"Hip Hop raised me." Says Chi-town emcee extraordinaire B.Starks, and I didn't even ask him a question he just said it. The die-hard hip hop head recalls "I wrote my first rap at the age of ten." "My mother's boyfriend told me if I wrote 10 raps, he'd buy me a set of turntables." Well he was unable write all 10, so he never got the turntables, but an emcee was born.
For B.Starks (his actual name btw) hip hop filled a huge void in his life. With an absent father and a drug addicted mother, hip hop provided a world, as it does for many of us, to escape his circumstances.
B.Starks grew up on the south-side of Chicago, 70th and Peoria to be exact. He credits his "homie down the street" Johnathon McNair, an aspiring rapper himself, with encouraging him to take rhymin' serious, and does he ever.
A true lyricist's lyricist, his verses are overloaded with witty punchlines, complex metaphors and multi layered rhyme schemes. His subject matter ranges from socio-political to chick chasin', to the plight of the everyday man. Or he'll simply spit one of his patented verbal onslaughts.
B.Starks, who used to go by the pseudonym "Agile", has been a mainstay on the local cypher and open mic circuit for quite a while. In '06 as a member of the group "Ghost", he put out a CD entitled 'Hungry & Hostile'.
Over the years he's recorded tons of material, but it wasn't until last year that he dropped his first mixtape 'When Heroes Become Villians', which is available for free download on Soundcloud.com. Earlier this month he released a video for the title track.
He describes himself as, "One of those guys who was good as hell at hoopin', but never made it to the league...still they go to the park and smash everybody." He goes on to say, "I never did this for the money or to be compensated, I did it for other emcees to say I was dope."
Not surprisingly, he isn't strictly hip hop, but a music aficionado period. His dream collaboration would be Anita Baker (mine too, go figure), "Her voice is just so special."
When queried as to his opinion of the Chicago hip hop scene, he states matter of factly, "It's never been completely defined. It's very diverse though, you have your Kanye's your Lupe's, your Twista's and your Chief Keef's." "It used to be real segregated, every crew was out for themselves and against everyone else." "It is becoming better, it's bubbling a little."
No longer content with merely being heralded amongst his peers, B.Starks is ready to reach the people. He plans to do more shows, because he knows that it's a must in order to build a fan base, however he refuses to take part in the pay for play system that is currently taking over.
"Making people pay $100 or more to perform is criminal, it ain't right and I ain't doin it." His proper debut album 'Say Somethin Else' is expected to drop by mid summer.
The policy here is each one reach one. So after shedding some light on B.Starks (hopefully at least), I asked him to shed some light on anyone locally he thinks people should be checking for.
He says a group called Fly Cool Club (and I looked them up on YouTube, they're nice wit it). Although he remains a devout purist, to B.Starks content and style can be whatever, his only prerequisite is that the music be dope. He expects the same of himself. I said for him to sign off with his favorite line of his own, and he commenced to spew forth four bars so ill it wouldn't do it justice to print it here.
You all will just have to find out for yourselves.
Randall Irwin The First
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