In this discussion with RapReviews writer Jack M Silverstein, Chicago MC Psalm One discusses the t-shirt she designed honoring Chicago’s finest female MCs.

I was reaching out to Andrew Barber from Fake Shore Drive to do something. He had the Fake Shore Drive store, and instead of just doing some music, which would have been the easiest thing to do, we decided to do a t-shirt. I wanted to pay homage to what hip-hop has been in Chicago, so in doing that, I wanted to reach back to some of the female pioneers from the city that have – not to be too cliché – paved the way for chicks like me. They’re just really hard spitters, you feel me? Shawnna from DTP and Teefa, they were in a group called Infamous Syndicate, and they put out a lot of hard records. Newsense of Psychodrama – she held her own. And of course Da Brat. We know what she’s done.

These are some of the women that I look up to still. The format of the t-shirt is kind of like the Beatles joint. So I picked four. Some people were like, “There’s more than four females in the city!” And of course. But we liked the design so we went with it.

I was looking back at who I’ve been inspired by. I remember hearing Newsense for the first time. I remember being at The Regal when Da Brat was discovered, if you will, by Jermaine Dupri. It was a Kris Kross show. (Pause.) I’m so dating myself right now. But Kris Kross was at the Regal, and Jermaine Dupri was there. He was their DJ or whatever, and I wasn’t even thinking about rapping then, and he called and said, “Are any rappers in the audience?” Everybody started screaming, but Da Brat actually went up there and spit this incredible verse, and everybody was floored. Less than a year later she came out with Funkdafied.

Shawnna, I met her, we chopped it up briefly. I really love her flow. Her flow is badass and her voice is badass. Had to include her. And Teefa, I can’t not include Teefa. She still works real deep in the game. She’s on Power 92 doing her thing. I’ve done a couple shows with her, and she’s always been almost regal when it comes to this female rap shit in the Chi. That’s kind of why I picked them. I could have put Ang on there, I could have put Rita J on there, I could have put myself on there, even though I’m on the sleeve, feel me? {*laughs*} I had to sneak my name on there somewhere.

Jack M Silverstein: I figured as much.

{*laughs*} But you know, that’s why I picked those four. I can remember stories about them, and I look up to them. That’s why.

I’m really proud of the shirts. I designed them myself. I don’t consider myself any sort of a designer, graphic or fashion or otherwise. But I was proud to reach out to somebody who shows mad love to the Chi hip-hop scene, regardless of what people want to say about blogging and all that stuff. I think Andrew has done a lot for the Chi scene. So for us to be able to collaborate on something, it was just my pleasure to do. And hopefully I can spread a little of my own rap history around, because if you buy a shirt, people are going to look at it, and you might have to explain those people on the shirt. People need to know about Psychodrama, people need to know about Infamous Syndicate, not because women are involved, but because they opened a lot of doors and showed kids how to do this rapping thing, taking it from the talent in the streets and taking it to a more professional level – not necessarily to the top of the charts, because they’re relatively unknown on the grand scheme of things – but just to get on the grind and be respected even on a street-level for your lyricism and your pizzazz and your style and all that stuff. It was just my pleasure, you know? My pleasure.