If there's one thing that Moka Only's known for, more than his emcee and production abilities, it's his almost unfathomable work rate. In nearly two decades of rapping, the Victoria, BC native has released over 50 albums, worked under multiple aliases - including Ron Contour, The Durable Mammal and Flow Torch - and collaborated with the likes of J Dilla and MF Doom. He's also been a part of several groups, including Code Name: Scorpion, The Dominant Mammals, Cryptic Souls Crew and most notably the platinum selling Swollen Members, which he co-founded and named. It's no wonder they call him "The Most Prolific." To Moka Only, though, that work rate doesn't seem like a big deal."I don't think there's anything special about it," he says "I don't see why it's such a difficult thing for artists to grasp. I hear other people say "How do you do it?" How do you not do it? Music's my only job."
Moka Only started first fell in love with hip-hop in middle school. He says there was "nothing else like" the music and culture. He quickly began rapping and writing graffiti, but says he didn't really take it particularly seriously until he was in his late teens. It was then that he opted to put down the spray can and start rhyming full time. "I was really into going out on night missions and trying to make my mark," he says. "I got a little name through graffiti, but when I had to choose between the two, I didn't want to be involved in illegal activities while trying to push a professional music career."
In 1995, Moka Only co-founded the Swollen Members after returning to Canada following a stint in San Diego. (He came up with the name in a Denny's, because he liked the double entendre.) That said, he soon left the group to work on his solo material. While Only may have an almost mind blowing number of releases under his belt, his commercial peak came when he re-joined the Swollen Members in 2002. The group won multiple Junos and several number one hits. In 2005, Only left the group again, concerned that it was taking time away from his solo work. "There was a period where, after we had really hit the high point, I grew a bit tired and a bit disillusioned with it and had to go solo again," he says. "I think that had to do with maturity at the time, or lack thereof. I feel now I'd be able to balance things a lot better."
Moka Only is also renowned as a man of many names, releasing under pseudonyms like Ron Contour and Torch. He says that the different aliases allow him to tell different stories. "In hip-hop, people expect you to tell the same story you've always been telling," he says. "In other forms of music, it seems like artists are allowed to try on different authors hats. In hip-hop you're just supposed to be telling your autobiography. Other aliases allow me to be different characters, or even different aspects of my own character." Somewhat amazingly, Only says his goal for the coming year is to "go back to being prolific." He says that he felt like he was a little lazy in 2012, only releasing one bona fide solo album. (He also released a collaborative record, as well as the latest edition of his more "sonically experimental" Martian Xmas series.) "When I say I want to put out a project a month, I could do that," he says. "I have a lot of old, unreleased material. I could put out some older material one month, then a new project, and the next month could be an instrumental project."