Alumnus Spotlight: Slick Chops

Some graduates leave the University and never look back while others seem to linger around until they realize they have to leave. Rapper Slick Chops seems to have found the happy medium between the two. The 2013 graduate is currently recording his next album and interning in New York, but he remains connected to The Music Alliance, a club dedicated to giving those interested in the music industry professional opportunities.

His musical roots, unsurprisingly, started in childhood. His father introduced him to the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s early on, but it was a little later that hip-hop came along.

“I was introduced to Eminem when I was around 9 years old and ever since then, I’ve been writing raps…I started recording music freshman year in high school after meeting another hip hop artist who was already recording. He showed me the ropes to recording and since then I’ve been recording consistently,” Slick said.

As a teenager, Slick used to participate in cyphers with another rapper at his local mall on a weekly basis. Eventually, the high school students attracted a crowd of over 200 people and the cops shut them down. Since then, Slick has moved on to local hangouts such as Brighton Bar and The Saint as well as Brooklyn staples like Public Assembly.

Some rappers create their beats while some sample from other artists. Slick likes to do both, and he credits the music department with making that easier.

Slick said, “Ever since I learned piano at Monmouth, it’s made the creation of beats much easier…If I create them from scratch, I think about the type of sound I want, whether its boom bap, trap, or maybe a beat with no drums at all. Then I literally just sit by my keyboard and play a ton of different melodies and hopefully stumble upon one that sounds suitable for the song. I use up to about five or six sounds for the melody and one or two sounds for the bass line.”

Sampling is not just pulling from another song and slapping it behind the song, though. A lot of thought goes into that process, according to the rapper. Slick said, “Sampling is my forte though. Sampling gives a very vintage feel and authentic sound based off of the culture of hip hop. When you hear a beat with a ton of chopped up samples, hip hop enthusiasts go crazy. Nothing beats a perfectly executed sampled instrumental.”

Of course, getting the beats down goes with writing the raps. “It depends how I’m feeling at the moment. If I’m in the mood to party and ‘turn up’ I’ll make a trap style song, with a low BPM but fast flow when rapping. If I’m feeling relaxed and just looking to chill, I’ll make a song that has some smooth jazz or guitar. Then the writing process begins where it’s always different. If I’m really in the mood, I could write a song in 20-30 minutes. Normally it takes about two hours since I’m a perfectionist,” the artist said.

So what does the end result sound like? Slick tries not to worry about it. He explained, “My sound varies, which is why I feel that the potential I have to grow as an artist is infinite. I can legitimately make a song sound like anything I want because I try not to stress over my sound by giving it a brand. I’ve recorded fun songs, depressing songs, party songs, chill songs.”

Music is Slick’s main focus right now. He said, “Whether it’s interning in New York City or working on my new album coming out, everything’s been based around music. I have a new album coming out called “I.ndependent F.unctions O.nly.” I’m releasing the album December 3, 2013 which is my birthday. The album is being fully produced by me. I’m doing all the recording, mixing and mastering, instrumentals, marketing, everything. The only thing I didn’t do was to graphic design work which was done by a fellow classmate named Michael Burke.”

Slick’s involvement with University students doesn’t end there. He co-founded The Music Alliance (TMA) last year, and he wants to make sure it continues to thrive and grow.

“I spoke with a couple of the members over the summer, and we’re interested in trying to make it an actual business when they graduate,” he said.

He continued, “The idea of TMA after Monmouth would be to be a full-service music organization that offers artists services such as recording time, photo shoots, video shoots, graphic design work, songwriting, basically anything that deals in music we can help you with. But currently I just head the social media marketing department. I’m in charge of overseeing all the posts that go on to Facebook and Twitter. We’re working with a great set of people and as long as the work ethic remains the same throughout the year I really see high expectations for TMA.”

For updates on the album and future shows, check out Slick Chops online at soundcloud.com/slickchops, facebook.com/slickchops and twitter.com/slickchops.

PHOTO TAKEN by Nicole Massabrook