In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, the KC artist names the three Midwest rappers who influenced him the most. "Of course, you got Tech N9ne," says Irv Da Phenom, who has toured with Tech N9ne and appeared with Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko on the song "Hunterish" from Tech N9ne's 2009 album, K.O.D. "Shout out to the big homie. If I could say somebody gave me a shot, it’s that man, so I’m forever grateful for that. I used to listen to the radio hard every day and when his song ["It's Alive"] would come on the radio, I would tape it. I’d put it on my computer and play it back in slow motion so I could learn the words. I remembered that shit, and I was like, 'I’m going to learn that.' That’s how I learned choppin'."
Irv Da Phenom names another Missouri rapper on his short list. Like Tech N9ne, this artist made noise independently. "There’s another rapper in Kansas City that goes by Rich The Factor," Irv Da Phenom says. "He’s a massive, independent, just gritter. And he represents the hustle, which I learned a lot of that being in streets, hand-to-hand, going state to state, selling CDs out my trunk. Really, I got that hustle from him, really just motivation."
To round out his list, Irv Da Phenom takes it about 500 miles Northeast to Chicago. "A third one from the Midwest, it would definitely be Twista," he says. "You know the whole Speedknot Mobstaz, Do Or Die, all that, they’re just amazing with how he put words together and would have actual crazy content in all the fast rap, too."
Irv Da Phenom says that Tech N9ne, Rich The Factor and Twista instilled a sense of pride in him, given that they were from his region. "When I first heard Twista for the first time, Tech N9ne or Rich The Factor, the feeling I got was like, 'Man this represents me. This represents what I see, what I’m living everyday, and they’re doing it in a respectable way and it’s tight,'" Irv says. "I just want to be able to that for the people who are back home right now or in a similar spot wherever you are in the world. Just let you be able to relate to it, but at the same time, have a product that is so good, or sounds so dope that you want other people to hear it, and you're proud, like, 'Yo, check out this. This is where I’m from. This guy represents what I talk about.'"
Irv Da Phenom says he wants people to feel that way about his new album, Los Kangeles, which includes the single "Shine."
Irv Da Phenom says he's also particularly proud of the Los Kangeles song "Diamond Stuffed Pillow." "The concept of a diamond stuffed pillow is kind of close to me," he says. "If you were to imagine sleeping on diamonds, how fucking uncomfortable that would be, even if you tired to force yourself to sleep on it, you would be like, 'Yo, this shit hurts.' So, I feel like it represents for a lot of people, for the underdogs. Motherfuckers know you’re talented, or know you got the grind, and go out the way to sleep on something. If you were to get in a pillow fight with other pillows, this is where the competitive aspect comes out. If you were using the pillow stuffed full of diamonds, you would kill the shit out of everybody. So I think a lot of people can relate to that song because it’s just for motivation to do some shit so dope they can't ignore you, so you have to be paid attention to. That’s the concept behind that. It’s more than being slept on, just being hard as diamonds and unable to be slept on."