The music scene in Chicago, Illinois is one rich with culture and for decades has been heavily impactful to the growth of its own surroundings and cities worldwide. Few would argue me citing legends Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, and Earth, Wind & Fire as the founding fathers for some of today’s music heavyweights like Kanye West, R. Kelly and Common. The Windy City is one with enough inspiration from the sounds and it’s environment to inspire artists for years to come.
Photo by Luis Malagon
Adding his imprint to the city is the emcee known as Add-2. With a discography beginning in 2005 with the debut project “Tale of Two’s City, Vol. 1”, he has grown an extremely devoted following with his versatility plus an endless arsenal of insightful and witty wordplay on an array of topical and personal subjects. With that said, Add can also get down and give you a song with commercial appeal with no blatant compromising just as easily. After catching support from the likes of Common plus revered websites Okayplayer and 2DopeBoyz early on, Add-2 eventually received sponsorship from the clothing company LRG plus cosigns from one of the most influential producers of this era, 9th Wonder and Kendrick Lamar. It was merely a matter of time before the rest of the world caught up to Add-2 as well.
This year, Add-2 joined forces with 9th Wonder’s record label Jamla Records. News of the deal struck excitement and anticipation for old and new fans of Add-2 alike. The first byproduct of the alliance was the release of the stellar EP “Between Heaven And Hell”. The project was produced entirely by 9th’s longtime production partner Khrysis and featured guest appearances from Jamla label mates GQ & Rapsody. “Between Heaven And Hell” acclimated fans to Add-2’s new home while telling a story of the good and bad of life in Chicago from Add’s eyes & words. Personally, I don’t see how this project will be left off anyone’s 2013 favorites or “Best Of” lists as it will certainly be on mine.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to chop things up with Add and discuss why Jamla was ultimately chosen to be his official recording home, the creation of “Between Heaven And Hell” and all things Chicago (including a game of Fuck, Marry & Kill lol). Enjoy!
Photo by Domi V
Chicago Hope: Interview with Add-2
I hate to make assumptions but I’m sure you had a few labels trying to sign you throughout the course of your growing career. What was the reason for aligning with Jamla and why now?
I had a few but I always wanted to go to a place where I can be myself, have the freedom to make the music I loved to make and be around people who have the same outlook. Jamla was the only place I felt showed me that family type love all the time and spoke the same language I did when it came to music. I was at a point where I needed to elevate and 9th Wonder provided me with the opportunity to do that and to grow as an artist.
What inspired “Between Heaven And Hell” to be the concept to stamp your Jamla debut?
“Between Heaven And Hell” came together in a very natural way. Me and Khrysis have a similar work ethic where we can be relentless until we get it perfect. We would wake up at like 8am get to Bojangles, go to the studio at like 9am and wouldn’t leave until 3am. We would let the other person do what they did best but also listened to the others’ ideas and suggestions. The way it came together is similar to how I came to be a part of Jamla so it only makes sense that it was the first project that we put out. Its symbolic in a way.
What was the best part of working with just one producer with this album?
Maaaaaan! I think the best part is not having to worry about things meshing together sound wise. When making a project you want the album to flow and not sound like its all over the place so it helps to have someone like Khrysis who can make the beats sound different but still fit perfectly next to each other.
You’ve done some excellent work with multiple producers, two I personally revere with Ken B & Antman Wonder. To the artists that are still sleeping why they should work with them as well?
HELL YES!!! Ken B, Antman Wonder, Slot-A, IIL Meel, Marcus Banks and soooo many others that I have worked with are amazing producers. They all have made me a better songwriter and provided the perfect canvases for me to paint these pictures on. I can’t say that enough cause without them there is no me.
What songs are easier for you to make and share with the world, concept ones like Club Church/Club Hell & Gotta Go or personal ones like Ugly Side of Beautiful?
It’s easier for me to create songs like “Club Church” because it’s concept driven so once I have an idea I can take it and just expand on it. When it comes to more personal songs it takes more out of me emotionally cause I have to tell these painful stories in the most honest way yet still enjoyable to listen to
. Most of the issues in those personal songs I’m still finding out how to deal with or come to terms with so writing it helps me to sort through this crazy ass life of mine at the same time.
On “The Death of Chicago” you bring up your love/hate relationship with Chicago.
What do you think are the most important steps towards rejuvenating the city?
We have to mend the family structure and the community. To me that’s where it starts, we need to have more fathers, husbands, wives and mothers and less baby daddies and mamas. We need our neighbors to not be afraid of what or who is in their neighborhood. We have to stop turning a blind eye to the negative shit cause its only getting worse. We have to protect our own. We have to educate our own. We have to provide better opportunities than selling drugs so that people have an alternative. We have to instill a sense of pride within each other and encourage us to be better. We have to be willing to get our hands dirty and stop waiting for the damn Mayor or CPD to fix it when its not for them to fix.
On the musical side of things, who do you think are some of the next great artists of any genre from Chicago now?
Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, St. Millie, Save Money, The Whoevers, Lili K, Real T@lk, ShowYouSuck, Kiara Lanier, Pavy, Thelonious Martin, who is a beast on the beats, Nico and Peter Cottontale who both are musical geniuses and so many more. I love how Chicago is truly a melting pot and its much more diverse than what some may ever know.
For you, what were the three most influential albums from a Chicago artist?
Common – Be, although I still love “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”, Kanye West – College Dropout and Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor.
Let’s stir a hornets’ nest with these last two questions. Feel free to say “no comment” if you want to lol. What album would you stop from ever coming out to have a new Little Brother album in its place?
Haha yeah I can’t answer that one but trust me I’m hoping for another LB album like the rest of the world.
Ok fair enough, lol. Finally, Fuck, Marry & Kill: Chicago edition… Oprah, Jennifer Husdon and Syleena Johnson. Go!
Jeeeeez! Kill is kinda harsh homey haha. I can answer the first two though I would definitely fuck Jennifer Hudson. No questions asked. And I would marry Oprah cause I don’t like paying bills.
We’ll just dismiss Syleena, no killing lol. Any final things to say to your fans?
Just saying thank you to all of the fans who been supporting me since waaaay back and thank you to the new fans for taking a chance and listening. And thank you to everyone who got the new EP “Between Heaven And Hell”.
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