Vakill: The Confirmation


aving produced for All Natural, Cali Agents, and 7L & Esoteric, the Molemen are largely thought of as Chicago’s beat-society. But as Panik and Memo plug away at the boards, the microphone is gripped by an admitted fiend. Vakill has been releasing twelve-inch singles for a decade. In 2004, his Darkest Cloud album was revered by many as the independent album of the year. The work still has the press and fans talking, while others were left on a scavenger hunt just to find a copy.

Early this year, Vakill released his follow-up, Worst Fears Confirmed. A more polished effort, Vakill wants to extend his reach in a way true to his grassroots form. Including appearances by Ras Kass and Royce, this opus gives some veteran perspective in a season projected for its Chicago rookies.

Vakill discusses with his city. The MC reflects on almost twenty years ago, building with Twista. He also touches on what recently sent him packing from the Chi. Lastly, Vakill speaks about the last letter in “O.P.P.” in a way that may be an affirmation to some but an exclamation to others. In terms of the MC, Darkest Cloud was the most successful release that Molemen had seen. That said, what kind of pressure did you have going into Worst Fears Confirmed?

Vakill: Actually man, there was none. Reason being, we already knew Darkest Cloud was gonna be a one-of-a-kind album. It was just to establish myself among my peers as, “Look, this n***ga’s nice. Realize it.” It was a high-testosterone release. With Worst Fears Confirmed, it was to establish my all-around game, and to reach people in places the last album couldn’t – without compromising my creativity in the process. Explain to me your perception of the title.

Vakill: The worst fear is – “Okay, we know he can spit punchlines and all of that. But can he tell a good story? Can he ride the beat?” It was to answer a lot of questions. For the people who doubted me, it’s their Worst Fears Confirmed. On “No Mercy,” you pride yourself in never resorting to selling drugs, never been shot, all of these things that MC’s in the independent and mainstream are using today. What do you attribute the violent imagery – the monsters, the beasts, that you’re referring to throughout the album? Where’s the gully factor coming from?

Vakill: A lot of the s**t that’s coming out now is tablecloth rap. Let’s be honest, it’s not real. These n***as is puttin’ out too many mixtapes to be on the streets. These n***as is puttin’ out like five mixtapes a week. So, my whole thing with it is simple math, dog. You ain’t gotta be out here hollerin’ and screamin’, ‘cause if you hollerin’ and screamin’ about it, you obviously ain’t doin’ it. Everybody know where I’m from, in the neighborhood I’m from. The people that surround me, they know me well – as far as my credibility to scream or holler. If you listen to “Heart Bleeds,” that’s real talk. That’s me. That’s my life. I’ve shot at n***as like everybody else. But what separates me from a lot of these n***as comin’ with this gullyness is – just ‘cause I ain’t been shot or I ain’t sold rock, it don’t mean I ain’t did my share of dirt. I’m just not stupid enough to get caught. [laughs] That’s not what I want people to focus on with this record – only in certain doses. It’s been done to death. I’m not tryin’ to ride that wave. A lot of the [Hip-Hop] greats didn’t, and I’m sure a lot of those greats did their share of dirt too. Let’s get rhyming back to creativity as opposed to street credibility – that’d be fun. A lot of the s**t on my record ain’t true. I’d be behind bars. But in certain aspects, a lot of it is. In certain aspects, it’s a lot of the s**t that I’ve witnessed. But there are songs on there like, “Heart Bleeds,” where s**t is actually real. Real talk. You talk about creativity. I love this line, “Love don’t live here anymore, rent’s too expensive.” What’s that line mean to you?

Vakill: [Laughs] When I wrote that line, there was so many concepts involved in writing that line. I’m posted up in Indiana, right now for a minute. ‘Cause rent actually is gettin’ too f**kin’ expensive. [laughs] Aside from that, Chicago got a bad omen as far as the hate that’s spread out. I’m a firm believer that there’s power in numbers. It gotta start at home. A lot of us that done made it, we made it by not starting it at home. We wasn’t accepted right away at home. We had to get accepted elsewhere. Then, the people at home started to see it – and then they showed the love. Up until then, the love was vacant. We wasn’t gettin’ it until New York and West Coast is lovin’ ‘em. A lot of people in this town is band-wagoners. It’s the same with the artists. We segregated within our own city – North Side Rap, West Side Rap, and South Side Rap. We interviewed Naledge recently, and he said the same. Chicago may have more of that than Los Angeles.

Vakill: It’s terrible! It’s Willie Lynch all over. Creatively, there are some differences. West Side Rap has more of a high-hat, gangsterish, Twista sound. South Side is much more of the s**t that I’m doin’, the s**t that Naledge is doin’. The North Side is straight boom-bap, Hip-Hop, and abstract. By region in the city, the genres is broke down. In reviews, your delivery has been compared to Ras Kass a lot. What was it like to get in the booth with him on “Introducin’?”

Vakill: People first heard me and said, “Man, he sounds like Ras Kass.” I heard a lot of comparisons. Even when Wendy Day was managin’ him, she’d always bring up his name like, “You really remind me of this dude.” He hadn’t even dropped yet. The first time I heard him was “Come Widdit” with Saafir and Ahmed on The Streetfighter Soundtrack. I heard his vocal tone alone and was like, “Damn. Yeah, that’s who they talkin’ ‘bout.” It started to make sense. As far as my approach as to how I spit, my style is a Pharoahe Monch gone completely raw. [laughs] The way Twista and I and a lot of these guys started out, we’d take portions of people’s styles. LL [Cool J] did a song called, “Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?” [repeats verses]. We heard that for the first time, like “Oh, my Lord.” My man bet [Twista] that he couldn’t do that style. This was like Walking With A Panther back in ’89. Twista came back a whole damn song in that style! That’s the type of s**t we was on. [Pharoahe] Monch did “Bring It On,” and came with an off-beat, on-beat flow, I did the same thing. “What if a mothaf**ka straight did that whole style?” That was my whole approach. People think it’s Ras Kass, but really, it’s Pharoahe. [laughs] No disrespect to Copywrite or J-Live. But on this album, you’re working with Ras Kass and Royce Da 5’9” – two of the biggest indie artists. That’s different from the peers you’ve worked with before. Is that you seeing yourself in a new league?

Vakill: I knew eventually I’d work with Royce. I’ve known dude since like ’99. We did a show together when we was both just kinda gettin’ our feet wet. With Ras Kass, my album was done. We was ‘bout to ship it off that week. My man Panik was like, “What do you think it’d take to get you back in the booth? Let’s get Ras Kass.” It only made sense too, ‘cause his name and my name always been comin’ up in the same circles. We had a mutual friend who made it happen – my man Quest. You’ve worked with Slug. As an independent artist, the Rhymesayers distribution is crazy. You can go to Target and buy an Atmosphere record. But even bigger stores like Best Buy and Sam Goody aren’t always carrying your product. What can you do to expand your reach?

Vakill: The funny part about that is – now we startin’ to get stepped to. Sometimes you just gotta prove yourself. A lot of things ain’t gonna fall in your lap, man. Show and prove. That’s basically what it boils down to. Good music gonna always speak for itself. You can be in Cambodia, if it’s bangin’ – you gonna find it. That’s how Darkest Cloud was. It didn’t just came out like, “Bam!” It was over a lengthy period of time like, “Have you heard this? This s**t is crazy.” I just did a XXL article off the strength of an album three years old. My new s**t was comin’ out that Tuesday. That’s just good music. To have an album still get talk after three years is probably the biggest compliment a Hip-Hop artist could get right now…

Vakill: It was a crap-shoot. Obviously, it’s payin’ off. That was really an “I don’t give a s**t” album. [laughs] People actually clung to it. Worst Fears Confirmed is a lot more today – from the polished flow, and whatnot. We’ve already been approached about the distribution. My favorite joint on the record is “Man Into Monster,” which explores the dividing line that separates men from monsters. Did you have a particular experience that prompted that song?

Vakill: A couple. Most of the brothers that are behind bars right now – I feel that the main reason they behind bars is ‘cause of that monster. [laughs] Brothers is movin’ work at a young age to try and get the fly clothes, the fly chain, the fly cars, just to impress that monster. That monster may go along for the ride – but when they [locked up], they out. Some may stick around. There’s a positive and negative spin on everything. I love that monster just like the next man, but that monster has been the downfall of some of the greatest men in history? Exactly. In the song you say certain people didn’t make the Hall of Fame cause of that monster. All I could think of was Pete Rose. Who did you mean?

Vakill: Look at Wayne Gretzky. His wife is in a gambling ring. His wife – that’s another monster. [laughs] P*ssy is a powerful thing, man. For real. It can make the smartest man the dumbest n***a on earth. Women know how to use that monster. Women turn that beauty into a monster. When my crew heard the song, they said, “What you got against p*ssy?” I got nothin’ against p*ssy. I love p*ssy. But you gotta have p*ssy-control, or that s**t can be your biggest downfall. There’s a lot of brothers cryin’ behind bars ‘cause of p*ssy. [laughs] In the title song, you say, “A lot of new faces in the game, getting’ ahead of themselves, callin’ themselves ‘Kings of Chicago’,” That can be interpreted many ways. I’m not gonna pick at beef directly, I’ll let you elaborate…

Vakill: You got a lot of cats out here that been in the grind, dog. You gotta prove yourself. That’s a big, bold statement. To claim somethin’ like that, you better bring a lot to the table to claim that right. I’ve never considered myself the king of nothin’, I’ve always considered myself the crown. The crown is the symbol. Without the crown, you ain’t got s**t. The crown don’t move. You can take it for what it is. If you feel you the king, so be it. But by the end of the day, when I’m done with this pen, the people know.