Gazing at the Moonlight is the debut studio album by American hip hop recording artist Hopsin. It was released on October 27, 2009, by Ruthless Records. The title refers to "Gazing at the Moonlight" hoping and wishing on a dream to come true. This was Hopsin's only record released with Ruthless Records, to this day as his latest studio album released by the label, this album created bitter tension between Ruthless Records and Hopsin, due to the lack of promotion and financial compensation for the album.
The album stylistically incorporates elements of horrorcore and the contrast of this pop rap and comedy hip hop, horrorcore can be heard on songs such as "Sexy Cyber", pop rap can be heard incorporated into the albums various hooks such as "I'm Here" and "Break It Down" and comedy hip hop on "Pans in the Kitchen". In various interviews Hopsin discourages fans against buying the CD, due to its release on Ruthless, however, although the iTunes edition is widely available, the CD cannot be commonly found in music stores and is considered rare as the physical CD edition costs between $20–30.
In 2007, Hopsin has initially signed a deal with Ruthless Records, he then hailed as one of driving forces behind attempting to bring Ruthless Records back to previous glory. Hopsin's lead single from his upcoming album, titled "Pans In the Kitchen" was released on May 27, 2008. The album was set to be self-produced by Hopsin and feature no collaborations with other artists, however, the final edition featured vocals from DJ K on the hook of the song"Motherucker". However, this album Gazing at the Moonlight was not released until October 27, 2009, with little to no promotion. After the album's release, Hopsin sought his release from Ruthless due to lack of financial compensation, artist support, and promotion. Due to the departure from Ruthless Records, Hopsin founded his own independent label, called Funk Volume, with Damien Ritter. SwizZz, Damien Ritter's younger brother and former classmate of Hopsin at Monroe High, was the first artist to be signed to Funk Volume. After launching Funk Volume, both Hopsin and SwizZz released a collaborative mixtape, titled Haywire in June 2009, to promote the label. Funk Volume wanted to sell it for retail sale, but were unable to, due to Hopsin still being contracted by Ruthless Records at the time. On DatPiff, it has been certified gold for being downloaded over 100,000 times and it later made able for purchase digitally and physically via iTunes, Amazon.com and Funk Volume's website.
In an interview, Hopsin stated that many of the songs such as "Pans in the Kitchen" were performed and written when he was in the twelfth grade and he initially anticipated the album would be released in 2007 due to the album being completed long before the release, however Hopsin was unaware of Ruthless Records plans. According to some sources the album began production as early as 2003, after he decided he was going to take rapping as a career instead of acting, however he would not see his album released until 2009 without his consent, and the promotion was limited to paper fliers and resulted to selling copies of his album out of his car for $10 each. The album features rare background vocals on the chorus on the track "Motherfucker" by one of Hopsin's former best friends known only as "DJK" who can be seen in various early Hopsin music videos between possibly created between 2005 and 2007 such as "Who Can It Be" and "Hyped On The Mic", it is implied through Hopsin's lyrics in his songs since this album many of his "friends" were using Hopsin for his money and fame and weren't there to help him through tough and difficult times.
On the Hopsin song "Hyped On The Mic", which was released in 2006 and was Hopsin's music video debut, and this song features a guest vocals from a fellow rapper DJ K, who raps "You may remember me from Motherfucker" - This is a reference to the track "Motherfucker" featured on this album where DJ K has uncredited vocals on the song's hook. The song "Hyped On The Mic" debuted three years before this track on "Gazing At The Moonlight", which was released in 2009.
The album's first promotional single, "Sexy Cyber" was readied and produced in 2007 and a music video was shot, however, this never saw the light of day due to issues with Ruthless Records until 2011 on Hopsin's official YouTube channel, the music video was dedicated to a woman named Lauren Kinsley. The album's second and lead single, "Pans in the Kitchen" was released on May 27, 2008, accompanied by a music video, this single possibly could've been a shock to Hopsin as the album was slated for a 2007 release and the single wasn't released until 2008. The album's third single and the album's first full track "I'm Here" was released March 17, 2009 in promotion of the album's release, a music video for the song was shot but remained unreleased until 2013 due to Hopsin's falling with Ruthless. The music video was released onto YouTube in 2013. The album's final single was "Motherfucker", the song was released on April 10, 2010 the song featured uncredited vocals on the chorus from DJ K who is prominently featured in the music video along with cameos from SwizZz, this song marked the final single Hopsin released on a major label before his departure from Ruthless Records in mid 2010. A music video for "Break It Down" was shot but remained unreleased until it was leaked onto YouTube.
The album was met with positive reviews praising his vocal delivery, rapping skill, rhyming schemes and tackles a relevant issue in today's society. AllMusic's current user reviews gave the album 4 out of 5 stars.
The album was a commercial failure. According to Hopsin, the album sold 42 copies in its first week, with about 5 or 6 copies purchased by him and his mother.All songs produced and written by Marcus Hopson