This blog was created to provide my opinion and reviews about the Chicago music scene. The commentary here is based upon what shows that I (as a lover of all things music) have SEEN. I also comment on the venues so that you can know what to expect during your night out, whether reserve tables are in order, what acoustical nightmares or pleasures you might experience, where you might go to eat before the show, and other random, noteworthy, or fun observations. I hope you enjoy the reviews!
Apr 30, 2014
Interview with Psalm One AKA Hologram Kizzie, Performing at CIMMFEST on May 4, 2014 at Subterranean
Interview with Psalm
One AKA Hologram Kizzie for
Performing on Sunday, May 4 at Subterranean (9 pm show)
For more on Psalm One
Melody Perpich, blogger and writer for CIMMFEST
Q: Tell me
about your new Moniker Hologram Kizzie.
How did you choose it?
A: My name
represents the futuristic daughter of a slave. The trappings of the things we can be enslaved by. My name was actually Kizzie Tangents before I was Psalm
One. The name Kizzie, for me, was looking back to the past and Hologram represents the futuristic
approach to looking at images. The
ideal of the future, like “flying cars”.
We don’t have those yet but we think we are getting there. Being the person that I want to be but
centering me to be the person that I am now but also parts of the past, present
Q: You have also said that you are a rapper, mentor and lady
and that you feel empowered as a woman to write about issues affecting
women. Does this affect the ratio
of men and women in your fan base?
A: I have not
assessed the dynamics of my fan base.
Considering my skill set, men are interested. Coming from the perspective of my stories, this attracts
women intrinsically. I would say
that maybe 60%-70% of my fan base are women.
Q: You went to highly regarded Whitney Young for high school
and attended The University of Illinois, Champaign majoring in Chemistry. How did you become interested in
science and chemistry?
A: My interest
in chemistry was academic. I got
excited by “Science Guy” and I took biology at Whitney Young during my freshman
year and hated it! I got
discouraged from science until one of my teachers encouraged me to take honors
chemistry. I did well in that
class and went on to take AP Chemistry.
It took me 4 and ½ years to get my chemistry degree at U of I but I
really loved chemistry! After I graduated, I moonlighted as a rapper until I
found a job as a food chemist and worked in food quality at a lab in Chicago
Heights. Eventually my
moonlighting took off and I started getting recognized by some local labels. It was tiring leading a double life –
getting up at 4am, working until 1pm, taking a nap and then spending time in
the studio, writing sessions and rapping at shows. I finally quit my chemist
job in 2005.
Q: You grew up in Englewood, in the hood and now you are
mentoring at-risk youth. How was
your childhood in comparison to these kids and did you have specific mentors or
role models that helped you to become the person you are now?
A: I am
mentoring kids that range in age from 10-14 years. My mom was a huge positive force in my life. I learned how to persevere through
education. My mom lost her job
when I was young so she decided to get a scholarship and went back to school to
become a journalist. We actually
got to do homework together. She
started freelancing and made a career for herself. I had no real mentors otherwise. My father died when I was 2 years old. I came to realize that my ability to
write comes from both my mother and father.
I found some of my father’s journals and it was uncanny how similar our
writing styles are.
Q: When did you decide that your dream was to write and
perform? How old were you when you knew this was your passion?
A: I wrote my
first rap age 9. There was
unspoken pressure from my family to succeed in high school – it was super
competitive. Once I was in my
bedroom playing Outkast vinyl and was
rapping and my grandmother yelled at me from the other room “what are you
doing!?” and so rapping was a secret hobby at first.
Q: You have said that you are a “college educated female
rapper from the hood that is a productive member of society that does this edgy
art”. This sends the message that
kids can become what they want and be productive despite growing up in a bad
part of the city. Is this the
message that you try to promote?
A: You can let
economic circumstances drive you to do things but I was always taught that
education was a viable option. I
was able to get a scholarship to U of I based on grades and my socioeconomic
status. My mentoring program stems
from tutoring in science and math to make extra money. It was a turning point for me when one
of my students recognized me as a rapper and performer.
Q: How did you meet Fluffy?
A: Fluffy is
art director. We went to high
school together and are best friends.
She has taught me how to manage myself and helps me with management
details that are needed. She is a
great artist in her own right. She
does back-up vocals and helps with the business end of things.
Q: You talk
about street music having it’s place but that you strive to write about more
positive things. Do you feel that
your writing is different from other rappers and hip-hop artists our there in
A: I am not
going to glorify being disruptive to people’s lives. People are getting paid for rapping certain gangs but there
is a lot of bloodshed from the music.
People are getting killed due to activity based on music and rapping. There is a mentality like “hey I can do illegal things and
rap!”. A lot of successful rappers
coming from dire straights is rare.
Maybe you should stay in school. You won’t benefit from gang
banging. I am not saying that what
I am doing is better. I came from
Englewood. There is a street
savvyness but I rap more about being female, growing up in hip-hop, being a
vegan. Things that are important
to my being. My unique views
Q: I read the lyrics for “Open Relationship” and it seemed
very real and personal (not to mention rated X!). I still felt that the relationship seemed one-sided although
declared as “open”. Almost like it
was not a mutual decision to have the relationship be open. Am I off base?
A: My intention with these lyrics was not to “slut shame”
me. This is more likely a fantasy
rap but if I was sleeping with all these guys it would put me in that
category. R.A. the Rugged Man is a
raunchy dude that never does it with girls unless it is like a B movie. Freddy Fox, who played my boyfriend in
the video, is a legend in the hip-hop industry. In the reality of this song, I was just seeing
Freddy on the side, not multiple guys.
There is a thin line between sexual liberation and being a slutty slut
slut. Being approached by Rugged
Man to do this was an honor. Women
who have interesting voices in hip-hop are hard to find. It is so rare to do this kind of
project with him.
Q: Tell me
about your latest release “Hug Life”.
Do each of your albums have a theme? What is the theme for “Hug Life”?
A: The artwork
of “Hug Life” mimics a famous Tupac photo where his head is down and you can
see his tattoo of “Thug Life” on his abdomen. The artwork and the lettering on
my record uses the same style. The
theme is conjuring up that being a thug isn’t normal and Chicago has a violent
reputation. In contrast, how can you
get anything bad out of a “hug”.
This record for me represents coming out of a haze and not knowing what
my next step or musical move will be.
It is embracing my next step as a musical artist coming into my own.
Q: I loved the
concept of your “Child Support” album, charmlab.org and the Rhymeschool. Tell me about these connected projects
and do you plan to keep the school going indefinitely and remain personally
A: I have a
tour coming in June but I am committed to the Beethoven School in Bronzeville
for a full year program. One of
the classes is thirty 4th graders as young as 9 years old. It is rewarding to show them someone
who is not “famous on TV” but can teach them life lessons. In my absence, Fluffy will be involved
and I will look for new instructors who have the balance between having
interesting back-stories and a willingness to work with kids. We are involved with 3 different
schools and are getting more funding to continue. Cool rappers have now visited the school and continuing is
now a “sure thing”. We want to
expand and continue to keep the high caliber of instructors. At Beethoven we were able to take over
the music class based on the willingness of the music instructor and being a
good fit for the school.
Q: How did you
decide to do your “Memoirs for Haiti” Project? Tell me more about how this is going and how it will be
A: The idea,
working with the Carrefour Collaborative (a 501(c)3 charitable
organization in the State of Illinois) by going there was to help
artists there to get industry quality music out to the marketplace. It is very challenging to get one song
done. Here, every 3rd
apartment has a recording studio.
In Haiti they are creating great music but needed help to get
resources. We visited a facility
funded by Francis Ford Coppola.
The students there were able to do production by filling in beats and I
wrote vocals on the spot. We gave
them stuff to produce and arrange.
We discussed the global marketplace for hip-hop. “Memoirs from Haiti” is being released
in blogs, we are on the 5th now. There are three trailers and we are working on a music
video. We are trying to touch on
all different aspects of what happened there. Part of our mission is to reintroduce people to Haiti – by
coming back years after the earthquake and seeing the devastation. There are so many stories to tell. There is no rush on rolling these
Q: You have
remained on your indie record label “Rhymesayers Entertainment”. Have you ever struggled with deciding
to go commercial?
A: I am the 1st lady of that label. They put out my debut album. There have been challenges but I have
also been able to work with the Bonafyed Records label. “Hug Life” is my emancipation from a certain sound. “Hug Life” is not indicative of the
Q: What do you think of female rappers like Iggy
Izalia? Do you agree with others
who say that she is a young white Australian girl struggling to be taken
seriously? Do you have to
“sexualize yourself” like she does to be paid attention to?
A: She is
playing up the sexiness and she does not look like she grew up poor. She sounds pretty street, black
even. That whole “sounding black”
does not seem genuine. When I grew
up, I was given a hard time for “sounding white” because I spoke correctly. I took
issue with that. Iggy has a couple
of jams but she talks extra street urban black girl and you wonder if it’s an
act. She is not hard on the
eyes. She is hot! Do you have to
sound like a black girl? Take Nicki
Minaj on the other hand. She is a
great commercial success but she talks like a Valley girl and is not even
embracing her “black side”.
Personally, I found her last two rap tracks (“Lookin’ Ass Nigga” and “Chi-Rac” to be
disappointing. Once you perform
with Rihanna, you can’t go back!
Q: I read that Ryan Seacrest and VH1 is doing a show that
follows five up and coming white female rappers trying to establish
credibility. Do you think
participating in this show discredits them or could they become recognized for
their craft by being on a reality show?
A: For get the white thing. Going on a reality show would
work if you write a character and play it out. I was approached to be a female rapper on a type of reality
show and I was advised not to do it because I would never be able to sell a
record. Even if you are talented,
the talent is marred by drama. Picking five female white rappers is good for
ratings for the show but hard to sell records. Seacrest is a media mogul. If he wanted to help promote me I would let him, but not on
a reality show.
Q: Who are your
favorite artists, rap or otherwise?
A: Stevie Wonder is my all time favorite
artist. I have also had huge life
moments with Michael Jackson, Prince,
Janice Joplin, Bowie, Jay Z, and Snoop
Dog. I am lyrically influenced
by hip-hop artist Black Thought from “The Roots”. Jean Grae is my
biggest influence as a female rapper.
She does a lot of speaking engagements now where she does mostly comedy
and a little rapping. She is smart
enough to know that you gotta diversify!
Q: Do you have
any other amazing projects planned?
A: Coming up
there is the “Memoirs from Haiti” roll-out and then I am working on an album
with producer, Oh No, who scored the
last “Grand Theft Audio” video game and is a huge hip-hop producer. Traditional hip-hop fans will be
excited! I am also working with
rapper Prob Cause, my label mate, on
“Running from the trap” which is a commentary on steering away from the drill
scene and trap scene – bass heavy music that talks about selling or doing