Interview: Hurt Everybody
Hurt Everybody is a dynamic, Chicago based hip hop trio consisting of Supa Bwe (Freddie), Carl (Qari) and Mulatto Beats (Devin). Their music has captured the imagination of listeners with their songs that take you to fantastical places, speak of magic, gods and goddesses and their vision of partnership, love, hate and equality. Their sound has been described as new and abstract, one of their fans called it ‘trance rap.’ Mulatto said “That’s dope, it makes sense, we do chant a lot and get into a zone sometimes. I’ve heard ‘indie rap’ and Ben (of Mishka NYC) described our sound as ‘cosmic rap’ and all those work.”
I asked about the name Hurt Everybody and Supa said “There’s some shock value in a way, it is bringing up ugly things. You know how you can dead a conversation by bringing up politics or a subject that people don’t want to talk about, that’s what Hurt Everybody is to me. It’s forcing that ugly shit up and getting it aired out. It hurts to change, it hurts to have things put in your face and it hurts to be told that something you are doing is ugly, but that’s a part of life and growing. Carl said that he believes “Pain is a force, and we’re gonna bring that shit up and be aggressive with it.” To producer Mulatto Beats “Hurt Everybody represents the change we are bringing to the music game with our different methods of releasing music and going about our craft as far as creating genre-less, timeless music.” Hurt Everybody was born last December and the progress they have made in just under a year is impressive. They have released almost 100 songs and accumulated a few million plays. They started with no real funds or blog support (in the beginning), and with the “fourth member” of the group manager Wisam, they’ve developed a huge and passionate fan base, a very fresh sound and a big body of work that has inspired other musicians and writers. They’ve just started their own business called Hurt Everybody Studios which opens on Dec. 10 and on Dec. 19 they’ve got an 1833 show with Towkio/SaveMoney and Lucki Eck$ at Lincoln Hall. This is a productive & fast moving group. Stay current with their releases and shows by checking in at HurtEverybody.com.
Each of the artists bring something significant and unique to the collective. Carl states “I needed experience.” Supa says that “Out of everything, I think I needed companionship – another voice. I’ve always just been in my head. I’ve never had a team and this is invaluable, there’s something here that everybody does and it’s invaluable. And Devin (Mulatto Beats) over there – he’s funny (laughs), but seriously he goes crazy on the beats.” When I ask about their artistry together as opposed to solo work Supa says “I know for a fact as producers, working together we are better. Carl has taught me to rap better. We smoke a LOT so we are energized but not turnt up energized. We get together and we’re working on something and one of us says “this is nice man, now let me try. And then the other says that’s great – let me do this now. I’ll rap and Mulatto’s producing and I walk by and say let me do something here and then all of the sudden it is just done. I love being by myself, it takes me 40 minutes to make a beat and then in another 40 minutes I’ve made another, but it’s not the quality of Hurt Everybody. With Hurt everybody, 3 out of 4 songs are good and the other one is okay.” Carl says “I definitely contemplate, I think too much. I go through some things. Together we always have something going on – always. So work mode is paradise, that zone is it. We know how to work well together now. It’s work, but it’s not work.”
Their next EP is due in early 2015 and is called 4kings. I ask if their manager Wisam is the 4th king and Supa answers “Yes, really there are four of us. It’s interesting to me, I think of four seasons, 4 bros, for me it would not be real if it weren’t four.” Carl interjects “I don’t think of myself as a king” and Supa says “well, we could call it 3 kings and a modest prince.” These musicians are truly like brothers and there are lots of laughs over pizza at Lou Malnati’s! Supa teases relentlessly, he insists that he’s known Carl since he was 10 and used to watch him play tag when he was a child. Carl is positive “I’ve never seen him before in my life! He never saw me play tag, I wasn’t the type of kid that played tag, he has no idea what he’s talking about.” Underneath the kidding there is a tremendous amount of respect for each other. Carl says to Supa “I see a warrior with armor in the middle of a coliseum and people can see it, and I think it’s real. I see you there.” Supa refers to Carl as the best rapper in the city.
While Hurt Everybody as a group is new, none of these artists are beginners. Carl said “I’ve been flowing my entire life, as long as I was able to speak. Seriously writing raps for a few years, but before that I’d freestyle.” Supa is 25 and has been working at music since high school. I asked if he’s ever gotten discouraged and he answered “Many times, I did a whole tape and it did nothing, it did more than nothing. I got 11,000 plays in all of 2012. After that I hated life. What am I doing wrong? I couldn’t figure it out. I detached from everything. Why won’t anybody fuck with me? I didn’t want to keep doing these fuck jobs working until 2:00 AM, not making any real money, not getting any respect. Finally I was like fuck everything else, music is the only option right now. This is it, it’s the only way to make a living where I can respect myself. We are making progress now. My family and friends have been watching for so long and I’m glad they see something happening right now, but I have to keep progressing.” Mulatto Beats got started when his brother, who is also creative put FL Studio on his computer. “I never looked at selling music as the object, I like putting it out there. Back when I first started, it was so much questioning about can I make a career out of this? I make beats and I’m pretty good at it. I did it in my spare time and thought it was cool. My plan was college but it just happened that I didn’t get to go back. I didn’t really focus on beats until recently, I was never in a studio, like maybe once every couple of months. I was always happy when I was there though.”
You put out so much music. Do you ever have a slump? They answer with a collective yes.
Mulatto: Especially when it gets hot as hell in the city, I can’t think.
Carl: Yeah, with certain songs – it’s inevitable, especially when things are going good, I know it’s gonna happen.
Supa: It’s about growth – when steps forward are really incremental, it’s frustrating. Recently we’ve been doing 15 -20K listens on soundcloud a week – 6 months ago it was about 5k, now if we’re in like 12 – 13k, it’s still good but it makes me edgy. I want to keep making big steps forward.
Your first project was longer than what I’d call an EP, why did you call it an EP?
Supa: We don’t believe we’re at the level to do a project where we’re really putting our full stamp on it. With all these different sounds, we feel like waiting until we’re full grown. It’s like “Here’s a group of songs that we made that we’re proud of right now and we want you to hear them.” An EP is a short quick project that leaves us a lot of room. We’re still growing. I want to win a Grammy with our first official full project on some Drake type shit. (laughs) The Hurt Everybody EP ended up so long because it was our first real body of work and we were excited to get this work out there. Each of us chose about 3 or 4 songs that we really wanted included and it got long. For the Magic City EP, I made a few songs and I wanted to put it out right away or I’d never put it out. If I wait too long it looses it’s luster for me. People wanted me to wait to release it and then it got longer!
“The eponymous debut EP from Hurt Everybody – the trio Supa helms with 18 year old time wrinkler Carl and cloud obliterating producer Mulatto – stabbed into the cold universe this July draped in Egyptian Mythology, Joanna Newsome samples and gold. Material desires become “goddesses,” nasally vocoder hooks moan like they’re stuck in solitary confinement, and pastoral strings dance with trap bass lines. Hoes learn judo, vixens wander and warrior bitches get slain.” – Tosten Burks for Passion Of The Weiss
Some of your cover art is from fans?
Supa: Everything we have is fan sent, they send us the rawest things. We have awesome fans! We’re all broke boys, all different types of broke and our fans take care of us.
Carl: They really do, they come together and take care of us.
Well, you are good to your fans.
Carl: I need to be more social.
Supa: Man, I remember when I was a little shorty, I was 17 or 18 and went to my first big rap show at The Metro. I saw Lady Sovereign and after the show I asked for a kiss, she kissed me on the cheek. Then this other rapper leaned over and he just muffed me, my whole head! I was like I’ll kill you one day! I had to let go of it, we’re homies now, but I don’t fuck with him. (laughs) That’s why I’m good to my fans, cause I was a fan of this artist and he muffed me! I was like “Oh – he muffed me G!”
How do you gauge which are your fans’ favorite songs, just plays?
Supa: Not really, it’s people coming up to me saying they really like a song, you can’t base things just on the internet. It’s also the content of the comments. Plays help you tell how a song is received, but for example “Bobby Bitch” has hundreds of thousands of plays, but no one said anything on there (20 comments), on the other hand “In Seoul” – people love it, it has half the plays but way more comments. So identifying popular songs is really about what people tell us and how genuine it is. The Hurt Everybody EP “Intro” people always tell us they love that and I was really iffy about putting that out. It’s a very ‘in my feelings ass song’ but it has the proper effect.
Mulatto: And then ending it with Qari’s “Beauty” felt right. That EP is like a statement from the time we met to where we left off at that point.
I have to ask about Treat Me Caucasian.
Supa: Honestly I’m very happy that Mick (Jenkins) decided to reach out. I’m grateful that I was able to make a song about something that I really care about, one of those ugly issues that people don’t want to talk about it. It was received well. When I read the Worldstar Hip Hop comments, I see what people are saying. The controllers are trying to control it, there are racists there, but people aren’t buying it. It’s having the effect that I wanted it to.
I’ve seen different interpretations of the video. How do you feel about interpretations and if people “get it” wrong?
Carl: Well I think that’s part of it, that’s part of art.
Mulatto: That is going to happen in the whole scheme of things. It’s fine however they want to interpret it.
Supa: They just take it for what it is and people don’t really care about our interpretation. People tell me all the time what they think I meant and I’m like “nah bro, you better talk to Qari,” now that’s the best rapper in Chicago right there. (Points to Carl) With the TMC video, it’s kind of crazy, you couldn’t really tell if I was in white face or what. Somehow people thought I was a light skinned black person – that’s not at all what it was. It’s cool that they talk about it, it’s cool to be analyzed by the top of the community. That’s part of the music game.
Supa, you have great hooks and say some outlandish things, but I feel like you sneak in a lot of depth that really comes through after a listen or two.
Supa: Well that’s the thing that connects you to the audience, I say something flashy and cool that I dig, but I also add to it – why am I human, what else is there to it? I try my hardest. I want people to see me and underestimate me, like I’m hiding my fangs, I hide my claws. I got ’em, but you can’t see ’em. You don’t know that I set a trap.(laughs) I don’t like tyrant rap. “I hate you, I got this stuff” I hate that type of rap. Unfortunately it is part of the culture but I hate tyrant artists. These cocky “I don’t lose” tyrant floggers.
What’s your writing process like?
Carl: My process is this thing, it’s complex and ever changing. I play with words a lot, I think about sounds and letters and words and I think about their shape, it’s real. I’ll think a letter sounds like a circle and I play around, it’s like juggling; words, thoughts and sounds. It’s play. That description sounds like chaos. (laughs) I piece it together. When I was in high school the first person I ever started rapping with was a lyrical monster, he was one of the best with words. You play. I used to think of words that rhymed with each other when I first started rapping, you do that, but if I do that now, I’m not saying what I want to say. Then there’s no actual feeling or thought to it.
Supa: I call that Action Bronsoning “I flipped your grandma – then got a lambchop…”
Mulatto: I really listen, I hear it all, I understand some people just hear a whole sound, but I hear every little thing. I pick it all apart, I’ve trained my ear and I dissect a beat. I definitely listen to lyrics, I’m a producer, that’s just what I do.
Carl: I understand that, and everyone’s ear is different. What you choose to focus on is cool, I may focus on something different entirely. So I organize this disorder, no matter where you are, you are going to hear this overall fullness. I think about every corner of the song.
How do you feel about Chicago now? Is this a real thing?
Mulatto: Yes it is, Chance and Vic just set the bar real high and I think some people went into hibernation for a bit but now people are really starting to come on. I think January & February 2015 are gonna be a big couple months for Chicago. The door is open for everybody.
Carl: There’s a hell of people with potential here all the time. There’s always something here art wise. If rap isn’t happening right now, there is other music happening like jazz. I think it is one of the best cities in the world, there’s always going to be something here.
Is Atlanta better for rap? They all say no in unison.
Mulatto: They forever, but at the same time, I don’t think they have the different cultures that the midwest does, they have that wave but it’s all pretty similar.
Supa: Atlanta is watered down, not ground breaking. I was just there, everybody wants to kill you.
Mulatto: But at the same time…
Supa: I’ve been listening to hip hop since I was about 7, there’s no experimentation! What steps are being taken to be different? It’s a continuation. Put our artists side by side, Chicago wins. Our artists shit on theirs.
Carl: Here, it’s real life, it sounds genuine and that’s what makes us, us. In Chicago it is always moving, growing and it’s fast paced. Take away one of our artists and you’ve got 10 just as good ready to move in.
Supa: Yeah, here everybody sounds different and here we are all trying to not sound like our fathers. In Chicago no matter what area you are from, nobody wants to sound like how their dad’s generation or your big brother’s generation rapped. It’s not just for the sake of being different, but we’re interested in finding the next sound. We don’t want to fill Jeezy’s shoes or Guccis’s shoes – none of them. Sometimes you gotta knock down a mountain to build another new road and we’re chipping away at that mountain.
Do you pay attention to blogs?
Supa: Not really. I came up at a time where blogs were everything. In 2010, 2012 they weren’t fucking with me at all so I’ve had a negative connotation towards them. I hate it man! Back in the day I was sending emails to them and then people wrote back like ‘hey, we’ve got a spot available for this amount of money.’ It’s like fuck y’all, you make it harder for everybody else, you’re posting some garbage because somebody had money.
Carl: I check out blogs to get new music. I pay attention to a headline if it’s a band or an artist that I know or if I’m looking for something new.
Mulatto: Except Ben goes crazy. He’s one of those people you want to help and support because you know he opens doors for others. He dropped another one, Surf N Turf from producers from all over the country. He’s a person that is instrumental in us growing.
Supa: I felt like he was one of the guys that like gave us a merit badge.
“Since Chicago trio Hurt Everybody released their self-titled EP, a fourteen song masterpiece that I still listen to on a daily basis… the prolific collective have continued to churn out songs at an almost alarming rate. From a music addict’s perspective (me), it is a dream come true to see musicians you respect and enjoy release this much music.” Ben Niespodziany for Mishka NYC
I saw a fan say that you have expanded their vocabulary, when I see some of your song titles I have to grab a dictionary. I had to research Planet Namek.
Supa: You don’t know that?! It’s Dragonball Z!
Wisam: They’ve expanded my vocabulary.
Carl: I read a lot of dictionary.
Supa: Naming songs is so important to me.
Carl: I don’t even care about that, I did a song that I’m calling “Onion Ring.”
Supa: I care a lot, sometimes we’ll argue about it and finally he just gives up. (laughs) When it gets to that point he’s just like okay, do what you want.
Supa, what does ‘moon’ mean to you? It’s a word you use often.
Supa: My moon is my girl. I’ve been with her for some years, when I had nothing going on she stayed with me. While I worked in shitty restaurants, she was there, I’m keeping her! (laughs) That’s my girl and she’s my D4L. When my dad had some trouble my mom stayed by him. She’s a real ass woman. I wouldn’t have this focus without these two real ass women – my girl and my mother.
Carl, how many songs do you have done for your Data EP?
Carl: I’ve got about 3
(Supa looks unimpressed with the quantity)
Carl: This dude makes 3 songs a session, I don’t work as fast!
Supa: I sit behind Qari all day, and I’m like “you working n****? N**** are you working? (laughs) Are you focused n****?
Why the title Data?
Carl: It’s been on my mind. I’m alone a lot, I figure things out and I’m a fast learner. I try to catch on quickly and I feel lucky to have older friends. I think about gathering data and information.
Will you have any additional artists featuring on 4kings?
Supa: I don’t want to mention anyone at this point. With our other features, I reached out to Saba, Mick and Kembe. The others features with Khori⁴, Alex Wiley & Roosevelt The Titan were a really organic process, we found ourselves in the studio at the same time, so I’d like it to work similarly with this one.
“Differences between us, but that might be what makes us.”
– Carl in “Closed Books” from Supa Bwe’s Magic City EP
Hurt Everybody are some of the most dedicated, creative, passionate and determined musicians you’ll find working in Chicago hip hop. They are all unique personalities; Supa is outgoing, bold and seems to be creating at all times. Carl has a quality that evokes timelessness and patience and he gives off the vibe of an innocent but very old soul. Mulatto Beats is direct, pragmatic and a serious producer that gets the job done, he said “I go to the studio or visit my girl or I’m at home. When I’m not with her and she asks where I am, it’s almost always in the studio.” Carl says “I always knew, I dropped out of school and didn’t get too attached to anything because I really wanted to focus on this. Music is everything to me, it’s all around me. I can’t wait to make music yet I still feel like I have all the time in the world. All I need is time and space and enough to feed my two girls (his girlfriend and daughter).” Supa is the elder in the group and has had the most winding road. He said “It’s been hard figuring it out. Do I go to college? I thought about studying history or teaching music. Do I want to do this full time? Do I chase this part of my life or do I chase this other part of my life? There was a year where I did only rap, another year I tried school, another year I just worked. All these different things… I’m 25 now and I’m focused, I know what I want to do.” I’m a big Hurt Everybody fan and hope to watch them achieve their wildest dreams.
[…] These guys keep me busy, I’m still enjoying Carl’s BETA. If you missed it, read their interview with […]