When Toussaint Morrison jumped on the mic at Sully’s Pub in Hartford, CT, on Thursday, October 25th, there was a small group of people by the stage, with others at the bar watching both Thursday night football and the World Series, and still more outside having a smoke. By the time Morrison was halfway through his set, everyone who had been outside was by the stage and everyone at the bar had turned around and was paying full attention to Morrison’s performance. This is the effect Toussaint Morrison’s music has on people. His unique brand of personal, and fringe culture reference laced, hip-hop, mixed with Motown-era soul, draws listeners in and turns them into fans.

RapReviews caught up with Morrison on the night of the show to find out more about his music, including his latest mixtape, Toussaint Morrison is Not My Boyfriend, as well as his successful Kickstarter campaign. Morrison also revealed how blogging about a cancer patient he met changed the way he writes.

Adam Bernard: Last year you had Toussaint Morrison is Not My Homeboy. This year you have Toussaint Morrison is Not My Boyfriend. Why do you have an obsession with telling people what you aren’t?

Toussaint Morrison:Because I’ve had somewhat of a negative connotation, or underdog attitude, associated with my name. With the Not My Homeboy part, there was a point between ’03 and ’05 where I was on the national slam poetry team, I was doing plays, writing plays, I was touring with a band, and I was super high on my horse. In my mind I felt like art was like a track meet and you could actually say “I’m better than you,” that you could say “my quantity is greater than yours,” which is blasphemous because people rank and rate at their own opinion, not by literally what they see. So essentially the Not My Homeboy thing came from the fact that I couldn’t really work with any Minneapolis artists without there being some negative connotation. I told people what I truthfully thought, and the thing is with “Minnesota nice,” saying what’s on your mind at that point in time is very bad etiquette, it’s very poor character, so when I went and did that it turned out bad for me. The Not My Boyfriend part is from shitty romance, and once a woman’s downed your name you’re like an asshole for life, and I had the tendency to date women who were absolutely out of their mind. I was just attracted to that. My bad, their bad, and I’m no better a person for that. Maybe I was a little out of my mind, as well, at those points in time. A lot of those songs are based out of failed romance and finding some kind of light in the shittiness that there was.

AB: The first couple lines on “Coup De Grace” about getting the text from last night and just wanting to ignore it. I think everyone’s been through that.

TM: Yeah, and it’s also, like I said, an underdog mentality where people think poorly of you and you say “you know what, you really think I’m going to ruin this situation here? Well, I’m gonna go light a match and get some gasoline and I’m just gonna destroy the situation,” and I don’t know what that is in me, but when people think “he’s not gonna meet our standards,” I go in and just tear it down and say “oh, what happened to your party now?” It’s bad. It’s not a healthy mentality to have.

AB: It’s pretty obvious you know who you are, and much of your work has a very human quality to it. You aren’t putting on airs. When did you first become comfortable with embracing who you really are?

TM: I was expressing who I was through The Blend and Lazlo Supreme. I guess now, talking about my father, and meeting up with cancer patients, because of the mobility of Jake (Dr. Wylie) and I, I feel like I can actually write about that and feel OK with it, as opposed to like The Blend or anything else, it was such a death trap, and ticking time bomb, that the livelihood of my writing wouldn’t have a vehicle for it. Some people have said “aren’t you just OK with making art and nobody seeing it?” That’s cool, too, but it doesn’t exist if there’s no real beat. I’m kinda OCD in the sense where I want to have my lyrics typed online, I want to have a YouTube video associated with it, I want to have a beat associated with it, I want to have some way to reference that moment and that memory for me, whether it’s a song, or it’s a poem, whatever it is I need something with that and I guess I feel more comfortable expressing myself, and more layers of myself, because of that immediate vehicle between Jake and I to take advantage of that.

AB: Since you’ve embraced who you are, and been outspoken about a lot of things, including a recent blog post of yours landing on reddit, what’s been the most common thing someone’s said to you that you have to just let roll off your shoulders?

TM: “What about that beef that you had with so and so?” We’re literally talking about beef from 0 fucking 3. In Minneapolis people don’t let it go, and the thing with me is like, it’s meant to be squashed. A disagreement is meant to be debated, and then squashed, and learn something from it. To this day people still come up to me, I don’t even want to bring up their names because it’s so ridiculous, but because I had beef with a certain rapper, or said something that might have hurt somebody’s feelings back in the day, they’re still coming like “really whatever happened with y’all, man?” I’m like “who fucking cares? It’s 2012, what happened with you? Why are you still talking to me about it?” I could go crazy on em, but I just say “you know what, it’s fine now. I don’t care to go into the story.” I blogged about it because it’s a cool, funny, story, but there’s just no reason to entertain it anymore. I’ve had people come up to me and say “whatever happened with that? You know you really were an asshole.” It’s like, you just asked me a question and then made a statement. Do you want to write me a letter and tell me how you feel, or let me go about my way?

AB: And they’ve already called you an asshole, so you know how they feel about things.

TM: To make it more well rounded, it’s when people assume I’m an asshole, and there are some points when I might come off as cocky when I’m self conscious, or I might be literally thinking of something and I kinda do a little bit of a space out and I go “oh, yeah, what were you saying?” That shit happens, and I don’t want to say “it’s the way artists are,” but it’s just when your right brain is working at all times sometimes you might come off as an asshole, unintentionally.

AB: So maybe your next album could be Toussaint Morrison is not an Asshole.

TM: Could be. Totally. Somebody also said Toussaint Morrison is not the Father. That was another one. {laughs}

AB: With the new album, what are you most proud of when you listen to it?

TM: I’m most proud of… I replay “Weapon Sex,” “Coup De Grace,” and “Coffee & Chemo,” and it’s not like masturbatory, I like being able to marry rap and singing in a very equal way. I love singing more than anything, it just comes naturally. Rapping is fun, it’s informative, and it’s awesome, but singing, you can literally say less and metaphorically say more. There’s a trick and an intelligence to it. That’s what I like most about the album, the singing part of it, and actually delving into some Motown with it, that was great. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and it’s the longest, not to say quantity over quality, but it’s the most writing I’ve ever put forth to the public.

AB: You had a Kickstarter campaign to fund this. Did anything about the campaign surprise you?

TM: Yeah, the cost of everything. It just blew my mind. I slipped on thinking about mailing things out and how much that was gonna cost. I was like, we’ll hire Jessica Weber at co-sign for three of these, that’s $3,600. Oh wait a second, we have to print these off, that costs $700. Oh, we gotta mail these out, that’s gonna be $500 a campaign. Then you have to mail things to the Kickstarter backers, which I took total pride in, but sometimes things get mailed back, sometimes things get lost in the mail, people take it personally and you’re like oh shit, let me get it out to you. The beautiful thing is the interaction you get to have, the scary part is (potentially) offending them, or being a bad business partner.

AB: Would you do it again?

TM: I plan on doing it again. Maybe for a solo album after the mixtapes, and we would look to get it to $10,000 so we could do a press person, radio agency, call it a day. The title (of the third mixtape) is up in the air. It’s either gonna be called This Changes Everything, or Edo. This Changes Everything is a graffiti title from outside of the Intermedia Arts Center in Minneapolis that said Art Changes Everything and I just remember people having serious discussions like {in a whisper} “you know this changes everything, right,” more so in a disagreement form like “now I have to walk away from you, now I literally have to cut you out of my life.” Edo is what they kept referring to in Samurai Champloo when they were like “we just left Edo,” or “we’re going to Edo.” I never understood it, so I looked it up. It was the old terminology for Tokyo, and I think it’s a beautiful thing to take that on because of the music that’s gonna be on the third (mixtape). It’s going to be a very large piece of work.

AB: Finally, give me a wild, crazy, or inspirational, story, musical or otherwise, you wouldn’t believe if it hadn’t happened to you.

TM: Inspirational moments… the biggest one, I’d say, as of now, that I can recently remember, is meeting this girl Lulu out in Milwaukee, and her mother looking up my name online and saying “I just read the blog you wrote about us, some of it was incorrect,” and I was like “oh shit,” but then she said “but it was a beautiful piece and thank you so much, you should come back to Milwaukee to meet Lulu again.” I was like alright, great. I went back and she had a lemonade stand, and she was raising money for her chemo. I put a $20 in there, bought some lemonade, and that exchange in itself, creating that connection, was huge because it was an instant exchange showing your words are something you have to be responsible for, and not just because people will seek you out online, but also because if you’re gonna tell a story, whether it’s poetry, writing, rapping, or a song, you have to take accountability for it, and at that point I believe I probably became just a little bit more of a responsible writer. That was a big exchange.