In Chicago, 2012 was the year of drill and 2013 was the year of bop. Bop was the zippy antithesis to drill’s grimy lurch. Sicko Mobb emerged as bop’s flagship act, producing hits plural that were inescapable at every party and club in Chicago for the entire year. They entered 2014 on a high, signing deals with Swedish pop wizards Stargate and New York based record label Polo Grounds/RCA. But the last year of Sicko Mobb activity has been muted. Aside from a remix of their hit “Fiesta”, they laid low for the entire year, letting songs leak here and there with no major releases. With the CEO of Polo Grounds locked down on a weapons charge and RCA’s parent company, Sony, bleeding money, Sicko Mobb looked to be following in the footsteps of many promising young acts as the major label machine grinds to a halt around them while they’re crushed between the gears.
I sat down with the duo, composed of Lil Trav and Lil Ceno, along with their manager Gwop in a north side recording studio where the two brought me up to date on their low key 2014. – Holiday Kirk
The last time I spoke with you about a year ago, there was a huge flurry of attention around Sicko Mobb after your signing to Sony and deal with Stargate. Since then it’s been quiet from Sicko Mobb, what have you been up to for the last year?
Lil Ceno: Working. Mixtape getting ready to drop Super Saiyan Vol. 2 so the wait finally over for that. Couple more weeks that’s finna drop. Really just doin’ our little shows, doin’ what we do. We workin’ on our EP that’s getting ready to drop right after that
How has the West side bop scene changed since you first got in the game?
Lil Trav: It changed up a lot. Because when they first started boppin’ they was only movin’ their legs with it they weren’t moving all types a ways and shit like that.
How has the community changed?
Lil Trav: Everybody’s boppin.
Lil Ceno: We don’t bop though. We gotta get that clear through every interview. Sicko Mobb don’t bop. People be seein’ us, “Bop for me!”, we don’t do that period. It’s music just for that.
Can you elaborate on the differences between making music on your own versus making music for a major label?
Lil Ceno: I like recording with a label because the studio’s better, it sound better, it’s more crispy. You can hear like everything that we actually be sayin.
Who have you collaborated with since signing with Sony?
Lil Ceno: Jeremih.
Gwop: Rockie Fresh.
Lil Ceno: Ferg. Who else? Lotta people.
Lil Trav: We was doing stuff before we got with RCA though.
Lil Ceno: Yeah.
You’ve been working closely with DJ Nate recently, how did you two start collaborating?
Lil Ceno: We’ve been knowing him. We’ve always known each other so we just linked. We finna drop a mixtape with him too.
Like a collaboration mixtape?
Any name for that?
Lil Ceno: That ain’t done yet.
Gwop: He’s going to do all the beats.
Have you been enjoying touring?
Lil Ceno: Whenever I ain’t in Chicago I’m happy. When I’m here, I’m happy, so it’s both. But when I’m away I don’t gotta worry about keeping my head up, lackin, none of that. I can just be cool. Just chill, get up with the little chicks outta town, do us, go to the studio, meet new people.
But do you feel tense when you’re in Chicago?
Lil Ceno: I just feel like I gotta keep my head up. That’s the type of city we grew up in. Ain’t no gettin’ caught lackin’. Period.
Have you guys done any work in Atlanta?
Lil Ceno: We’ve been to Atlanta a couple of times. Like, three, four times. They rockin’ with us.
Gwop: They went crazy at A3C [Festival] they did real good. It was like the only Chicago act on the southern showcase. It was like Project Pat, Kirko Bangz, Trae the Truth. [Sicko Mobb] had a really good reception though.
In the last year or so some of bop music’s most prominent figures have been backing away from the scene. Do you still consider yourselves bop musicians?
Lil Ceno: That ain’t gon’ never change. We’re not just bop musicians it’s just our sound. When y’all hear this new mixtape y’all are going to be like “This a whole different level this ain’t the same type of music we was hearing from them.” But it’s still music to keep you movin’.
Lil Trav: It don’t sound the same.
Lil Ceno: You gotta change it up, you can’t keep the same sound. We still make [bop] songs but this new mixtape is a whole different level.
There’s been a certain acrimony spreading through the bop scene recently as rumors of bad paperwork and shady managers have surfaced as well as artists beefing with other artists. Have Sicko Mobb felt this bad blood running through the bop scene?
Lil Ceno: Not really.
Gwop: …Shady managers?
Gwop: [Laughs] I think what it is, the whole bop scene, Sicko kinda like, fell back, droppin’ so much music and a lot of the other people had nobody to copy. So, they kinda just started puttin’ anything out there. Only thing that I think was good that came from the bop scene was MBE, but they just have a heavy Sicko influence though. But everybody start stealin’ their sound so we kinda fell back and let weed out all the copycats and shit, let them fall by the wayside.
What is the next major project from the Mobb? When can we expect it?
Lil Ceno: This mixtape [Super Saiyan 2].
Lil Ceno: We going to pick a single off our mixtape before it drop. No, matter fact, “Robin Jeans”.
That’s the 808 Mafia [Produced] one?
Lil Ceno: Yeah.
Do you have a time you’re thinking about dropping that?
Lil Ceno: I wanna drop it right around spring. Go crazy for the whole summer.
Lil Trav: When the snow die down that’s when we going to get the drop.
Because you’ve been performing that right?
Lil Ceno: We’ve performed that twice. The crowd be going crazy, they’ve never heard the song we’ll just pop up and perform it for them. The crowd will be singing.
Gwop: That’s kinda how we chose that for the second single because of how easy it was, like how repetitive it is? It was so easy for people to catch onto it.