’s beats, how does that fit in to your metaphorical picture painting?

Good question. I think the beat has to match my mood, that’s how it usually goes. If I like the beat and it has melodies I’m bound to hop on it but again, it’s the mood.

At points, your music is pretty trippy with lots of reverb and strange samples. What has driven you to this sound?

Pink Floyd had much to do with my music, I’m such a huge fan of them. They say what’s on their mind and they don’t care about anyone’s input on their music, they just do them. That’s how I am, I don’t take criticism for no one; that’s why my music is so blended. If I did take input from people, my music wouldn’t be my ‘music’. It would be normal and basic. I also like Death Grips, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and Lil B.

What is your studio set-up?

Mac Computer, M-box, Mic, and a Italian flag (for inspiration). Ferrari and Lamborghini are my favorite sports cars. When I was younger, around 14, I listened to a lot of electronic music produced by Italians. The country in general really, great food, great beaches, it’s perfect. Enzo Ferrari is the man!

I’ve got to ask… why the mask?

At first I put it on because it was really cool. I think it shows how different I am from everyone else.

Plenty of superheroes wear masks too, which one do you most align yourself with?

I like to compare myself to Batman, by being off beat and talking about tea instead of weed or liquor!

Why the penchant for tea?

Ah, it’s the best. The flavors of the herbs – perfect. I like hot or cold brewed. Every time I sip it I feel like I am intaking wisdom. Sadly it’s not a ceremonial thing. I need to start one, huh?

See Issue’s tea-fuelled philosophical musings at

NOTE: This interview is from November 2013, and was originally meant to feature in JUKE vol.5

Tagged in: , , ,

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter