Ever since he was a little kid growing up in Evansville, Indiana, Chicago MC Radcliff Music has always been on a constant mission to prove his naysayers wrong.
His father passed away when Radcliff was just 17 years old. He also had to bear the loss of his own child. He says that when he was at his worst, he was homeless, spending his nights asleep on the Blue Line with nothing more than a bag, a notebook for writing raps, and the clothes on his back.
However, whatever challenge life has thrown Radcliff's away, he has handled it with the same determination and confidence that he applies to all facets of his life.
On his Instagram stories, he is often quite vocal, speaking his mind on whatever he is pondering at a certain time. In interviews, he exudes the bold sense of conviction that only a seasoned artist possesses. On the mic, he is often braggadocios, showing off the lyrical mastery of somebody who can back up what they say.
It is not hard to see where Radcliff gets his confidence from. He is someone who was exposed to the darker side of life from an early age, and has let his hardships mold him into someone who can overcome anything that stands in his way.
It also isn't hard to see where Radcliff gets his creative prowess from, either.
His uncle, who was a drummer, once played in a band with Tina Turner. Radcliff's father was a bass guitarist who played in numerous bands. He also had an extensive record collection, which Radcliff says was an instrumental part of his childhood.
Radcliff says he started writing songs at the age 0f 12 years old, when his father -- also a published poet -- would give him notebooks to write in. However, it wasn't until much later that he decided he wanted to turn music into a full-time career.
Radcliff came to Chicago in 2007, when he attended North Park University on a football scholarship. Radcliff says that being a football player was his original dream, but he says he switched lanes and turned to music when he realized he was too small to play in the NFL.
Since then, though, Radcliff has made himself a force to be reckoned with in Chicago's underground Hip-Hop scene.
In the decade-plus that he has been in Chicago, Radcliff has opened for multiple big name MC's. He has opened for Dave East and Cam'ron, and has even opened up for Curren$y on two different occasions. He is truly making the kinds of moves the most Windy City MC's cannot say they have made.
Radcliff has also made his rounds as a member of the Ever Evolved collective, where he is an in-house artist, also handling the directing and A&R side of things.
However, it is perhaps his music where he shines most.
Through a slew of mixtapes that are raw and rough-around-the-edges in aesthetic, he has carved out a lane for himself as a street rapper who pulls no punches on the mic. His most recent release, "Pop Quiz," serves as a prime example.
Clocking in at 6 tracks and just over 12 minutes in length, Pop Quiz gets straight to the heart of what makes Radcliff so special in the first place. It's confident, honest and unforgiving.
The tape opens up with a beginning scene from the movie "Notorious," where a teen-aged Biggie Smalls, who was usually seen as a slacker and a truant, proved that he would make more money as a garbage man than his teacher. In this context, Biggie is the equivalent of Radcliff; he is the underdog who came out on top.
The next 5 tracks consist of Radcliff dropping lyrical bomb after lyrical bomb with a sense of confidence and ease that few MC's possess. He's out to prove to the world that it's wise for other rappers to not fuck with him on the mic.
Radcliff also comes through with the production here, as he says this is the first project he produced entirely by himself. The beats are gruff and to-the-point, and are also unmastered, giving this project the same feel as a mid-2000's DJ Drama mixtape.
Radcliff has come a long way from spending his nights sleeping on the Blue Line. He serves as a shining example that we should never count the underdog out. He is doing big things for Chicago Hip-Hop, and there is no reason to think that will change anytime soon.
I sat down with Radcliff for an in-depth interview as a part of this piece. A portion of that transcribed interview can be read below:
Q: What is it like growing up in a rural place?
A: It's still a city... It's just (on) a smaller scale. It's definitely far behind in technology. Lines of work, there are things that are very industrial down there just because it's in (the) Missouri Valley area. It's really a lot of blue collar work, pretty much southern. It's a little different than going to Merrillville or Gary or somewhere up north. It gets that "country" label just because of where it's located. It's like any other city. Every city has an economy and all economies have the same structure.
You talk about struggle and perseverance in your music a lot.
I don't talk about struggle and perseverance, I speak on my struggle and perseverance. People do this a lot; they use it to sell it. Mainstream rappers, they sell independent artists' images, and they're not independent. I like to break that down specifically. I speak on my personal struggles and battles I've won, battles I've lost. That's what I speak on--my perspective.
I've noticed you're very confident in yourself and your ability. Where does that stem from?
For awhile, I used to take internal shit and implode. Then I realized, watched people try to bait me, that let me know that people were intimidated by what I projected. To me, it's not arrogance... I know what it's like to not have nothin', I know what it's like to have things people will never even have. I've always had that about myself.
We obviously can't do an interview with you without mentioning Ever Evolved. What is it in your own words?
These are my partners. The partnership makes Ever Evolved. The diversity we have, makes Ever Evolved. The options we have, make us Ever Evolved. And the fact that we are all humble, and we're all trying to hone the craft and utilizing our investment, we're actually making it work without having to partner with huge companies or big brands A.) They're not looking anyway. B.) They're not trying to pay anyway. The music industry, for artists, we don't get paid until the very end. That's why rappers who make it, they get what they get. This business model that we use in the street, is what they use up-top. That's how they treat everybody. Could you imagine if somebody was utilizing everything, and had everything already? you couldn't do it like that. You gotta open your mind. Like Akon, if you will. He was somebody that was getting a billion dollar credit line from China, and he lit up Africa with it. He believed the Hip-Hop was a tool for him. All of these crafts, hobbies and work, all of these are just vehicles to get us where we need to be. That's kind of what Ever Evolved is. We're all guys that got experience in music, and we all got our hand in it in a different way. We're all connected.
Q: In your words, what is your role with Ever Evolved?
A: Simply a log to the fire. We all do the same thing; we're all utility guys. Me personally, I don't claim a title, I'm just a part of Ever Evolved. I'm an artist, I'm a producer. I'm getting into directing. Kind of A&Ring. I try to line some things up in regards to putting some of our producers to work with some other artists that may not be in this country or they may be in a different state.
Radcliff has an upcoming project, "Educated Lowlife 3," which is set to drop in May. He says the project is about 50% complete.
Follow Radcliff Music on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/radcliffraps/
Stream "Pop Quiz" on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/radcliffmusic
Filed under: Artist Features