3 Quick Minutes with… rapper Phillip Morris

3 Quick Minutes, with Phillip Morris

Interview June 5, 2010

Phillip Morris: "When it comes to rap/ I'm the red pill in the Matrix/ overdose on truth/ instilled in these statements..."

Lyrical flameasaurus Phillip Morris.

It is just after midnight, now early Saturday morning, June 5 2010. I am hanging with Chicago MC Phillip Morris and DJ Je July on a Flat Iron fire escape high above North Ave. following the Psalm One art studio show. He is pretty similar in person as he is on the mic, a mix of contradictions that make for interesting conversation, music, and quality flame sessions: intelligent and crude, serious and silly, laid back and intense.

The people who are still down on hip-hop for reasons that lack depth, what are they missing?

They are missing out on the one good event, show, or artist… what they’re probably missing out on is a bunch of diversity of music, I would say. The CD I handed you earlier tonight is “I don’t like rap but I like Phillip Morris” – a lot of people say that to me. If you hear what you hear on radio and said outlets over and over again, you can definitely think you don’t like something that you may not have explored all of the various facets and various forms of expression. I think they’re probably just lacking one really good show from an artist who could blow their mind and change their perspective of a culture.

I mean, every time someone’s told me “I don’t like rap, but I like you,” that’s just proof positive to me that it is happening. It’s not like I’m the only dope rapper. The media likes to perpetuate a certain kind of hip-hop, a certain type of rap, so naturally that’s what the masses are exposed to the most.

Is that part of your goal as an artist, to reshape what people are hearing, feeling, seeing…?

Yeah, it’s definitely trying to tread on territory that is not normally tread upon. (Laughs.) For sure. The main thing I do is trying to express myself in the clearest form that I can that rhymes the best. That’s the ultimate goal for me, that release. But you also want to tread the fine line between writing music that you want to write, and writing music that people want to hear. I never mind when I change someone’s views on hip-hop. That’s always good. But I don’t really like genres in general, so I try to kick ‘em down and expand.

I have a live band, Dubasaurus, that I do stuff with. We dabble in a bit of punk, and they play – they mainly started as a reggae band, so that was a nice change for me. I sing a little bit nowadays. I don’t sing well, and I am very aware of the fact that I don’t sing well. But I make it work and I don’t take myself too seriously. No autotune. Not yet. I sing through a fan and shift the pitch of my voice – (Laughs.) No I don’t. (pause) I was doing that earlier tonight.

How’d that work?

It was cool. It was working out well. I might try it. Sing through a fan and then autotune it, and then play it through a fan and then compress it.

Je July pipes in: “This is Je July, and I support that idea.”

(Laughter all around.)

Painting by Pablo Serrano

I love connecting with people. When you see a line specifically affect a person in that moment, see them react to it, like you kind of hoped they would react and really get you in the way you meant it to come across, that’s really one of the things I cherish. That connection. You can look somebody in the eye and direct a line toward them, and make them feel it so much more. Things like that. The real connection of it, and just the release, just a way to blow off steam and really fucking express myself. Fit in. I feel like I fit in in the realm of musicians and rockstars and guitar heroes and shit…

Want more Phillip Morris? Check him out at phillipmorris.us, or at myspacereverbnation, youtube, and twitter.

Also, take a gander at Eric Sirota’s terrific review of the Phillip Morris album The Process of Addiction Has Its Costs at rapreviews.com! A writeup that matches the album in lingual prowess and intelligence…

And, because you deserve it…

“MISTER MORRIS”

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9 comments

  1. Charlie · June 22, 2010

    When are you coming out with your next book about life in Wicker Park? Your columns remind me of Studs Terkel’s Division Street and Working.

  2. readjack · June 23, 2010

    Thanks Pop! Thought about doing a Wicker Park collection…

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