Chicago MC Add-2 is not here to spare your feelings. The seasoned lyricist with a self-acknowledged Napoleon complex has been taking rappers to task for lackluster content with tracks like “Modern Day Coons” since 2012. The incendiary cut was one of several that caught the attention of local hero Common and a friendship was born.
“I’d go with them to gala events and community service events. I saw what it meant to be a successful MC from the south side of Chicago,” he says. “I’m so grateful for that. I thank God for him because he changed my life.”
While a recording relationship was never solidified with Common, Add linked with Jamla CEO 9th Wonder while he was recording the project Between Heaven and Hell with producer Khrysis.
“9th was like you’ve always been like family it would be dope to have you. Let me know if you want to join Jamla Records. I asked Common how he felt and he said if you think you can grow from it, as long as we can still connect with you, do it.”
The result is the clever and lush debut Prey For The Poor, fourteen cuts of blue collar bravado featuring his label mate Rapsody, Heather Victoria and Raheem DeVaughn with production by 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nottz and more. The title is a nod to his politically astute observations about America’s relationship with its lower-class citizenry.
“You can either be a help or a victim to the people that you’re neglecting,” he says. “If there’s a problem going on in the world, a lot of it is neglected. So you can either pray for the poor, help the people and be a part of the change. Or you will end up being prey for the poor and be a victim to who you’re turning a blind eye to.”
“Stop Play Rewind”
“I can fill the world up twice for all the things you don’t know/ Do you give them receipts for every time you sell your soul/ Please don’t get offended by the questions that I ask/ see through my competition so I shatter them like glass/ have a seat inside my chambers, I hope you don’t mind the gas/ death is just a test, it’s only right I let them pass…”
For that it was talking about all these rappers when they get to a certain point they sell themselves to get ahead but do you put into perspective what you’re doing? And once you decide which side of the fence you’re on you become my competition. You can have a seat in my chamber but you will pass away. I’m a very competitive person. Anybody that knows me knows I love to rap against people. I used to battle all throughout high school plus I have a napoleon complex. I’m the shortest guy in the room so I always feel like I gotta prove myself.
“Yo, hate to pop your balloon/But your favorite rapper’s a coon
You hear the things that he spit?/Well really if he keep it real, then really then he like a snitch, right?”
The thing I knew coming into this album is that you can’t sugarcoat anything. People only feel things in extremes these days. Something is either really positive and they share it or it’s harsh and they say “I can’t believe you said that.” So I said let’s keep it all the way real. These same people that you praise they actually telling on themselves. They’re telling all the dirt they do. It sounds like an affidavit and you want us to jam to it. So I’m telling the fans that I hate to break this false narrative your’e believing. he’s breaking that same “keep it real” code you live by for your entertainment.
“I feel for all who’s tryna keep up with me/
You get dragged so much you could date Mister Cee…”
That’s that inner MC me. That’s the in the cypher me where you know that line will get a reaction. There is always that line that cuts through, that’s brutal harsh and says he don’t care. I thought I was gonna get in trouble with that one, I won’t lie to you. Because Karlie Hustle [former Hot 97 PD] works with us [at Jamla]. And immediately I was like “y’all know I said this, are you sure?” They was like “aight, go ahead.” I’ll only ask a couple of times but if you’re gonna let me be me? Jesus Christ…
“I’m stronger than Vick’s vapor/I’m killin’ all of your dogs, call it a Vick favor”
Again when you start getting in your zone I don’t think. Something tells me to keep going. I’m not thinking too heavily on the effects as much as I want to capture that moment. How can I line up these similes about of how vicious you are. Bring all your dogs. I will take all of them. There is part of me that wants that. But ain’t nobody testing me yet.
“Good Mourning Black America”
“Won’t weigh the pros and cons cause all the pros is cons
Reverend Al only show up when the camera’s on
Jesse only show up when the camera’s on
Obama only show up when the camera’s on
It make sense, actors leave when the camera’s gone”
Unfortunately there are a lot of issues that go on in our community, but no one is there on a day-to-day basis. These things don’t change. But when it becomes a “national” tragedy everyone is there on the frontline, getting on the soapbox to say how sad they are. How come nobody is there beforehand? When you show up when it’s opportune times you’re not leading, you’re just becoming the face of it, verse getting the help we need. We need to take steps beforehand. There was a video of Jesse Jackson landing in Ferguson and people were running him out of a parking lot. They said “go home, you’re not wanted here.” This was Black folk. People were tired of it. Truth be told there is a disconnect. You don’t speak for the young people, you talk at them. So how can you be the leader of them?
“Mama said watch your tone, didn’t know she meant my skin
I learned that I’m a victim to my melanin
Heard they wanna kill ya cause deep down they fear ya
Calling you a thug cause they can’t call you n*gga”
When I wrote that I was putting myself in the mindset of this might be the harshest song you might write on the album. And I wanted to make it personal. So I think back to me and my mom talking and she always said be careful out here. And she said watch your tone and how you speak to people. Everybody doesn’t see you as the young man that I see. Sometimes your presence is threatening alone. So it’s not just watch your mouth it’s watch your skin tone.
“Young Black Boy”
“Food and liquor stores on the corner
Walkin’ by the door bein’ watched by the owner
Tryna buy milk, short by a quarter
Hope he let it slide cause he know we tryna get by”
That comes from a real story. There was a corner store where I was raised called Lucky’s. My mom used to send me to the store in the morning. I preferred to go in the morning because in the afternoon there were hella cats on the corner. Sometimes I’d have enough money, sometimes I didn’t. I think one time I got a gallon of 2 percent milk and I was nervous. Mom had gave me like $2 and I knew it wasn’t enough. Soon as I gave it to him he looked at me like “Where’s the rest of the money?” and I was like I don’t have it. I was freaking out and my first thought was to steal it and go. Just run. But instead he was just like “Get the hell outta her. Go. Don’t come back unless you have the right money next time.” That was reality for us. Just trying to get by and make it. Not that we were super poor, but sometimes when you ain’t got it you ain’t got it and you depend on the kindness and mercy of others.
“God damn you was fine, you had a man at the time
See I’m tryna make you mine like there’s a diamond to find
Tryin’ not to cross the line, love’s runnin’ through my mind
Why God always send the right one at the wrong time?”
That’s where you really digging somebody, so I’m trying to make you MINE. But even further than that she is the diamond. I’m trying to get to the most precious part of you. In rap we don’t have a lot of positive love songs. We don’t have songs to make women feel appreciated. I don’t know why we wait until we’re past 35, we all want love at the end of the day. And Rapsody being on it was good to give a females perspective. To hear both sides was crucial.
“See we had a spark that could light up like July 4th
It’s hard to live with the person I would die for”
That was one of the hardest songs I had to write. We were in the midst of making Between Heaven and Hell and that song was one of the beats that got made when we were doing 90s flip week. He chopped it up and said write to it. And I said this sounds like a very sad love song and I was engaged at the time, but we were buttin’ heads. We had just called off our first wedding. So immediately when that beat came on I knew what I wanted to write, but I hesitated. You want to protect the person you love because this might be TOO real. But Khrysis said if you gonna write the song you gotta write it honest. Can’t hold it back. So at that time I started writing all the things I wish I could have said. The stuff that you DON’T say to maintain peace in your house. So that line is me saying I would DIE for this woman, but it’s so hard to live with her. How do I love you and hate you at the same time? Anyone else I could drop at a time but she’s the one person I can’t get away from. We’ve been married a year now. We made it through but at the time I wrote it I was THIS close…
“On My Soul”
“I got principles, no Seymour Skinners
Suddenly I see more, more than the florist at the little shop of horror
Yo Khrysis, you still recordin’?”
When you start playing on words and sounds it started lining up. When I said “principles” I thought what’s a simile for that I thought Seymour Skinner, and “Suddenly I see More” is a play off the song from “Little Shop of Horrors” and it’s also talking about how much of a monster I am. I would look out in Bright Lady there’s a window where the booth is and I’d look at Khrysis’s face. He’d be like “Really?” He stopped me one time mid take to say “Really, this is what we on today? Cool? I’m wichu.” I live for the feeling to see the look on his face change.
“I’m a product of God’s work, you’ll leave with your pride hurt
What I write is a prize verse, your shit is a Pras verse”
I was a Fugees fan and I always felt like “carrying up the rear, is Pras.” Lauryn would be killing and Wyclef would have some joints but then Pras would come on like “c’mon, bruh.” It reminded me of a line Phonte said “Whether you rap like Nas or you rap like Pras..it won’t sound like ours..”
“You can bring you, you, you and whoever
I’m playin’ everybody, Eddie Murphy movie credits”
If anybody knows Eddie Murphy movies he plays everybody, everybody in the barberhshop. It was that kind of feeling. Don’t matter what side of town you from I’m playing everybody. That’s one thing Chicago taught me, you can’t be afraid of anybody. There’s plenty of times you have to be ready for anything. Literally there would be people calling my mom
s house at 12 in the morning and they’d be all polite “is Andre here?” and then they’d get me on the line and be all “Whattup dude. I got somebody that can see you” and I’d be battling on the phone…”
“Hell nah you can’t hang but I’ll find you a noose/ Taking spots like it’s duck duck goose..”
Again, that’ s the competitive nature. You can’t keep up with me but if you want to step up I will gladly put you in your place. My goal is to be the greatest at what I do. I want to leave my mark on this game. The same way I got influenced by Lupe, Common and Nas, I want to give people that same feeling. I want to be in that class.