My record Rocks and Blows from my new album "Bama Pi" came about from three things. First, the hook that comes from this unreleased, slick story verse I wrote with fellow Chicago artists Neak and Simeon Viltz (of Primeridian) about three years ago. It goes "White on the brown cinnamon roll/My synonyms cold/You a little runny nose." If you are familiar with Pugs Atomz music, you would understand that I’m about styles, patterns and double entendres.
That line breaks down like this: The "White on the brown" verse addresses the historic narrative of white America on blacks in slavery—a “cold” part of our nation’s history. "White" is also a slang for cocaine or crack ("rocks") being sold by inner-city black teens. To add to this, I use the term "cinnamon roll" as punctuation to say “sweet,” therefore playing into stereotypes. At this time in hip-hop, rappers were using food and condiments as metaphors for color, e.g., "peanut butter" for "tan." When recording that hook, I wanted a 50 Cent sing-songy-type vibe.
When I went to producer Raj Mahal’s crib in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, I was visiting from London and about to move my family back from Europe to Chicago. I had a lot on my mind. We had discussed working together a few months prior, and it was finally “go-time." He played me so much great music it was difficult to choose. He eventually told me to make a selection from the instrumentals on his SoundCloud page. Over 50 tracks later, I picked two beats—Rock and Blows and Grease—which are featured on my recently released Benetton Days mixtape.
When I left his crib headed home I passed some kids arguing on 18th Street about a mural painted for a teen that was fatally shot. I felt I should address that and a few other things. The track made me reminisce about growing up in Chicago. In the late '90s, my good friend Cosmo and I would head over to our then-producer Kenny Keys's crib to record. He lived close to Chicago and Pulaski but to get to his crib there would be two blocks of people yelling out "Rocks, Blows! Rocks, Blows!" I'm from the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, so drug dealers aren't new to me, but the bold approach of the sales pitch was. To think how much crack and cocaine have affected our nation really got me thinking and motivated to write something appropriate for the song.
Pugs Atomz is a multi-talented artist in the areas of video, fashion, design and music. Currently living in Chicago finishing up his debut project with Tokyo Dawn Records, after a extended, three-year stay in Europe with DJ Vadim and The Electric seeing all sides of the planet with there latest album "Life Is Moving."
Atomz has graced the stage at some of the world’s largest music festivals including SXSW, Hip Hop Kemp, Boogie Brain, and Glastonbury to name a few. He has worked with countless key artists in the game such as Dj Vadim, KRS One, DJ Hitek, Bassnectar, Glitch Mob, Twista, to the next upcoming producer crafting beats in their bedroom. Atomz has been mentioned in publications like Rolling Stone, URB, Sister 2 Sister, to popular blogs like Okay player, Fake Shore Drive, DJ Booth, Frank 151, Hyper Trak and the list goes on. You might have heard him recently on the FIFA 2013 video game sound track with "Got That Fire", or seen him on a recent Episode of TV One's F.O.M.
His roots in Chicago's hip-hop scene run deep, from co-founding the CTA Radio Show (14+ years), presenting on the TV show Barbershop Hip Hop, to his time in the '90s leading the Nacrobats collective. Pugs has released numerous albums, compilations and mixtapes with key independent labels and blogs and is excited to share his new work via Tokyo Dawn Records.
On this track:
Pugs Atomz, lyrics, vocals
Raj Mahal, producer
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago performers in which songwriters, bands, playwrights, actors and writers discuss the creation of a recorded work alongside audio or video clips of the performance. To submit your song for consideration, please email our researchers.