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As hip hop became a global, cultural force, the definition of rapper has stretched.
But its origins, as a cornerstone of live events, remain very much alive in people like Chill Moody. A native of West Philadelphia, Chill is an effortless emcee on stage and fiercely proud of his lyrics. Though he grew up in the economically distressed (though by no means monolithic) Overbrook neighborhood, Chill excelled academically and came from a supportive family — his real name is Eric Moody but since he was always at ease, he earned a lifelong nickname. As a much-beloved underground artist, he uses music as a storytelling platform, for his experience and those like him.
But Chill isn’t just another rapper trying to make it. He gets advice from legendary Roots cofounder Black Thought and beats from Daru Jones, well known as the drummer for rock star Jack White. This week, he’ll curate a stage at the massive Wawa Welcome America July 4th celebration in his native Philadelphia.
But he identifies as a writer first. Each year, he sets off on an annual 100-day writing challenge, in which he aims to write at least one full verse every day. He reached that discipline by following a familiar creative journey: discovering that a writing voice can only be found when one is true to oneself.
Listen to this episode for more on the lessons about doing this yourself.
Then listen for more about Chill’s earliest experience with academic failure (in handwriting) here and his family influences here.