Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Still Standing: Interview with Mr. P Chill

Mr. P Chill is an independent hip hop emcee and producer with over two decades of experience as a recording and touring artist. With the forthcoming release of his 11th full length album, Still Standing, there is no sign that this Sacramento legend is stopping any time soon.

Beginning his career as a recording artist in Sacramento, CA in 1992 with the release of his former group’s first cassette single, Chill has not only embraced what it means to be an emcee, but has also shown a flair for entrepreneurism as he has chosen the path of independence. Over the next ten years, he remained active with his former group, recording and performing as well as being involved in the production of various projects from other Sacramento artists.

Around the turn of the century, Chill was less active with music as he was faced with a crossroad. In 2001, he disbanded his original group and decided to go solo. The first release was his self titled debut album in 2002. Also that year, Chill began touring the West Coast,performing shows in various bars and small music venues in support of this record.

By 2007, Chill was performing an average of 50-60 shows a year all over California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, while maintaining a full time day job. In 2010, after burning the candle at both ends for a decade, Mr. P Chill went walked away from the 9 to 5 and devoted 100% of his energy to music and touring.

In the five years since, he has expanded his touring to cover the entire US at least once per year, alongside smaller regional tours throughout the year. Chill spends on average, ⅔ of every calendar year on the road, performing songs, selling merchandise and most importantly, connecting with fans.

The future looks bright for Mr. P Chill, a man who remains focused as he enters his prime. Chill is guided by his positive attitude, his heartfelt lyrics and his connection to hip hop’s golden era. Some people say that when you get to be over 30 years old, your career as a musician or performer is nearing it’s end, but for Chill at 41, he seems to be gaining more momentum than ever!

Join the conversation, see tour photos and more by searching for #ChilligansArmy or #MrPChill.

Interview with Mr. P Chill

What attracted you to Hip Hop?

When I was a kid, I head “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow at a neighborhood pool in 1982 or 1983. My older sister exposed me to funk like Parliament, Rick James and early Prince, but to my young ears, this was different. I started to seek out more and more hip hop as I got older. I guess you could say I was hooked from day one!

What was that deciding moment you wanted to become a Hip Hop artist yourself?

When I was in the 7th grade, I started to write my own lyrics and rap over the instrumentals of other rappers of the time. The emcees that I listened to really inspired me, but it was in 1989 that I heard a local rapper, MJ Freeze, on the radio and thought to myself, hey, he is from Sacramento and doing this, maybe I can do this too. Before that, all the hip hop I heard came from either New York or Los Angeles.

With the exception of Brotha Lynch Hung, Sacramento isn't known for being the incubator for Hip Hop artists. How do you expect to break that trend as the first major Hip Hop success story to break out of Sac-town? 

Brotha Lynch Hung did great things for Sacramento hip hop and brought a spotlight on the hard core rap that comes from my city. In addition to Lynch, there is a TON of GREAT hip hop coming from my Sacramento. My way of breaking that trend is by collaborating with other Sacramento emcees so that when people hear my music, they hear other Sacramento talent as well as taking some of them out on tour with me to expose their music beyond the city limits.

Earlier, I know you mentioned some of your favorite artists, but do you have any current favorites from today?

Non-golden era artists that I am into include Brother Ali, Lupe Fiasco, Atmosphere, Blueprint and even rappers with unique and more experimental sounds like Earl Sweatshirt.

How did you get the name, “Mr. P Chill”?

Mr. P Chill: Back when I first started to rap, I used to go by “Chill Bill”, this was like 1988 or 1989. I got some glasses and a friend said “Man, you look like a professor, you are Professor Chill” and that stuck. I later shortened it to P Chill. When I started doing solo music after my group I was in throughout the 1990’s dissolved in 2001, I added the Mr. to the front of it as a sign of maturity and growth.

In your opinion, what is missing from commercial Hip Hop today?

Substance and messages. What always attracted me to the music was the message in the lyrics. Public Enemy and Ice T were HUGE influences on me in my early years of rapping as they did not hold back with what they had to say, they told it like it was. There are some mainstream rappers who push a message in their words, but sadly, 95% of what I hear on the radio is senseless music about sex, drugs and stupidity. I am trying to reach my audience and offer them an alternative to that. There are a lot of problems in the world today that need to be addressed and we need to reach the young people with these messages.

Your newest music from Still Standing is very traditional and it seems you are staying true to your original form. Who do you give this credit to? Who did you work with to make this album?

I credit this to my influences growing up as well as my fans who have come to expect traditional boom-bap styles from me. I worked with several emcees and producers on this album, including hip hop legends 2Mex (Visionaries), Percee-P (Stones Throw) and the hip hop pioneer and legend, Spyder-D. Working with cats that I grew up listening to was an honor!

What can people expect from you in the coming months, a tour, music video? What's good with Mr. P Chill?

Well, I am in New York right now as I am 3 weeks in on my 5 week US tour to promote the new album. I have been filming footage for some music videos while out here on the road. After I get back to California from this tour in a few weeks, I have a new project with Spyder-D that we are getting ready to launch. It is a movement where we use music to try to bring people of all races and backgrounds together and put an end to some of the hate and violence that has been running rampant in the US as well as around the world. I am excited to be able to use music to make positive changes in the world…. more to come on that!
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