Interview: Ibn Inglor Talks About Chicago's South Side, Kanye West Comparisons, and "New Wave"

Interview: Ibn Inglor Talks About Chicago's South Side, Kanye West Comparisons, and "New Wave"

The diversity of Chicago's rap scene has been demonstrated by two of its biggest new stars. On one hand there is Chief Keef, whose gritty, minimalistic songs reached the mainstream last year. On the other hand there is Complex coverboy Chance The Rapper, an artist whose Acid Rap project remains a top contender for project of the year because of his unorthodox style that mixes fast-paced rapping with sing-song melodies.

While both Keef and Chance have cemented themselves, the hunt for the "next big thing" to emerge from Chicago is on. While there are several candidates, the one thing that separates Ibn Inglor from the rest is his independence. In a city where almost everybody is affiliated with other rappers, Inglor keeps to himself, unaffiliated and lacking co-signs from veteran figures in the scene.

But Inglor, 20, compensates for his lack of relationships with quality music. He started making noise earlier this year with the release of GawdsSpeed. That project was good enough to make us select the Chicago native as one of the 25 New Rappers to Watch Out For. Over the last few weeks, he has released new material, choosing to let the music speak for him during a time when music videos are starting to become the gateway for viral success.

Last week, Inglor released his latest project, New Wave. The project showcases his ambitious artistic vision. It also is his first opportunity to get behind the boards and produce, which he does (with some assistance) under the moniker of Mhone Glor. We got on the phone with Inglor to talk to him about New Wave, dropping out of the college that supplied him with Pro Tools, and how he had to cope with his brother going to jail for nearly a year.

As told to Dharmic X (@DharmicX)

You grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Do you still live there?
Yeah, I still live in Altgeld Gardens with my mom and my brother. There’s been a lot of change. When I was little, things were real bad, there was a lot of shooting and killing, but now it’s calmed down. There’s still a little bit of violence going on, but it has slowed down a lot.

Over the last couple of years Chicago has gained the nickname of “Chiraq” as violence has actually increased.
The whole city has gotten very bad. At first, it was cool to walk around and not have to worry about people possibly bothering you or trying to get into an altercation with you unless you had previous beef. But now it’s like people don’t even care. Some people want to fight just for the sake of fighting.

In Chicago, you can’t visit somebody else’s hood for too long. You can’t really overstay your welcome. That’s one of the reasons why people get into altercations. Obviously things happen within your own hood, but some people get hurt staying in somebody else’s hood for too long or by staying in somebody else’s hood without knowing the right people in the hood to protect them.

How do you manage to stay out of trouble?
Honestly, I’m a homebody anyways. I don’t vibe with people much. I don’t like being around a lot of people.

 

I’m not a stan of Kanye, but Yeezus was an envelope pusher and definitely a good album. In terms of my music, I make what I feel in my heart and what sounds good to me. I’m just naturally dark.

 

Chicago’s rap scene has been fertile ground for the last two years, and a big part of that has to do with the city’s crew mentality. Are you affiliated with anybody in Chicago?
I’m doing my own thing. It's me, my team of producers, and my advisors. I don’t clique up with a lot of other rappers. I always feel like I’m the outsider. A lot of people know me or have heard of me but only on the Internet. I really don’t show my face a lot because I stay on the furthest side of the city. Everybody else stays in the same vicinity of each other. I’m really far out from the downtown area.

Sometimes, I feel like it’s cool to be associated with people but people already have their own cliques. Also, most of the parties in Chicago involve most of the artists in Chicago. What’s the point in me going to all these parties when I have music to make and I have places to be? And I’ve got to be farther than all these rappers? I don’t really have time to go out to parties anyways.

A lot of your music is dark. It sounds similar to the material Kanye has been making on Yeezus, even before that album came out. What did you think about Yeezus?
Yeezus is ill. I’m not a stan of Kanye, but that album was an envelope pusher and definitely a good album. In terms of my music, I make what I feel in my heart and what sounds good to me. I’m just naturally dark. I make my music and Kanye makes his. Obviously, it’s become more trendy now to call yourself God, so I’m staying away from it.

Talk to us about New Wave.
New Wave is an experimental project. I’m getting my feet wet with production and I’m testing a few things out to see what the people like and what they don’t like, and to see how far I can go with it. In the song called “New Wave,” I have a line where I say, "This is a new sound, ni**as better hope it’s boundaries." I’m trying to push all the power in me to make the greatest thing ever in my age bracket and possibly in all hip-hop culture. This project is just a step before the actual big LP comes out. Once I see the response from this, I’m going to focus my direction for the next LP.

“WAXXX” seems like a very personal track. What was the inspiration behind that song?
As soon as E.N.O.N Jacobs sent the beat, I instantly started writing to it. I have a lot of built up anger and pain, I let everything out because I’ve learned that it’s important to use rap as a way to tell my story. I want to speak to people, and not just rap words to people. I’m glad “WAXX” reached a lot of people because it is a personal track.

My mom believes in my rapping now, but everybody wants me to get a regular job and I just can’t do that. So she’s kicked me out of the house at least two or three times. Then, I broke up with my girlfriend. It was important to deliver my story because a lot of people don’t know how bad it is where I’m from. I want people to see that I’m from this dark place in Chicago but that I have a bright vision.

What is your relationship like with your mother now?
We're good now. She’s not really big on the Internet so I can’t really sit and show her the things I’m accomplishing online. She’s just interested in the money and the shows. But I try to fill her in here and there. She’s pretty content with what she’s hearing.

 

I have a line where I say, "This is a new sound, ni**as better hope it’s boundaries." I’m trying to push all the power in me to make the greatest thing ever in my age bracket and possibly in all hip-hop culture.

 

How’s your brother doing?
He’s out of trouble for now. He was in a bad situation where we were going through some family issues. He got caught in a high-speed chase with the police and ended up doing almost one year in jail. It was one of the hardest things that me and my mom had to go through and had to face as far as reading and writing letters. Now that he’s out, I try to keep an eye on him as much as I can even though we’re five years apart. Me and my mom can’t really afford to go through that again.

Who is Mhone Glor?
Me and my other producer, Brandon Mahone, we go by Mhone Glor. We teamed up after GawdsSpeed, my last project. He produced “Bless Us,” and after that we hit it off and started producing things together. “Cold Storm” was our first track together, and it took us 30 minutes to an hour to make that. Brandon was messing around with sounds, then he put drums over it, and it was dope. So I started adding things to it.

After that came out, we decided to just run with what we had in terms of ideas, and then I came up with the name Mhone Glor. He wasn’t fucking with it at first, but now he’s okay with it after seeing how marketable it is. I want Mhone Glor to be his own person. He’s going to have his own fan base and his own artists that he works with. Mhone Glor does the majority of the production on New Wave. This is going to be our first actual project together, so we’re just getting our feet wet.

Did you finish high school?
I finished high school. I was going to go to Columbia College but I waited last minute and ended up not going because of girl issues. I ended up going to Full Sail University, and they sent me a Macbook and Pro Tools through financial aid. I was doing classes, but then I started getting super distracted by my music.

I started falling behind on my online classes and I ended up on academic probation. I tried to fight to stay in school for a little bit, but finally I just let it go and they kicked me out. I’m trying to go back now to finish it off because I’m trying to finish everything I ever started. I’m going to school for music production because there are still things I need to learn.

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RELATED: Mixtape Premiere: Ibn Inglor "New Wave"

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