Meet the most interesting Rapper, Radio Host, Fashion Designer, and Muralist all in one person. Pugs Atomz’s hip-hop roots run deep throughout Chicago and beyond. He has been leading a college radio show for 17+ years and he’s traveled throughout the world performing. Plus, he rab a TV show called the Barbershop Hip Hop that pushed the national and local music scenes.
Ever the businessman, Pugs has his own brand Usuwe and is the Creative Director and one of the designers of Iridum Clothing Co. With clothing store locations in Chicago’s Block37, Bucktown, and Atlanta. Helping startups like Onli Packs, because he felt there was a market for art on book bags. Through his clothing line USUWE, he’s presently working on future designs for women’s sneakers. Fever Magazine’s writer, Cornelus Postell, recently sat down with Pugs Atomz for an exclusive interview.
– – –
Although you were born in Pittsburgh, your family moved. What was it like growing up in Chicago?
We initially moved here…like my dad came here to do radio on WVON. He wasn’t into how music was changing because he was more into Jazz and Soul because he felt like the music was going more “poppy.”
My mother was the Artistic Director of an arts center in Englewood. It just gave me a space. As an artist and rapper, you try to figure out where will I perform. That space let me throw on my first show. Plus, it gave me a place where I can meet other key artists.
You developed a movement called Nacrobats in the 90’s. Tell us how that got started.
Initially, I was a graffiti writer, that was what I was focused on. I had attempted to start a couple of graffiti crews before. As well, I was looking Zulu, Chirock Nation and watching movies such as Beat Street and Style Wars.
I was trying to join a local crew, and met the leader. He was like, “You should just start your own thing. You don’t need us.” I was like, “I’m trying to roll with yall. I’ve been waiting for my whole high school time.” Probably the best suggestion he could give me. After that, the gears started to roll.
The Nacrobats crew was made up of 200 kids from the suburbs and the city we put out 5 albums, toured, throu events and battle any and all rappers we came across, Mike Eagle, Hebru Brantley, and Psalm One are a few Alums.
You co-host a radio show. Tell me how it got started?
The college radio show at that time was hosted by this guy Natural. He had a partner, but they were also helping this group out of Chicago (Typical Cats). I used to always be up there to battle rap or freestyle on-air. I was also working record promotions. They asked me if I was interested in taking over their show.
At the same time, my friend Thaione and K Max were being offered the same spot by veteran Chicago DJ J.P. Chill. We all found out we were each other’s competition for the show, and was like we should do it together just to make sure we get the show because we figured there could be even more people competing.
You presently have a new single called “Sweat” off the anticipated Highly Irregular (HI) project. Tell us more about this album?
I was moving back to Chicago from London and started getting back to making my own solo records. I just wanted to take my time and make songs that people can remember me by.
As Mulatto Patriot was playing me beats, he played the beat for Sweat. It struck me because my parents used to play Nina Simone to me and go through the lyrics with me. I just made me reminisce when I heard it.
Tell us more about the clothing line called Iridium Clothing Co. and how it got started?
Iridium is a life Style brand designed by me, Platinum, and Geli. Platinum started the brand 9 years ago with two t-shirts and varsity jackets.
It wasn’t until I moved to London that I started meeting people from the industry. I came across this brand called Iridium one time on Facebook. Every time I wore some of the gear, people would ask me where did I get it. It made me really start taking it seriously then.
– – –
Pugs’ advice for people starting a new venture is, “Try to work with people who mutually share a love for the thing you want to do together. Respect one another enough to be honest about the thing that you are doing. But first, write your ideas down and then follow through. Don’t make it feel like it’s work.”
Pugs Atomz can be contacted on most social networks at Pugsatomz. He gave this to share, “Be on the lookout for my new website www.highlyirregular.life. It’s going to be the best place to get to know my art more. Plus, you can catch up on future events and plans.” Tune in to listen to his CTA Radio show airing Wednesday nights between 9pm-12am CST on whpk.org.