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.