"I tried to express that true Chicago soul sound and natural feeling."
When you open the debut album, Neighborhood Suicide, by Chicago producer Radius (a.k.a. Ramon Norwood) you are not only get an album full extremely creative beats, but you are met with one man's view of and life in Chicago. Each song is named after a different neighborhood from Hyde Park to Logan Square to Bucktown, Radius pays tribute to the city he loves. In fact he doesn't stop there, for every track he has written a short narrative telling the listener about the track and his life. The entire package is a little over whelming, but a rewarding read.
Neighborhood Suicide, was release by the local label The Secret Life of Sounds on May 6th. However, it has not received the attention that it deserves. With a few Chicago hip hop names are exploding, we have to remember to dig a little deeper, listen a little harder, and find something new.
Recently, Radius was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): What is the history behind the name Radius?
Ramon Norwood (RN): Started as a graffiti name/bboy alias, when I really started to get into hiphop beyond just listening to rap in my early high school days those are the elements I was most interested in, especially with breaking. I started buying records and became Dj Radius. I knew that you couldn't have a circle without having Radius, and hiphop, which is all about the cipher/circle and building and destroying within that circle was key so I wanted to represent that with whatever I did and standout at all times.
OA: The liner notes to your debut album, Neighborhood Suicide, read like a biography spanning your lifetime. When did you decide to write such intimate narratives for each song? How long did you work on this album?
RN: The album took 2 years off and on…I started tracks in late 2006 and worked on some other things and went back in 2007, then when The label agreed to put it out, I went back in really early this year and finished it up. The liner notes I worked on during my road trip helping a friend move in January of this year to L.A. while I was in Colorado, when I came back home(to Chicago) I typed the final details.
OA: Your album was released on The Secret Life of Sound label. How was your experience with them?
RN: All positive, it has been a learning experience, but Im grateful for it all, no complaints, we see eye to eye on many things, so all good.
OA: Right now we seem to be in a prime time for Chicago hip-hop. What are your thoughts on all of the excitement surrounding the scene?
RN: I have mixed feelings, Im excited about a lot of attention shining in Chicago's direction, I feel the scene (however many scenes or whatever that scene is) needs that light. We are long overdue here, some have gotten on forsure and I congratulate them. There are alot of us also who work really hard and wonder when/where and if we should stay here or move elsewhere and if our time is coming or if we will ever get that "community" and support we feel we too deserve. A lot of times due to multiple genre labeling, categorizing and lack of label, venue and media support it makes it harder for certain acts to shine in that light.
OA: You had your PR photos taken by Constance K. How did you find out about her? What was it like working with her?
RN: We actually found each other, that's my homie, she's one of a kind…I love her and we go way back to The Illinois Institute of Art College days, It was a nobrainer to reach out to her because I have always appreciated her work and her overall spirit. Working with her was fresh air because we were on the same page from the get go.
OA: What's next for Radius?
RN: To get better, and stronger and more one with music, when my finances getup Im gonna take some instrument lessons. I have a project with no set date with Consumers Research and Development label scheduled for this year called "PI"and am interested in starting or becoming part of a band if anyone is down. Do some remixes and hopefully sell some beats too (hint hint)…Just wanna grow as much as possible within music.
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in the city?
RN: I am not a fan of coffee at all, probably due to being a starbucks slave for almost 5 years, haha… but love tea (especially Yogi Tea and Mighty Leaf) and you can find the best cup at my apt anyday.
OA: What are your top five albums of all-time?
RN: Super tough question, impossible to narrow that down but real quick off my head Slum Village: Fantastic Vol 2, Stevie Wonder: Innervisions, Ghostface Killa: Ironman, Radiohead: Kid A/Amnesiac, Fela Kuti: Expensive Shit/He Miss Road
Logan Square (Rent's Due) (mp3)
Englewood (Necessary Growth) (mp3)
krapedyh (an exclusive remix of Hyde Park) (mp3)
For more information on Radius please visit his website and check out his myspace for the latest information. Radius will be performing tonight @ The Darkroom as part of Drummer vs. Technician.