The gigantic Rap City tour is all about the lyrical artform of hip hop.
From Ghostface Killah and DOOM to Killah Priest and our subject here, Chino XL, each artist has their own twist on lyricism. But few hip hop artists embody the pure lyrical form more than the emcee born Derek Keith Barbosa.
Since debuting in 1996 with the darkly inventive ‘Here To Save You All’, Chino XL has been wowing listeners with his rapid-fire multi-layered rhyme patterns. Most widely known for his brief feud with Tupac, during the so-called East-West feud, and his blistering verse on 1999’s ‘The Anthem’ alongside the likes of a young Eminem, this New Jersey native believes he’s just realising his potential as a writer and performer now.
“As far as the [Rap City] line-up I couldn’t be more excited,” Chino says, in his clear east coast-inflected diction. “The whole renaissance that lyricism is experiencing is amazing to me. In the early 2000s they told us lyricism was dead, it’s only about the hook and beat. When you’ve got a line-up like this, obviously that’s not true.”
Much like his Rap City peers, Chino is a veteran who remains active and serves as a bridge between the past and present, ready to help take hip hop to new places.
“Maybe I take it too serious, but if you’re not gonna push the artform forward you probably shouldn’t do it. Luckily we’re surrounded on this tour by artists who have definitely pushed the artform forward.”
Signing his first record deal at age 16, with Rick Rubin’s iconic American Recordings label, Chino XL sounds as passionate as ever. He’s currently prepping to release album number five, his two-disc opus ‘The RICANstruction: The Black Rosary’, which he says is out in July. Much of his excitement comes from the diversity and rebellious landscape of today’s music scene.
“As much as people believe that music’s in a state of decay, it isn’t. You just have to know where to look for it. We’ve got great tours and artists are always on the road and they’re always coming out with new music.”
The Rap City tour lands at the Arena this Friday, June 8.