I’ve seen the growth of Chicago’s underground movement, especially in the last few months. It’s always been pretty strong, but more and more artists have been racking up SoundCloud plays across the city’s eclectic neighborhoods. There’s no way you can hear/see all the music/videos + tapes hitting the web everyday, but blogs help.
One cat that I’ve been noticing for quiet some time is Marko Stat$. Everything he puts out does numbers. His artistry is always being improved; but he usually sticks to creating lyrically potent tracks. He’s put out a just a few cuts in the last year, but he’s been putting in work for years and according to him, there’s much more to come. Learn more about how he gained respect in Chicago, his stance on race relations and how social media has helped him reach fans all over the world.
Hey Marko! Thanks for giving us your time. Give us a little intro on you.
Hey! Thank you for this opportunity. My artist name is Marko Stat$ and I’m from Uptown, Chicago. My goal is to bring an innovative sound to the hip hop world.
How long have you been working on your music career? When did you decide to take it seriously?
For about 3-4 years now. I feel like I started to take it more serious once I realized that this is my path. I never really had any clear vision on what exactly I wanted to do with my life. Music took me by surprise and I ran with it.
Was there a moment when you said to yourself: I’m doing this?
To be honest, sometimes I have a hard time trying to find a way to live in the moment. It’s something that I’m working on. Life moves so quickly and I just keep moving forward.
You’ve definitely made noise in the Chicago scene…do you have a day job or are you going to school?
Yea I guess you can say that “I’m a hustler” (laughs) I find the money to invest into my music and I put that as my main focus. I used to attend college but I’m currently not enrolled. I figure that I just invest into my dream the same way a college student may invest in student loans and etc.
We hit up a friend of yours, Aced Spade, and did a spotlight on him. We were introduced to your music off Nobody which he produced. How long have you guys been working together?
That’s my Brodie. We’ve been working together for about 2-3 years now. He really understands what I’m trying to do with my music and we just click.
Almost every time you drop new content it ends up on hella Chicago hip hop blogs. Was it always like that? What type of work was put in to get that level of recognition?
It wasn’t always like that. When I first started rapping I used to get about 15 plays on every track. I knew that if I just kept trying that I’d get better. When I dropped my first official single “Fade Away” in 2014, Prime Fortune (local Chicago blog) picked up on it and from there it got posted on Lyrical Lemonade, Elevator, The Place For Things and etc. Back then I didn’t even realize how much of an honor it is to be posted on a well-respected blog site.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to listen to your album Lost Souls which was released about a year ago. Was this your debut? What headspace were you in when you worked on it?
I don’t want to necessarily call it a debut because I feel like it’s more of a baby step into the game. Back then I was so thirsty to just drop something for the people. I just wanted to showcase my talent and my interesting perspective.
I hear a lot of growth between the project, and, say, your Back To The Basics freestyle. Do you hear that as well? In what way do you feel you’ve progressed?
Thank you! Yea I definitely hear the growth as well. I feel like I’ve become more aware of who I am as a person and that has helped my music evolve. I’m more confident and I understand exactly what I want to do with my music now.
So let’s talk bout that Back To The Basics Freestyle. It was just insane. Take us from the idea of it to the completion and upload.
(Laughs) thanks. My homie Aced Spade sent me the beat and when I first listened to it I didn’t really think much of it. As time went by, the instrumental started to grow on me and I instantly picked up the vibe and matched it.
It’s my favorite song from you…you sound so confident. You can clearly rhyme. How do you feel about it and the response it’s gotten?
Wow that’s a huge compliment. I’ve been working on my confidence and I’m glad that it’s showing. I’m happy with all of the fans and supporters who continue to press the play button. The response is great. I honestly feel like it’s better than most music that is being appreciated today. It may be a little under the radar for now but we will continue to grow and get to that next level.
As I’m sure you know, Aced Spade absolutely killed the beat. Those horns man! Did you hear it before you wrote? What were your initial thoughts when it blessed your ears?
Yea Spade definitely made it happen with this one. I heard the beat before I wrote to it. I slept on it at first but it grew on me.
Your music videos have always been A1. What approach do you take to visuals?
Thanks! I try to put myself in the shoes of the consumer. I ask myself “What kind of video would I want to see in this day of age?” From there I just brainstorm and put my own message and personality into a consistent concept.
You haven’t released much music since Lost Souls. Why is that? Is there still a lot in the vault?
I needed to take the time off to find myself and truly understand what I’m trying to do. I have a lot of music coming soon. The people have never really heard this new improved Marko Stat$ before so I’m kinda anxious on how it may be received but I’m 100% confident that it will show my growth.
You aren’t afraid to share your inner thoughts on wax, especially with song “Isolation.” What compelled you to release that?
Isolated is probably in the Top 3 of my favorite tracks I ever done. The song is about a time where I felt like I didn’t fit in and I needed some motivation to help me look at the bright side. There are pros and cons to everything.
You’re also able to touch on socially conscious issues like in Color Blind. How were you feeling about race relations then versus now? Did you have a goal in mind when you dropped Color Blind?
Color Blind is actually a story about the first time I learned about racism in school. I didn’t believe it at first because I thought that it was stupid. My instructor made us watch “Roots” (common slave movie) and it kinda ruined me. Prior to me watching that movie I didn’t even really notice race. I grew up in a diverse area and I got along with most kids. Racism is definitely still alive but I try not to think about it. I don’t want to make any excuses for myself.
You created a playlist titled “Collabs.” One that stood out to me was Locomotive with Saba, which was the 3rd single off LS. How did that one come together? Will you guys be working together in the future?
I reached out to his camp and I sent them the track. He liked it and jumped on it. We met one time at one of his shows. I haven’t talked to him since then but who knows what can happen.
You have a pretty large following on social media, most notably on Instagram. How has that platform helped your buzz?
Social Media has definitely done me justice. It allows me to connect with fans from all over the world. I’ve had kids from Japan send me DMs on Twitter about how they listen to my sounds. It blows me away. I wish to keep growing and keep connecting.
What can we expect in 2017? Anything in December of this year?
I don’t want to give away too much. I have a lot of surprises in store for 2017. It’s going to be very exciting .
Thank you for your time man. We wish you the best.
No problem, thanks for having me.