Back in 2007, Phiadelphia’s own Chic Raw originally surfaced on HipHopDx with the release of What You Expect from Me. Even though Chic had just begun a three-year term in a federal prison when we first caught sight of him, he never lost sight of the game. While doing time he filled several notebooks with his thoughts and lyrics, and just two months after his release from prison in March of this year he dropped another mixtape to bring his total project count to nine.

He’s sold drugs, been shot and been caught but now life for Chic is a little different. He claims the streets will always be part of who he is, but he also tells DXnext that his time in jail and the birth of his daughter brought about some change in his life. In addition to speaking about the time he did and the effects it had on him, Chic Raw also shares about his project with Don Cannon, why he selected 2Pac over President Obama and more.

Hello, My Name is: “Actually when I was born my great aunt who raised me gave me the name ‘Chico.’ The ‘Raw’ just came from bein’ on the streets, my lyrics, my delivery and the messages in my songs. I just put ‘em together, Chico and Raw … Chic Raw.”

From the Streets To…: “What brought me to the streets was like chasin’ money, tryin’ to make money and just the way that I used to look at other people that had things that I wanted. I got pretty deep into the streets; it started around my first year in high school. My aunt raised me and my brother but we both kinda went astray after we started gettin’ older and was able to have a little bit more freedom. At age 15, I started sellin’ drugs, my grades and everything fell and my aunt kicked me out of the house. I was goin’ from house-to-house staying here and there but I actually managed to get through school even though my grades and everything wasn’t really the best. After I finished school my aunt passed away and I really got more into the streets then. I was sellin’ more than just weed; I was sellin’ like hard, hard hardcore drugs like crack and things like that. I just was gettin’ involved in a lot of things in the streets, gettin’ involved with the guns and the beef and all types of stuff. It was to the point I actually got into altercation and I got shot in September ’05 over drug related beef and it was a retaliation on me.”

The Slammer: “I got locked up about three times; actually two times I beat the minor drug cases I had, but then later on down the line I got locked up on distribution of narcotics and they picked me up federally. In 2007 to March 2010 I went to jail.”

Daddy!: “A lot of things changed when I had a daughter, I had a chance to sit down and think. The jail thing was actually like a blessing. Jail really opened up my eyes to a lot things and it made me realize I had to slow down and that the things I was doin’ wasn’t really gonna get me nowhere but to an early grave or imprisonment for life. I mean, the streets is always gon’ be in me like I’m not fakin’ but I mean in my actions. I still got a street mentality but I’m tryin’ to stay smarter now. I pretty much fell back from the streets right now and I’m tryin’ to pursue this rap thing and take care of my daughter.”

Real Life Inspiration: “I write a lot of pain and I think that pretty much all of my lyrics are raw. I write for what I’ve been through and for people who are in a struggle as well as for myself. I get my ideas by just seein’ things around my city and things that I do and just puttin’ that to life through my lyrics. I really don’t get motivation from rappers that are out now and I really don’t listen to people to get inspiration. I could say I do listen to rappers that speak on real life situations that’s goin’ on like: Jadakiss, 2Pac and DMX.”

A Little Bit of History: “One project called What You Expect From Me got released while I was in jail. It was already finished but they put it out and made the cover for it. What You Expect From Me wasn’t my first project though; I got about nine CDs. My very first project was in 2003 which was Shots For The Streets and that was the most successful one on the streets of Philadelphia…well that and my second one which was Underground World. All of ‘em are mixtapes but Shots For The Streets Vol. 2 and What You Expect from Me were like street albums.”

Where’s the Album?:  “There’s plans for an album in the future of course but not right now.”

Hooked Up: “Yeah, Don Cannon was on No Mercy with me. Actually, Ace McClowd, one of my friends who lived up the street from the house I grew up in, he’s affiliated with Don Cannon together. What happened was that Ace was in charge of my project and he said, ‘I think it’ll be dope if you holla at Don Cannon to listen to this and let him hear it. I think he’ll want to help out with it.’ He sent it to him and Don did his vocals on there and did his touchin’ up on the CD and sent it back and it worked out pretty good.”

Current Contents: Rated Raw came out in May of this year. When I was in a halfway house doin’ time I just wrote, and when I was in jail I had a lot of raps that I wrote on notebooks that I brought home with me. One of the songs on Rated Raw was a song I wrote when I was in jail in the hole so it’s pretty deep you know ‘cause you got time to think in the hole. There’s a song I have called ‘Staring at the Walls’, actually there’s a video for that too, and that was one I wrote when I was in jail. ‘Staring At The Walls’ was really about the way I felt in my heart about my situation with my parents.”

2Pac Over Obama: “Right now I’m putting out another project. Dwayne McKenzie is behind my project so I’ll probably do my songs and send ‘em to him and the songs he selects to put out we gunna put out. I have a lot of songs that I recently did, like 30-somethin’ songs, so I guess about 12-16 songs will come out maybe later this month on a mixtape called The Relief. I feel like a track on there that a lot of people are gunna like is a track called The Relief just like the title. It was a song I had written in jail called ‘Say No More’ and I took the verses off that, put it to the beat and I came up with another hook. Everything went together perfectly and a friend of mine was like, ‘You should put [President Barack] Obama on the front.’ I was like, ‘Man fuck that!’ So I go to this [2Pac] shit; I typed ‘Pac’ on YouTube and got one of his interviews and I was like, ‘Ah shit that’s crazy!’ We took that shit and put it in the front of The Relief – probably about a six-second segment. I think that song right there is gunna be the best song on there.”

Video Link: “Right now I have a friend that I’m dealin’ with for videos. He’s not really that known but he takes the time out because he loves my music. We figured we can both help each other out as far as gettin’ on. His name is ‘Kyle with the camera.’”

Contact But No Contract…Yet:  “I mean I haven’t talked with too many labels but I’ve been in contact with [50 Cent] since I’ve been home and before I got incarcerated…ah but as far as labels I’m just puttin’ in work right and still grindin.’ I’m just independent right now.”

Check Out More: “There’s a whole lot of music videos of freestyles that I did on YouTube, just type ‘Chic Raw’ and everything will come up. I’m on Facebook and Twitter as Chic Raw too.”