Psalm One Takes Chicago Rap Global

Psalm One AKA Hologram Kizzie is used to transitions.  The University of Illinois grad started out a chemist before abandoning the lab for the record label Hieroglyphics in the mid-2000s.  Now, Psalm One is prepping for another transition: As implied by the “AKA” dividing her name, Psalm One is now Hologram Kizzie—at least for her latest album, Hug Life.
Kizzie is for Kizzy Kinte, a character on the 1970s miniseries Roots, and a name Psalm One went by earlier in her career.  And hologram: Is that in reference to the Tupac hologram that famously took the Coachella stage?  Yes, in many ways: “I wanted to look backwards and also forwards.”

Psalm One is leading a Chicago Takeover of hip-hop music.

Since her 2006 album with Rhymesayers, The Death of Frequent Flyer, put Psalm One on the Chicago hip-hop map, the South Side native has been furthering the underground rap scene in the city.  Although, of course, her ambitions go far beyond being the stand-out talent on the underground scene; she’s taking her music global with an upcoming international tour she’s named the Chicago Takeover. 
Actually, Psalm One notes, she’s “no stranger to touring overseas,” but the goal of the Takeover is more forthright than many of her past tours.  “I hope to bring my own brand of art and culture,” she said.  “I like to be a conduit or catalyst for changing minds.”
Psalm One is a catalyst for changing minds in facets of her work beyond her musical tours.  She’s worked with Rhymeschool for almost three years, founding the hip-hop arm of the after-school youth educational program.  The program introduces students to all aspects of music production—from video and photo shots to recording—with a heavy emphasis on writing.
“We focus on being very literate and talking about their realities—not fantasy rap,” an emphasis she stresses in her own writing, also.  Psalm One’s lyrics sometimes veer toward the humorous, but songs like “Woman at Work” (whose music video puts Psalm One back in a lab coat) and “Regular Black Girl” (also the name of her website) are rooted strongly in reality.

It is that focus on the here, now and—most importantly—real that she brings to Rhymeschool students.  The experience, she added, is “enriching for anybody, even if they don’t become a rapper.”

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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