It’s hard to stand out in a city full of stars. But instead of being intimidated by all the hype surrounding the Windy City’s overnight celebrities, Romey is confident he has what it takes to shine with the best of them. Like his platinum Chi-town counterparts Kanye West, Twista, and Common, 27 year-old rapper Romey is destined to join his city’s rap elite.
“I’m that voice for the hustlers”, explains the 6’7 rhyme pusher who hails from Chi-City’s notorious Southside section. “There’s a whole bunch of different styles in Chicago that cater to all types of people. Like Kanye, he speaks to the average person, thugs, backpackers, the ladies and we love and embrace him for that. Common speaks for the conscious listeners. Then there’s a new generation of rappers like Bump J, Sly Polaroid and myself that speak to the streets. Were all different, but its all Chicago. We all get that love.”
With two cities in the Midwest now behind him, (Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin), the young MC is ready to make the leap from a regional success to a nationwide contender. He’s aligned himself with some of the country’s most influential mixtape and radio DJs, who have been spreading his words like the gospel. There couldn’t be a better time for the self titled Michael Jordan of the rap game to redirect rap back to a time when lyrics outweighed hooks and rappers focused on the power of their words rather than their material value.
Born and raised in the gang-infested neighborhood known as the Wild Hundreds, Romey grew up turning the negative images around him into moving street narratives. As a kid it was nearly impossible for him to escape the evil trappings of his hood “I’m gang affiliated,” he explains. “Everybody around me was in a gang so I really didn’t have a choice.”
Romey’s life at home wasn’t very different than what he saw outside. His mother was a well-known hustler in and around their Roseland neighborhood for 20 years and she had no problem teaching her oldest son. “I used to steal drugs from her and sell em,” remembers Romey. “At 11 I was making like $200 or $300 dollars a day.” But before he finished junior high, Romey’s mom was sentenced to four years in prison. “I went from having everything right along with my mother to her going to prison.”
In 1994 Romey and his two younger sisters were sent to Memphis to live with their Aunt. After six months, Romey moved again, this time he went to live with his father in Milwaukee. There he attended high school and continued to do his share of dirt while his mom sat in jail. It wasn’t until a friend at school introduced him to Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” that Romey found a way out of his trife life.
“I seen how powerful Jay was with his flow and how he affected the way that I looked at hustling and all the stuff I was going through”, he remembers before making the jump from the street to the booth. “That’s what ultimately made me wanna get into rap.”
For the first time, Romey started questioning his morality on records, a skill that gives him advantage today. On one of his latest mixtape gems, All Has Changed Romey raps, “As I look in the mirror I’m shaking my head/ Cause I’m knowing I’m foul, how I’m making my bread.” He goes on to reflect on his not-so-happy upbringing by breaking down the three lowest points of his life on “I Don’t Have Nothin”. Romey also proves he can talk about more than his stormy past on the soulful Bobby Womack sampled P&Q’s where he pops a bevy of clever analogies like: “I’m like Ron Artest with a O Z/Cause all the other ballers know I’m known for the most D.”
Romey is now ready to spread his word like the gospel. And unlike most rap rookies that have their sites set of merely catching the next short-lived buzz single, Romey is focused on the qualities only the greatest MC’s posses. His knack for recreating his own hard knock life on record makes him a rarity in an era littered with hip-pop acts whose catchy hooks are their biggest claims to fame. It wont be long before Romey solidifies his place in the Midwest’s already illustrious lineup, proving his voice is exactly what the games been missing.