At the beginning of April, a new group with some familiar faces arrived when Big $ilky released their first EP, Big $ilky Vol. 1. Big $ilky is a duo consiting of Psalm One and Angel Davanport, both formerly of the group Rapperchicks. They recently took the time to talk with us about officially closing the chapter on Rapperchicks and starting a new phase in their careers, the history of the group, and how they prepared for quarantine and are learning how to navigate their careers as we shelter in place.
Photo by Graham Gardner
Scratched Vinyl: Let’s go back a minute. You just established the name Big $ilky, but y’all have been together under the name Rapperchicks. Can you go back in time and walk us through how the group first got together?
Angel Davanport: So Rapperchicks started, I want to say 2013, 2014. Probably really got started May 2014. And it was me and Henny B, another rapper from Chicago, who we both got together and decided we both are pretty, we both rap well, we’re both poppin’ out here and droppin’ music, why not start a group? So Rapperchicks was born from that. She was like, “Let’s do an album called Rapperchicks!” And I said, “Fuck yeah!” And we just went from there. Fast forward two, three months, I met another member of the group who introduced me to Psalm. They both became real members…then we added ill-esha, and just kept making music from there. In 2015, into 2016, when we came to Minneapolis, and kept on with Rapperchicks music from there.
Psalm One: So I joined in 2014. There was first two, then there was four. Henny decided to leave the group, and that’s when we folded ill-esha into the mix. Then 2016 is when we had a huge event, and as a lot of groups do, we had a lot of turmoil and interpersonal conflict, so then we ended up at the beginning of 2016, that’s when we were trying to push the trio of Angel, me, and ill-esha. We pushed that trio for a few years, had quite a bit of success touring. We made a lot of music with ill-esha. Some of it saw the light of day, which is good, that’s exciting. But as we decided, Angel and I, to be in Minneapolis and work on our solo projects here, the more we felt disjointed from ill-esha. It was just harder and harder to have the kind of synergy that Angel and I have as a duo, then adding in a third person who doesn’t live near us, and we weren’t talking too much, because ill-esha has her own very busy career as well. There was no interpersonal conflict there, it was more just a timing thing. As we were planning this final Rapperchicks album…you can take it from there.
Angel: Yeah, probably 2018, this last album…then Henny passed. In 2018. We carried the name, but we didn’t really put out any music. This was just an opportunity to close a chapter. End of an era for real. Because with Henny passing, with her being a founding member with me, it just didn’t feel right. To keep doing it…it just didn’t feel right. And karma can be…it’s just not right to do things like that. It’s just not the right way. So I talked her mother, I talked to her family, and got a blessing to put out an album –
Psalm One: - with her name on it.
Angel: With her name on it, and her inclusion. So Big $ilky is our first effort toward that. Henny is executive producer.
Psalm One: Henny is like still around. The name was her and Angel’s, and it just didn’t end up being what it was originally intended to be. We had a lot of sex, drugs, rock and roll, blood, sweat, and tears, a lot of ups and downs, and…you know? As eras go, they’re meant to end. And with Henny passing, it just felt more appropriate to do something different but still carry on the sentiment. Because the sentiment was, “Bar up!” Henny liked what I call the Mobb Deep/Alchemist realm of things. More boom bap, but modern, too. And Henny had a good voice for melody. She loved to hear Angel sing, so we just wanted to make an album that was bars, and then some pretty harmonies, showcase Angel’s singing voice as well, but also just barring the fuck up, too.
SV: In creating this project, were you creating this from scratch, or were you pulling from the vault?
Psalm One: Yes and yes.
Angel: All the songs on Big $ilky are new, aren’t they?
Psalm One: Remember, we wrote out the whole – we were going to make a whole album called Rapperchicks is Dead. So you notice that’s a song, it’s the last song, but we were going to make a whole album and call it Rapperchicks is Dead. The more were putting songs together and thinking about what we wanted, Angel was like, “Man, I’m sick of the name now!” After everything that happened in 2016, and Angel and I found ourselves in Minneapolis, doing a 180 from what was going on, it was like, “I’m not going to make any more decisions for Rapperchicks.” For the longest time, I was kind of the face, because I had the most experience in the industry. So naturally, a lot of people gave me the credit for starting Rapperchicks. I was definitely the one with the most experience and ability to put us on tour and stages and stuff. That’s facts. And, being someone who made decisions, I didn’t have to be that. I kinda…once we started to figure out our solo projects and how we were going to continue our lives in Minneapolis, it became apparent to me that Rapperchicks wasn’t something that I was interested in making decisions for any more. ‘Cause it wasn’t what it intended, and after Henny passed, I definitely wasn’t trying to be in the drivers seat any more.
Angel: It’s a close to a chapter that needed a good close.
SV: So putting this together, you mentioned that you had Henny in mind in terms of the beats and the style of it –
Psalm One: And we started getting a lot of good beats that we just thought that she’d enjoy. So we just started rapping on those, and then we had about half the songs already, and then half the songs we kinda just started working with Benzilla more, and Budah Tye, and we were just getting these beats that were like, “Oh shit! This could work!”
SV: One of the things that hit me was that you got a few producers from Minneapolis, but this still sounds pretty Chicago.
Psalm One: Yeah, right?!
Angel: You can’t get away from your roots.
SV: Was that a conscious decision, or was that something were you made the thing and at the end you were like, “Huh? I guess this is me.”
Psalm One: We were just looking at beats that we thought that Henny would like, so I guess that’s the Chicago influence.
Angel: And to me, honestly, I don’t think it sounds that “Chicago.” I could see a couple…“Smoking in Therapy,” that to me sounds like where I come from…
Psalm One: Really?! That’s the one that doesn’t! “Put Your Cape On,” and “BTW” both sound like some crazy drill shit. But you know what? This is why music is so funny.
Angel: Yeah! Because we have completely different definitions of what they are. And it’s literally the same album that we’re both on. It doesn’t sound Chicago to me at all, but I could see –
Psalm One: - It wasn’t a conscious decision. Really the decision was making some songs that Henny would jump on.
Angel: Yeah, yeah. That she would vibe with.
SV: Getting into the weeds, y’all do specifically get into some of the history of the group…
Angel: Go ahead, you can ask! We definitely did!
SV: Was that something where you were like, “If we’re closing this chapter, we might as well get into it?”
Psalm One: Yeah. It took us years to write that song, [“RPRCHX IZ DED”].
Angel: It did. And frankly, we don’t have to say names in this interview, because…fuck a free shine. Is that okay to say?
Psalm One: Chi Chi has met every member, except for Henny, rest in peace. So he knows. [name redacted] left, it was bad, you know. You don’t have to print her name, but she left, and it was bad, and we had to move forward. We didn’t want to stop doing Rapperchicks because a member left, you know?
Angel: And it wasn’t a good break. It was actually a real disastrous break. All the things that were said in the music, everything that I said, I stand by it. I stand by all of it. That’s what happened. And I hate it, and I wish it hadn’t gone that way, you know?
Psalm One: You know MC Juice, right?
Psalm One: He actually mentored Angel a bit, and we spent some time with him making music, and right after that shit happened - he was very adamant in getting that song out of us. Because it was like pieces of a song in all of the music, and we felt ourselves getting to a dark place in the music, always taking shots and being petty, and it was like, “No! What are we really trying to say out here? What are we really trying to be?” We don’t want the music to always be so bitter and always taking shots at somebody, so it was like, let’s concentrate our efforts and putting the story into a song that – you know, it’s disrespectful, but it’s as respectful as we can be to the whole legacy, because Rapperchicks ain’t about one person, it’s about two – Henny B and Angel Davanport. It ain’t about the other shit.
Angel: Rapperchicks was about something so much bigger. And that’s the thing – it could have been…
Psalm One: Women’s empowerment! You know what I’m saying? We put on some Girl Power for a while! And –
Angel: The divine femme, strength in numbers, we got each other’s backs, it’s not about these dudes – it’s not even “Fuck these dudes!” It’s just, “We’re dope!” You know? That’s what it was supposed to be. And it just got so far away from that. And I think, we never would have gotten through that song in 2017 when we were going through all these things, because…
Psalm One: We weren’t there.
Angel: We weren’t! When we came to Minnesota, we were in a dark place for a little bit. We wrote a lot of things that were scrapped because they were so dark, and they were so spicy. They were hateful. So I think what really changed, and why Big $ilky was born, was because we put all that energy into ourselves. Elevating self-worth, elevating our own existence, our own quality of life.
Psalm One: Going to therapy…
Angel: Therapy, getting clean. I’ve been clean three years.
Psalm One: That was a big one.
Angel: It’s a big difference between what we were doing before, and I think that is what birthed Big $ilky. Looking back and being able to be like, “Man!” You know, I was messing up, too, back then. Nobody’s perfect.
Psalm One: We was all fucking up.
Angel: Everyone was fucking up, but it’s about growth. If people can look at me now in 2020 and say, “That’s the same girl I met in 2014…”
Psalm One: That was a hot mess.
Angel: That was a hot mess, then I didn’t do it right. I made some mistakes, but I definitely did this shit right, you know? Sorry, that’s how I feel.
Psalm One: Don’t be sorry!
SV: Now the project is out, Rapperchicks is dead, Big $ilky is here. Under normal circumstances, I’d be asking you about a tour, a release show…shit like that. How have y’all been adjusting to the quarantine and navigating how to promote yourself?
Angel: We actually were going to throw a show as a release for this in Chicago at Bourbon on Division. We had everything locked in and set up. We were going to make a shirt and donate all the proceeds to Henny’s family. So after that got scratched, we obviously put it out on the streamers. We can go to our Bandcamp and purchase…that’s a way to navigate. Psalm put out a project in quarantine, and a video.
Psalm One: The funny thing is, we were preparing for this quarantine our whole career. Considering all the bad things with the entertainment industry, when we got to Minnesota, P.O.S. yelled at us really bad about not having our own home studio. I was just never stable enough to have a home studio, especially in the midst of being able to go to a nice big studio and have it all done there. But coming to Minnesota, it was like, “Okay, I don’t have my engineers, my people that I usually work with.” After visiting a few studios, I realized, “Man, I could really get studio quality shit at home.” So I had a long talk with P.O.S., he told me what to get, how much it cost, I saved the money…when I first came up here, I was a wedding deejay. I did that for like a summer. What was that? 2017? It was an interesting time. But it also taught me the shit that I’m using right now in quarantine. How to put shit together. It’s crazy how some things prepare you. Got the home studio setup, and then when we moved into the house that we’re in now, we were like, “Okay, let’s knock out demos, demos, and demos.” And it was like, “How could we make a song from scratch, here at the house?” We were kind of exploring that, and then it was like “BOOM! Don’t go outside.” So we were like, “Shit! Now we really got to do it!” As far as the live performance aspect, we definitely got some things in development. You know, we want to come in a way that’s unique to what we do, and we know what people want from us. I’m putting things together. You’ll see some things for sure, for sure. We’re very self-sufficient, self-motivated here. It’s really about keeping ourselves healthy enough to push our creativity and our output now. ‘Cause we know that people need it, and we also know that we’re in a frame of mind now, that we’re not trying to brag or impress everybody. We’re trying to get through this thing together. Then we can do some things that are really dope. I’m really proud of Big $ilky, even if it’s only twenty minutes of music. It’s some of the best work I feel like I’ve ever done, and I’m proud of it. I think we got some good momentum, and we just gotta keep that going.
SV: Where’s the best place for people to check for announcements for stuff that you might be dropping?
Psalm One: Twitter is always good, and Instagram. You know, we’re thinking about the Twitch thing, and going live. We went live a couple of times on…the majors. The Facebooks, The Instagrams, but…everyone’s inundated with that. We’re just trying to figure out a way to stand out and make sure that people still see us as we’re dropping music as well.
SV: Is there anything that you can announce, or is it all still up in the air?
Angel: I mean, I could tell you something…
Psalm One: Angel’s working on her shit next!
Angel: Yeah, I’m working on a project that’s going to come out sometime soon. It’s almost done.
Psalm One: And I would love to see a Big $ilky Vol. 2 come out this summer. That’s not crazy to think about. We already have started. You know how rappers go, “Oh, I got 50 songs!” We are actually in a position where we have a lot of music in the tub. But it’s really about Angel season. Wink, wink! Big $ilky Vol. 1 is really a big showcase for Angel, and I think people have been ready for her project to come out, so that’s next. And Big $ilky Vol. 2 is definitely a thing. We wouldn’t have named it Vol. 1 without insinuating a Vol. 2. That’s what it is. Definitely going to put out more music this year, because we control it, and we kind of need it for ourselves. So that’s what’s happening.
SV: Finally, if you could work with three people that you haven’t, who would that be?
Psalm One: I like Chuck Inglish, the producer. Let’s see…who haven’t I worked with…Quincy Jones! Let’s just go crazy! Shoot for the stars! Oh, and you know who got back on my radar but was never really off my radar? Scott Storch! Let’s go, Scott! He crushed Mannie Fresh, and he shouldn’t have!
Psalm One: It was the sound! The sound killed him.
Angel: But he’s got Beyoncé bops! Sorry!
Psalm One: Who’s your three?
Angel: Tyler, the Creator is my first one.
Psalm One: Tupac?
Angel: No! Oh! The second would be Benny the Butcher, but it would have to be rap! I don’t want no singing shit! We’re going to go bar for bar, completely fucking raw…and my third one…Doja Cat!
Psalm One: Two high-pitched baddies.
Angel: Two high-pitched bad bitches. I love her.
To stream/purchase Big $ilky Vol. 1, visit: https://psalmone.bandcamp.com/album/big-ilky-vol-1