While his name is Michael, he’s known on the Chicago poetry scene as Double G (G2 for God’s Gift). He’s been blazing open mics for well over 20 years in Chicago. Southside, north side, west side, east side, it doesn’t matter. He is a legend of poetic expression and authorship. On Saturday, July 21, he will release his upcoming debut album His & Hers, a blend of Hip-Hop and poetic creativity that will bless the mic and the people who will be in the building. I sat down with one of the Kings of Poetry, Double G, as I plan to do with many Chicago artist in the next year, to talk about his journey and what it means for him.
- How long have you been doing poetry?
- I started writing when I was 12. I have been performing for going on 20 years. I don’t remember the exact date but the first venue I ever performed at was Giovanni’s on 147th.
- What has been your experience on the poetry scene in Chicago?
- I have met some phenomenal artists on my journey! In a culture that is ever evolving, Chicago poetry is the one thing that has remained consistent. Over the years I’ve seen many new faces but all have left an unforgettable impression. Chicago poetry is one big family. Sure there are distant cousins, and sibling rivalry is commonplace. But at the end of the day, our legacy and the culture we’ve established are undeniable.
- Who is your greatest Spoken Word influence?
- First and foremost I am just a vessel. This gift is exactly what God allowed it to be. As much as speaking is implied in my gift it is also the ability to absorb, digest, process, and elaborate on all that I experience. When I started performing my writing style changed drastically. The structure became so much more complex. I pulled inspiration from everywhere. I wanted the stage presence of Frank Pete, I wanted to be able to paint a picture with wordplay like Just Lillie. Soulful like M’reld, gritty like Red Storm, I wanted to have Yadhna’s courage! Like Moe Mentum wanted to teach people exactly just how valuable they really are! They all showed me what this art could be. But it was Lemon (from NYC) that showed me the importance of being true to yourself and the impact it has on your work. After that, being a lyricist, I became obsessed with being as dope of a lyricist as I could possibly become. I drew influence from hip-hop artists like Mos Def, Pharaoh Monch, Talib Kweli, but through the years it was Common and Lupe Fiasco that helped my polish the craft. They taught me how to mix the art of storytelling with the lyricism and how to make complexity and cadence coexist.
- So, your album is dropping in this week. What’s the title and where can people find it?
- The album officially drops officially on July 21st. The Title is called His & Hers. Put simply, you can find it everywhere! I initially pressed up 200 copies of a physical album. So much production and the efforts of all involved made my dream of putting a physical product in someone’s hand a reality. The wonderful folks at Team At Ease encouraged me to get digital distribution for the album. It is available on 20+ outlets, either sales or streaming sites. The most common of the two is either CD Baby, iTunes, GooglPlayay, and Amazon for purchase. Your best streaming alternative is most likely either Spotify, Tidal, iHeart Radio, and Pandora.
- What is your vision for this project and what’s next for Double G?
- I wanted His & Hers to embody what I picture the perfect relationship to be. It is a marriage in which husband and wife place God above all else, even each other, while simultaneously serving each other. (His) ~ The pieces which I glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Hers) ~ is the journey I have taken to meet my future wife in addition to love letters to her!
- Getting in the booth at Studio 11 lit a fire in me bruh! Coming very soon I have two projects slated to be released in the next year and a half Lord willing. The first album will be called Jeremiah. It is inspired by Jeremiah 1: 1-10. The second project will be called Goliath: A giants submission. I will be working on both albums simultaneously. I also have a play called “A Day In The Life” I have yet to bring out. I am also currently writing another called the “Ninety9”. I am also going to work my first book in there somewhere.
- Do you think there will be a true poetic collaboration CD in Chicago?
- I honestly believe that the era of poetic collaboration has been ushered in with the release of His & Hers. Tracks like Ambassador and #Freedom are just the beginning. Hopefully, under the umbrella of The Movement, we will begin to see that change. I think that the right causes have brought us together. It is a tragedy that loss of life due to gang violence and police brutality and corruption are the spark to our creativity but is an opportunity to take ourselves and our ego’s out of the equation. The poetic collaboration will happen in the City of Chicago. It will spark a call to arms for the rest of the nation. We are called to the Kingdom for a time such as this!
Kells the Artist is beyond Spoken Word. He’s a wordsmith and a Hip-Hop artist who is destined to make waves in Chicago. I first saw this young man at Dr. Finney’s church on the South Side of Chicago and learned then he’s a member of the group Team At Ease. Since then, he has remained a part of that spoken word group and has started his own team called EPIC. I sat down to chop it up with him about life and his upcoming project.
How long have you been writing?
- I’ve been writing since I was about 7. I started taking it seriously when I found out I was actually kinda good at putting sentences together.
What was it like growing up for you in Chicago?
- It was difficult at first because I grew up in the projects of the Southside.
- I spent a majority of my life as a follower. Doing what appeared to be cool. Chicago has a certain swag I felt I had to keep up with until I started thinking for myself.
Do you have a mentor? If so, who is it and why?
- Yes, I do have a mentor. My mentor is Jesus. I say Jesus, because he’s the perfect example of the person I intend to be like.
What does EPIC stand for and what are your goals for the organization?
- Epic stands for Effectively Producing Immaculate Creativity. My goal is to cause people to believe in their own dreams enough that they actually to accomplish them.
You have a CD coming out this April 13, what’s the title?
- It’s called CloudTalk.
What is the motivation for the CD and what can people expect?
- Today’s rap music is what motivated me to do it. I will not let real hip hop die, lol. People can expect a refreshing uplifting experience from start to finish, with motivating lyrics and great affirmations.
How do you stay motivated?
- I stay motivated by knowing that no matter what I can ALWAYS do better. I know where I came from and I’ll be damned if I go back!
What is something people have assumed about you that may be inaccurate?
- Two things: First, that I’m arrogant. I have a certain level of confidence that can be mistaken for arrogance. Secondly, that I’m not shy! Since I’m a performer nobody believes I can be shy, lol.
After this CD, what’s next for you?
- Book number two. I will finally sit down and finish working on my second book.
- Where can people find you in the social media world?
Join Kells The Artist Friday at 2239 South Michigan for his CD Release and Birthday Party at 7PM.
It feels like months
Where have I traveled?
A place of mystery and uncertainty
I can’t believe I am here
In this place, at this moment
Thinking, relishing, questioning
My purpose, my call, my existence
Surrounded but alone
Clinging to hope yet untethered
Trapped in the crevices of thought
I’ve traveled here before
It’s uncomfortable, that face, the reflection
Its shadow reaching out to hug me
Whispers of I love you, you have a purpose
You exist for a reason
I don’t embrace it
I turn off the light
Tears run down the mirror
I’ve been here before, it hasn’t been days
It’s been hours
In front of an empty table
Food cold, coffee bland, water lukewarm
Depression says hello
Well folks, it has been a year. So many downs and so many more ups. Yet, I thought I’d end the year on some greatness and what I have done so far.
- I set out to lose 25 pounds; I lost 10.2. That’s major yal! I lost half a size in my neck. 18.5 to 18.
- Completed six songs on my album and looking forward to working with one of Tupac’s producers in 2018.
- Spit an ill flow on my man Double G.’s album for the song “Ambassador”.
- Conducted some of the greatest young adult conversations on Christian living at my church.
- Another year with my CHAMPS mentees and POET family.
- I was promoted to Director of Information Technology in May of this year. Major career move. Growing and still searching for a mentor. Until then, The Lord is guiding as He see fits. Not sure what’s next for me but hanging tough.
- Had a very successful year at NIU. The journey towards my bachelors degree continues.
- Fell completely in love with https://beautybeyondbones.com/ blog. She really is my drive for consistency and creativity as a blogger. Keep me moving beautiful and thanks for sharing your heart and experiences.
- I dropped my first single, Soul Restoration, and video with the fabulous Restore. A whopping 48 copies sold, yet, I don’t despise small beginnings.
- I completed a pretty dope class on Fatherhood and it’s challenged me to be a more intentional parent, father, and husband.
- I will be writing for rapremnant.com in 2018.
No resolutions for 2018. I am learning to live, love, and laugh at 47 years of age. I’m putting fear in front of me as a stepping stool to faith and trust in Yeshua. I’m realizing the Creator has no boundaries. I’m fighting against depression with lots of Joy, Love, and Prayer and of course counseling because I’m unashamed. I can’t hope the best for 2018, I have to be the best for my family, my church, my job, my ministry work, my community work, and the young people and young adults I mentor. I look forward to this year. I look forward to the journey. I look forward to sharing it with you all.
Blessings and Happy New Year.
The racial divide in Christianity is so real and a recent comparison between Lecrae and NF, in a premierechristianity.com blog, in my opinion, further perpetuates why young African-Americans are drifting away from Christianity and church “as usual”. I find it very divisive though it clearly remains unbiased in its approach to both artists. My concern is how the headline “occurs” for others. I’ve already witnessed the racial tension in a Christian Rap group on Facebook. Lecrae has done more for Hip Hop and Christian Hip Hop than most. For years he has endured attacks from within and without. Let me be clear. This isn’t a knock of Premier Christianity, a media voice for Christian thought and issues throughout the UK and the Christian world.
The blog mentions that sales of Creasy’s most recent release are down in comparison to his previous products. That may be the case, however, it is not due to his lack of lyrical skills, his verbal prowess, or his love and dedication to the Lord. When Lecrae started talking about social issues, police brutality, immigration, and issues that are culturally destroying the fabric of the “American Dream”, his white evangelical fan-base turned on him. He was told to stick to rapping about Jesus. And for those reasons he has lost a ton of support, a ton of white support. How is it you can be a Christian actor, cuss up a storm, get nude on the big screen, and there is minimal chatter and character assassination?
This is the hypocrisy of some white evangelicals. These same evangelicals go to church every week and lift their hands to what they have believed is a white-blue eyed savior, but who indeed is a Jewish man of color who would not be allowed to stay in America as a DACA recipient.
Lecrae is not without controversy. Even I am not sure why he has chosen to do music with certain artists but he is my brother. He has tried to be a Light in Dark spaces. Have any of you witnessed to Chief Keef? Have you repped Jesus in a BET Cypher heard by millions? Lecrae is my brother in Yeshua. Some Christian rappers have rightfully challenged Lecrae dude to his perceived pride and he has shared how he was called out regarding his thoughtless characterization of Christian rappers having the same sound and how it lead to him issuing an apology. Yet, he is human. As a Black Christian I have to fight battles within my own race regarding the roots of my faith, American imperialism, colonialism, it’s man-made slavery connections and Babylonian rules of Hammurabi. I have to be an apologist and defend my faith externally often in this anti-religious age. The last thing we need is the constant divide within. If you haven’t listened to his latest album then clearly you will not understand the journey of his life as a man, a black man, an artist, or a Christian. This album has met me in my dreams, my depression, childhood, my triumphs, my failures, my success, and so much more. It’s so timely and I appreciate his craft. If you want it “Come Get Me”!
NF is my dude. Lecrae is my dude. He is a man of God who I met years ago ministering at the House on the west side of Chicago. As a local to Chicago Christian rapper, it is hard for us. We are not accepted by most churches, because after all, God can speak only through a donkey, He can’t speak through hip hop. Every form of art has free reign, liturgical dance, acting, comedy, country, African, reggae, jazz, rock, heavy metal, mime, orchestra’s but when it comes to rap it’s at the bottom of the food chain.
It’s unfortunate that an article titled as such could be twisted and used to divide two brothers, NF and Lecrae. It’s unfortunate that it paints a portrait, as it occurs to me, to say who is the better Christian, the WHITE rapper or the BLACK rapper. You can view the comments in social media yourself and see why Christianity in American is suffering at its own hand, how we are ushering in a cultural phenomenon of post-modernism and separatism.
Maybe whites have simply found a Rapper (who by the way doesn’t call or paint himself as a Christian rapper, which Lecrae has been heavily blasted for), who will simply make them feel good about being white and never having to involve themselves in real authentic issues regarding race and class. Cleary, no Christian would ever talk about these issues and especially a Black one of influence. It’s simply not the Jesus thing to do…
“All these feelings of depression and doubt, you have to tell them go away” ~ Lecrae
Find The Endurer’s first single: Soul Restoration Featuring Restore on iTunes: Purchase here.
I’ve worked hard at being imperfect, self-deprecating, low self-esteem, excuses, asking permission to do something for myself, taking care of everyone except me, working hard on the job to a point of fainting instead of asking for help. When you grow up broken, you begin to self-destruct and the unfortunate damage from that is cataclysmic personally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.
It’s not easy to break the cycle and at 46, with a biological parent back in my life after years of separation since childhood, one can easily slip back into an old mindset. So, in my Christian journey, I’ve embarked on transformational living and surrendering my being to all of The Lord. Poetry and Hip-Hop have saved and encouraged me in ways unimaginable. Writing transformed from anger to peace, soothing to therapeutic, stagnate to transformative. Counseling, professional and personal development seminars and an incredible wife have increased my desire to do more and to do well. My soul has been restored and repristinated so I present you with my first single release, Soul Restoration available on CD Baby.
With that being said, I am happy to release my first single to the known universe (people on Mars, get your copy). I had the pleasure of inviting the incredible Alicia “Restore” Spikes of Solace Souls Coalition to lace the background vocals and she far exceeded my expectations.
Thank you Restore for blessings us with your voice and thank you to my POET family for accepting me as I am. PNoble TV for working on the soon coming video. Dan @ Studio 11 for the engineering work and Tone Jonez of JeeJuh for track production.
Grace & peace unto you all.
I was asked to share closing words from a relationship panel I was on with my Solace Soul Poetry family in Chicago:
“1. Is your communication clear enough where there is no doubt what you desire in a relationship? – Your Actions, Your Behaviors, Your consistency.”
“2. What are you willing to give up?”
“3. What are you willing to tolerate?”
“4. Is your communication clear enough where you can understand what your significant other wants?”
“5. Are you happy, settled, or joyous?”
“6. Are you a situational or circumstantial partner?”
“7. What’s a deal breaker that puts you in the category of situational or circumstantial?”
“8. What type of ear do you listen to critical feedback? Defensive – Emotional – Clear”
“9. In every relationship, there is compromise and change. The 8 inches you love could be hit with a severe case of prostate cancer and become impotent. The big breast you love could be hit and stricken with a critical case of cancer, and you may have a wife with a full radical mastectomy.”
“10. If love covers a multitude of sin, how much love do you have for the one you want to spend the rest of your life with?”