Phor: Tattoo Artist By Day, Rapper By Night

Shirley Ju

You may recognize Phor from Black Ink Chicago, but music is his full-time passion. Fans are waiting patiently for his forthcoming project titled "Self Love."

Phor describes himself as “somebody with a good heart. I look at myself as an inspiration. Motivator, I like to give people that type of energy. Think of a positive person, somebody who wants to see you win.”

In other words, expect the unexpected. From playing a vital role in 6 seasons of VH1’s Black Ink Chicago to creating the show’s theme song, “Chi Town,” which is an ode to his city, the “Cardio” rapper sees the film world as an opportunity to promote his music.

One thing about Phor is his mission to promote positivity, raise mental health awareness, and emphasize the importance of self-love. Most recently, he released his quarantine-inspired single “Comfy,” holding fans over until the arrival of his forthcoming project Self-Love.

AllHipHop caught up with Phor to discuss the recent state of the world, love for UGK, experience on reality television, goals, and more!

AllHipHop: On “Comfy,” you say “started underground like Bun B.” Is Bun B someone you looked up to?

Phor: UGK all day! Who doesn't like UGK? Hearing their sound, screwed and chopped, it was new to me coming from where I'm from. It made me want to take a trip down to Texas, go down South to see what's going on. Shout out to Pimp C and Bun B.

AllHipHop: Do you feel real hip-hop is hard to be seen nowadays?

Phor: Absolutely, but at what standard? At what level are we talking about? If we’re talking full mainstream? Of course not. If we’re talking battle rap or the underground scene? Then yeah, absolutely. It's all about levels. Couple people are getting it in here and there, they have to find their way to make it work without dumbing themselves down all the way. There’s still guys doing their thing who are well-respected. It's still in there, but at a certain level.

AllHipHop: What's one thing that you want fans to get from “Cardio”?

Phor: People don’t know, “Cardio” was actually a mental health record. When I first started going to the gym, it was more for the physical to look a certain way. It became more mental for me. It started helping me channel different energies, negative thoughts. It made me see different. It made me feel better and became my go-to. One day I was on the Stairmaster, because I always wanted to lose a lot of weight. I had a lot of depressed weight on me, it wasn't healthy. Health as wealth, so I wanted to take care of myself. I wanted to challenge myself. The more you challenge yourself, the more you find out about yourself.

I was inspired every day, going down there to see how much I can do, how long I could stay on there. I wanted to tap into my daily routine, putting me getting up and going to the gym into my music. People get to know me, really inspire them.

AllHipHop: How are you coping with everything, being a black male from Chicago?

Phor: 2020 is probably the worst year ever. Since we lost Kobe in January, it's been going downhill. It's f##ked up. This is the worst year I've ever witnessed. This is real history. Not just what's happening today but from the top of the year, it's been bulls##t. It's taking a toll on us. A lot of hurtful things taking place, we have no choice but to adjust. Figure out ways to still be heard, still go about your day to day. It's not easy, especially for people who have jobs, have 9 to 5’s, to get up and have a family. That's getting taken away from them because of what I personally feel, a man-made virus.

Since George Floyd and everything going on with all the protesting, it seems like racism killed Corona. If anybody was going to catch something, it would’ve been during these protests. When they told us to stay in the house, you may have caught one or 2 states with clips of people partying. When Miami opened their beach up the first week, the next day we got a report that 3,000 people caught Corona from that. People protesting everyday, nobody’s talking about Corona. People still walking around with masks, but they’re not talking about it. They want us to do social distancing, but we're protesting as a unit and nothing’s happening.

AllHipHop: It made me realize how powerful the media is and how they brainwash you.

Phor: Crazy! It's stupid because we don't know what's next to come. You guys are saying things but if you put anything out, let it be facts. The first protest I saw, I was in Dallas looking at the news in Chicago. I seen a clip back home that said from all the rioting and looting, we may have severe cases of Ebola. I seen that on a news channel. Come on man, ya’ll saying anything at this point. Now it's Ebola. I don't like what's going on. I try to mind my own business but it's hard when certain things that involve your rotation get put on hold because of what's going on in the world today.

AllHipHop: You’ve been on 6 seasons of Black Ink Chicago, how was your experience?

Phor: It's cool. When it first fell into our lap, it wasn't nothing we were thirsty to do because I personally never cared for fame. All I wanted was my respect, my power, my money. If it was me by myself, I don't know if I would’ve took it. I was so on board to do it the first time around because we made a collective decision. If we’re going through it, we’re going to go through it all together. At first, it was fun. "Yo, you got another season!" We’re excited. 6 seasons later, what more do ya’ll want? Leave me the f##k alone. [chuckles] But at this point, we get the fact that we've created our audience and we have to update our people. It sucks, sometimes you can't do the things you want to normally do like go to the corner store.

AllHipHop: Damn, you're famous!

Phor: Yeah, it's your face card. You can't do anything, it sucks. People still know me even with me walking around with my mask on.

AllHipHop: Are you the type to stop and take a picture?

Phor: Absolutely. Even if I don't want to do it, I do it. I know how much it means to make somebody else happy. If I can make your day, cool. I'll chop it up with you, whatever you want to do. A lot of people who see people they may know at whatever level, they don't get to take pictures. Some people are assholes.

AllHipHop: Do you have kids?

Phor: Just my dog.

AllHipHop: Would you ever move out of Chicago?

Phor: I'm trying to move out in a couple months. I have a couple options, I haven’t decided yet. I'ma do LA, Dallas, or Florida.

AllHipHop: You should come to LA for a lil bit.

Phor: A lot of people have been telling me that. Especially for what I'm trying to do – I need to be out there on my networking s##t. Chicago is still a great place, it gives you everything. You have to give it time. Give it a year and you'll have everything. If you give Chicago a good year, you'll get the whole experience. It gets cold here, but it also gets very hot here too. Summertime Chicago is crazy, nothing like summertime Chi.

AllHipHop: Do you party? Do you miss outside?

Phor: Yeah, I party. I miss outside because I was getting those club appearances. But outside of the bookings, really being out to connect with the people. That's what I rock with, I'm a people person. I'm very introverted though, but I do know how to network when I have to. When I'm chillin’, I'm literally to myself. It be a job sometimes.

AllHipHop: What are some immediate goals for yourself?

Phor: I'm in a place now where I want people to know me for me, not from a TV show. I'm working on people knowing me as Phor, versus that's "Phor from...." I don’t want to be like "that's Drake from Degrassi." Now, it's "that's Drake!" It’s not "that's Cardi B from Love & Hip Hop,” that's Cardi B. It's a lot of work I have to do. I'm happy I’m this focused right now. I took a lot of time with myself, got myself in a good headspace. Now, I see things a lot clearer. Every day, I'm up in the gym every day to better myself and motivate other people who need it. Even if it's one person, that's all you need. Push and motivate my people, and better myself in the process.

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