Chicago’s Ariose Rapper To Know Is HotBlock Jmoe

HotBlock Jmoe builds explosive music that’s reminiscent of melodic internet-age rap traditions which have come to claim the attention of American culture before and will again. Jmoe is from Sibley Boulevard. It’s a notorious street near Chicago’s South Side, and its headlines and happenings are too often of tragedy.

A woman escapes a man she met on an app who attempted to kidnap her at knife point. A shooting closes down the street for the night as police investigate. Authorities are searching for suspects in a violent robbery. State police killed a person at 1am. A man holds up a detective at gunpoint as he enters the White Castle parking lot. It goes on and on.

There’s nothing that can erase the damages and hurt of a place like Sibley Boulevard. Things heal either in time or with time. Sans major political progressive reform, Sibley Boulevard looks to face the latter. Music is the flower that grows through the cracks on the sidewalk. It is the human heart reaching out after an eternity of silence to say, “can we talk?” HotBlock Jmoe will go down as a person who fought back against circumstance. He will go down as a humble artist who turned pain into poetry, and low places into personal greatness. Last Christmas, he reportedly gave away $25,000 dollars in toys to Chicago’s children.

The underground of rap is undefined. Popularity is a sliding scale whose hottest churn apart from quality and whose coldest brace their souls for a light that may never come. HotBlock, fortunately, has the support of some of the most followed artists in modern music including G Herbo and Yung Bleu. In the studio, HotBlock and Herbo smoked cannabis wrapped in cigarillos, one after another, and discussed the women of rap. Bags of herb – the size a cotton candy vendor would deal their cotton candy from – floated through the studio with friends Hennessy and Clase Azul Reposado Tequila. Some drank from plastic water bottles. Others drank from cups. Some drank straight from the bottle. The posse was wide, and the music was loud enough to split your ears in four.

HotBlock touched down with Forbes to discuss community, creation, and conclusions.

Forbes: How does spirituality affect your music?

Jmoe: To be honest, God affects you in every way. I ain’t no super religious person, but I grew up in the church. So, I know that God is my main source of everything. I acknowledge him in everything I do. I know without him, none of this would be possible. Got to repent. Got to thank him.

Prayer is really just talking to God like we’re talking right now. I’m supposed to do it often, but you know, I’m human. It makes me more so often thankful, grateful for what I got in front of me.

I was in a choir, stuff like that. But as I got older, I kind of strayed away from it. But then, one of my homies passed. We always used to talk about rapping and stuff, but he pushed me to really do it and pursue it 100 percent. It put a battery in my pack. I know you got to go hard, kind of for him and kind of for myself too. I loved music, always loved music.

That was something that made me take it more seriously. It made me realize life’s short. You ain’t really got as much time as you think.

Forbes: Did your grief create music?

Jmoe: Yeah, that played a part. That’s how I make my music, off my feelings, off of my emotions, because I don’t really know how to show them. It’s art. And music is my way out.

Forbes: What are your parents like?

Jmoe: My dad passed away. My mom worked, and she actually works with my cousin. She owns a waxing in studio. It’s a family business. It’s raw. She has all my family members as employees.

Forbes: What have you learned as a parent?

Jmoe: My son inspires me. He’s like me and his mom combined. That’s what fascinated me so much, because it’s like you can really see two people in one. Some people will be saying it’s hard. It’s going to be challenging, all that. I don’t know. My son five. We still got a long way to go.

I feel like this the easiest part. The hardest part gets when they like nine and over and sh** like when they start having complex emotions and life, when they get to experience more. That’s when they should start to get where they are going to go. When they this age, you can shield them from a lot. When they reach a certain age, that changes.

Forbes: What’s a lesson you’ve received from music?

Jmoe: Never give up. That’s the main angle, the main key to consistency. Most people be right there, literally. And then they just give up. They put in hella work hella time. And they all of a sudden quit. Sh** you went this far.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity

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