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This Is My Method

Chilly Uptown follows up his disappointing 1988 debut, I Got Rules, with this cassette-only release. Nothing here really breaks any new ground, but it is enough of an improvement over its predecessor to warrant some attention.

For starters, Chilly resolves the biggest flaw of I Got Rules, the lack of a DJ, with DJ Total Kaos, arguably Seattle’s hottest hip hop scratchmeister (Kaos has since changed his moniker to DJ Punish, a.k.a. Sir Mix-ALot’s DJ). As a result, the tape’s best moments come when Kaos cuts loose on tracks like “Cum Clean” and the monster mix cut “I Can Make U Move,” where he moves from Kraftwerk to Information Society to Issac Hayes without missing a beat.

Chilly’s rhymes, mostly dealing with street life in Seattle, work best when humor is employed as is the case in “The Adventures of George G.B.” However there are two standout hardcore tracks. The all-too-true storyline of “Go Homeboys,” is about a couple of homies being kicked out of a record store because, if they aren’t buying they must wanna steal. “Fight, Fight” samples NWA’s “Gangsta Gangsta” effectively while maintaining its own originality.

This is My Method will not qualify Chilly Uptown for a spot in hip-hop’s yet-to-be-written Hall of Fame. But it is a worthy follow-up from a promising artist who is still growing. (This review originally appeared in The Rocket and was written by Glen Boyd.)

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It's About To Get Chilly

It’s About To Get Chilly is the third release from Chilly Uptown. It came out on cassette in 1992 at the threshold of what Charles Mudede termed the post-Sir-Mix-A-Lot “First Wave” in his seminal 2015 essay on Seattle rap history. However, this record is a polar opposite to the more conscious vibes of Jasiri and Tribal, who were leading that first wave.

Immediately Chilly’s album hits you with its first track, “Cop Killer.” As we all know, the 1991 Rodney King LAPD beating incident led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which spread across America. “Cop Killer” addresses many of the grievances that those protesters voiced when they burned buildings and looted stores.

The album continues with “What U Claim” which is an ode to people in Seattle who wanted to adopt an ‘appropriate’ gang culture and imagery into their personas when they had no business doing so. As you continue listening to the album, you discover that Chilly finds a strikingly poetic voice. This is definitely gangster rap a la Eazy-E, but Chilly takes time for observations and anecdotes. The music cracks the mystery of how to make a life of crime sound simultaneously appealing and yet futile.

Much of the credit for the album’s success goes to producer Fresco Zendejas, who was going by “AKA” at the time. Zendejas sampled some blockbuster beats like Isley Brothers “Between The Sheets” and Gap Band “Yearning For Your Love” years before the same tracks were made famous by Biggie and Nas respectively. In fact, everything about It’s About To Get Chilly seems very futuristic for 1992.

My favorite track on the album is a quasi spoken word piece titled “Check Yourself.” On this song, Chilly struggles with racism at his workplace and also expresses doubt in his Christian faith taught to him by his mother. The track is extraordinary in its honesty and for its themes of philosophical pondering. The dusty sounds of Tribal and Jasiri may have set the stage for the “First Wave” of Seattle hip hop, but Chilly Uptown was a smooth-talking hustler with an unstoppable attitude. It’s About To Get Chilly is a Seattle original indeed.

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I Got Rules

Like Incredicrew, Chilly Uptown emerged from Seattle’s early breakdancing scene. Originally from Chicago, he moved to the Northwest for his military service. He became known for wandering the blocks in Capitol Hill and the U District with a huge boombox on his shoulder, ready any time to drop the box and dance.

I Got Rules is one of Seattle’s first full-length rap LPs, and it was made for B-Boys: Most of the songs feature long instrumental passages for dancing. On “Stroke” he regularly calls out “break” to announce these moments. Like his contemporary Mix-A-Lot, Chilly does it all himself—the programmed beats, the samples, the rhymes—showing off his skills at scratching and keeping the party moving. Locals will cheer at “Seattle Rockers,” with regional references like “3rd and Pike.”

Unfortunately, this is a record where you wish Chilly had stuck to the music. His raps on “Big” are not-so-subtly about his giant cock, channeling Kanye with a cringe-worthy “let’s all have group sex.” Title track “I Got Rules” veers into aggressive homophobia, stating “If you’re gay that’s your biz,” while threatening violence to any men checking out his butt. “Your Pregnit,” is a slut-shaming message from a concerned father to his daughter. A lot of this was the norm of profane rap in the late ‘80s, where being rude and courting controversy only made you a bigger star. Everyone wanted to emulate Miami’s 2 Live Crew. On subsequent albums, Chilly digs deeper into this muck of in-your-face sex and self, making it central to his brand.

I Got Rules was the first hip-hop record from Ever Rap records. After a multi-decade hiatus, they’ve started reissuing rap vinyl from this period, including Chilly’s third album, It’s About To Get Chilly.

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