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“This is the interview, just the fucking interview, really there’s nothing typical.”
When I was high school, trips to Dr. Wax were a part of my daily routine. At first I just went in and looked around, my first purchases being mainly artists I found on MTV or through the radio. As I got older, I became a regular at Dr. Wax, a small independent record store located in Harper Court that served as a staple of Chicago music until it closed in 2008. As time went on, I began to delve into the store’s collection of independent releases, imports, bootlegs, and of course, the local section. Plus, the Dr. Wax employees always had great music playing on the store’s speakers and a good chunk of my collection came directly from the store’s CD changer. To this day I remember walking in and hearing something that sounded completely new and different, yet at the same time, familiar and worn.
“Who is this?” I asked Thaione Davis, an artist who was working at Dr. Wax and kind of took me under his wing, introducing me to local artists and taking me with him to WHPK a couple times. “Typical Cats,” Thaione answered, and promptly handed me the orange CD that was their debut album. He then schooled me on the history of the crew. He gave me the breakdown on Qwel, Qwaazar, Denizen Kane, DJ Natural and silent crew member, Kid Knish, individuals from all over the city, with different backgrounds and styles who somehow managed to come together in Hyde Park and make some of the best Hip Hop I had ever heard… And it was coming from my neighborhood! It sounded familiar to me because the music matched the environment. The music sounded like the alley behind my parents apartment, like walking down 53rd street, like driving down 55th and watching it turn into Garfield Blvd. The album became one of my favorites, and when I left for college the following fall, I took it with me to serve as theme music. It was a piece of home, and a way to travel from Bloomington, Indiana back to Hyde Park with just the push of a button.
Since their debut, each member of Typical Cats has released solo projects, other group projects, and worked outside of the music world. They came back together in 2004 to release a second LP, Civil Service. Tomorrow, they will celebrate the release of a new album, 3, their first group album in 8 years. I couldn’t be more excited.
Different people have different definitions of Chicago Hip Hop, each one personal, based on experience, and valid in its own right. For me, the sounds and styles of Typical Cats are my definition. Their return comes at a time when Chicago Hip Hop is thriving and making new definitions for new generations, some of whom share my admiration for their music as well as their influence. Ahead of their LP, and their release party on Friday night at Bottom Lounge, I interviewed all four members of Typical Cats about their new album, what took them so long, their place in Chicago Hip Hop, and much more. Check it out and enjoy.
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