Hip-hop’s Chill Moody folds ‘everything’ into message and music

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Philadelphia rapper Chill Moody at The Boom Room recording studio in Fishtown. (Jennifer Lynn/WHYY)

Philadelphia rapper Chill Moody at The Boom Room recording studio in Fishtown. (Jennifer Lynn/WHYY)

The Wawa Welcome America concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will draw thousands. While pop icon Pitbull takes center stage, a local hip-hop artist and designated “music ambassador to Philadelphia” is set to perform on a side stage, along with musicians signed to his independent recording label.

WHYY’s Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn caught up with Chill Moody during rehearsal at the Boom Room studio in Fishtown to talk about his music and his message.

What do you write about?

Life. Everything. The song “One Minute Drill,” that’s something we came within rehearsal. I was like, “Just play something like I can freestyle over.”

You are a musician. You’re a performer. You’re an artist and you’re this creator of the Chill Moody brand that’s known as Nice Things. So there’s a beer. You have clothing, and I feel like this is just your embracing hip-hop culture, which is not just music. It can be fashion. It can be other things. 

It always was to me. Like growing up, I loved WuTang, not just for the music, but WuTang had Wu Wear. They embraced everything that was the hip-hop culture. So it was like I need to replicate those things, but not in a copying way. It’s like make an imprint and build a legacy has got to be more than just the music.

I was especially interested in the song that you wrote, “This Ain’t My America.” And I find it very fascinating it comes at a time in our country that is just so politically … gunked up in a lot of ways for some people. Tell me about that song. 

I wrote that song when I was in Vegas around the time of the election. We ended up dropping the song on Inauguration Day. A line was kind of drawn in the sand — not a war, but it was like we need to know where you stand on certain things and most importantly how black men are treated in America. Let it be known, a lot of the issues that were coming up people were attributing them to this figure that we have now. Like, oh because of this, this is happening. This stuff has been happening, and we need to you know this is what’s going to bring your attention to it. Cool, but let’s not argue against that figure. Let’s argue against this problem.

 The figure’s President Trump? 

Yeah. In the song, it says, “We hold these words for the people. Until the day I see us treated equal, well this ain’t my America.” It’s not like denouncing it, but it’s like, how can we keep clinging to something that doesn’t really take claim to me, doesn’t really nurture me, doesn’t really seem to want me as a part of it? The problem is the system that we in.

Another Philadelphian has been in the news a bit since he’s out of prison — Meek Mill — favorite son rapper. He has a song, “Stay Woke.” And he just performed it on Black Entertainment TV. The messaging there … it’s the same kind of thing, but it’s different. What do you think? 

It’s the same thing. It’s just talking more about the system, about mass incarceration, about just being black in America period. And I don’t think this is something that we should ever stop speaking about.

Here’s Chill Moody’s song “Cheers”:

I appreciate your patience
It’s go time
I perfected the slow grind
It’s looking like I did this in no time
an Overnight success with a crisp clean gimmick
Gave me 15 minutes
I got that 16 finished
To present to you
We both rhyming
You find it difficult
I say I see the starting line
You resent my view
Said I’m going to paint the city green
You sent the hue
Your body language off
Them handshakes is different, too
I should have saw it coming
You question my shine like it was a scheme or something
Never once considered that my team is hustling
Told to stay woke
Reality is at times we all sleep
But see I never just dreamed for nothing
My eyes closed I see better days
Get up and go get it
in all kind of ways, a land where they dodge strays
But never once thought you’d be the one taking aim
It’s strange
Hoping that this rain will hide the pain
See the drops hide my tears and wash away the fear
That you been envious for years
The irony a blind eye made me aware
The shade made it clear
I’m still saving you a beer
Help me drink away the pain
(2x)
Cheers

Chill Moody performs on the Chill Moody Music Stage with other Philadelphia-area artists Wednesday between noon and 7 p.m. at Wawa Welcome America festivities on the Parkway.

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