Q+A: Chip tha Ripper
Cleveland rapper speaks on his new mixtape, friendship with LeBron James.
by Rodney David King / @mehkavelli
Cleveland has seen better days. It seems like forever ago when LeBron James was the King of Cleveland and the Cavs were one of the League’s best teams. Now, Bron has taken his talents to South Beach and the city is looking for a new hero to hang its hat on. Have no fear, Chip tha Ripper is here.
The Cleveland native has made a name for himself on the underground scene for years before his chance at fame came when fellow Cleveland resident and Kanye West affiliate Kid Cudi asked him to grace his debut album. Since then Chip has launched a viral campaign that has his name mentioned as one of the next artists to blow!
I had the chance to speak to Chip tha Ripper about how he got into rap, his new mixtape and his friendship with the King himself, LeBron James.
SLAM: How did you get into rap?
Chip tha Ripper: Really man I started off battle rapping back in the day in the lunchroom back in ninth or 10th grade. I would go to different spots and just battle cats. That’s really how it all started.
SLAM: What would you say was your official “big break” in the industry?
CTR: I would say the joint I was on that was on Kid Cudi’s album. That was my first time being heard on a worldwide scale. That was the turning point for me when I knew I could really do something.
SLAM: You recently released your new mixtape Tell ya Friends online. Speak about the tape, some of the features and who you worked with on the production side.
CTR: One of my favorite tracks on the album is “We aint playing” featuring Cyhi the Prince and Malik Yusef. Really, I like all the records the same. They all serve their own purpose. The record I did with Krayzie Bone and the record I was blessed to have Bun B on came out great. I was able to work with Lex Lugar who did a lot of work with Kanye and Jay-Z. He produced my single “We Out Chea.” I also had new producers on the album like my best friend Big Duke. He produced “We aint playing.”
SLAM: What was it like when you found out that Krayzie Bone and Bun B would be on your mixtape?
CTR: It was surreal. I’m not a guy who’s always in rapper mode. I’m not always stuck in rapper mode unless I’m in the studio or I’m about to do a show. Other than that, I’m just a kid from Cleveland. I grew up walking to school playing these guys. To have them on my album was big.
SLAM: Talk about what it was it like growing up in Cleveland and how did the city impact you as a person?
CTR: The people in Cleveland are amazing. Growing up in Cleveland helped prepare me for reality. There’s not a lot of fakeness in Cleveland. It’s not like Hollywood or anything like that. I would really call it a boot camp. It got me ready for the world. I’m out here in L.A. right now and growing up in Cleveland really helped me as far as my character and how I carry myself.
SLAM: I know you’re a basketball fan. How do you think the Cavs are going to fare this year?
CTR: I actually had the chance to see them play when the came out here to play the Lakers. I had floor seats. They didn’t get the W, but they’re looking good. Especially Ramon Sessions, he’s looking real dope right now. We can do it without LeBron. It’s really about the program. It’s half the players and half the program. The players have to be there, but the program has to be on point too.
SLAM: Speaking of LeBron. How did his decision hit you? I know it was a tough blow to the city.
CTR: No I wasn’t hurt, LeBron is my homie, that’s my guy. I’ve kicked it with Bron numerous times and not in public settings. I found out that he was going to Miami before everyone else found out so I wasn’t shocked when he made the decision. I wasn’t mad. At the end of the day, LeBron has done so much for the city just by him being here. Being one of the best players in the League and bringing that light to Cleveland. We didn’t have anything before that that had us in the same sentence as some of the other teams and cities in the League. He brought the whole city up.
SLAM: If you were in his shoes, would you have made the same choice?
CTR: If I was in the NBA and talented like LeBron, I would want to play with guys in the NBA who were great players. They got a good squad in Miami, I can’t be mad. I have a friend who has two sons. I went over their house after the decision and they were taking down posters. I was crushed for them, but I wasn’t mad at LeBron.
SLAM: You were recently named a nominee for the XXL Freshman cover. How does it feel to be acknowledged like that?
CTR: It’s a great acknowledgement. It feels great to be nominated. It’s really for the fans so they can see me and say, “Yeah that’s Chip.” It’s a great honor.
Download Chip tha Ripper’s new mixtape Tell ya Friends featuring Bun B, Krayzie Bone, Cyhi the Prince, Wale and Ray Cash and features production from Lex Lugar and Boi-1-der.