Interview: Chi City, Chicago’s Chargé d’affaires

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If Chicago was a country, this young tenacious rapper would be its chargé d’affaires.

In his teenage years, Chi City, decisively committed himself to being a pensive entertainer. Just about a decade later, Chi City has released some of his most prolific work to date. As he elucidated, his stage name is not just a name. In fact, just for emphatic value, he trademarked it.

Back in the ’90s, when North American major music labels seemed to have integrity and a winning structure in place, a young Chi City was heavily inspired by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, a Grammy award winning American Hip-Hop group from Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, when watching older guys in his ‘hood rap in cyphers, he thought he had to wait to rap because boys his age weren’t rappers. It wasn’t until, his sister told him to watch Bow Wow’s “Bounce” video for the first time that he knew it was possible. After seeing Bow Wow rap, he was thoroughly inspired and motivated. Always ambitious and a computer nerd, he recalls researching addresses for record labels to send letters, mail raps and submit demos. To his surprise, Columbia, the same label Bow Wow was signed to, wrote him back. They wanted him to submit a demo but he never got the chance to record his music. At the time, he was really young and recording equipment was very expensive. It was nothing like what we have in our possessions today. All he had was a karaoke machine.

On top of that, his mom didn’t want him to rap. In fact, she threw away his rhyme books. He shared that “there were some pretty dope lines in there, too”. When attempting to send demos in or write record labels, his mom would take the letters and throw them away too. She was against it. She threw away notebooks of raps. “I used to hide them between textbooks and she’ll still find them and throw them away.”

Aside from sounding like Kanye West, Common or one of Lupe’s many friends to the untrained ear, this narrator is more than an enticing Chicagoan accent. He is thriving off of “a sense of entitlement and ownership” of his turf. In hindsight, he’s faced dilemmas and experiences that could have permanently discouraged him but, he decided to keep pushing and that’s what makes him so inspirational and noteworthy.

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On “Early Morning Dreams”

“I chose it because it means a lot. It reflects different parts of my life. It is for anyone walking in the same shoes, that share the same passions but others feel like it — your dream — is not possible. Being a recording artist has a similar percentage as a footballer. You might not make the team. With music, you can be independent and still cater to that fan base. Actually, it is no different from anything else. Why can’t I do music? We’re all living a dream, in some way” Some might make it quicker than other.” A lot of people tend to have the mentality that “you can’t do it because I can’t do it.”

It was the first record recorded for that project. It didn’t set the tone for the rest of the project, nonetheless. “My Untold Story” is very diverse, Even if it is a heavy bass beat, he is telling stories with substance.

On GrungeCake

“Something my grandma would have made. It’s like a family Christmas pie, a unique food. Something different to bite. It’s easy to remember.”

Influences and Inspirations

“Similar to GrungeCake, people around me and their life experiences inspire me to create everyday.” Unlike many, he points out that he is inspired by misjudgment, tragic childhoods. He feels like he has to tell what he’s been through to tell those people that they, too, can get through it. “I want to tell that story. Kind of how ‘Pac was back then, and still, relatable in 2013.”

Upcoming Projects

Currently, Chi City is working on new music that he couldn’t talk much about but he will release new visuals for singles from his “My Untold Story” album. So, be on the lookout for that. To stay connected with Chi City, follow him here and listen to his latest song “Pour It Up” featuring Mullyman and Radikall.


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