Music and sanity go hand in hand, and more than ever the cross section of the two is a necessary space. While in the past it might have seemed like mental health wasn’t the easiest topic to talk about in the music industry, artists around the world are rising up and coming together to break the negative stigma and raise awareness – a game changer when you have the platform to do so.
Insert Luna Clipse, a rapper who is here to raise the bar and tell his story.
Describing herself, Luna states, “I was born in the Twin Towers prison for the criminally insane, where I lost my sane identity only to be resurrected as Luna. It’s the alter ego that I adopt when I go to rap battles. I basically turned the madness I was discovering and discriminating against into a verbal combat weapon.
Now, he’s teamed up with 15-time Grammy-nominated producer Jerry Wonda for his new album titled Madness. Wonda has worked with everyone from the Fugees and Mary J. Blige to John Legend and Beyonce, and has always had an affinity for mental health.
When the two actually bonded in the studio, the synergy was immediately apparent. Wonda was able to help Luna express herself musically while leveraging her “crazy inner” to turn her into a positive phenomenon.
AllHipHop sat down virtually with Luna Clipse and Jerry Wonda to discuss their love for hip-hop, the studio creative process, mental health, and more.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for hip-hop and culture.
Moon : What I love about hip-hop is that it was born out of the voice of the voiceless – it was its spirit. I just did a track with Dead Prez and Bizarre from D-12. They are guys that I like, because they have this spirit that represents the voice of the voiceless.
When I was in the mental hospital, my brother gave me his iPod and I listened Devil’s Night. They were talking about the devil, hell, mental illness, everything I was going through. My man Marco Polo, who I rapped with, was like that too – he rapped about s ### anti-establishment, anti-Illuminati. He put me in touch with Cannabis and Bizzare from D-12 and Sticman from Dead Prez to start making tracks with them.
AllHipHop: Bizarre was he in person or was he sent?
Moon : No, he got me on the phone with Bizarre, then Bizarre sent his verse – same thing with stic.man, a song called “Scalped Eagle”, over a Havoc beat that sounded like Native American spirits to me and reminded me of The Shining at the White House, where Jack Nicholson was really the president and his child was the president’s child.
AllHipHop: Talk about your creative process and how you work in the studio. Are there certain things you need to record? What is your environment?
Moon : Well, I always write in and out of the studio, but Jerry has this energy when he’s creating in the studio that makes the songs come together perfectly. He is like an alchemist. Can you believe he actually designs his own candles?
AllHipHop: I love candles!
Moon : His daughter just read me my tarot, stuff that interests me. Spiritual stuff. It has an atmosphere of energy that creates the space for the realization of ideas that I start out of the studio.
When Jerry told me his hero was Quincy Jones, I watched the Quincy Jones documentary because I was curious. I saw MJ on Broadway, and “Thriller” is what blew up Michael Jackson. It reminded me of our Joker. People will soon find out.
Jerry Wonda: MJ on Broadway was the best show I’ve seen. And I love Broadway, it was my first since the pandemic. The music, the script, the talent – they were all so good. And the room, even the people who came for the show. It was so much fun.
When I met Luna, I connected with him through his writing and loved his story. He writes so much and when he writes a song, he writes it like a movie. As a producer, I say “ok now this is how our chorus is going to be. Instead of it being 72 bars, let’s do 30, 32 bars. Then 48 bars. I put some structure in it and I transformed his writing and his expression into songs.
Luna is not Luna without her light source. He brings these huge lights to the studio and sits in front of them to meditate before cutting vocals and creating. The music essentially comes from the air, it is an atmosphere.
AllHipHop: What was the first song you did and what was the energy?
Jerry Wonda: I’ll let Luna answer, go ahead.
Moon : “Lunacy” was the first one we did and it was all about losing our minds. Before that, I had never made songs. I just did fight raps. Jerry taught me song structure and writing. I gave him too much at first. [laughs]
Jerry Wonda: He gave me the chorus which was two pages, I’m like whoa okay. What are we going to do here? [laughs]
Moon : That’s right, the choir ended up leading the song. ‘Cause at the end of this amazing chorus – the chorus was “I thought I saw a silver lining. Is it heaven or is it hell I’m fighting? The lights go out, the lights too bright, it’s scary. Am I just losing my mind?
So the first verse, every couple of bars was a different variation of “am I losing my mind?” But the second verse tells the world they’re crazy. You have to be crazy to do this, to do that. At the end of the song, you say to yourself “am I losing my mind? Or is the world losing its mind?
Jerry Wonda: And that was the hook. The album is all about having melodic hooks on the records. All songs are melodic with meaning. It is very special for me.
AllHipHop: Why did you name the album Madness?
Moon : It’s because everyone is losing their minds now, not just us. We are all on the same sinking boat. [laughs] It was an EP, but now it’s like 11 songs.
AllHipHop: How important is mental health to you?
Jerry Wonda: That’s all for one person. Your mental health is so important. As governor of the New York chapter of the Recording Academy and co-chairman of the P&E wing and owner of a recording studio, Platinum Sounds, I work daily with many people – engineers, singers, musicians – I see so many people, artists coming to the studio who are really hurting. One of the things that I put in my goals in life is how to help musicians? How can I help music creators?
Even you, me, all of us: we come to a place here some days we wake up feeling sad or we cry. Sometimes you don’t even know why. It’s all sanity, we just don’t talk about it. For me, mental health is everything. I also sit on the Backline Board of Directors. Backline’s mission is to help musicians on tour who are suffering, they are the ones who don’t even go home or sometimes don’t see their families. Some days they wake up and don’t even know where they are.
AllHipHop: Luna, talk about how you balance your mental disorder.
Moon : Well, I picked up a ton of habits along the way out of necessity. Because 1 in 4 people with bipolar disorder commit suicide, so it’s desperation that drives you to pick things up. I take cold showers, I fast. I do transcendental meditation. I used to take too much medication, so I took a long time to reduce the medication to a bare minimum.
Mushrooms helped me a lot at one time. I also run for an hour and a half a day. You evolve over time in your mind and body because you have to do these things.
AllHipHop: Do you have anything else to tell us?
Jerry Wonda: We should know that the album will be released on October 14th. We decided to drop it at this time because of Mental Health Awareness Day.
Moon : And it’s the month of the Joker. [laughs]
Jerry Wonda: We want to help raise awareness about mental health and tell LUNA’s story about her Lunacy story. This project is water for the body, it is food for us. It’s a dessert. [laughs] It’s lunch, dinner for people.