There’s been a lot of heat building around rapper Chip Tha Ripper. We put him in our 25 Best New Bands In The World feature because his mixtape “The Cleveland Show” (which you can download for free) has made him a staple of the new hip hop. Today’s generation of up-and-coming rap stars are pushing the boundaries of production and rhymes. Rhyming about how “hot” he is in a refreshing way over simple yet filling beats, Chip has earned himself a spot at the top of the new school, alongside acts like The Cool Kids, Pac Div, Kid Cudi and Charles Hamilton. If you’ve never seen his videos, take a minute to watch “Feel Good” or “Like That” … it’s OK, we’ll wait. This Cleveland native has much more in store for us in the future, and in this Q&A we ask the man his thoughts on the hip hop game, Bone Thugs, and why Cleveland might be the most fertile city for rap right now. Keep reading for the interview. What artists inspired you as a kid growing up? Coming up I was inspired by artists like Nas, Jigga (of course), Canibus, Biggie, Big L, Em, Redman, Luda… Wow I could go on forever. I think honestly that I am inspired by pieces or material rather than the artist. How close are you to getting signed to a major, and would you even want that? Artists today can be successful independently, but it’s risky, would you go in that direction or do you prefer the solid backing of a major label? When I was younger and knew less of the game I’m in, I would seek out to be signed. As I grew as an artist, my understanding for this game grew as well. Three years ago I would say “PLEASE sign me,” but now it’s “get yo’ hand out my pocket!!!” I believe in hard work and Kid Cudi. It’s a new day and the internet is the biggest promo now in 2010. When I started out it wasn’t really like this at all. I’ve always been ready for the long haul but I’m down with Slab Entertainment (my company) and Dream On and G.O.O.D. Things are falling in place just fine. What is “ignorant times”?
It’s a phrase that Double O of Kidz in the Hall made up as we were filming for a video in Chicago.
Tell us about Almighty GloryUs, your collaboration with Kid Cudi — how did it come about, and will there ever be an Almighty GloryUs album?
The Almighty GloryUs is a legendary duo of a new genre in music. The sound, perception, image, and story is unmatched in hip hop. Our paths of life, struggles and triumphs make us glorious. The Almighty GloryUs came about around the release date of Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak in Cleveland, Ohio. There will be an album coming soon.
We heard this kid one time call Cleveland, “Thieveland…” That can’t possibly be the coolest name for it. What the are some others?
Here in the city of Cleveland, we refer to our city as: the city, the land, the C, CLE and I’ve definitely heard people shout Thieveland for years! Shout out to St. Clair.
How tight are you with DJ Hi-Tek? Does Cleveland have ties with Cincinnati?
Hi-Tek is the big homie. I have learned so much from him from sitting in sessions with Tekzilla. I can always go to him for advice or anything I need — I’m on his latest album Hi Teknology 3. Ohio has CLE on top and the Nasty ‘Natti at the bottom — both cities recognize real in each other.
Bone thugs… love them/hate them? What did they do for urban music in Cleveland in the 90’s?
I have always been a huge Bone fan. They showed me the level of success I want to aim for. When I was coming up, Bone was THE s**t! In the hood, EVERYBODY claimed to be one of their cousins.
Hopefully I can be as well respected and creative as they are.
Some people say your style is gangsta, and you like to boast and rap about the fun things in life in your rhymes. You appear with a lot of artists who are part of the new “hip hop hipster” craze, which we think is a cool and smart juxtaposition of style and peoples to surround yourself with. It makes you unique.
One of my strategies is to stay unpredictable. The hood is tattooed in my voice and my swag. The style of music or community that I’m classified with is one small square in this Rubik’s Cube. My sound is like no other and people get that confused with me sounding like a mixture of styles. Yellow and red make orange, which is a totally new color. Many legendary artists come together to create Chip tha Ripper.
Would you work with artists like Prodigy or Cam’ron or the Game even though they are clearly not part of your social circle? Are they too “gangsta” or are they just right for you to collabo with?
I would definitely get down with those guys. I never limit my God-given ability to produce the best. I come from the muthaf***in’ jungle, Jack! Ni***z ain’t playin on St. Clair ave, just ask. East side of Cleveland gets it poppin’ like the rest! So anything ”gangsta” is the daily over my way. I don’t think anyone is “too gangsta.” I just salute those who been around and those who embrace what I do and support it. I feel like I’m gifted to rap with the best of ‘em.
We’ve heard artists say your style is infectious and they automatically fall into it when they write rhymes with you. Are there any artists that influence you when you write with them?
When I make music with Cudi it’s way more serious than anything. He is real particular about anything we are involved in and how it’s done. That’s one of the things I learned from him — he is a genius.
One of our staff members is from Chicago and hears you hang out there a lot. They love hanging in Bucktown (Six Corners), and Hyde Park. Where do you hang when you’re in the Chi, and what do you do there?
I love the “GO ILL”! I f***ks with Leaders. Naledge brought me to Hyde Park and Harold’s Chicken. I be all over the Chi-town for real. I’m still gettin’ hip to the city. I get mad love here!
Are you still living in Cleveland? If so, are you ever going to leave it like your fellow midwesterners, Kid Cudi, Common, and Kanye left their cities? Can a midwetsern artist expand his horizons staying in his city of origin?
I do live in cleveland now. I feel like life is short and you can’t just sit in one spot. Cleveland will always be my home base but I can’t say I won’t have mad cribs all over the world because I would be lying. I encourage Clevelanders to explore the world as I plan to do. I will always remain the realest and rep Cleveland until the day it’s all over!
What would you say to Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls when he said: “I never heard anyone say I’m going to Cleveland on vacation”? Noah talks a lot of crap but is this just too much?
I would tell ‘em we party hard without ‘em just fine. Oh and he’s ugly as f**k.
Via MTV Iggy