photo: Jeff Castillo
Although the Molemen name is synonymous with Chicago hip-hopís past, itís important as true fans to remember that the legendary crew has always had one foot moving towards the future. Over the years theyíve taken a proactive approach to change by mentoring a new crop of young lyricists, who not only represent the Molemen name, but bring new life to an already established brand. Of the newbies that have carried on the torch Humboldt Park native, Scheme, has stood out as a force to be reckoned with. His delivery is both fluid and aggressive, and his lyrical content plays with subject matter as diverse as the beats he rhymes overófrom his personal dreams and aspirations to the plight of the everyday man. As of now Scheme has been meticulously perfecting his craft one song at a time. And if thereís any doubt on whether or not he has what it takes to carry on the Molemen tradition, take one listen to his rerelease, ďSame Rebel, New Cause (the Deluxe Edition),Ē and decide for yourself.
Could you tell me a little bit about where you grew up and how you first got interested in hip-hop?
I grew up in the inner city of Chicago. I was born in Humboldt Park, raised in Bucktown and Hermosa. So pretty much, the Westside and Northwest side of Chicago has been my home since day one. The first time I really listened and paid attention to hip-hop music was when I was 8. I heard the Cypress Hill album and fell in love with it. I was break dancing when I was like 5, but I didnít know what I was getting myself into at the time.
Who were some of your most outstanding influences growing up? Did you have someone here locally sort of take you under their wing while your style was still developing?
Growing up; Nas, 2pac, Big L, Biggie, Big Pun, Jay-Z, Canibus, Ghostface Killah, and many more were some of my favorites. These were the ones I would sit down and study. As far as a mentor, it was pretty much my friends I started working on music with. When I really started trying to write full songs and record them, my homies who I started writing with were my mentors. We helped each other out and learned how to get better from one another. It was all trial and error. Then after them, Panik and PNS started giving me some insight on my songs, and what I could do to improve. I learned a lot from them about how to approach this whole industry and make it into my career.
What was your first performance like?
It was a great experience. I was nervous, but I performed with the friends I began working on music with, so there was a certain comfort level as well. I was 18 at the time, and I had never felt that kind of a rush before. Being on stage sealed the deal as far as me knowing that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
How did you link up with the Molemen?
I actually met Visual, who is Panikís brother, at one of my first performances. He then introduced me to Panik, and we talked for a bit. I went to meet up with him at Gramaphone and he asked me to rap, so I recited a whole song for him on the spot. He gave me a CD filled with his beats and asked me to call him when I had 2-3 songs written and recorded. I called him back like the next day with 3 new songs. From there they asked me to be a part of their label.
What was it like initially working with legends like Panik, PNS and Memo? In the beginning it was a bit intimidating, I wonít even lie. Just like 3 years before I became part of the Molemen, I was listening to all their music and I was a fan of what they were doing. So to go from respecting these individuals as an outsider, to working alongside with them, it was definitely a crazy experience for me. Through the years weíve built a good relationship. Those are my friends above anything else.
Could you tell me a little bit about "Same Rebel, New Cause?"
"Same Rebel, New Cause" is two separate projects. The first one was dropped earlier in the year, which was "Same Rebel, New Cause (Mixtape)" and that one was presented by the Molemen, Soul Assassins, RubyHornet.com, and 2dopeboyz.com. It was all new material with original music blended and mixed by DJ PNS of the Molemen. Then what we did was revamp the project with only 8 of the original songs and added 6 new songs with new collaborations. That new version was "Same Rebel, New Cause (Deluxe Edition)" which we just released on November 9th. Lastly, ďSame Rebel, New CauseĒ or SRNC also signifies the new brand I represent alongside the Molemen brand.
Itís pretty clear that Chicago is an important part of who you are. How does the city inspire you to make music?
Honestly, just all the experiences Iíve had living here. Most of my music derives from things Iíve seen, heard, lived, etc. Where you are from plays a huge role in what you create as an artist, but you also need to learn to understand that the world is bigger than home. That is when you are able to reach out and make music for the world to enjoy. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart. These neighborhoods made me.
Whatís your take on the hip-hop scene here?
I really like where the scene is right now. Itís changing, but I think in a very positive way. People are a lot more open minded and giving a lot of new artists a shot. A lot of us in the scene are real proud of where itís at, and itís great to see that. I like the fact that it isnít as segregated as before; where you would only have North Side artists at North Side events and South Side artists at South Side events. Those walls are slowly being broken down, so that is great to see.
Your narratives have such a personal touch to them, whatís your approach when youíre ready to sit down and write a song?
I just want to make sure the song is good to listen to first and foremost. I want to make sure people will relate to it somehow. And I want to make sure my lyrics are well put together. I pay attention to everything from the melody to the structure of the song. I want to put a part of me in it, but also understand that my music isnít only for me. I put it out for people to listen and enjoy. It needs to sound good, if it does, then theyíll sit and listen, and once they do that, theyíll get the message.
So much has changed in terms of hip-hop particularly technology and distribution, how have you dealt with the digital age of music?
Itís actually helped me a lot. I now have a way to put out my music online for people to buy off of iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and more. As an independent artist you canít always get distribution at all of the big stores where people would normally purchase music before, but now with the iTunes of the world, people can purchase your album alongside major label artist albums. And buying music through those avenues is only getting bigger and bigger. The blogs also play such a huge role for us independent artists in getting our music out there to the people. Theyíve changed the way people get all the new music. Staying relevant in these sites and putting out consistent albums is really important for a hip-hop artist in this digital age of music.
In regards to the Molemen camp, you guys took a few years off for the Chicago Rocks showcase. Can you tell me anything about Chicago Rocks 2011?
All I know is that itís coming in 2011 without a doubt. Itís in the early stages of planning, so not too many details can be given out. But Chicago Rocks has definitely been missed, and I feel itís the perfect time to bring it back.
Anything else we can look forward to in the future?
Definitely support the ďSame Rebel, New Cause (Deluxe Edition)Ē album available on iTunes, Amazon, scheme773.com and many other sites. As far as the future we have a couple projects in the works for next year including the LP. The next immediate project is a mixtape with DJ RTC from Ruby Hornet though, expect that first quarter of next year.