Guide To Philadelpia: Chill Moody, Shawn Smith and Iman Take Us Through The Streets of Philly

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is arguably the most historical city in the entire United States. From the Liberty Bell, to City Hall, to all of the many “firsts” that happened here, this city is one that will always stand out from the rest. This also explains why the Philly rap scene is as unique as they come.

This month, the Swisher Sweets Artist Project made their way to Philly for stop number 3 on the 2018 Pack Night tour. It was a sold-out event and turned out to be one of the most exciting Pack Nights yet. The day before the festivities took place, emerging acts Chill Moody, Shawn Smith and Iman took the Swisher crew around Philly to show some of the must-see attractions.

The day started bright and early on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the crew made their 

way to the infamous Rocky statue and steps. This is the landmark where fictional boxer Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone in the classic Rocky movies) trained for his big fight and also did the iconic “double fist raise” as he made his way to the top of the stairs. Day in and day out, thousands frequent the Rocky steps for tourist purposes, or even to get a nice workout in. The 72-step hike may not seem too difficult to complete, however from first hand experience, it’s not as easy as it looks. According to VisitPhiladelphia.com, “visiting the statue, running up the steps and taking a picture at the top is a must on any first visit to Philly.” With that said, it’s safe to say Swisher Sweets got cultured real fast.

Following the Rocky Steps, the next stop on the journey was a trip to City Hall. Out front was a big, beautiful, open courtyard. During the winter time, they set up an ice rink right in the middle, and during the warm summer months, underground sprinklers are turned on and 

water sprays from the ground. Surrounding the building were a surplus of historical statues, and the actual building was a massive piece of artwork in itself. During the time at City Hall, Chill, Shawn and Iman kept reflecting on how impactful and important Philly is to the rest of the world. Being the music ambassador for Philadelphia, Chill Moody explained he was there presenting a speech just the day prior in “sweatpants”.

The third stop was none other than the Liberty Bell Center, of course home to the Liberty Bell.

This stop was a special one because it gave Chill, Shawn and Iman the opportunity to discuss prominent Philly figures that motivated and inspired them to chase their dreams. There was even a period of time where they each rapped different lyrics to songs from their favorite Philly rappers (Black Thought and Meek Mill, as expected).

 If you didn’t know, these guys love to rap. The positive energy was spewing and the nickname “city of brotherly love” was starting to make perfect sense. 

Of course, the day wasn’t complete until we visited an authentic Philly cheesesteak location. Now, there’s always debates about which Philly restaurant has the best cheesesteaks and little did we know, the “mainstream”, overly-advertised spots aren’t always the best ones. So, per Chill and Shawn’s suggestion, we made our way to a true diamond in the rough, Ishkabibbles, where everyone left beyond impressed. It went from heavy conversation, discussing upcoming music, festivals, label deals – to complete silence as soon as the food arrived. Cheesesteaks over everything.

It was a good day in America’s birthplace. If you haven’t been to Philadelphia, make sure to check those places and read the full interviews below!

Chill Moody

  1. What is the best part about Philly?
  • The people. The intangibles. The people in philly are real. Ive benefited from performing in front of crowds who will give you the real. Its because of that when you travel you have already performed in front of the toughest crowd. The Philly crowds don’t take any bullshit if it’s not up to the stuff they’ll let you know. They’re just real and honest people. I appreciate that.

2. Where are some of your favorite places to get a good bite, what should you order?

  • The food and beer scene. There’s so much of a variety. Of course people think about a cheesesteak. I go to Gem’s in West Philly. Tourists will go to Pat’s or Gino’s. Most people in the city won’t go there. They’ll go to their neighborhood spot. Cheesesteak with wiz and provolone, salt pepper ketchup and fried onions. I’ll also go to Silk City – it’s a dope spot that has really good food and has a really good live show or venue. It’s a diner and a venue with a party. You gotta get the Thai Chili wings. Our craft beer industry is growing which is one of the country. It is in 50 locations – bars, bottle shops, music venues, grocery stores. I’ll look at the calendar. Dock Street – where we made the beer at. It’s a brewery in West Philly. #1 spot to get it. If they have it – it sells out super quick.

3. What’s the hottest place to go out in Philly?

  • Date night you want to go out to Sprew Street Park. The fishtown area you can catch a good show at the Fillmore. Theres a big club called NoLo with bottle service, people on clubs – not really my scene but its packed all the time.

4. Do you have a preferred studio in the city?

  • Yeah I record with Benjamin Thomas who is a really dope young engineer. So i go wherever he is. He worked on Insecure, with Ty Dolla Sign, Bryson Tiller. He has a room in the studio on 7th which is connected to Milkboy, Studio Breed and Quest Love.

5. For artists like yourself, where do you recommend going to network?

  • Grammy events, our Grammy chapter throws a lot of events in the city. You just gotta be outside at different events. All of our scenes – music, tech, film and beer are all growing so fast. You don’t want to be just where the musicians are. The city is coming to grips with the fact that the city is better together. Most events are free and no gates or invites.

6. What are some places in you go to for inspiration when writing a song?

  • Just drive around the city. The architecture and street art is dope in the city. The murals are everywhere. There’s a Will Smith mural that’s in West Philly on the way to North Philly and that’s inspiration every time i drive by it.

7. How would you describe Philly style?

  • Its Authentic. Most people are just transparent – what you see is what you get.

8. How has Philly impacted your music style?

  • Its enabled me to be myself and be accepted to myself. Who are you? Everyone is telling the Philly story but from different vantage points. If you’re an artist thats true to yourself youll get a good view of philly. Its enabled me to fit right in with what im doing.

9. How would you compare Philly hip-hop to the other major markets (NY, ATL, Chicago, etc.)?

  • It has A-level talent and C-level industry. A lot of artists dive outside the city. Some guys from ATL or NYC or LA will come and sign the artist from the city. So a lot of the revenue is moved outside. Musically we are the most talented. There is always someone – JT’s music director, Jay-Z’s drummer, everyone is from the city.

10. Describe a typical “day in the life” for you. What activities are you going to do, what food are you going to eat, etc.

  • Dock Street, there’s an Ethiopian with open mic there. There’s not too many places you can go wrong. Mitchell & Ness for sure.

Shawn Smith

  1. What is the best part about Philly?
  • I would say… the culture. We have our own language and style. When I go to other places I don’t really get that same style and culture. We got the best comedians here too.

2. Where are some of your favorite places to get a good bite, what should you order?

  • Ishkabibbles its these really good chicken cheese steaks. Thats my spot right there. All the soulfood spots and stuff.

3. What’s the hottest place to go out in Philly?

  • I don’t really club but i do like Morgan’s Pier – its right by the water with an outside bar and restaurant.

4. Do you have a preferred studio in the city?

  • No because they’re always crowded. I got my own little personal space with my engineer Ben. It changes. No particular spot. Wherever the inspiration in.

5. For artists like yourself, where do you recommend going to network?

  • The best place to network are the events that the RC crowd puts on. Its the Philly industry with a lot of creatives who put on events. You find the most creative people who are hungry to work. You just gotta meet people and find out where the secret little events are.

6. What are some places in you go to for inspiration when writing a song?

  • The art museum. You can find some really cool things that can inspire you to write a good song. I saw these sculptures that were created to show you the shadow that were created to show you something different.

7. How would you describe Philly style?

  • We like to be like clean and fresh. As far as attitude – if you’re not from here we don’t know you. You have to be from here to get it.

8. How has Philly impacted your music style?

  • It actually made me listen to music outside of what im used to. They really like to listen to what they’re familiar with and that made me go outside that. My music never fit the Philly sound – so i think that opened up my mind bc i was around people that weren’t down to listen to other music. It made me be curious what music sounds like from other places.

9. How would you compare Philly hip-hop to the other major markets (NY, ATL, Chicago, etc.)?

  • In the beginning Philly had the best rapper but music changed so much – its not about just being able to spit a few bars – its not about that anymore. Philly really bred great artists. Now its really about making a nice song people can dance to, feel good about, make a nice hook. Right at this moment I feel like Philly doesn’t have its own sound but it can adapt.

10. For those who are visiting Philly, what are some hotspots tourists must check out?

  • The art museum, the Rocky Steps, there’s this market downtown with underground food places, south street.

11. Describe a typical “day in the life” for you. What activities are you going to do, what food are you going to eat, etc.

  • Wake up around 6AM, see my family, southwest Philadelphia. Maybe go get some shish kabobs, homies come over, then homies come over then I go to the studio for about 9 hours, just keep it family and music. There’s a lot of African culture around me.

Iman

  1. What is the best part about Philly?
  • The culture, the vibe and the energy. Also, the 76ers. Going to the games is awesome and they’re doing really good again.

2. Where are some of your favorite places to get a good bite, what should you order?

  • Big Pat’s Cheesesteak it looks like an old store on the corner. Definitely have to order a Philly original cheese wiz no onions!

3. What’s the hottest place to go out in Philly?

  • I don’t really like going out period but if i had to choose, I’d say South Street or Penn’s Landing.

4. Do you have a preferred studio in the city?

  • I usually don’t record in Philly, I record in NYC.

5. For artists like yourself, where do you recommend going to network?

  • Shows at Voltage Lounge.

6. What are some places in you go to for inspiration when writing a song?

  • I catch inspiration different times of the day and it can be literally be anywhere.

7. How would you describe Philly style?

  • Its real. You got all your hungry artists.

8. How has Philly impacted your music style?

  • Philly taught be hunger as well. You can hear it in my music.

9. Where do you go for fun?

  • King Prussia mall. I love shopping.

10. How would you compare Philly hip-hop to the other major markets (NY, ATL, Chicago, etc.)?

  • Philly music sounds hard and hungry, you can hear the pain in the music.

11. For those who are visiting Philly, what are some hotspots tourists must check out?

  • The Rocky Steps from the movie, the Liberty Bell, Big Pats.

12. Describe a typical “day in the life” for you. What activities are you going to do, what food are you going to eat, etc.

  • I wake up, go to the gym, drink a smoothie, call my manager, talk business and lock in the studio!
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2018-08-30T13:48:24+00:00

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