The Mox & J. Project
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The Mox & J. Project

Minneapolis, MN | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Minneapolis, MN | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Hip Hop R&B


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Mox & J. Project: “Who We Are” – intoxicating, fluid, haunting, and just plain brilliant!"

The Mox & J. Project features blues/soul vocalist Jess Bro and rapper Mitchel Paulson (Moxie). After years of success with other acts, the Twin Cities based artists joined forces as The Mox & J. Project. The debut album, “Who We Are”, has been released on August the 1st.

If you think that everything’s been written already and nothing that’s really new will ever come along – you need to hear The Mox & J. Project. Their work is a blend of Soul, RnB and Hip-hop and they sound like no one else out there.

MoxandJ-frontThe crossover sound that this duo brings to the table is smooth, soulful and satisfying but not dominating to ward off the normal crowd. Expansive instrumentation, distinctive vocals and well-rapped verses will envelop you. Today, it’s rare to stumble across an album that works on so many levels: musically, lyrically, and overall as an album.

Musically, the album is phenomenal. The Mox & J. Project draws from a wide range of influences. Lyrically, it becomes apparent upon the first listen that the songwriters, Mitchel Paulson and Jess Bro are well-read or have a wealth of personal experiences to draw from. All the while though, they keep the lyrics relatable and interesting.

Vocally, the lyrics are performed with an often-syncopated rhythm that itself becomes part of the music. On top of that, Jess Bro has a vocal quality that is difficult to describe and sings with a huge range.

I find this album particularly interesting, however, because of the arrangement of the tracks. In a world of digital downloads and the option to buy any track separately, I find it encouraging that The Mox & J. Project went through the trouble to be sure that the tracks holds together so well as an album rather than just as a simple collection of songs.

And when you hit play on the opening track, “This Could Be”, you’ll quickly realize that rarely do you hear something that sounds so completely fresh and groovy at the same time. You’ll be impressed with the blend of dynamic hip-hop lyricism executed by Moxie and the unusually soulful and powerful vocals by Jess Bro on “Full Blown”.

The Mox & J. Project Regardless if the sound is upbeat or down, there’s always an energy driving it that really hooks the ear, making almost every song seem like a contrast of itself, like the sweet and savory of haute cuisine in the culinary world. Anyway, the point is, it’s an infectious and volatile album. It plays with the mind and heart while refusing to sit still long enough to be pigeonholed.

Considering that nowadays cookie-cutter music is pretty much everywhere, it’s a treat to find something so indecipherably powerful out there to be enjoyed. And it all comes together on the single “You & Me” – the epitome of groove. The track is draped in a silky smooth melody, crooned beautifully by Jess, on top of a cool, but thumping drum beat. The sound is rich and satisfying, making it so easy to get lost in the music – relaxing yet intricate and inspirational, Moxie delivers a killer understated verse that fits the arrangement like a glove.

This has to be the bravest musical effort I’ve heard in a while. “Exposed” is intoxicating, fluid, haunting, and just plain brilliant – As is “Fear”, where Moxie gets to unleash his technical ability to its full extent, with a barrage of free-flowing rhymes. And while Moxie gets to shine brightly again on “Show’s Over”, its Jess Bro who gets the curtain call with the stunning powerhouse album closer, “What Now”.

Whereas most artists can neatly fit into various genres that can be listened to depending on your mood, The Mox & J. Project comes across as a genre unto themselves, and when you feel the urge to listen to music that resembles what’s on “Who We Are”, only The Mox & J. Project will fit that bill. Theirs is intelligent thought-provoking and intricate music, with no hint of a low common-denominator. - Jamsphere- Robbie Tee

"New Band is Building Buzz"

Buzz is rapidly building around Moxie, a group of Rochester-area musicians who've played recent concerts in Minneapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.

The group features musicians Mitchel Paulson (rapper/vocals), Jess Bro (vocals), and Devin Farlow (drums/vocals). After years of performing as solo artists and with numerous Twin Cities-area bands, the three have joined forces to create a sound unlike any heard on the local scene.

They're at work on their first album, which sounds like it will be an amazing blend of songs, and their live performances are raw live performance: no smoke and mirrors, no dress up — just Mitchel, Jess, and Devin, their voices, a couple mics, a set of drums, and Mitchel's beats.

Farlow is a Rochester native and has been on the music scene here since he was old enough to hold a drumstick. Paulson came to Rochester after graduating from college to become a counselor at the Rochester Alternative School. There, he began his rap career.

Bro has a connection here, too — her husband, Greg Bro (a cartoonist I've featured before), is from Stewartville.

The three have about 30 years of music experience under their belts. Farlow also plays with the Chubbs and Herschel and the Detainees. Bro is one-half of the Twin Cities based acoustic duo Jess and Zeb. Paulson has been building his solo career since he came to Rochester.

"It's great that we all bring something different to the table." said Paulson. "Devin is an amazing drummer and amazing vocalist and he brings the rock vibe for us with his indie rock background. Jess is easily one of the most amazing vocalists I've ever heard in my life. She can sing and knock out lyrics like I've never heard before and is an amazing writer and bringing something different there as well.

"I've developed a lot myself over the years, and continue to grow as a lyricist," he said. "So we are doing things right now that nobody else is doing. We have a whole hip-hop-soul-indie-funk vibe going on. We don't know how to bills ourselves because we are such an eclectic mix of so many different genres."

Bro got her start singing at Mankato State.

"Friends dared me to sing the national anthem at a sporting event … and I never turn down a dare. My first performance was at a volleyball game, and before I knew it, I was singing at all the football games, all the hockey games, and have sung at the Xcel Energy Center, the Metrodome, (and) Target Center."

Moxie has been recording at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis — "they have some of the best studios in the state," Paulson said. "We have some of the songs that are completely done, and the album essentially is written, and we are looking to get back into the studio this week and I think we will be done recording in the next few weeks."

The EP will be released later this summer.

"I think people who know each of our careers individually are going to be blown away by what we've come up with together and what this project has turned into," Paulson said. "When everything comes out it will be a culmination of many, many years of us all doing our own thing. This is fresh and new and has relit the fire for all of us — for me it's the most fun I've had making music in 10 years."

Learn more about Moxie and hear a sample at, and find them on Facebook. - Rochester Post-Bulletin

"Go Local Spotlight: The Mox & J. Project"

The Mox and J Project are a relatively new musical outfit who got together less than a year ago. Mitchel Paulson and Jess Bro are both teachers in the South St. Paul School district. They played their first gig last December and released their debut album, Who We Are, today. Their next live performance will be at Honey on August 31.

Jess from the band called in to talk about the band on my #GoLocalSpotlight, and I played their song "Who I Am." - GO 96.3fm/Barb Abney

"Check out The Mox & J. Project"

Since we all could use a little more love in our lives right now, the timing couldn’t be more perfect that the Twin Cities based (but they have tons of ties to Rochester!) R&B/Hip Hop group The Mox & J. Project just dropped the first single, You & Me off their debut album Who We Are, set to release August 1st! You can listen to the song for FREE at

The group features musicians Mitchel Paulson (rapper/vocals), Jess Bro (vocals), and Devin Farlow (drums/vocals). After years of performing as solo artists and with numerous Twin Cities-area bands, the three have joined forces to create a sound unlike any heard on the local scene, and you need to check it out! They sound AWESOME! I’m a little bit obsessed….

Read More: Check out this new song from local artists! | - KROC 106.9 FM

"Moxie Wants You To Come to the Darkside"

Not so very long ago, Rochester Hip-Hop as a scene was about as known and viable to the general public as Venezeaulan Death Metal/Polka.

I'll never forget my first encounter with our local hip-hop scene. Discovering that it existed was shocking, and refreshing/invigorating enough, but subsequently learning more about Moxie (Mitchel Paulson), the guy throwing down the rhymes, has continuously challenged my perceptions of both what is possible on for our local cultural scene and also what coming of age, being in positions of leadership, having careers, families, et cetera might look like for a generation raised on video games, rap, and Beavis and Butthead. Walking into Big Brad’s, encountering a tattooed, clearly self confident rapper wearing a flat-billed baseball hat sideways, I must admit to jumping to conclusions about who Moxie was.

Paulson, who picked up the name Moxie in a boxing gym due to similarities with the character in Varsity Blues, takes the well worn hip hop dictum of “keeping it real” and places it centrally in his life. His life also happens to include being a masters level counselor who is building a career specializing in work with youth.

While the dual vocations may seem to be totally divergent and leave even an open-minded person in disbelief - to Paulson (who recently resigned a counseling position at Golden Hill Alternative Learning Center to begin work as a school counselor in the Red Wing public school system), they fit together like a glove.
Moxie on stage at Whiskey Bones during his 2012 bill with Coolio
Moxie on stage at Whiskey Bones during his 2012 bill with Coolio

“I leave everything out there. That vulnerability is a human experience. The people I work with realize, 'You’re human. You have something else besides getting paid to tell me what to do.' That breaks down a lot of barriers that are often there,” Paulson said.

With the advent of the internet and the multitude of platforms to share music, keeping the rapper and the counselor separate for more than a couple days isn’t an option. So how does Paulson make it work?“Being a rapper is the best thing I could be. When I’m at work you’re going to get the professional me, I'm going to be the best possible counselor I can be, but if I tried to hide it I think it would really take away from what I can bring to an employer or client.”

Paulson organized Golden Hill students to perform for the other students at the school.

"There's a lot of kids who talk about wanting to be rappers. I'm glad I can be there and tell them 'this is what it takes' to show it's possible," Paulson said.

Small Town Proud

Another wrinkle in the journey of the unlikely hip-hop artist is that Paulson was born and
Paulson embraces his roots in a the rural Wisconsin town of Prairie Farm
Paulson embraces his roots in a the rural Wisconsin town of Prairie Farm

raised in Prairie Farm, Wisconsin, population 500.

“They didn’t even know what a rapper was until I became one,” Paulson laughs.

“They’ve been 100 percent supportive. I didn’t even tell my family for the first year. You never know how people are going to react. If I would have told them I was in a band, it would be like 'big deal', but hip hop has a stigma to it. I’ve slowly let people in and I’m not scared about telling people what I do and what I talk about about and thankfully I’ve gotten a lot of support this whole time.”

A lifelong “scribbler”, Paulson started recording in his own raw demos in 2006 with the help and encouragement of Winona hip-hop artist Ron Simmons (Random Thoughts). After playing live shows and honing his craft for three years, Moxie went into Natural Recording Studio in LaCrosse to record his debut album.

This year, Moxie recorded his fourth full album “Driving in the Dark” at Rochester’s North Coast Productions.

Recently having entered his 30s, Paulson uses this platform (likely the album most fitting his reputation as an “emo-rapper”) to give voice to the anxiety of this transition.

“It’s that whole uncertainly thing. I don’t feel old, I don’t feel established. I don’t have a definite plan. It’s unsettling, but yet it’s thrilling.”

Seeing an obviously caring and thoughtful person in conversation, I wondered how Paulson was drawn to the rough and tumble world of rap.

"A certain bravado is part of rap and hip hop, that's just how it is. Instead of being negative, I hope someone finds inspiration in the confidence and pride I'm talking about," Paulson says.
Through his hip hop act and counseling gig, Paulson encourages open expression and tolerance - especially with youth
Through his hip hop act and counseling gig, Paulson encourages open expression and tolerance - especially with youth

"I'm talking about life, the good and the bad. I'm extremely proud of where I'm from, the community around me, and the energy that's happening. On the other hand, every day you about someone dying unexpectedly in a car crash that can happen in an instant. That person was a friend, family member, each story effects hundreds of people. I don't see myself as different than someone who makes horror movies. I just try to give voice to that part of life."

As a counselor, and in his personal life, Paulson has constantly wrestled with the perceptions of the genuine nature of a person's inner thoughts, ambitions, and desires juxtaposed against the public personas that people must adopt, whether to fill a career role, or to avoid being ostracized for their percieved deviation.

"There's a huge dichotomy that people have to deal with," he said. "It’s storytelling. it’s things you’ll never get a chance to talk about in public, but everyone’s fighting their own battles."

The Dark Side
Paulson addresses the uncertainties of young adulthood in his latest album,
Paulson addresses the uncertainties of young adulthood in his latest album,

Remembering his move to Rochester in 2009, Paulson recalls being told that Rochester was a smaller-scale version of the Twin Cities. Upon arriving he was disappointed in the dearth of culture he found upon moving here.

"When I got here, I'd been doing shows for a few years, but I was told many times that you’re not going to play as a rapper in Rochester, that we kind of hear what the city and Mayo wants us to hear, that they employ too many people and bring too many visitors to allow too many voices that might not be part of the plan," he said.

As he had previously done in La Crosse, Moxie played crossover shows with rock bands. In the process, local alt-pop rock band Go Amelia began backing Moxie live during shows.

Initially motivated only by a drive for self expression and to see his songs on iTunes, Paulson says that he has recently been inspired by Rochester's creative talent organizing and creating on an increasingly larger scale.

Ironically, the most obviously uplifting of Paulson's recent work is a track and concept entitled "The Dark Side" describing the often unseen works of creative talent in Rochester.

"It's not a negative connotation, it's the part of the city that people don't see but that gives it real energy and connects," Paulson says.

"We want everyone to be on board and supportive, but if you're not we don't need you. We're gonna make it happen anyway. And people have been."

Moxie's message as life moves forward for Paulson, and Rochester's cultural scene is one of being true to yourself, to acknowledge the powers that be, to recognize the tragedy and anxiety that life brings, but to move forward, true and unafraid.

"Not everyone’s going to agree with what I rap about, with the language I use, with me being me at all," Paulson says. "But if they can take a little inspiration from that, or some confidence that I feel this way and it’s OK. Then I’ve done way more than just expressing myself, which is all I set out to do."

Moxie plays his last Rochester show for the foreseeable future at Big Brad’s on Broadway at 9 pm on Friday night. Local artist Bobby Marines will be doing live paintings alongside the music. -

"He's Got Moxie"

Mitchel Paulson probably isn’t what most would consider a typical, small-town boy. Ask the 28 year-old himself, however, and he’ll tell you that’s exactly what makes him Moxie

Paulson left his hometown of Prairie Farm, Wis. — population 500 — to attend college in Winona where he pursued an undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology and eventually, a master’s degree in counseling.

Amid the piles of schoolwork and stressors related to living the life of a 20-something college student, Paulson discovered a creative outlet that had literally been staring him in the face for years.

“I have always written, but didn’t actually start putting my lyrics to beats until 2007,” Paulson says. “I used my laptop and two external speakers to start recording and then sent stuff to my friends.”

Paulson’s friends agreed that despite the rough sound quality, the budding hip-hop artist had talent. Several rough cuts and a few live performances later, a star named Moxie was born.

Paulson works as a program manager at a local disability rights organization and has always made a point of separating his music from his career.

“I love the work I do and would never sacrifice my job or all of my schooling just for music,” he says. “Both are important, but completely separate, sides of who I am.”

On stage, Paulson performs with Winona student and longtime friend Josh “Skinny” Brandt. Despite playing more than a few shows together, the two have never rehearsed together, which, according to Paulson, is no accident.

“Practicing songs over and over again takes all of the spontaneity and creativity out of performing,” he says. “I give Skinny the set-list an hour before the show.”

As Paulson looks toward earning his doctorate degree in educational leadership, music will continue to provide a sense of solace that keeps him moving forward.

“The words and emotions I write make me vulnerable," he says, "but I have no secrets, and that’s incredibly freeing.”

What’s your favorite song of all time?

"Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance.

Favorite song that you’ve written?

Probably either "Slice," off of my first album, or "Pure Evil," off of my second.

Favorite rapper?

Eyedea. He was an underground rapper out of the Twin Cities who passed away in October of last year.

Favorite tattoo?

I think the entire sleeve on my left arm. I started the project after waking up in intensive care following two heart surgeries. That was my sophomore year of college. After that experience, I wasn’t as concerned about being politically correct.
- Rochester Post-Bulletin

"Secret No More: Minnesota HS Counselor is a Rapper"

Mitchel Paulson's secret is out.

During a recent Red Wing High School staff development meeting, the new student counselor unveiled his numerous tattoos before entertaining his tie-clad co-workers with a rap routine that baffled more than a few in the crowd.

Despite having performed throughout the Midwest—including at Rochester's One Night of Art— and having released four albums since 2008 under the alias Moxie, Paulson professed to having nerves during an a cappella rendition of his "The Kids are Okay."

"I used to really try to hide (my rapping) as much as I could," the 31-year-old Rochester resident told the Post-Bulletin ( "I didn't even tell my family about it for almost a year. I never wanted my music to negatively affect my professional career, because counseling is very important to me. Now, it's totally turned. Now, it's something that can enhance my counseling.

"It's been really fun to break down some stereotypes—as much as you can as a skinny, tattooed, white rapper."

Paulson made no effort to hide his MC skills last year while working at the Rochester Alternative School. He even performed during the school's inaugural talent show. However, his lyrical exploits were never mentioned prior to being hired by Red Wing Principal Beth Borgen last spring.

Borgen wasn't aware of Paulson's lifestyle until this summer, when he showed up at the building in casual attire and visible tattoos.
After hearing his personal story, which is detailed in arm tattoos called sleeves, Borgen fully endorsed Paulson's offbeat career—while simultaneously professing to be "old" and unable to comprehend it.

"They are two separate worlds," said Borgen, who requested Paulson's performance in hopes of showing staff members life from a different perspective. "There's the counselor world, and there's the outside world. Because of the life Mitch has had, he's been able to enhance his life as a counselor through rapping."

The roundabout path to an unlikely dual career began when Paulson was a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He was rushed to the hospital after experiencing heart palpitations, which he said increased his heart rate to 296 beats-per-minute. Two emergency surgeries saved his life while simultaneously changing his worldview.

The small-town Wisconsin boy transferred to Winona State University, where he worked to earn a counseling degree by day while diving into the hip-hop scene by night. The tattoos came next, with his left sleeve dedicated to his medical situation and the right pertaining to his burgeoning musical career.

"I don't need to live inside the box anymore," Paulson said of his personal rebirth. "Who knows what's going to happen?"

Paulson, who moved to Rochester almost four years ago, said news of his rapping career has spread "like wildfire" through the Red Wing student body. Intrigued pupils have dropped by to chat, while others have sought career advice.

That interest has prompted Paulson to organize a talent show for Dec. 18, where he plans to perform a new song with a couple of students. Borgen called Paulson's immediate connection with the youngsters "just awesome."

"Red Wing, as a city, has its own reputation of maybe not being the most accepting to outsiders and diversity—but for me it's been great," Paulson said. "I feel like you have to be true to who you are. I scribble all over the page, and that's OK. Everyone succeeds in their own way." - St. Paul Pioneer Press


The Mox & J. Project presents: "Who We Are" (2016)



The Mox & J. Project features esteemed Twin Cities based musicians Mitchel Paulson, one of the most revered hip hop artists in the Midwest, and soul/blues vocalist Jess Bro, long known as one of the top vocal talents in all of music. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Mox & J. Project have been featured on the popular GO 96.3 midday show with legendary DJ Barb Abney in the Twin Cities, along with features in publications like, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The St. Paul Pioneer Press,,, Rochester Post-Bulletin, and numerous music-related websites.  They have worked with and performed with the likes of Prof and Blueprint from Rhymesayers Entertainment, John Wayne & the Pain, Coolio, Jack & Kitty, The Satellites, and countless others.  While veterans of the Twin Cities music scene, their time together as a duo has led to a dedicated fan base through their dynamic live performances, vibrant web presence, and an unmistakable chemistry.

The Mox & J. Project released their debut album, "Who We Are", recorded at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis, to much critical acclaim and fanfare in August, 2016.  Riding on the strength of the lead singles, "You & Me" and "Who I Am", "Who We Are" is an expansive work that borrows from various genres including blues, soul, scat, funk, hip hop, and pop.  Riding the success and interest of their debut album, The Mox & J. Project are currently in the process of recording their Sophomore project, slated for a Summer 2017 release.  Unlike anything you've heard or seen before, and certainly unique to anything being done in the music landscape at this time.

"This has to be the bravest musical effort I’ve heard in a while. Whereas most artists can neatly fit into various genres that can be listened to depending on your mood, The Mox & J. Project comes across as a genre unto themselves, and when you feel the urge to listen to music that resembles what’s on “Who We Are”, only The Mox & J. Project will fit that bill.  Theirs is intelligent thought-provoking and intricate music, with no hint of a low common-denominator."--- Jamsphere Magazine

Band Members