From the misty mountaintops of the “Promised Land,” three rappers emerge onto the Chicago DIY hip-hop scene. The Sooper Swag Project is comprised of Johnny Darge (JD), Brian Baliga (LD), and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya (Nnamdi). Layered over dreamy instrumentals and syncopated beats, the trio spits rhymes about partying, playing video games, and cute girls. With three albums already out (The Sooper Swag Project, Next Level, and JD and LD Go to Jail Part IV), the group has already begun its journey to take over the world. JD and Nnamdi were kind enough to answer a few questions regarding their past tours, how their approach to making music has progressed, and what they have in store for us next.
Ghost Track: When/how did you decide you wanted to make rap music?
Nnamdi: When I read my first Dr. Seuss book.
Ghost Track: When did you decide you wanted to make rap music with each other?
JD: Nnamdi and I first linked up for a track called, “Drop It In Some Water.” We got positive feedback from a lot of people and decided to keep making more music because there weren’t too many hip-hop acts in our scene at the time. LD joined us on our next track, “I Swag,” and we eventually formed into a group.
Nnamdi: JD threatened to kill me if I didn’t.
Ghost Track: How did the first time you went on tour together as a group change the way you approach making music for SSP?
Nnamdi: I think we realized that we actually had something unique that even other rappers would actually like. Before I think we thought that most rappers wouldn’t fuck with us and that still is usually the case upon initial meetings. But when they saw us perform, most of them complimented our unique styles a lot more than we anticipated.
JD: Touring is always cool, because you see different approaches to music through different people. You also meet people that you eventually will work with. It inspired us to try making different types of music and infusing other kinds of styles with our own.
Ghost Track: What is your favorite story from Baltimore?
Nnamdi: Everyone free-styling the dumbest shit and everyone showing love in the studio. And finding out famous ass people recorded in the same studio where we were thrashing around in too? That was awesome.
JD: Baltimore was awesome because it wasn’t a typical show for us. The show was a closed event in a recording studio. Everyone there was involved in the hip-hop/electronic music scene in Baltimore and it was a very friendly environment. It was cool to see so many different styles of hip-hop in one place. The atmosphere felt more like an intimate party than a show, but it still got pretty rowdy throughout. We’ve kept in touch with some of the guys there and we hope to link up with them further down our paths.
Ghost Track: Who is your favorite local rap artist?
JD: We have been doing shows with Grill Billyenz basically throughout our band’s existence. He was on the Baltimore tour with us as well. He is an awesome artist, but he moved to California so I’m not sure if he’s considered local anymore.
Nnamdi: I like Hurt Everybody, Mick Jenkins and Saba.
Ghost Track: Which was your favorite local show ever? Why?
Nnamdi: We played with this band USCO from Portland at Gnarnia. They are insane.
JD: THE BIG SHOW. There will always be a special spot in my heart for THE BIG SHOW, which was a music fest ran by our friend and mortal enemy Mike Giannoni. It was always a good time and it felt like a celebration of music to me. Many friends. Much music. During our set, it was so hot that I went outside and threw up immediately after. You had your Yunks here and there, but for the most part everyone was there just for fun.
Ghost Track: Using one word, how would you describe the difference between shows on the road vs. shows at home?
Nnamdi: People come to our shows on the road.
JD: $$ Munny $$
Ghost Track: Tell us about your show in Nashville.
JD: Nashville was awesome, because we met fans that have followed us for a while, and they were all very cool. It seemed like the crowd knew our lyrics better than we did, because they literally did. We got some bomb-ass fried chicken. I think I was sore for the next five days (Because of the show and the chicken).
Nnamdi: Nashville was the best show I’ve ever played.
Ghost Track: Overall, how did the tour to Atlanta go recently?
Nnamdi: Atlanta was weird as fuck. Everyone looked 9 years old. I guess that’s kinda cool though, too. But, like, why are you listening to our music? Lol. Go to your room; you’re grounded.
JD: Yeah, it had its ups-and-downs (mountains).
Ghost Track: What’s next for SSP?
JD: We are working on Badd Timing, which will be our first full-length math rap album. We’ve got some songs that stay in one odd time signature such as 15/16 and 11/16, as well as songs that vary in signature the whole time. I even made a song using the rules of international Morse Code (… – – – …) We can’t wait to stick our flag on the top of Math Rap Mountain and proclaim ourselves the best math rappers to ever grace the planet.
Ghost Track: How did you come up with the idea of “math rap”?
JD: I started making rap music just for fun and to try something different. As I got further into making rap music, I realized there was a lot of room for progression, which is how we started experimenting with odd time signatures. I used to hate rap, but as I’ve studied it, I’ve grown to have a greater appreciation for it. There is a lot of room for it to grow being such a relatively young genre. We’re basically just applying the basic principles of math rock to rap music.
Ghost Track: What can you tell us about SSPTV?
Nnamdi: It will be fun. It’ll be us; there will be a lot of diverse music. SKITS. BOOBS. BUTTS. WEINERS.
JD: We love telling jokes and just goofing around at our shows, so basically SSPTV is going to be an outlet for our attempts at humor. We have a nice star character named “Starby” and he will take you through our world of skits, rare behind the scene looks, and probably just videos of us “hanging out” and being goofballs. Is “goofballs” one or two words? It looks so gross when you spell it with two words. Anyway, SSPTV will be funny and EVERYONE SHOULD SUPPORT IT AND ANY MEDIA HOLDING IN AFFILIATION WITH SAID ENTITY. THIS INCLUDES ANY AFFILIATE DIRECTLY RELATED TO SSPTV VIA MEANS OF PROMOTION OR HOSTING.