Cook & Uno's Better Half

Thanks for hooking me up with an interview. I figured that since Cook did one that I couldn’t leave you out. That’s just be unfair. So, anyway, my readers have met CookBook, but the question still begs, who is Uno Mas?

UNO Mas was born Rene Palma to Mexican immigrants. I started rapping in high school around the mid 90s. Listened to a lot of different music growing up… mostly rock cuz of my older bro’s influence. I’m a founding member of the LA Symph crew. Blessed to travel the globe and perform in front of thousands of people! I like the color blue and I love tacos!

Uno Mas of LA Symphony

I know your name primarily from your work as a member of LA Symphony. I am most familiar with Composition No. 1 and Disappear Here. What tracks would I know you most from?

From Composition No.1 you’d probably know me best from the song “Little Shirts”. The hook is quite catchy and people always quote that to this day if they see me or Cook. From Disappear Here, I’d have to say the song “Rise”. I’ve gotten a lot of people tell me that the verse was dope and it moved them to hear it. The verse basically talks about me and a time in my life where I was very sick and hospitalized, and just what I went through.

After talking with CookBook, I downloaded the The Overflow. It’s quite a solid album and a free album is always a good thing, in my opinion. However, how can you and Cook get away with giving music away and still find a way to make a living?

Man bro, giving away music was just an idea that I kinda came up with, but not necessarily to the extent that it is with us right now. It started with just giving away a song a month back when MySpace was allowing free downloads. It eventually led to grouping the songs together with other exclusive songs to make a FREE download album. At this point we just want our music heard by any means necessary… and, by as many people as possible! We’ve never made money off of record sales. All monies we’ve seen have been from touring. So if Cook and I can gain some fans from the free stuff then hopefully we’ll earn a loyalty from them when it comes to further projects and touring. That’s the plan…hope it works!

Do you and he have anything else in the works? Or, perhaps, it’s better to ask what you have in the works, whether it be with or without him.

I’ve been tossing the idea around for a minute about doing a solo project, maybe an EP. I just don’t wanna spread ourselves too thin. My plan since day one was to do music first with my good friend Cook. The LA Symph came along and took us in another direction. Now that we’re focusing on C&U again, I feel this is the time to push as hard as possible to get our music heard. Thus came The Overflow which really did alot for us. Over 40 thousand downloads. Now we’ve got The C&U Music Factory which in my opinion is 10x’s better! It’s some of our best music to date and it has alot of dope guest spots. I have faith in our music and i believe if we can get it into people’s iPods and whatnot, they’ll catch our vision.

It seems like the LA Symph crew has been able to keep working with each other on projects outside of LA Symph releases, appearing on each other’s releases and creating interesting work together, with the latest being Rootbeer. Is there anything in particular by other members of the crew that has blown you away in the past few years?

I mean it’s real cool to see the individual members do the music they personally have in their hearts to do. Joey the Jerk is off doin’ somethin’ totally off the wall that the average LAS fan would never expect, but if you know him you’d probably say, yup that’s him. Flynn’s solo stuff has some really dope uniqueness to it that only Flynn can pull off. So it’s just dope to see everyone doin them. And if and when LA Symph gets togther for another project it’ll be us… all of us, doin’ the LAS stuff, and sound, and vibe… etc.

In the interview with CookBook, he mentioned some poor decisions involving LA Symphony. Everything in life seems to have it’s ups and downs. What do you regret about your time with LA Symphony and what is your best memory?

Man, woulda, shoulda, coulda, is never a good thing. There’s always regrets… always, no matter what you do. Too many to get into, but things coulda been done differently to make us a smoother running machine for sure. There’s always the thought of maybe we waitied too long to focus on our solo material. But, it was all a life experience, one that I do hold close. I’ve been all around the world and have seen the country up close and personal. There is way too many memories to just recall one. Like I said, I hold it all close…even the bad!

In addition to lots of other underground hip-hop, I am very into the Nerdcore subgenre. Are you familiar with the Nerdcore guys?

I’m not really familiar with the genre “Nerdcore”. Only thing that comes close would be Pigeon john when I think of that title… LOL.

Not too far off… PJ could easily be part of that scene. As I type up the questions to this interview, I am listening to MC Lars, I guess that’s where these questions came from… but anyway, what other Hip Hop inspires and influences you?

I get inspired by good hip hop… as vague as that is. I like the new artists coming out of the westcoast like Pac Div and Blu. Murs keeps doin’ his thing. Evidence has been doin’ his thing recently and I respect his hustle and music. I don’t listen much to the radio…lots and lots of sports talk radio when I’m in the car. Not necessarily cuz I say screw the stuff on radio, I just enjoy sports talk. I don’t know, there’s a lot artists out there that I respect and look forward to hearing.

How about other music, like non Hip Hop?

I don’t know. I listen to a lot of random stuff. depends on mood. you can find lots of stuff on my iPod. Random stuff like Musiq, John Mayer, The Fray, the Cardigans, Journey, Incubus, Raphael Saadiq, 80’s R&B and Pop. I’m pretty open to whatever.

Slipping away from music for a few moments, what else do you fill your time with?

Quite honestly, not much. When I’m not doin’ music, I actually stay away as far as possible from the creative side of music. I love my sports, so I watch lots of it. Football, basketball, college and pro… it’s all good to me! I’m tryin’ to get myself back in the gym. I use to be a workout fiend… now… not so much! I’ve been considering takin’ some more college courses. Try and finish up my degree. Joey the Jerk, just recently got his Bachelor’s, so that motivates me a lot. I like to read self help books on finance and whatnot. Book like Rich Dad Poor Dad. Not sure if I’m soaking up the knowledge, but I enjoy the on the spot motivation. Movies are always a favorite of mine. I’ll go catch a flick whenever the urge hits, even if I go alone. I had a bad habit of buying shoes (Dunks and Jordans), but finances brought that to an end. I’m a little more respectful of my bank account now. I like to think I can cook, if anything… I do like to eat!

I see you and CookBook on Twitter quite often. I used to think Twitter was lame, then I warmed up. How long have you been on Twitter, you an OT (Original Tweeter) or a newbie like me?

I don’t really know what is considered a newbie. I’ve been “tweeting” since about March of this year. I do enjoy Twitter… some days more than others. I’ve met lots of good people and contacts through it, so it’s been really good in building music relationships. I like reading what people are up to, especially other artists. It gives you a chance to relate to them and see what sorta things you have in common. I hate it that Diddy never replies to me, so I unfollowed him! Alyssa Milano never replies back, but I still follow her… she a sports freak! I like replying to people that listen to our music and are LA Symph fans. It’s a real good way to sorta speak to people you look up to… maybe send’em a message. Even if they don’t reply, chances are they read your message. As an artist, you do have to be up on these new avenues (Facebook, Twitter) to connect with your fans and potential new fans.

To turn this conversation in a slightly different direction for a minute, I am familiar with youand know that you are a Christian. I am also a Christian, though I am not much of a church goer and have a hard time with some of the things other followers do in the “name of God”. In fact, I’d say that most of the times I’ve been burnt in my life were by Christians. It’s hard, because I guess I hold other Christians to a higher standard or something. Anyway, I guess the question is this: what about Jesus makes it impossible for me, you, or other Christians to dismiss him based on the stupid things Christians do?

Obviously we’re all imperfect! Man will always let you down in small or big ways. I don’t put my faith in man, whether it’s my pastor or teacher, or president. I will however put my trust in them. I have to trust that they will do and make decisions that are beneficial to those they lead. I have to trust that they will do the right thing… most of the time. I have to believe and have faith that Jesus is who the bible says he is! That’s because Jesus is the God I have chosen to follow. I can’t fault man in the stupid things they do or say in their interpretations of the Bible or their practice of Christianity. I probably do things that other believers think is weird or just plain wrong. I’ve experienced a lot of judgmental treatment from fellow believers, but i can’t be jaded by it… because they’re just human, like me. I will separate myself from that, but I’m always open to learn and listen to others perspective and knowledge of faith and the bible. I don’t know, I hope that answered the question. I’m actually in between churches at the moment. But I am looking for a new place to fellowship.

On the topic, I’ve been struggling a lot personally with the idea that prosperity is based on faith. Many Christians I know seem to think that the things they have, from health to material goods, are because they are “gifts from God”. While this isn’t untrue, it also comes with the implied belief that the poor and downtrodden are that way because they don’t have a strong enough faith. If you could deliver one message to the Prosperity Theologists of the world, what would it be?

I do believe there is some level of faith when it comes to these thing like health and money. But I mostly believe, that you get what you work for. I go by the belief “God helps those who helps themselves”! I know people are different in this world and some people have it harder, maybe cuz of handicaps. We’ve all got obstacles to overcome in one form or another. God blessed me with a sound mind and body and it would be wrong for me to pray for good health and sit around downing Cheetos and cheeseburgers. Or believe in financial prosperity when I’m not at least learning about finances and how money works. I believe knowledge is key in certain areas, especially money. I don’t believe in suffering for my craft/art. If music is not paying my bills then I’ma go and get a job… period. In all things give praise and be thankful. I believe God’s will for us is to prosper and be healthy! I don’t know. I do believe God answers prayer. God meets our needs. As long as I’m doing somethin’ and not sitting on my ass, God will meet my needs when I fall short. Hope that answers your question.

Ok, so now that all of the non-Christians are getting tired of our dialogue and threatening to leave, I’ll bring it back to music. So far, in 2009, what are your favorite releases, any genre?

I’m not gonna lie… I don’t have any favorite releases for 09 yet. There’s stuff that I’ve bought and downloaded that I thought was really good. 2009 is still not over, we’ll see come December.

We already discussed your future musical plans, how about LA Symph as a whole, do you see anything on the horizon as far as another release by the collective?

Nope! We discussed briefly putting out another album, but we weren’t all on the same page or mind set. The time is just not right yet. I do believe we will release another album, I just don’t know when. Maybe next year, maybe two years from now. It just has to feel right. At this point, we have to much respect for the LA Symph name to just put some songs together and throw something out for the sake of getting something out. I think our next album has to be the best music we’ve ever done and leave people wanting more. I think our last albums were real good, but I don’t think they did that. So maybe time will create some sort of anticipation with our fans and a motivation within us to craft somethin’ truly great and timeless!

Well, I guess I’ve taken up enough of your time. Let’s wrap this up with two more questions. First, what is it that you love most about creating music?

Sometimes writing is a drag. Especially when you write your heart out and record it and it pretty much sucks! I love recording, and when it all comes together as a whole and freakin’ sounds awesome. From the track to the hook to the verse. When you realize, like damn…that’s hot right there! I mostly enjoy performing though. I love everything about it. From travelling, to the hotels, to being in front of people, and rockin’ their freakin’ minds. Performin’ is like an addiction, literally. Even when I’ve told myself, man I’m done with this. There’s nothin’ in the world like being on stage and people lovin’ what your doing!

And finally, leave the readers with some words of wisdom.

Man, just do you and be true to you. If you’re thinking of rapping… stop! Go to school… haha! I don’t know… do what makes you happy and don’t try to please others. Thanks for listening ya’ll… or reading! God Bless and go cop anything and everything that has to do with Cook & UNO!!!


~ by thepaintedman on August 12, 2009.

2 Responses to “Cook & Uno's Better Half”

  1. […] Cook & Uno – Monie Love (feat. Joey the Jerk) (CookBook and Uno Mas bring their LA Symph homie on board to rock the proverbial […]

  2. […] Well, this is by no means them. Rather, it’s the newest release by Jason “CookBook” Soto and Rene “Uno Mas” Palma, C&U Music Factory, released on Just-US/Audio Sketch Book Records. […]

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