Chicago Artist Who Is Fluffy Talks Politics through Hip Hop

Before she started making music professionally, Who Is Fluffy was starting dialogues about race, religion, gender and politics from the driver’s seat of a Chicago cab.
“The people who got me really got me,” she said of her time as a taxi driver. “But there were definitely a lot of cab rides where I didn’t get tipped because of my political views.”
Now, her willingness to face taboo topics head on is only benefiting her as a hip-hop artist and musician. Released this July, her debut EP examines gender, race and class politics. And her most famous collaboration to date—a single called “Best Friend” featuring Prob Cause, actor James Franco and R&B legend Smokey Robinson—came about, as she put it, only “because of who I am and how cool my friends are.”

Chicago rapper Fluffy released her debut EP
in July of this year.
One of those friends is her frequent collaborator and most vocal supporter, Psalm One.  Both Whitney M. Young Magnet High School grads, the two rappers began collaborating in 2008. Initially, Fluffy served as a business advisor and sometimes DJ, but Psalm One “inspired me to want to do more artistically.”
“I’ve always written and performed but never expected to put out my own material for some reason, on a larger scale, until I started working with her,” Fluffy said, adding that she’s pushed Psalm One “to do more on the business side of thing.”
Fluffy and Psalm One—alongside The Hood Internet and others—are embarking on their biggest business and musical collaboration to date with the Chicago Takeover, a multi-country tour that will bring Chicago hip-hop overseas. For Fluffy, the Takeover is an opportunity to do what she loves best: talk politics.  She’s particularly eager to share her work with the Carrefour Collaborative, an Illinois nonprofit that supports artists in Haiti, and has even prepared a statement in French for the multiple stops the tour will make there. (One imagines that the statement will be as bold as her take on the situation in English: “France, in particular, should ramp up their efforts in Haiti.”)
More generally, she hopes that her frank approach to tough issues will spur on others to start uncomfortable—but necessary—conversations.
“A lot more subjects have become taboo, and I don’t think that that’s the direction we have to go in,” she said. “I think we have to challenge the way that we’ve been thinking about life and society and love and friendships, and we have to try to improve and move into the future on some of these things.”

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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