Rising rap artist Pohhla is a bit different than a lot of his contemporaries. Whereas some artists may be apprehensive to take a conscious stand in their music, Pohhla feels like it is his responsibility to sprinkle his music with real-life antidotes, aka “Vault Tawk.”
Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but spending his formative years in Chicago, the 20-something emcee made a lot of noise last year with his stirring song “Anti-Chiraq,” which not only addressed the violence in the city and the families affected by it, but also the demeaning nickname given to the city
Rolling out recently sat down with Pohhla to talk about why the term “Chiraq” is problematic, and his thoughts on Spike Lee’s recent announcement about his plans to make a film about Chicago called Chiraq.
Who were your musical influences?
2Pac and Biggie, of course. But you know who I really loved as a kid? Mystikal. I don’t think he ever gets the credit he really deserves when the best rappers convo comes up. He was [and] is incredible.
If you had to do a concept album with one producer, who would it be and why?
Man to me Metro Boomin (Ludacris, Future, Migos) is killing the game right now. His work is amazing. I think we’d cook up something special.
What is “Vault Tawk”?
Vault Tawk is what I consider my genre of music mainly because I just take real-life situations and things I’ve actually seen and put it in song form. I consider my body a vault and what I speak from my vault is my Vault Tawk.
As far as the rap scene in Chicago overall, do you like what’s happening?
I like what the different artists are doing. They’re adding something else to the music element. Chicago is diverse in that way and always has been. That’s why you have Twista, Kanye and Common. I bring something different as well. For me, it’s a little hard to not focus on the issues in Chicago because I live it every day.
Do you think more artists, especially Chicago artists, need to make a positive statement in their music like you did in your “Anti-Chiraq” song?
It would be very helpful and I believe it would make an impact with the youth because right now they may be thinking the things they hear in rap music should be applied to their lives. They need to know it’s bigger than what they’re hearing and currently seeing in Chicago
For those not familiar with the term, please explain what “Chiraq” is and why you’re so adamantly against it?
Well, it’s a nickname given to the city saying we’re supposedly the Iraq of the Midwest because of the reported high crime rates and gun violence. The problem is some are embracing “Chiraq” so much, everyone is running around with a gun, everyone wants to be known as the shooter but we’re causing our own genocide in the process. It’s all become a dangerous competition spilling into music, which only fuels the anger and shootings. You can’t battle rap here, you’ll get shot, jumped … it’ll turn into something. It’s gangbanging on wax, basically.
Speaking of which, what are you thoughts with the news that Spike Lee plans do a film about Chicago called Chiraq?
I got a few calls the day the news broke. My publicist sent me the Vibe story about it. If anyone else was doing that type of film, I would question it, but Spike Lee has always done films that accurately represent the Black struggle and how we can evolve from the circumstances and obstacles we face. Malcolm X is the best film that was ever made. I hope that Spike gets a chance to hear our stories and the stories of families that are really experiencing this like the ones in my “Anti-Chiraq” video. Those were real families at real funerals. This is real life. It’s not just Chicago. It’s a Midwest thing because I know St. Louis has been experiencing murders like it’s the crack era all over again. That’s why they call St. Louis “Stghanistan” and Chicago “Chiraq.” There’s nothing glamorous about it and I hope Spike explores it as the tragedy it is with all it’s dysfunction; from the failed school systems, to the violence and lack of leadership. Spike Lee filming Chiraq could really get the world to pay attention to our problems and maybe some solutions can come from this if the world sees it in all its truth.
Is there a full-length album in the works? What can you tell us about it?
I’m definitely working on an album right now. It’ll be called My Letter. It’s a dedication to the women they we haven’t really been hearing about lately. No one wants to speak on the hard working respectable women so I’m giving them My Letter.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
I make sure that I’m constantly connected to my fans via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It works great for me because my fans have full access to me.
Name one thing fans would be surprised know about you?
Probably that I’m just really humble and down to earth. A lot of times fan are afraid to approach artists because they seem bigger than life but I’m one of the most humble and hard working people you’ll ever meet. Also I really grind and work 24/7. People sometimes think I have it made but I really apply myself and grind hard.
What’s next for Pohhla?
Just look for me to continue on my mission of making great music. I just want to make music people can feel and relate to and whatever else comes along with that I’m game, but making great music is my main focus.
For more information on Pohhla, please visit www.pohhla.com.
To hear Pohhla’s song “Anti-Chiraq” and more check out his soundcloud page: www.soundcloud.com/pohhla