I recently got a chance to interview a few artists while at Lollapalooza in Chicago’s famed Grant Park this past weekend and one of them was homegrown Chicago emcee, Femdot. Talking with him before his early Saturday afternoon performance on Friday in the media tent we delved into several different topics ranging from how he first got started, what it feels like to be playing Lollapalooza at home for the first time, how his relationship with Closed Sessions came about, his thoughts on Chicago’s currently burgeoning Hip-Hop scene and where he fits in it. We spoke on a whole lot more as well, which you can check out below to get to know more about the rising Chicago emcee, who’s one of Chicago’s best kept secrets that will hopefully not be so secret anymore.
Nello for TheHipHopDemocrat.com: Hey Femdot, I’m Nello Rubio with TheHipHopDemocrat.com So obviously being here from the Chicago area, the suburbs, what does it feel like to be playing your first Lollapalooza?
Femdot: It’s wild. Especially to think about when even like a couple of years ago I was thinking of sneaking in here past the gates, but somebody else was already trying to. So I didn’t. Like I said it’s crazy just having it here at home. Really being my first big festival too. That just speaks volumes and it’s cool to know I have that type of support here. I wouldn’t want to have the first one be anywhere else. I’m glad that’s here and the biggest one in Chicago. It’s kinda crazy and I’m excited.
Nello: You’ve obviously worked with Closed Sessions, RTC and Mike. So how did that come about?
Femdot: So I’ve been recording at Soundscape since I was 15. So I’ve always kind of been there and then just overt time I guess after I started dropping the EP’s and stuff I did, they seen what I was doing and that my name was starting to blow a little bit. So then they reached out like, “Oh we could help you distribute your next project, if that’s something you want to do.” Even like we were getting other offers and trying to figure stuff out. Like it was cool to do something with the city in mind. You know try to help build the industry at home. So I was like, “We can do that and do this project with you guys and kind of see where that relationship goes from there.” So that’s kind of how it happened is I was around anyways. So it was like we can only really see what you’re really doing is the only way we could really help.
Nello: Yeah, Chicago the Hip-Hop scene has always kind of been there. Even with Twista, Do or Die and Crucial Conflict and all of them back in the day. But it’s really been over the past four or five years with guys like you and Herbo, and even like Chance and Vic Mensa, Vic Spencer and Chris Crack, has really kind of almost exploded. Where it’s like Chicago as far as the talent, outside of maybe Los Angeles and L.A. being the other main spot is the best there’s right now. How do you think you fit and are able to help develop that?
Femdot: I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m really a hood n^**a in general. So I’m just happy to watch it happen and know that I can play a part in any capacity. No matter what capacity it’s, is just crazy. And when you’re in the middle of it, it’s like wow, this is really a thing. So I think personally me, my role is just to keep doing what I’m doing. I think one thing about Chicago artists that stands out and it really comes with the city, is that we are authentic. And what’s really authentic? You can’t really find anyone that sounds like anybody else or is a copycat of anyone else to really blow. So for me I feel like my role is to stay myself in all of this. Cause that’s the sound we have and we have Saba, we have Chance, we have Herb. Everyone sounds different, but at the same time they all sound like themselves. So that’s what you’re going to get out of Chicago artists and my contribution to this wave is to just continue to sound the same as myself.
Nello: Yeah, kind of playing off that. Who are some Chicago artists that you haven’t worked with yet and want to?
Femdot: In the grand scheme of things, it’s a lot of people who I’m really just friends with and if it happens, it happens type thing. It’s never forced. I personally would still love to do a song with Lupe. Just to test my rapping ability and to see how I could fare. Cause you know that man can rap his ass off. Bump J. I really, really want to do a song with Bump J. Bump, Lupe, probably Common would be fun. Bump, Lupe though, those are ones I want to do.
Nello: Yeah, speaking of Bump. He’s somebody who has always kind of been there and it’s crazy cause like everybody in Chicago knows who he is, but it’s like not outside of Chicago people really know him. And it’s crazy to see how much he has grown. Even going back to Herbo, like Mikkey Halsted managing him now and how Mikkey and Bump really were connected with each other coming up. How do you think how Bump has been able to adjust and be still such a big influence?
Femdot: Yeah, it’s really crazy how small Chicago is. I’m really happy to see how Bump has been one, able to adjust and he’s able to see the influence that he has had on so many of us. Like he’s literally been like an OG for all of us and we all know that. So I hope that him coming home and him kind of getting back in the mix, he’s able to see that we wouldn’t be able to be this generation without him.
Nello: Another thing partially like you said before about the Chicago scene, is everybody not only being authentic to themselves, but Chicago used to be and sort of still is, but not as much known as a hater city. Cause everybody didn’t really want to work with one another and was all for themselves. But now I think it’s helped elevate the scene to where everyone has really started to collaborate. How do you think that has played a part?
Femdot: Oh, definitely. I was at Pitchfork a couple of weeks ago and it was like four or five Chicago artists back-to-back-to-back-back. And everybody, all of us kept bouncing from one stage to another and just seeing all that camaraderie is just like, “Yo my fans come to this or whatever.” Like I appreciate that and I think it’s cause a lot of us grew up together through these YCA and other media avenues and have really known each other since we were all 16 or 17. And even then it was like, I’m just tired of the city not popping because we aren’t working together. So if you’re dope and I’m dope, why not work? A lot of us are actually friends too, so it ain’t just industry. Like what that does is keeps it authentic and changes the narrative in the city based on people wanting to become friends with artists. But I feel like a lot of that really started with at least from what I could see and my experience or people I know at Young Chicago Authors or all those other open mics throughout the city. Where nobody was nobody, so we all had to be cool with each other. So I think it’s doing wonders for the city and that’s why the city is finally able to prosper like it’s. Because even with bands, a lot of us share the same people in our bands. Like my bass player just played with Smino. Like everyone is just kind of in the same network now and just a big ass network at this point. What that does is allows other people to tap into other people’s resources and grow. So I think it’s very important and I’m glad it’s happening now.
Nello: Not even just the Hip-Hop scene, but Chicago in general has always had that rich music history. Like the Soul, R&B, Blues and Jazz. So how do you think that has helped you guys evolve?
Femdot: I think with Chicago having such a rich history, you can’t really do anything but just feel it. Feel that’s more to us than what people say it’s. You know musically and in everything it just allows you to grow. I think it brings something out of an artist too.
Nello: You’re originally from the suburbs and you see a lot more artists coming not only from the city, but the suburbs now as well. How do you think that’s played a part?
Femdot: I think that social media played the biggest part in that. Cause it connected all parts of the city and the suburbs. Cause for example me living in the north and the south suburbs, and in pockets of the north side of Chicago. Before I went to the south suburbs and come from the north side, like around Evanston, I wouldn’t know anything about anything out there. They all talk different. As I got older now I understand cause I got little cousins who are out in Rogers Park and then link up with someone who goes to school at Whitney Young, who lives on 117th, strictly because of social media. So I feel that plays a large part in having somebody from the suburbs or someone else get support in the city. Give support in the city from that aspect. So I even feel like I was in Evanston I didn’t know about the Southside and I would be in Rogers Park, but I didn’t know. Even like some of these rappers who are from the hood, but really the south suburbs. People where if this was 2007, Herb wouldn’t be playing east of Wilson, but now they play him cause of that idea. So I think conceptually it helped a lot.
Nello: Finally before I close out, besides your album, Delacreme 2, which has been getting a lot of positive feedback. Is there anything else your fans expect from you soon?
Femdot: More shows, a lot more shows. A lot more content and stuff from the album. Maybe even some surprises I may have up my sleeve. Definitely a lot more shows though. Should be dope and good.