“But I still wanna roll with you…I still wanna go with you…probably spend all of my dough on you…”
Chicago rapper-poet, Teh’Ray “PHENOM” Hale showcased the crooning side of his vocal talent while reciting a poem. He was a sure crowd-pleaser, and shared the stage with a few other talented poets and musicians.
From features in Newsweek, being chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama to teach violence prevention with the Public Allies Program, and sharing the stage with Common, Kanye West, The Roots and Talib Kweli, PHENOM is known for being a “BEAST” of creative truth about urban culture, love and life.
In an interview with Rated-Ransom, PHENOM explained his thoughts about working with Chicago youth, music, women and the future of hip-hop.
RR: With your influence as a poet and rapper, what are your current community efforts/initiatives with Chicago youth, to help “keep them busy and protected” from the growing gun violence in some of their communities?
PHENOM: Current Community initiatives include a partnership with the Chicago Park District to serve as their Community and Youth Engagement Specialist where I host various events throughout the year. Next, I’m contracted as the Hip-Hop Youth engagement specialist in the Young Father’s Empowerment Program. I also serve with the award-winning ‘Fulfill The Dream Program’ where I am the lead facilitator, in conjunction with The Good Life Organization. I co-founded LYRIC Mentoring and youth empowerment social change program that mentors young adults and we meet everyday.
RR: Does L.Y.R.I.C. and Public Allies groups still exist?
PHENOM: They do but Public Allies is a seasonal Training Program. LYRIC Mentoring hosts an Open Mic Every Tuesday 7p-11p for the community that usually brings in about 150 people weekly!
RR: The important value of Black lives… how do you try to constantly convey this message in your rhymes today (so our young people can understand…and take action…pass the torch)?
PHENOM: That’s the basic ingredient of my entire catalog. I make sure that I begin with the basis that the lives that would most benefit from a PHENOM Song are those that have not been considered as functional human beings!
RR: 2011’s “Jacuzzi” is a hip, yet sensual song dedicated to that everyday woman. Its shows appreciation to women. (And it’s a nice groove by the way)… what are your thoughts about the negative portrayals of women depicted in music?
PHENOM: Unfortunately, although there have been many attempts to counter this plague, I believe that the current system has made and will continue to live and make big money off of the degradation of women!!!
RR: Explain your experience in blessing thousands of rhyme/hip-hop fans, while sharing the stage/opening up with Common, Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu and other likes…
PHENOM: OMG, it’s always a super electricity in the air when I open for a national act! The acts themselves never get to see the show before they come out, but the have most definitely benefited from a high-caliber artist like me warming the crowd up tremendously! Talib was the only one that has come up to me and said my skills match the name!!
RR: What’s your opinion on how the times/style of music expression has changed since you stepped on the scene in the 90’s?
PHENOM: Well, in the beginning, the style was about who is the most intelligent and who can do the most difficult things in this craft, but now it’s all about who can be the most violent, rich, or ignorant! And those are the styles that are being rewarded!!!
RR: With artists changing identities…some good, some not so good (as music art evolves), do you view that as a sign of growth in the industry or selling out?
PHENOM: No. Change is the only thing that keeps on happening! So change is inevitable and good! Its how we use the change that’s important!!!
RR: What is your prediction on the future of conscious lyrics/rhymes/hip-hop?
PHENOM: I think the Future of hip-hop will morph into a new way of expressing the GOD in us! The new hip-hop artist my be a dancer or one that is a community leader! They will take it further than Hip-hop itself!!!
Today, you can find PHENOM promoting his 2016 rating of “Top 5″ artists to come out of Chicago titled, “I Didn’t Come, I Was Sent”. He also has a BIG all-age show coming up at The PROMONTORY in Hyde Park-Chicago to celebrate his birthday this Friday, April 1st!
Stay connected with PHENOM at: http://www.Phenomuniversal.com