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Kami de Chukwu – Shinin’ Bright
By  |  02.11.2013  | Interviews  |  tweet  |  share  |  tumblr
kami de chukwu

In case you took residence under a rock throughout all of last year, you’ll know that Chicago’s a bit of a hotbed for rap music right now. Sure, Chief Keef and his Glory Boyz Entertainment goons are the biggest culprits behind this noise, but it’s outside of the drill rap zone where the real gems are just waiting to be unearthed — in which case, Save Money is practically a treasure chest.

 

A loose, large-spanning collective of musicians, designers and other creative-types in the Windy City, Save Money boasts XXL Freshman nominee Chance The Rapper, Traphouse Rock-ers Kids These Days and producer-to-the-underground stars (including Curren$y, Action Bronson and Hodgy Beats) Thelonious Martin as badge-holders. But that’s not where the bragging rights stop for the Money Savers — especially not with such a promising talent like Kami de Chukwu in their custody.

 

The 20-year-old MC only released his debut mixtape, Light, last August, but it was enough to secure him with a small, but strong, early following. The beats bang, the subjects strike emotional chords and Kami’s cadence adds colorful character to every one of its 15 cuts. It’s on tracks like “Home,” a condensed Save Money posse cut, where his years of practice-turned-lyrical perfection are soon heard.

 

With a follow-up release — simply titled Smoke — in the works for 2013, the light looks to only get brighter for Kami de Chukwu in the year ahead. Which is why we urgently got on the phone with the young MC to discuss his plans for the near future, pick his brain about Chief Keef and Chicago rap, and attempt to figure out just how the hell he got so good so young…

 

I feel like there was a little gap in between Kanye West and now, basically. There wasn’t a strong influx of people creating good music out of Chicago. I feel there was a lot of people honing their skills and understanding what they were trying to do. And when one person stepped to the forefront, it just encouraged a whole bunch of other people to try it.

 

Interview by: @aboynamedandy

 
 

Light was a really strong project, man. With it being your debut full-length, what statement did you want to make?

 

Well, when I picked the name, I was just like “Light.” And at first I thought it was mad corny because it was just one word. But then I was like, what’s the first thing you think of when you say Light? The sun, the lightening… all of this shit is for one purpose and one purpose only: to help you see something. Subliminally, that was kinda dope to me.

 
 

So was there anything specifically you were trying to “bring to light”?

 

These wack ass ni**as rapping [laughs]. Naw, I guess all the topics I touched on. Each song serves its purpose. There was a lot of topics, like there wasn’t two songs that were the same.

 
 

It must have been cool to have seen your first tape get posted on sites like Pigeons & Planes, ILLROOTS and Fake Shore Drive, right?

 

Yeah that was love. There’s love from the UK, too, dude. My cousin’s out there and I’ve been there a couple times.

 

 

One thing I like about your raps is how your flow and pitch are really diverse, and you can really feel the emotion in your voice. How have you managed to hone your craft so early on?

 

That’s from being around my homies, man. We’ve been rapping, freestyling and shit, for years. I’ve probably drawn a lot of influence from my own homies, like Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Chance The Rapper. It’s always been fun to switch up flows. I can spit straight-laced MF DOOM raps all day, but then it’s like, I could do that, but that shit’s kinda boring — not necessarily boring because DOOM’s an amazing artist, but that’s his thing. Finding my flow came naturally just because that’s who we are. That’s always been a part of our lifestyle: to flip some shit and make it a little bit different.

 
 

Can you tell us the beginnings of Save Money?

 

Yeah, one day there was a big-ass thunderstorm and there was big-ass lightening and a lightening bolt hit the Earth… [laughs]. We’ve always been friends, we’ve all known each other either all our lives or from the beginning of High School.

 
 

So it’s a totally organic thing?

 

Yeah, definitely. It’s not like a group that somebody could just up and join kinda thing.

 
 

I read you guys record at one spot, The Garage.

 

Nah, we be all over the place. That would be true for me personally. More often than not I am at our homie L Boogie’s studio, he’s part of THEMpeople — their another group in Chicago who have been holding us down. But like I say, Kids These Days, Vic and Chance are moving around the whole country and shit. But yeah, we do get into the same place sometimes and make some shit. We’re actually working on a Save Money tape.

 

Kami de Chukwu (feat. Caleb James, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa & Michael Anthony) – “Home”

 

Being friends like you mentioned, what’s the dynamic like when you’re all in the studio together?

 

It’s smooth. More so we would create a song by just freestyling and get a couple of ideas, start understanding where we want to go with the beat. There’s no pre-meditation to this shit, just whatever comes out comes out. It helps that we’ve all been friends for really long. We can cater to each others’ styles really easy.

 
 

It seems like Save Money is more than just your average rap crew — you’ve got artists and designers as well as musicians. Where do you see Save Money expanding? What are your aspirations for the brand?

 

It’s really just a name for our lifestyle, so it’s gonna go wherever any of us want to take it. Like if someone wanted to stop making music and start designing clothes and shit, then Save Money would then become a clothing label, too.

 
 

I feel you. Now touching on Chicago, it seems like there’s a real rap renaissance going on in the city right now. What do you think prompted that?

 

I feel like there was a little gap in between Kanye West and now, basically. There wasn’t a strong influx of people creating good music out of Chicago. I feel there was a lot of people honing their skills and understanding what they were trying to do. And when one person stepped to the forefront, it just encouraged a whole bunch of other people to try it.

 

I feel like people were scared at first — not scared because they were intimidated, but more so because they weren’t sure what to do. There’s no industry scene in Chicago. You know, you hear about people in New York and L.A. and even Atlanta before you hear about people in Chicago — until someone like Chief Keef popped up and did his thing. It’s no lie that that shit brought spotlight to Chicago and I’m grateful for shit like that. Everybody just needed to figure out what they were going to do individually and brand themselves before you heard about it, so it was all in the making I guess.

 

 

Referring back to Chief Keef, there’s a lot of controversy surround that guy and his music right now. What’s your opinion on his music?

 

He definitely has a right to rap about what he does, because growing up in Chicago, and myself, that nigga’s probably seen a whole lot of shit. He’s been brought up in an environment. It takes a certain person and certain life events to pull people out of their environment and make them be cautious of a whole other type of life, but that’s not the case with him. He’s really doing what he knows and all he knows — and he’s making music.

 

With making music, you can only draw from what you know. The music won’t even sound right if you’re drawing from a place that you’re unfamiliar with, so he has a right to make the music that he’s making. I personally listen to fucking Chief Keef all day, man. But I understand that with the high fatality rates in Chicago and the shit going on right now, people might want to blame him for that, but it’s not his fault. He’s one person, and everybody is subject to their own will.

 

I mean, he might have an influence on that, but at the end of the day, he’s not preaching that shit, he’s more so reporting it. That’s the difference. I fuck with Chief Keef, man.

 

Kami de Chukwu – “Stop Crying”

 

You recently released a new track, “Stop Crying,” which has been on repeat for me. Does that mean we’ve got a new project to look forward to?

 

Yeah I’ve got some new shit coming. It’s called Smoke.

 
 

Have you got any features planned? Is it an in-house thing again?

 

Yeah, there’s definitely going to be the bros on there. I’m gonna reach out to more people than last time. I think last time the only outside person on the album was Kembe X, that’s the homie, too. But yeah I’m definitely going to reach out to some more people and see what’s good.

 
 

Kami De Chukwu on: Twitter / Facebook / SoundCloud / Rap Genius

 
 

Stream: Kami de Chukwu – Light
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Greg Grease – “Forward”

 

 

If you’ve managed to get this far during the week, you probably deserve a break. And what good timing to introduce Greg Grease‘s latest video for “Forward”, a stripped down, less-is-more banger that doesn’t need to be overdramatic to get it’s point across. Directed by Adam Dunn as a part of his #LABB (Lights and a Backdrop) series, the visuals are as minimalistic as it gets, allowing the Grease, his DJ and his turntable to play centre stage. Check it out and be sure to pick up Greg Grease’s Black King Cole EP if you don’t already own it.

 

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