Fury: Revolution

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Photo courtesy of Samantha Callender

Chicago emcee Fury has had an eventful 2022. At the beginning of the year Fury was awarded a grant by Chicago Community Works worth $1.5 million dollars. The grant is being used to upgrade Columbus Park on the city’s west side. In the fall of 2022, Fury released an EP detailing the changes in her life called “Fury Revolution.”

Fury Revolution is a six-track EP produced entirely by Brandon McGhee. The soulful project features appearances by Mic Logik and Mariana Franco.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke with Fury about why she believes fear makes you useless, what she’s doing to improve Chicago’s west side, and her new EP, Fury Revolution.

TRHH: Why’d you call the new EP Fury Revolution?

Fury: Definitely it came from a place where I was trying to get to know me — who I was as an artist. I started writing it in 2020 when the shutdown happened. My keyboard player actually produces as well and he’s like, “Here’s some beats I’ve been working on. Looks like we’ve got time on our hands now!” So, a lot of the beats were very introspective, great riding music just to ride around to and that’s kind of what I did. I mean, traffic wasn’t bad so all I had was time and instrumentals. It was just a recurring theme — so much has happened many times, I’m 34 now and I just seen patterns.

More stuff is starting to stick out to me and so Revolution is just something like, “this time around.” Kind of like a game — the more you play it you look out for all the booby traps and you know what’s coming around certain corners. So, that’s what it’s basically about, me connecting with who I am as an artist, even outside of performing. Because when you can’t perform who are you after all of that? So, to me Fury is more than a girl who can rap. She’s a mother, a lover, a friend, a protector, a fighter in general. So, it really was getting to know who I was, and that’s why I chose Fury Revolution.

TRHH: You mentioned your keyboard player; Brandon McGhee is a part of your band and produced the entire EP. What was it about Brandon’s music that fit what you were trying to do at this point in your life?

Fury: Brandon, we’ve played together since 2016 and anything he’s been a part of he always adds this kind of mystical element. I know in one of our chats we call them “spooky sounds” because with a synth player some of the scariest noises will come out of that. I’ve had experience on my last project “Black Magic” where my band mates helped put that together. A lot of what he was contributing was that ambient, kind of creepy, make the hairs on your neck stand up sound. So, for this project a lot of the beats had kind of like an old school 90s Hip-Hop vibe, so it was kind of totally different from Black Magic which is more spooky – mystical.

Like I said, it was just kind of riding around, introspective, good music to think to. Which is definitely what I needed at the time. But he does all kind of music. He’s very smart, very cool, calm, and I really just love how his beats are just super-layered. When I got the track outs for some of these there are just like seven or eight, some beats maybe have 4-5, or some have 7-8 layers and just the sounds you never think of. I’ve always been fascinated with producers like, how do you think of that? My Fruity Loops days I could get the main beat, but it was always left kind of sounding empty. So, I really appreciate producers for them bringing that layered sound to any beats they could do.

TRHH: On the single “Revolution” you say you were hiding from yourself. How were you able to get to the point where you evolved into the person that you are now?

Fury: Definitely time. Time will kind of wear you down. Whatever façade you’re putting on the flow of time will erode all of that. I think as a Chicago artist we do have a mask on. We’re just trying to be tough and just show we’re the best, we’re the hardest, and we’re the dopest, and all these things. A part of me was just like, “Well, I’m not that always.” I’m not always super-amped up and just ready to fight and rap and all that. So, I definitely think I have evolved and just stopped letting my ego win so many battles. I’m a lot calmer. I’m more quick to find solutions than to just show I could fight. Like I said, I’m getting older, I’m hoping it’s wisdom coming into play, too. Relationships are important and the people you wanna surround yourself with, they are just as important as who you are when you wake up. That’s another part of revolution, just seeing who is in your circle and who’s working with you toward that common goal that you want to achieve.

TRHH: On the song “Fear” you say “fear makes you useless” and it’s such a true statement. How different would our community be if fear didn’t creep into people’s minds?

Fury: I think it’d be more fruitful. Fear is just like a killer of curiosity and ingenuity. I live on the west side, I’m from the west side, but I also grew up in the suburbs to go to school. So, I got firsthand the tale of two cities. What I would see out west and then what I would see in the suburbs it was just so different. But when you’re in a place where there is poverty and is underserved that is going to give you this hard exterior. Fear has convinced us we need that. That’s the only way we survive this long, when really, it’s really trapped you here, made you angry, and you don’t want to learn anything else. You feel like, “I know enough of what I need to know to get me through this 24 hours and the next day and the next day,” and really you’re not even seeing tomorrow.

You’re just here and now you’re mad because there’s really nothing beyond that, and I’ve lived in that frustration, too. Because you want more you’ve just got this whole “you try hard, you die hard” mentality and that’s fear, too. You don’t wanna fail, you don’t wanna be ridiculed, or mocked. That’s a lot of what I fear as an artist as well, but it’s kept me from challenging myself. It’s kind of kept me in my comfort zone where I know, “Oh yeah, they’re going to love you here,” and I got tired of that. So, it’s like me pushing myself. Nobody else is going to push you like you can. Nobody else is going to call you on your BS like you can and only you know how. So, a part of that is me trying to face my own fears, which music has helped me do just from writing songs like that.

TRHH: I feel like for so long I didn’t live life, I just existed. I think so many other people do that. How do you think we can get young people to start living life? Because I think this contributes to crime as well. Life is not worth living for a lot of people or what they think life is, is so small that things become reckless. But I believe that if people lived life it would be so much fuller.

Fury: Well, that is difficult because you say kids but I know adults who are not living life. Kids only know what they’ve been shown. They only know what is in their vision. We expect them to dig any deeper than we did and it’s like, we’re so limited you know in these experiences. If you are in a family where y’all going camping, and hiking, and travel, you have more of a chance letting them know, “this is life.” But if you are just on the same block, the same street, the same crime, the same alarms just ringing constantly, these kids are trying to survive. We always say that they have more, but who’s to say that? They have more electronics, they have more technology, that does not mean they have more community. I hear that all the time.

Like I said, I’m 34, so technology and all that stuff was coming out as I was growing up. I got to grow up and see it and grow with it. Stuff that you would think would make us stronger as a community has not. It’s isolating us. It is getting us really in our own head to where we just are assuming, “People are saying this about me,” “they’re thinking this,” “they’re thinking that,” and we are our own worst enemy at this point. I just wish I had some super-positive uplifting thing to say, but the reality is you have to control your experience with people. You have to make your life worth living. There is nothing you can really say or tell anyone to convince them of anything else, especially if you aren’t impacting them financially. They need work, they need programs, they need money. We can’t just say, “Hey, go live life and enjoy every moment,” if you are hungry, if you are starving, if it’s trash, if it’s just dirty. I mean, you can’t just keep barking me positive words.

You know, I’m against toxic positivity more and more the older I get, because a lot of people are just saying “stay positive” and “pray a lot of things away” when in all reality this is going to take funding, programming, therapy. All this costs money, so if we’re not at a point where we can invest in these things that we know we need, then it’s just words. That is really what I’ve been looking to do is trying to find resources, so I could let somebody know, “Hey this is available.” Especially on the west side; there’s a lot of free therapy there’s a lot of just free, free, free, that people don’t even know about because there’s no real marketing. People are just really disconnected from everything. So, that would be the first thing is to see how we can get these resources to the people who actually need them.

TRHH: You are responsible for helping to improve the west side of Chicago by receiving a grant worth $1.5 million dollars. How did that all happen and what improvements have been made so far?

Fury: That was from the Chicago Works Community Grant and this is something that came from being stuck at home during the pandemic. I just had nothing but time. I watched the news and then it became available and open. The first thing I did was reach out to the community people I had started talking to and I didn’t really get a lot of responses back. They were just like, “Who is you?” [Laughs] I mean, that happens a lot out here. They’re just like, “Who are you? What are you gonna do?” But I had just one woman who was like, “Ooh, Fury, do Columbus Park! Somewhere in Columbus Park!” That just gave me a direction to look in and I’m like, “Okay.” I started researching the park, I live not far from it but I hadn’t really been to Columbus like that. So, I really was just like, “Hey, it would be great to have a performance area. I’m a rapper, I’m tired of always going to the north side and everywhere else. I would like a performance area.”

It ended up winning out of about 300 submissions for ideas. Mine won the west region for the grant. They’ve already done the basketball courts and I think they’re just so backed up on like 2020 stuff, but next year they’ll be starting the performance area which is in a big field, but we’ll have a stage with outlets and things so we can plug in speakers. Just an easier way for us to have shows and pop ups and things like that. They’re going to redo the tennis court and add pickleball which is like this phenomenon in middle-aged people. It’s called pickleball — it’s like a smaller version of tennis with a whiffle ball. So, they’re going to add pickleball to the tennis courts. A lot of that is going to be done next year, but there’s going to be murals up.

You would be amazed — you hear 1.5 million and think, “Oh, we got money!” and then you hear inflation and then it’s like, “Oh, we got a little bit.” [Laughs] But we’re going to definitely make some changes, but what was important for me was to have a space for artists, because that’s what helped me get back into music is my open mic that I have Wednesday nights. So, it’s really important for me to bring all the artists that I’ve met and bring them to the west side. People have questions, suspicions, but they don’t know, they just know what they hear. So, if I can convince the people to come out here, check out our beautiful historic parks, beautiful landscape, beautiful architecture, it’ll get people more excited and involved in the west side and hopefully they can lead to more resources.

TRHH: On the song “Through Today” you have a line where you say, “I’m sick of being positive.” What do you do when negativity overtakes you and you feel overwhelmed by life?

Fury: Rest, rest. I will cancel something and just take a break and that’s something I had to learn in my later years, that it’s okay to stop, it’s okay to rest, and take a step back. It is not conceding, it is just knowing I only have a certain amount of energy and I might need just a little bit just to get through today. That is definitely a song where I’m like, “You don’t have to be super-positive, strong, super woman.” Because there’s a lot of times, especially as an independent artist, oh my God, that you just don’t know if what you’re doing is gonna land anywhere or going anywhere.

Sometimes you really just need enough energy to get through today. Sometimes it helps when I lay down or take a nap or just come back tomorrow refreshed and stop putting extra stuff on myself. And just because I’m not being super-positive it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m being super-negative. It’s not even negativity, it’s like reality. And you have to let reality be real, let it do its thing, and just come back fresher and ready to fight another day. Every day can’t be the championship.

TRHH: What do you hope people take away from Fury Revolution?

Fury: Well, I hope they say, “Damn she’s dope! She can rap!” [Laughs] You know that’s always like first and foremost. I’m super-lyrical. I’ve always been a super-lyrical writer and just a great songwriter in general. My songs are catchy. They’re not always super positive, they’re kind of like ominous at times. Sometimes they’re just getting you ready for whatever’s coming. We always know there’s a storm brewing somewhere and it’s good to have music to kind of prepare you for that or whatever trials, tribulations you’re going through. And I want them to find a piece of themselves in Fury. Back in 2020 when I started writing I changed the letters in my name to stand for “Finally Understanding the Real You” and that is what I want them to get out of this project and anything that I do is to find a piece of yourself in Fury.

There is some Fury in everybody. We all have something that is just a fire inside of us that can either destroy us or fuel us to do great things. That is the struggle and the only way you’re going to find out is asking yourself, who am I? That’s what I want people to do more, and talk to themselves more, check in with your body, check in with your breathing, Are my jaws clenched, are my shoulders tight, do I need to you know re-calibrate? That is what Fury had done for me in my life and that’s what I want the music to do for other people, is just to make sure you’re okay, because you can’t help anyone else unless you’re straight. So, that’s definitely something I want them to take away, and just to see a piece of themselves in it. I feel like music is the best when we connect with it.

Purchase: Fury – Fury Revolution

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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