To SKECH185: Firstly, can I get a Method Man ‘36 Chambers’ style run-down of the crew?
I.B. Fokuz is the Founder aka Alex the Large aka Fez Money
Collasoul Structure that’s Big Rob the Weirdo the Vintage Shirt Killer aka the Sharp Dressed X-Man
Lamon Manuel aka The Brown Shark or The Morbid Sneaker Collector
Malakh El aka The Government Battle Rap Specialist aka the Metaphysical Dance Instructor
Wizard Jenkins the Great is Tripleface Questionmark. Mr. Mask Gallery. The Scorpio Cosmic Loco whisperer
Gilead7 is Pastor John the Geek Ghetto God incarnate
SKECH185 is the Ransom Note Collage King. Spelling Bee champ of ‘98
How would you (all) describe your latest release; Nigger Rigged Time Machine?
SKECH185: The first release of the last generation of cats to come up on the pre-internet Chicago Hip Hop scene.
Lamon Manuel: Nigger-rigged is just a way of saying creative or innovative, but with a negative connotation. We wanted to address the historic dismissal of achievements by marginalized people based on those achievements not meeting superficial standards set up for the sole purpose of discrediting them. In this case it’s the pristine, artsy and poetic vs. the stereotyped super hood aesthetic of rap. The album occupies everything between those two expectations and more.
Gilead7: For me, the record is less about us explaining what/who we are and more about us being who/what we are. There is no explanation as to why we would “Sell Coke to White Folks.” We’d just rather do it. Also, it’s the creation of a universe outside of our own that utilizes yet defies its stereotypical contents.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: WitchHuntDisco!!! haha. It’s the 5 years that we’ve been a group summed up in music form: The arguments and debates, the struggle to be heard and stand out in a time where everyone makes rap music and wants to be famous, the weird silly shit that comes up while joking and in conversation. It’s All of those wrapped in one. A collage of us.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: This album is Chicago right now, no throwback, no nostalgic, referential bullshit. Like Collasoul said, it’s WitchHuntDisco music. It sounds like chasing necromancing harpies in the club at 3am with music blasting in your ear, while drunk. We’ve all been there.
Malakh El: N.R.T.M. is an ideology that acknowledges the survival of a culture beyond a specific demographic or circumstance. It deals with popular unrealistic themes in an honest and imaginative way.
Could someone explain what’s going on here?
SKECH185: It’s 2 things: A) a play off of Public Enemy’s (as inspired by George Romero) “Night Of The Living Basehead” B) A look of what could have happened if the crack epidemic affected the white community instead the Black and Brown communities in the Americas.
Lamon Manuel: In under 2:30 we explain the circumstances of various people involved in the drug trade, unlocking more than just the flash of gain, whether it be as a user or pusher. And it’s danceable as fuck. Win/win/win.
Gilead7: This is satire but not quite satire. We’re reversing the roles so that we possess the power to deconstruct the White supremacist system with one of the major weapons it used to deconstruct communities of predominant color. It’s killing the swordswoman with her own blade. And we’d prefer not to exegete this any further.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: The disco coke zombie apocalypse made music video/documentary style and we’re the narrators.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: When Vyle gave us the beat, we turned it on, and when the bass hit during the hook, it sounded like an alternate universe 1986. In that alternate universe 1986, The Cosby’s and The Keatons switched. Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox switched. We heard the words that the hook says when that bass hit. So we were inspired to write a very unmodest proposal. That’s pretty much it.
How did the group come together?
SKECH185: I said some shit to I.B. Fokuz drunk as fuck at a Scribble Jam Battle Pre-Lim and he turned it into a team. We have all known each other for an incredibly long time and, in truth, were stylistically the outliers in our respective circles so he made the call and we agreed.
Gilead7: I.B. Fokuz appointed all of the members of the crew, looking at each of us as the people he would want to surround himself with artistically. Within a few meetings both planned and spontaneous, it was solidified. As comrades previously, venues like Q4’s open mic, Wordplay, Black Gate, and other places conducive to our aesthetic thought helped to foster this collaboration which is now Tomorrow Kings.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: Since I’ve known I.B. Fokuz he has been searching for the ultimate super group of weirdos to take over the world with. Guess he found’em haha.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: We all were friends before we became an official crew because we all respected each others work ethic within the art. Truthfully, it was I.B. Fokuz who originally saw what was possible. I think that afterwards, the mutually appreciation of Craft Brew solidified the bond.
So what’s Chicago like?
SKECH185: Bipolar. Gray. Tough. Full of good food. At its best, uncompromising. Industrial. Full of gangs. Then it becomes a swamp for 3 months.
Lamon Manuel: Hard-working, with a chip on its shoulder. This is a writer’s city. If you don’t REALLY write you can live here and even thrive but there’s a certain type of respect you will never get.
Gilead7: My city. All sides of it. I learned how to make hard art here, amidst the violence, wind chill factor, and clandestine hip-hop politics that I made it out of thanks to my brothers in this crew. It can be hell in the summer and Jadis’ iron pussy that unsuspecting souls are forced to fuck without a fireplace or lubrication in the winter. Efebos Cafe and 100th and Halsted. Utopia.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: Cold. Brutal. Unapologetic. Yet cozy, fun and inventive. Let’s just say Chicago is schizophrenic.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: The Center of the Universe. Truthfully. Everybody in the country is just catching on during the President’s 2nd term that Chicago is the shit, but Chicago has been the shit since before Jordan got the 1st championship. It was a lot more dangerous then. It was a lot colder then too. It’s a city that makes you tough while still keeping you smart enough to be introspective.
Malakh El: Chicago, is what it always was, a bi cultural, racial sociopolitical melting pot of gangsterism. Chicago is the living illustration of the phrase “The game is cold but it’s fair…”
Lemme get a blurb for this video too.
Gilead7: This shit is ill. I was just playing it for my cousin and his nephew, and the two of them couldn’t stop asking me questions about it (peace to Brian and Geo). This song is to us like the Manifesto was to Marx. If you want to know what TK is about overtly and subtly, it’s in this song.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: Our pitch-shifted/screwed chorus-heavy banger laced with bugged out raps filmed in a dark room by a crazy talented pothead producer/director/rapper/pope. DJ Seanile made the beat.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: Both videos from this album were directed by our dude Green Sllime (@GREENSLLIME) aka The Nigga Pope. He’s a rapper, producer, part of the OnGaud producer collective. He’s about his business but ALSO about quality art. He heard the song, saw the vision, and he shot it. We just got on camera and nerded out, pretty much. He made it look cool.
To Lamon: Fuck/Marry/Kill?
Lamon Manuel: Fuck: Faye Reagan. It appears she doesn’t like dark meat but maybe that’s just on camera. Marry: Tori Lux. She’s super cool and we already share an inside joke, why not build 50 more years of them? Kill: 50 to 75% of the Emily population.
Let’s talk Black History Month.
SKECH185: Peanut Butter, Stop Lights and Gospel music.
Gilead7: A gift and a curse equally and simultaneously. Also, there’s no such thing.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: My birthday is on the 10th!!!! It’s that one bullshit false award/holiday month given for enduring an X amount of years of torture, torment and manipulation that will more than likely continue for the next 100 years. Thanks we really appreciate it!!!!
Wizard Jenkins the Great: It’s during the coldest and shortest month of the year. How nice.
Malakh El: A constant reminder that acceptance through oppression can heal all holocausts…ijs. My point is mainly that when ANY ethnicity in America is objectified (i.e. the first black, the first latino, the first asian, etc…) it gives an immediate black eye to the ideology of equality.
Your personal favorite bars off N.R.T.M.:
SKECH185: Anything on “Black Power In Hell” or “Automatic Door Leaving.” Those songs are very tied to where we were as Black men in America and as crew members of Tomorrow Kings at that time.
Lamon Manuel: G7’s whole “Black Power in Hell” verse. I quit rap for 20 minutes after the first time I heard it.
Gilead7: “Michael Jordan” is still unbelievable. Lamon, SKECH and Vyle outdid themselves. Wizard and Collasoul Structure murdered “Robert Davis and The Robots.”
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: The whole “Michael Jordan” song. Fuck those guys haha. The entire “Robert Davis and The Robots” song and “Black Power in Hell”. Both give me chills.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: My favorite verse in TK history is I.B. Fokuz on the Animators (Industrial Music vol. 1). That shit amps me up every time I hear it. On the ‘Time Machine’, I gotta say “Art Rap”, not cuz I’m on there, but because Collasoul and Gilead snapped so thoroughly on that song that I had to rewrite my verse and shit. And the ratchet imagery of Gilead’s verse, in my opinion, earned us the Parental Advisory sticker more than the title of the album.
Malakh El: Gilead7: “I am the geek ghetto god incarnate….”
Say something about Vyle, the producer of N.R.T.M.:
SKECH185: We have known him for a long time now. Quite a few of us were on the same scene of Fringe/Progressive Hip Hop that was coming out of Chicago some years back. We always kept in touch and had common affiliations over the years. He was one of if not the first cat to make a beat specifically for us which became “Android Killer.”
Lamon Manuel: One of the best producers on the planet. He’s impossible to nail down to one sound. There’s nothing he can’t do and make it work. That’s rare talent. AND he raps his ass off.
Gilead7: It’s a travesty and a shame that Vyle is heard all over the place, but is never credited. His “Hoodtronic” experiments shortly after (and probably during) his early work with Eliot Lipp set some of the stage for what would become the “hipster” hip-hop sound. That shit he was doing back then is all over Cali now. I hear it daily because I live there and am in the scene (peace to GCS). I remember dude when he was in high school, coming up to WHPK on a totally different vibe as a really dope MC compared to and involved with some of the key players of the progressive lyrical movements of the late 90’s and early 2000’s such as El-P, Nasa, Can Ox, etc. The nigga is extra talented, and we’re honored to have had him to produce the majority of this record.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: He’s a mad scientist. Excellent on the beats and raps really well. Glad we connected with him to create this album.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: Vyle has been one of the main Impresarios of Chicago Hip Hop, sonically, for almost a decade. He gets around.
Why you rap in one word. Hyphenated words count as one.
Lamon Manuel: Depressive-superiority complex.
Collasoul Structure of Jyroscope: TK.
Wizard Jenkins the Great: Prestidigitation.
Malakh El: Self-Medication.