Right now, we are on the verge of claiming our rightful spot in the hip-hop industry, we the spitters, the lyricists. It’s just a matter of making that move into the mainstream’s light.”
Chill Moody is talking about the rise of the Philadelphia rapper. “Philly cats are some of the best emcees, anyone can tell you that.”
The 28-year-old native of 56th and Landsdowne might as well be talking about his own rise through the ranks, first with last year’s mixtape — Who Do You Love?, recorded in collaboration with local producer Hank McCoy and vocalist Beano — then his debut solo album, RFM (Running From Myself), and its sold-out release party at the TLA earlier this year. “It was my first headlining concert and I packed the venue,” he says with pride.
Videos for RFM tracks “Chains” and “RFM (Intro)” premiered on MTV Jams and got added to the rotation on the MTV Base network. He plays the TLA on Wednesday as part of the RocReloaded tour, with Freeway, Memphis Bleek, Peedi Crakk and the Young Gunz.
Coming up, Moody’s got productions with his usual crew (Hank McCoy, Wes Manchild, JoeLogic, Dilemma, Mike Jerz) and also a video with Freeway for RFM’s “Change Coming.” Moody recently started working with Mike Zombie, who produced Drake’s “Started From the Bottom.” A freestyle series, “Sharpening My Teeth,” just started appearing on chillmoody.com.
“The series came about from my cousin telling me, ‘All the sold-out shows and videos on MTV are cool, but you gotta keep your teeth sharp. Don’t let them forget you got bars,’” says Moody. “So it’s been like a lyrical exercise, a weekly series of me rapping off of a random instrumental, just showing my lyrical ability.”
Part of what sets Moody apart is that he won’t work blue, as the old-school-comic phrase goes. He doesn’t need to rap about mean streets and gun running because he’s not blasting caps. His message is his story.
“The music and the message grows as I grow as a man,” says Moody. “The story is of me growing up in the hood in Philly from the perspective of someone who ‘made it out’ and went to college.”
He graduated from Millersville University with a degree in speech communications/public relations. The Moody message is one of hope, something meant to inspire people that there is more to life, but at the same time not forgetting where your roots are.
“My story has naturally developed over time,” he says. “When I was in college I rapped about that. When I graduated, I rapped about that. It’s just a natural development.”
He tells an interesting story about influence, something that stretches back to lessons he learned growing up in West Philly.
“Look, I’ve been writing rhymes since I was in the third grade. When I got old enough to record raps, I was rapping about nonsense. It was a bunch of lies about guns and drugs — basically what I was hearing around me, but things that weren’t really my life. My family kind of shunned the fact that I rapped due to this, so I changed it up to gain their support, started being true to myself and tell my real story, and they flocked to [it], listeners and fans. So I can honestly say that I rap the way I do because of my family.
“It’s a good feeling, too, when your mom can play your music to her co-workers without having them cringe at profane lyrics and things like that.”
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