Pugs Atomz
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Pugs Atomz

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
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"Q&A: Pugs Atomz"

On any given day in Chicago, there’s a good chance you’ll run into Renaissance man Pugslee Atomz (a.k.a. Pugs Atomz or just Pugs). This MC, apparel designer, visual artist and radio host can potentially be found in nearly every corner of the city because of his varied interests and his ongoing desire to connect with the entire Chicago hip-hop community.

His local collaborations since emerging in the mid-90s include work with the Molemen, Psalm One, Robust, and many others. Having also helped lead the stylistically and racially diverse Nacrobats collective (Cosmo Galactus, Offwhyte, Kenny Keys, etc.) in the late-90s, he’s no doubt qualified to weigh in on the state and history of Chicago hip-hop—something he gladly did when I sat down with him this month. Pugs’ long history of being the co-host of the University of Chicago's "CTA Radio" show with Thaione Davis doesn’t hurt his expertise of the city’s talent either.

Despite releasing several albums this decade, his first release that drew nationwide attention was the 2006 compilation Pugs Atomz presents CTA Radio: Chi City Hip Hop. This Raptivism project featured a respectable range of talent, from Lupe Fiasco to Molemen MC Vakill. As an extension of "CTA Radio," which broadcasts every Wednesday from 9 p.m. to midnight on WHPK-FM 88.5, it was a testament to Pugs’ willingness to document his city’s rap scene. Last fall, he released the soulful LP Conversations with a Chamelion on Gravel Records, and in March he posted a second volume of CTA Radio as a free download on his MySpace page, www.myspace.com/pugsleeatomz.

As a solo artist, Pugs mostly prefers a more traditional sample-based sound complimented with a mix of blunt battle raps, everyman introspection and community-minded anthems. While he isn’t known to get ultra progressive, his classic sound has made a fan out of DJ Vadim: Pugs and his DJ, Intel, opened for the Russian-born DJ/producer on his North American tour last fall. Given that recent boost in exposure, Pugs is eager to release his next album Stormy this summer with Chicago producer Rashid Hadee on Enohes Music; and finish a forthcoming album with Vadim. But upcoming projects are only a small part of my discussion with this multi-talent.
Plug One: Can you talk about the mid-to-late 90s and the significance of that time for Chicago hip-hop?

Pugs Atomz: It was just a real free time. I wasn’t the oldest, there might have been a couple of people that were maybe two, three, four years older than me, so everybody was predominantly within that about to graduate high school to about to start real life [age bracket]. So that’s the growing time. It was just like a free for all. And the way that I ran [Nacrobats] was just, “You are who you are and we accept you as that.” It was real loose. It was kinda like, you could be on whatever you were on, and it was acceptable.

Plug One: How much were you guys thinking about recording back then, ‘cause I know you guys were real low budget. Kenny Keys told me you guys were just using a four track.

Pugs Atomz: It depends ‘cause that’s the other thing too—since we were such a large crew, it was different studio setups. So, like, the people with me recorded at the Art Institute; that’s a better setup. But if you went to Kenny [Keys], Kenny makes beats so you’ll probably get a better beat out of his session. And then if you recorded in his bathroom, you got a pretty good sound.

I remember Kanye was singing a joint that Cosmo and Rift did called “Century 21.” He was like, “Yeah my girl loves that song.” And it’s funny ‘cause it was a horrible recording -- a horrible, horrible sound. It was just looped, a beat track that we recorded in the suburbs with this guy Yoda Catalist. He had a four track.

But at the same time we would go to this place called Fast Trax to record and Twista was the first rapper to ever record there. They had tape on the wall, a little plaque or whatever, but it was real random, trying to figure the best way to go about it. Then when we found the home studio situation, it just made it so much simpler because people could hang out and kind of kick more so than just like, “We gotta rush in here, we have four hours of studio time, it costs this much money -- we need to knock this out.” It wasn’t so stressful.

Plug One: So it was more natural?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah -- that’s how everything went. Like with the parties, it was the same kind of thing.

Plug One: You know at that time Def Jux was coming up, Fondle ‘Em -- all those big NYC indie labels. Were you guys paying attention to that or were you not worried about it?

Pugs Atomz: I really didn’t pay attention to that until I started doing marketing. And that’s when I was like, “wow, this is happening.” Before, we kinda lived in a bubble where it was just really about us. I traded tapes with everyone from Slug to Sage Francis and thought nothing of it. I was like, “Oh that’s Sage Francis. Ayo, you wanna trade tapes?” That’s the only way I’m probably gonna get your music. We were so much into what we were doing that we didn’t even really notice. We were fans of a lot of other people’s music ‘cause we listened to everything religiously. But we didn’t pay attention to the real moves people were making. I didn’t notice Def Jux until I got a box of Def Jux stuff and was like, “this is what’s paying my bills right now. It’s crazy.”

Plug One: You were one of the few people that broke out of that bubble and kept going. What else aside from doing marketing would you accredit that too?

Pugs Atomz: I was at a point where I wanted to do other things with hip-hop and there was no one that was willing to help me with it, so I was like, “Alright, I’m gonna create something.” And it’s always just that. It’s, like, “This isn’t gonna work, I gotta figure out another way.” So this is my other way. I’m just very self reliant and my parents were always just like, “if that’s what you wanna do then you need to make moves to do that. If that’s not what you wanna do, then don’t do that.” Everything was always thought of in that manner and a lot of people always asked me questions like I knew it so I was like, “You might as well know it.”

Plug One: And then you got linked up with some other labels such as Raptivism.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, ‘cause they were managing me for a like a year-and-a-half just to help me get more focused and figure out what I wanted to do.

Plug One: And then came the Kanye West wave. Some people thought it would make more of an impact. Some people thought it wouldn’t matter. How did you think about the whole thing?

Pugs Atomz: I think it was for him. I thought it was great. For everybody else, I thought people would be more accepting to hear what we do but I didn’t think, “Ah man, all these labels are gonna come here.” That year he got signed and it went down, the newspaper did a little article about the next ten artists to blow in Chicago and they put [Nacrobots] in there, Iomos [Marad], and a few other artists and I was like, “That’s cool, but you guys aren’t the label.” It’s a whole different thing. I know so many people with record deals that never came out so that’s not really the answer either. It’s that drive, it’s that push and then just getting the right people behind you to help you do it. I just thought it was good that he did it, and ‘Fest got a chance to get it and then Lupe [Fiasco] came a little bit later, but I never really [thought that meant] everybody else is gonna be on.

Plug One: What do you think about the new wave of that fame with the Cool Kids and Kid Sister? That’s still going strong right now.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah. Every other city I’ve been to, that’s one question any interviewer is going to ask you if you’re from Chicago.

Plug One: Do you get annoyed by it at this point?

Pugs Atomz: Nah, man. It’s Chicago. I’m happy if someone wants to talk to me. If that’s one of the questions, then that’s one of the questions. I hope if another artist was like, “Yo, do you know Pugs? How do you feel about him?” they’ll be willing to give you their three cents or whatever.

Plug One: Some people from Chicago don’t tour that much and I think that’s part of the problem now.

Pugs Atomz: People don’t know ‘em so they don’t get the experience.

Plug One: How much do you think your last nationwide tour helped you?

Pugs Atomz: It pushed me like another 50 percent to where I need to be. It definitely showed me just how many more people I could possibly get if I stay on this track of just constantly moving and traveling and getting the music out.

Plug One: What kind of conversations did you have with Abstract Rude and Vadim about hip-hop -- about music in general?

Pugs Atomz: Ah man, everything. Everything from the current events to the current state of the music to what beats are dope to stuff that I’m doing right to stuff they’re doing right. Everything, man. They were part of crew, which was kinda cool. It was a real family vibe with everybody.

Plug One: Did they say no matter where you are -- Vadim’s in New York now and Ab Rude’s in L.A. -- independent artists tend to go through the same things?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, it’s all around the same. I mean, Vadim, he’s seen a lot more just because he’s a pretty big DJ; and Abstract Rude, he’s pretty big out West. It’s similar but slightly different in stature. But it’s all the same.

Plug One: What was it like for you when you came back from tour, coming back to Chicago?

Pugs Atomz: It felt good ‘cause I missed it, trying to catch up on what’s been goin’ on. Like anything else, if you miss a couple days, all types of stuff changes. Some people pop up, other people fall off -- that kind of thing. I was a little bit like, “Man, I wanna get right back on the road.” But at the same time, I hadn’t seen my girl, I hadn’t seen my family. So I can get that time back in. And then also to sit down and record ‘cause I did a little recording while we were out. I didn’t get a chance to do my stuff ‘cause I was doing songs for other people. To a point that’s limiting ‘cause you’re trying to go with what their vision is.

Plug One: Did you start working with Rashid [Hadee] when you came back or was that before?

Pugs Atomz: Nah, me and him have been working on this record for about two years.

Plug One: And that’s due out this summer?

Pugs Atomz: Hopefully. Hopefully. That’s the plan. I mean right now it’s just seeing what would be the best way to put it out.

Plug One: And what about the record with Vadim?

Pugs Atomz: Vadim is a slower round on that one ‘cause we only have probably about six songs.

Plug One: Are you guys just e-mailing tracks back-and-forth?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah.

Plug One: One thing I also wanted to talk to you about is the whole “haterville” thing ‘cause you made the song “Haterville” with Longshot. How do you feel about the perception that people [in Chicago] can’t really support each other outside their own crews?

Pugs Atomz: I think that’s everywhere. I think that’s business. There’s Starbucks and then there’s Caribou Coffee down the street -- they’re not gonna be like, “We ran out of coffee, here you go, we have some extra for you.” It’s a thing of competitiveness. Sometimes I see it as real unnecessary.

To me, the scene is such a small scale that at the end of the day to be vengeful about stuff really doesn’t matter. If you have a more united front you can get so much accomplished. And also, that stops other people from detracting what’s going on here. If one guy says, “These guys suck,” and they’re from Chicago, [then] somebody in New York sees that and they’re like, “Yeah, you guys suck.” They’re rolling with it. It’s not really helping our situation.

Plug One: What do you think can be done to help it?

Pugs Atomz: I don’t know man, I don’t know. That’s such a hard question ‘cause that’s really a personal thing and people rising above themselves and seeing the bigger picture.

Plug One: You seem like the type of dude who hasn’t been worried about that -- the segregation and the different sides of the city. You’ll work with anyone.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah -- that’s how it’s supposed to be, though. From my start in hip-hop, that’s what I was on. Some people deterred me from that in the beginning ‘cause they were like, “Nah, we don’t’ wanna work with you” -- that kind of thing -- when I was younger. But I still carry that on. Like with the Nacrobats thing, anybody that got down was somebody I met and I was like, “Man, I like what you do, come on with us.” And the others in [Nacrobats] might not have even liked the dude or the girl before and they had beef with ‘em, but when they came it was like, “We gotta be cool.”

That’s what’s funny looking back at that whole crew: the majority of those people weren’t even cool with each other and then because of the crew they became cool. Otherwise they would have never ever done songs with each other -- they wouldn’t have even have talked to each other. To me, it’s not necessarily about a peace thing, but we all are here and we need to figure out how to get it and the more of us together, the easier it becomes.

Plug One: But what about the mentality that in order to be successful you gotta leave here?

Pugs Atomz: I’m sure if I had left Chicago a while ago I probably would have been in a different place. But at the same time, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had some of the same experiences within it. That’s a tough one. I mean I was just talking to Naledge [from Kidz in the Hall] and he was like, “Man, I haven’t been to Chicago in a while.” But he can’t really come to Chicago because all his business is in New York right now.

Plug One: But does it help being in the middle of everything -- if not the industry, then in the middle of the whole country?

Pugs Atomz: I guess. I mean being in Chicago I’ve met every artist I really wanted to meet. There’s only maybe one or two that I haven’t met to somehow talk to or just vibe off of. I think it’s all about what you do, too. If you look at the Cool Kids, they weren’t really traveling -- it was all from out of Chicago. To a point, they still live here. They’re on the road heavy gettin’ it in, but I still believe that somebody can do it from the city. They just have to travel a lot.

Plug One: You’re already thinking about the road again?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, man. That’s all I really think about -- that’s all I really do: my art and my rapping. There’s nothing else really to think about but those two things.

- PlugOne.com


"the city's hardest working MCs i"


Pugslee Atomz
One of the city's hardest working MCs is finally starting to see his efforts pay off.
Wednesday Aug 30, 2006 by Ben Rubenstein

Pugslee Atomz is sort of like the Chase ATM of Chicago hip-hop. If you don't see him around the city, you're probably not looking hard enough. Whether performing or promoting, the dreadlocked MC has been a constant on the scene for years now and through his many projects has succeeded in furthering the movement he desires here. Understandably, it's a tiring jobbut Pugslee's never been afraid of a little hard work.

"If this is what you wanna do, this is what you wanna do," says the South Side native. "I think some people don't understand what working hard means. Every day, you gotta put forth that effort. Some positive motion has to happen, otherwise you just got little sparks happening, but no fire."

Of all the artists feeding the flames of hip-hop in this city, Pugslee seems to have the most fuel. A member of the venerable Nacrobats crew, he plays a role in everything from local DJ battles to the hip-hop TV show "Barbershop Hip-Hop" and the University of Hip-Hop, a South Side institution where he teaches a group of teenagers about rapping and the culture that surrounds it. But perhaps his most important contribution is the radio show he hosts every week along with fellow MC Thai One and JP Chill on 88.5 WHPK, the University of Chicago's radio station. Pugslee was asked to host 'CTA Radio' after years of coming down to the studio himself to get on the air. WHPK has long been a meeting spot for Chicago rappers to come and show what they can do, a place that welcomed the genre long before others would.

The show (titled "The Betty Ford Clinic" for the briefest of moments) has evolved from a fun venture to an essential stop for any aspiring Chicago MC. "Now it's kinda graduated to the point where it's like one of the places you have to go by when you got a new record out. Other places might play your record, but HPK is that place that is known." The show itself is a mix of old and new hip-hop, everything from Nas to Talib Kweli to the hottest unsigned Chicago rappers. "If it's good, we'll play it."

Pugslee recently released "Pugz Atomz Presents CTA Radio: Chi City Hip Hop," a compilation based around the show featuring all local MCs. "This is probably the best setup I've ever had for a CD, and a lot of people have responded positively because it's about more than one person," he says, noting the support he's gotten from corporations like Virgin and Tower. Having supported himself by selling homemade CD-Rs for a while, Pugslee knows how difficult it can be to compete. That's why he's pushing for more major labels to come to Chicago. "It's cool if you're underground or whatever, but at the end of the day you're competing with Ghostface and T.I. and others that have these huge budgets to get that same money," he says. "You need fans to buy your stuff."

With the recent success of Chicago hip-hop artists, Pugslee figures it won't be long before the labels come calling. But even if it is, he's prepared to wait it out. "My thing is kinda more determined from here," he says. "Work within, that's always been my thing. I'm sorta content with the slow run to make it happen."

In the beginning: My first gig was a birthday party for a young lady at Operation Push. It was five of us on stage with two mics; I think we freestyled the whole set.


What's the coolest thing in your neck of the woods: That's a Burger. So tasty, so good.


I get live at: The House of Blues. To have that stage to yourself with a packed crowd, nothin' beats it. The food is always delicious and the staff's pretty cool.


Most surreal CTA moment: The early nineties on the Red Line; at any given moment, rappers and singers would start performing over beatboxes, keyboards and stereos. My favorites were GQ the Techa, the rapping Santas, or any of the kid groups that would get on and kill it.


Fresh from the woodshop: Pugz Atomz Presents CTA Radio: Chi City Hip Hop, out now on Raptivism.


Coming soon to a stage near you: At the African Festival of the Arts in Washington Park on Monday, September 4


- centerstage article


"Whpk and Cta radio"


Turn your radio dial to Chicago's commercial FM stations such as WGCI or B96, and you'll hear bucketloads of slick, uber-commercial rap. Rap's been big business for years, the tent pole of ratings powerhouse 'GCI and top-rated broadcast behemoths across the country.

Hard to believe, then, that just two short decades ago, the only hip-hop music heard on local airwaves came from a low-power college station, the University of Chicago's WHPK-FM 88.5. Broadcasting -- well, narrowcasting, really -- from its cramped 57th Street headquarters in Hyde Park, 'HPK's modest signal could be picked up solely on the South Side, and not always clearly even there. Yet the influence that 'HPK's continuous rap programming has exerted on Chicago's homegrown hip-hop scene, since its 1984 debut, is immeasurable.

You'd be hard-pressed to find any current South Side MCs, producers or deejays who didn't grow up obsessively taping WHPK's weekly shows, including those of the legendary JP Chill, the Friday night deejay who in 2006 marks his 20th consecutive year at 'HPK -- certainly one of the longest-running (if not the longest-running, period) hip-hop radio shows in the country -- or spend untold hours perfecting their skills in hopes of making their own debut on WHPK.

The station's even been immortalized by Chicago native Common. Conscious rap's noted leading light, then known as Common Sense, used to drop by the station -- "to play tapes and freestyle on the air, before he released any records," as JP Chill remembers. Later, Common paid tribute to WHPK on "Nuthin' To Do," a track from his classic album "Resurrection": "Then 'HPK was the only station that would [expletive] with rap."

"'HPK has had a much greater influence on this city than college radio usually does," observes aspiring Chicago MC Anonymous. "WHPK has been monumental in raising the talent level on the scene, and in building Chicago hip-hop as a whole."

"I'd listen to JP Chill at my grandparents' when I was a kid -- I remember moving the radio all over the apartment, attaching wire hangers to it, anything to strengthen the signal," recalls Foster Garvin, who years later would go on to co-host "Time Travel," a noted hip-hop show on Northwestern University's WNUR-FM 89.3 that bowed in 1995.

Until now, WHPK's low-power 100-watt signal has limited its broadcast reach to the South Side and environs, circumscribing most of its immediate influence within that geographical area. But that could be changing by this summer, when a long-delayed move to online streaming is expected to take place. Although some of this article's interviewees were skeptical, taking a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it stance, station manager Krista Christophe assures that "we've ordered the computers and the server. We'll probably be streaming in late May or early June."

`CTA Radio'

It's another Wednesday night at WHPK central, a compact second-floor studio in the U. of C.'s Gothic-spired, century-old Mandel Hall, and another long-running and popular weekly hip-hop show is on the air. It's gone by several names, but the current moniker, "CTA Radio," has been in place since early in the millennium.

There are Wednesday nights at 'HPK when you can't get in the door during the show's 9 p.m. to midnight run time. "CTA Radio" typically draws a sizable, lively contingent of local rappers, beatmakers and deejays, all come to seek airplay for a new song -- which may be the only significant airtime they'll ever receive -- network with colleagues, or maybe join in an on-air freestyle session. And 'HPK's bite-size control room and attached music library -- which, while hardly capacious itself, manages to house an estimated 30,000-plus vinyl LPs and CDs from floor to ceiling -- can scarcely contain them all.

This particular Wednesday is comparatively quiet, but the handful of Chicago MCs, producers and indie-label entrepreneurs here are navigating the scene like seasoned mariners. "A peaceful social gathering," pronounces Nick, a young graffiti writer and frequent visitor who lives nearby. As he speaks, local rapper Mose the Third's latest self-released CD is being aired on "CTA Radio."

Mose himself remarks that he's been an 'HPK listener since the mid-'90s.

Inside WHPK's control room are "CTA Radio" hosts and prominent local hip-hop figures Pugs Atomz, Kevin Maxey and Thaione Davis. (Atomz and Davis are independent rappers, as is temporarily absent co-host Cos G, who's lending support to local producers in a beat battle at a downtown club; he's expected shortly). They periodically punctuate the flow of music with chat both humorous and topical -- "We're about hip-hop politics and culture," says Davis -- but spend most of the three hours spinning their signature, emphatically egalitarian blend of underground and mainstream rap.

"It's about playing whatever we want, and having the freedom to be broad-based," Cos will say later, offering as example, "We'll do Mos Def and Three 6 Mafia in the same rotation." (The former is a cerebral East Coast m.c., the latter a Southern crew who made their bones celebrating hardcore sex, drugs and violence before winning this year's Academy Award for Best Original Song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp.")

No boundaries

"We play music without boundaries," proclaims Maxey, a deejay for nine years. Those expecting a stereotypical college-radio approach -- obscurity for obscurity's sake -- are, he warns, in for a shock: "For us, the music doesn't have to be underground. If it's a good commercial song, we'll play it -- that's why we say our show is strong medicine."

A major portion of the show's playlist each Wednesday is, of course, devoted to undiscovered, up-and-coming homegrown artists. And virtually all of them -- including the on-air hosts -- were tuning in WHPK's regularly scheduled hip-hop shows as soon as they were old enough to turn a radio dial.

One of these up-and-comers, this particular evening, is aforementioned MC Anonymous, who's dropped in with fellow rapper Awdazcate. As Anonymous reflects on 'HPK's continuing legacy, his companion (whose name is pronounced "audacity") has already made the acquaintance of Kel-el and L.A. Salle -- enterprising Aurora-based rappers and beatmakers with a label called State St. Recordings -- and is critiquing Chicago-bred superstar Kanye West's freshly minted take on the "Mission: Impossible" theme, which is unspooling over "CTA Radio's" airwaves. "Kanye needs new drums," Awdazcate says flatly. "Quote me on that."

Over the years, the reach of 'HPK's hip-hop programs (which have also included a Saturday programming block, sometimes hosted at present by producer Memo of renowned local hip-hop collective Molemen) has at times exceeded its limited broadcast area. MC Fatnice, a transplanted Chicago native who now raps for a Philadelphia crew known as 84, says he not only was raised, like his peers, on JP Chill's broadcast, he continued to listen to and talk up the show even after moving to Philly, thanks to tapes regularly sent by his rapper cousin Infinito 2017, a respected independent Chicago-raised MC and visual artist.

"Chicago hip-hop wouldn't be anything without 'HPK," declares Fatnice. Infinito concurs, noting, "JP Chill was the first person who looked out for me in Chicago."

On a recent Friday night, Chill is in his customary spot, manning the WHPK control room from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. The music, though, is being patched in from the library, where a guest turntablist, Chicago's DJ 3rd Rail, has set up his equipment and is mixing live on the air; later, Chill will turn the mic over to a procession of freestyling local MCs, including Pugs Atomz, Mass Hysteria's Gee Field and Mike Treese, LaDee Flipside, Booda Blaou and Race.

Former statistics major

Chill, who was born John Preston Schauer and hails from Milwaukee, came to the U. of C. in 1982 as a freshman statistics major. The future deejay had been a fan of "bad pop radio," he acknowledges with a grin, until his younger brothers converted him to such pioneering hip-hop artists as Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash. But because the early-'80s urban airwaves were dominated by Chicago's indigenous dance style, house music, he fed his nascent rap jones listening to WHPK's first hip-hop deejay, K-ill (Ken Wissoker).

Wissoker, now the editorial director of Duke University Press, says his seminal radio show began as a post-punk showcase, then segued to hip-hop via dance-leaning artists such as New Order, who had techno elements in common with intriguing early electro-rap acts such as Soul Sonic Force. "Hip-hop was new for everyone then," says Wissoker, whose air slot, which he co-hosted with future music-industry executive Patrick Moxey, went all-rap in 1984. "You couldn't buy it in Chicago; I had to go to a deejay store in New York to get the singles."

Concurrently, JP was purchasing his own hip-hop records on trips back to Milwaukee, and, once home in Chicago again, would call K-ill's program to request his favorite new tracks. "The people at WHPK began to know me as someone who was knowledgeable about the music," JP recalls. So much so, in fact, that JP began regularly filling in hip-hop air shifts, landing his own midweek show in 1986.

And JP Chill has never looked back -- not for long, anyway. He says he'd considered quitting in the mid-'90s, "when gangsta rap took over from [the socio-politically relevant likes of] A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, De La Soul and Ultramagnetic MC's. [Gangsta acts such as] Compton's Most Wanted and other throwaway groups just took themselves too seriously, unlike early N.W.A., which while violent and profane, was pretty funny."

Unique, fresh

But the music kept evolving, Chill stayed on, and he continues to hold down Friday nights at 'HPK. "I play stuff you won't hear everywhere else," he says, "about 80 percent of it new." Chill's especially keen on fresh tracks by under-the-radar Chicago artists Primeridian, Psalm One, Longshot, the Pacifics, Ang 13, and the enigmatic Thigahmahjiggee.

Providing exposure for unknown hometown acts remains a continuing, driving force for the hosts of "CTA Radio" as well.

"The whole thing with our show is to give everybody a chance," says Atomz. "You hear your track played on the air, and you get some feedback. We may not play it every week after that, but at least you get that one shot."

"There's a generation behind us, listening to us," stresses Davis. "We have an obligation to give them something that's not typical mainstream radio."

- Chicago Tribune


"Album review"

For lack of a better title, Pugs Atomz has been the "People's Champ" of Chicago for a long time. You can see him at every concert plugging events and showing support, and hear him each week on WHPK ('the only station that would f**k with rap' (c) Common). But, as he says in the album's first track, this may be the last time Pugs is regulated to Chi-town's underground scene. Conversations With A Chameleon sees Pugs make a well deserved move to Gravel Records, and just as this is his most high-profile release to date, it is also his most polished. The dreadlocked Hip Hopper shows growth, maturity, and passion for Hip Hop. His evolution is clearly demonstrated on the "The Last Time" a great intro track for the record. On the track, Pugs goes through his resume, with a spiritual sample, and tells fans that this may be the last time he remains local. This is an album for true Hip Hop heads, as the sample heavy "The Outlaw" fluidly integrates quotes from classic Hip Hop tracks, while "Question" calls on a well-placed Q-Tip vocal to create its chorus. "Black Boy" comments on the current state of Hip Hop and stereotypes, while "Whatever Man" puts to rest any excuses. "For The Free" brings the album to a close, and with it hopefully closes the chapter on Pugs only being known in the Windy City. - Sound slam.com


"Album review2"

Chicago has developed into Mecca for ‘average Joe’ rappers speaking about ‘the people,’ ‘the streets’ and having a good time without sounding the least bit contrived. They should have a patent on the style. Few regions have so many luminaries that defy comparison (though there may be a Lupe/Common reference lurking in this review. Stay tuned.). Grafitti artist, hip-hop professor and radio personality Pugs Atomz drops a fun and thoughtful album that takes a few listens for you to realize how rare that combination in nowadays. It’s clear he takes rapping seriously without being so himself. Add to that production from Hi-Tek and Colin Response and you have the perfect summer to fall transition album to keep your head nodding.

“The Last Time,” crooned to the rhythm of “Wade in the Water,” provides bone-touching soul on a light, scratch-filled intro track. The refrain to “Movement” repeats, “People are you ready?” appropriate sentiment from a man whose last album came out on a label called Raptivism. All of Pugs’ stronger songs have a ‘man in the mirror’ quality, urging people to have the courage to change their lives. Positive at every turn, Pugs doesn’t attempt a lot of loaded revolutionary jargon, but approaches his message with a more intimate call to arms for everyday people. The same laidback confidence makes this album infinitely listenable and relaxing, like a comedian who knows he’s funny instead of making funny faces and moonwalking trying to convince you.

Yet to be perfected by any region, unless you consider LL Cool J’s mouth a region, is the rap love song. Cursed by an elementary hook and attic sound quality, “4 Play” is one of the weaker entries on Conversations. “N Side” doesn’t fare much better telling the familiar ‘boy meets and loses girl due to drama’ story with little variation. But the expertly arranged samples of gospel and soul and clever lyrics (“It’s Pugz Atomz/Man of the people/I talked to the beat and it said it didn’t feel you”) more than make up for the slight chinks in the armor of this solid album.


- Candace L.
- Okayplayer.com


"Pugs Atomz interview"

Pugslee Atomz Interview
Author: Adam Bernard

As a city Chicago has officially become a launching pad for Hip-Hop artists. From Twista to Common to Kanye the home of the deep dish pizza has been serving up artists the masses have been embracing for years now. One emcee who's been calling Chicago his home since the early 90's is Pugslee Atomz. Fans who go way back might remember him from the Nacrobats, a group that also included Psalm One. Others may know Pugs' work from his solo albums, Thanks For Not Rhyming, 24 Years Later and Playing With Matches. Not content with just recording music, for the past seven years Pugs has also be been a presence as a radio personality on the University of Chicago's WHPK-FM. Ludacris made the jump from his gig in radio to being a full time MC, and with Pugs' latest effort, Conversations With a Chamelion, which is due out August 28th, many in Chi-town are thinking one of their favorite sons could do the same. This week RapReviews caught up with Pugslee Atomz to find out how the growing fame of his city has been changing the scene, why he spelled his album title the way he did, and what are the chances we'll get to hear him over a sample of MC Hammer's version of The Addams Family theme.


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Adam Bernard: Being from Chicago is it easier or harder to get shine now that Kanye West, Common and Twista have blown up? How has the scene changed and how has that change affected the artists in the city?
Pugslee Atomz: I feel It's easier in the sense of people want to know more about our city, or want to check out the similar artists to those you mentioned. The grind is a little harder in the sense that everybody is a rapper or producer with a CD or group now, but I think it's definitely given us the chance to have more of an opportunity. I guess we will see as time progresses.

AB: What do you feel makes you different from the other artists from the Windy City?
PA: I'm different because I'm Pugs! No, seriously though, I have always been true to myself and consistently growing as an artist. I'm involved in graffiti, fine art, video editing, hosting battles, hosting a TV and radio show, fashion design, teaching classes in graf and MCing, and all types of promo work and all of these things help me to be well rounded in terms of music, which in turn helps me to attack it from a lot of different perspectives. But most importantly I realize I can never be more than an artist.

AB: You have an album coming out on August 28th called Conversations With a Chamelion. Talk to me about the album and why you decided on that particular spelling for Chamelion, when it should really be Chameleon?
PA: Blame Hip-Hop for the spelling. Ha ha! I spelled Chamelion this way to separate it and make it my own. I'm a Leo (Lion) and Chameleon X Lion = my new album on Gravel Records.

AB: You explained the Leo portion of the name, but in what ways do you feel you're a chameleon?
PA: I stick out, but blend in. From experience when people can't see you coming you tend to catch them by surprise in the end.

AB: Do you feel it's important to be a chameleon in today's society?
PA: Yes, I feel it's important because that's what life is, we are all someone's child, someone's lover, someone's enemy, someone's friend, someone's stranger, etc., and at times play the roles to a T. And to quote one of my favorite lines, "real bad boys move in silence."

AB: With a name like Pugslee Atmoz when can listeners expect a remix of The Addams Family theme, or better yet, the MC Hammer version of it?
PA: Well, real talk, I couldn't clear Hammer for my album, but on my first solo record, Thanks For Not Rhyming, in 2000 on Galapagos4, Panic of The Molemen flipped the sample for me and I did a joint called "True Lies."

AB: Awesome. So when worldwide fame hits what's the first thing you'll do?
PA: Thank the Most High, invest for my family, start a multimedia company, fill my closets some more, and hire a pizza chef.

AB: Finally, I have to ask, Cubs or White Sox?
PA: I'm a Southsider, so I got to run with the Sox. You know they got a few trophies.

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Check out Pugslee Atomz on MySpace at myspace.com/pugsleeatomz. - rap reviews.com


"Un-Common: The Burgeoning Chicago Hip Hop Scene"

A founding member of the Nacrobats, Pugslee Atomz has been on the Chicago hip hop scene since 1993. And like the rest of the artists on this list, he is a hard working performer, regularly appearing around the city at all sorts of venues, from dive bars to the biggest stages Chicago has to offer. If he's not performing, you can usually spot his dreadlocked head in the audience, taking in the music.

Pugslee's laid back style belies his sharp talent. He mixes samples into a hazy fog, creating a unique mood reminiscent of the one he felt while growing up in Chicago. The laid back lyrical style, combined with this memory-inducing production, combine to create something that feels like art rather than pop. One of my favorite tracks, "Props," off of Playing With Matches, combines an Outkast sample with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for a psychedelic rap experience that's familiar, yet alien at the same time. Pugslee Atomz has been a key player in the Chicago hip hop scene for so long, you can really get a feel for the city's style just by listening to his records. Or just go see him live, he's playing around town all the time.
- Jargon chicago.com


"Pugs Atomz man of the people"

Critic's Pick

Hard to say what’s more unusual about Pugslee Atomz — that he’s a talented, intelligent Chicago rapper without a major-label deal, or that he appears to have named himself after that husky-sized weird kid from Addams Family Values. Contrary to what you might take from the influx of quality Chi-Town hip-hops clogging the airwaves these days (Common, Kanye West, Cool Kids), record execs aren’t just handing out recording contracts to everyone who looks like a musician, a la grunge-era Seattle.

Maybe the A&R suits were distracted by visions of a creepy little boy spitting rhymes through swollen cheeks about his haunted mansion and disembodied-hand playmate. That’s unfortunate, because Atomz, a fixture on the Chicago scene since the early ‘90s, is much, much better than that. (But how could he not be?)

His 2007 release, Conversations With a Chamelion, is aptly titled, showcasing his switch-hit flow over gospel choirs (“The Last Time”), porno-funk guitar loops (“Vacation”), and sped-up soul samples (“Dedicated”), and proving he’s capable of producing party anthems (“Movement”), heart-rending social commentary (“Dog Wood Tree”), and softer romantic tracks (“N Side”). State-of-hip-hop critique “Black Boy” complains about the lack of variety in many rappers’ bling-, drug-, and violence-obsessed verses, sardonically exclaiming, “if you ain’t gonna shoot ’em up, ain’t gonna give ’em junk … ain’t gonna get the gold, that don’t sound like lyrics to me.” And Atomz has the skills to back up his trash talk. Highlight “The Outlaw” protests that you won’t hear him (he moonlights as a college-station deejay) unless your radio is tuned to “88-point something,” but this catchy and complex celebration of the Windy City should’ve made Pugs Atomz a household name — outside of Nick at Nite.

10 p.m. Saturday, Sep 6, Limelight, 2718 N. Saint Mary’s St., (210) 223-2830,
myspace.com/limelightsa.

— Jeremy Martin

(Staff)
- San Antonio Current


"Q and A with Pugs Atomz"

On any given day in Chicago, there’s a good chance you’ll run into Renaissance man Pugslee Atomz (a.k.a. Pugs Atomz or just Pugs). This MC, apparel designer, visual artist and radio host can potentially be found in nearly every corner of the city because of his varied interests and his ongoing desire to connect with the entire Chicago hip-hop community.

His local collaborations since emerging in the mid-90s include work with the Molemen, Psalm One, Robust, and many others. Having also helped lead the stylistically and racially diverse Nacrobats collective (Cosmo Galactus, Offwhyte, Kenny Keys, etc.) in the late-90s, he’s no doubt qualified to weigh in on the state and history of Chicago hip-hop—something he gladly did when I sat down with him this month. Pugs’ long history of being the co-host of the University of Chicago's "CTA Radio" show with Thaione Davis doesn’t hurt his expertise of the city’s talent either.

Despite releasing several albums this decade, his first release that drew nationwide attention was the 2006 compilation Pugs Atomz presents CTA Radio: Chi City Hip Hop. This Raptivism project featured a respectable range of talent, from Lupe Fiasco to Molemen MC Vakill. As an extension of "CTA Radio," which broadcasts every Wednesday from 9 p.m. to midnight on WHPK-FM 88.5, it was a testament to Pugs’ willingness to document his city’s rap scene. Last fall, he released the soulful LP Conversations with a Chamelion on Gravel Records, and in March he posted a second volume of CTA Radio as a free download on his MySpace page, www.myspace.com/pugsleeatomz.

As a solo artist, Pugs mostly prefers a more traditional sample-based sound complimented with a mix of blunt battle raps, everyman introspection and community-minded anthems. While he isn’t known to get ultra progressive, his classic sound has made a fan out of DJ Vadim: Pugs and his DJ, Intel, opened for the Russian-born DJ/producer on his North American tour last fall. Given that recent boost in exposure, Pugs is eager to release his next album Stormy this summer with Chicago producer Rashid Hadee on Enohes Music; and finish a forthcoming album with Vadim. But upcoming projects are only a small part of my discussion with this multi-talent.

Plug One: Can you talk about the mid-to-late 90s and the significance of that time for Chicago hip-hop?

Pugs Atomz: It was just a real free time. I wasn’t the oldest, there might have been a couple of people that were maybe two, three, four years older than me, so everybody was predominantly within that about to graduate high school to about to start real life [age bracket]. So that’s the growing time. It was just like a free for all. And the way that I ran [Nacrobats] was just, “You are who you are and we accept you as that.” It was real loose. It was kinda like, you could be on whatever you were on, and it was acceptable.

Plug One: How much were you guys thinking about recording back then, ‘cause I know you guys were real low budget. Kenny Keys told me you guys were just using a four track.

Pugs Atomz: It depends ‘cause that’s the other thing too—since we were such a large crew, it was different studio setups. So, like, the people with me recorded at the Art Institute; that’s a better setup. But if you went to Kenny [Keys], Kenny makes beats so you’ll probably get a better beat out of his session. And then if you recorded in his bathroom, you got a pretty good sound.

I remember Kanye was singing a joint that Cosmo and Rift did called “Century 21.” He was like, “Yeah my girl loves that song.” And it’s funny ‘cause it was a horrible recording -- a horrible, horrible sound. It was just looped, a beat track that we recorded in the suburbs with this guy Yoda Catalist. He had a four track.

But at the same time we would go to this place called Fast Trax to record and Twista was the first rapper to ever record there. They had tape on the wall, a little plaque or whatever, but it was real random, trying to figure the best way to go about it. Then when we found the home studio situation, it just made it so much simpler because people could hang out and kind of kick more so than just like, “We gotta rush in here, we have four hours of studio time, it costs this much money -- we need to knock this out.” It wasn’t so stressful.

Plug One: So it was more natural?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah -- that’s how everything went. Like with the parties, it was the same kind of thing.

Plug One: You know at that time Def Jux was coming up, Fondle ‘Em -- all those big NYC indie labels. Were you guys paying attention to that or were you not worried about it?

Pugs Atomz: I really didn’t pay attention to that until I started doing marketing. And that’s when I was like, “wow, this is happening.” Before, we kinda lived in a bubble where it was just really about us. I traded tapes with everyone from Slug to Sage Francis and thought nothing of it. I was like, “Oh that’s Sage Francis. Ayo, you wanna trade tapes?” That’s the only way I’m probably gonna get your music. We were so much into what we were doing that we didn’t even really notice. We were fans of a lot of other people’s music ‘cause we listened to everything religiously. But we didn’t pay attention to the real moves people were making. I didn’t notice Def Jux until I got a box of Def Jux stuff and was like, “this is what’s paying my bills right now. It’s crazy.”

Plug One: You were one of the few people that broke out of that bubble and kept going. What else aside from doing marketing would you accredit that too?

Pugs Atomz: I was at a point where I wanted to do other things with hip-hop and there was no one that was willing to help me with it, so I was like, “Alright, I’m gonna create something.” And it’s always just that. It’s, like, “This isn’t gonna work, I gotta figure out another way.” So this is my other way. I’m just very self reliant and my parents were always just like, “if that’s what you wanna do then you need to make moves to do that. If that’s not what you wanna do, then don’t do that.” Everything was always thought of in that manner and a lot of people always asked me questions like I knew it so I was like, “You might as well know it.”

Plug One: And then you got linked up with some other labels such as Raptivism.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, ‘cause they were managing me for a like a year-and-a-half just to help me get more focused and figure out what I wanted to do.

Plug One: And then came the Kanye West wave. Some people thought it would make more of an impact. Some people thought it wouldn’t matter. How did you think about the whole thing?

Pugs Atomz: I think it was for him. I thought it was great. For everybody else, I thought people would be more accepting to hear what we do but I didn’t think, “Ah man, all these labels are gonna come here.” That year he got signed and it went down, the newspaper did a little article about the next ten artists to blow in Chicago and they put [Nacrobots] in there, Iomos [Marad], and a few other artists and I was like, “That’s cool, but you guys aren’t the label.” It’s a whole different thing. I know so many people with record deals that never came out so that’s not really the answer either. It’s that drive, it’s that push and then just getting the right people behind you to help you do it. I just thought it was good that he did it, and ‘Fest got a chance to get it and then Lupe [Fiasco] came a little bit later, but I never really [thought that meant] everybody else is gonna be on.

Plug One: What do you think about the new wave of that fame with the Cool Kids and Kid Sister? That’s still going strong right now.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah. Every other city I’ve been to, that’s one question any interviewer is going to ask you if you’re from Chicago.

Plug One: Do you get annoyed by it at this point?

Pugs Atomz: Nah, man. It’s Chicago. I’m happy if someone wants to talk to me. If that’s one of the questions, then that’s one of the questions. I hope if another artist was like, “Yo, do you know Pugs? How do you feel about him?” they’ll be willing to give you their three cents or whatever.

Plug One: Some people from Chicago don’t tour that much and I think that’s part of the problem now.

Pugs Atomz: People don’t know ‘em so they don’t get the experience.

Pugs' catalog includes Thanks for Not Rhyming (2000), 24 Years Later... (2002), Playing with Matches (2005), Pugs Atomz presents CTA Radio: Chi City Hip Hop (2006) and Conversations with a Chamelion (2007)


Plug One: How much do you think your last nationwide tour helped you?

Pugs Atomz: It pushed me like another 50 percent to where I need to be. It definitely showed me just how many more people I could possibly get if I stay on this track of just constantly moving and traveling and getting the music out.

Plug One: What kind of conversations did you have with Abstract Rude and Vadim about hip-hop -- about music in general?

Pugs Atomz: Ah man, everything. Everything from the current events to the current state of the music to what beats are dope to stuff that I’m doing right to stuff they’re doing right. Everything, man. They were part of crew, which was kinda cool. It was a real family vibe with everybody.

Plug One: Did they say no matter where you are -- Vadim’s in New York now and Ab Rude’s in L.A. -- independent artists tend to go through the same things?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, it’s all around the same. I mean, Vadim, he’s seen a lot more just because he’s a pretty big DJ; and Abstract Rude, he’s pretty big out West. It’s similar but slightly different in stature. But it’s all the same.

Plug One: What was it like for you when you came back from tour, coming back to Chicago?

Pugs Atomz: It felt good ‘cause I missed it, trying to catch up on what’s been goin’ on. Like anything else, if you miss a couple days, all types of stuff changes. Some people pop up, other people fall off -- that kind of thing. I was a little bit like, “Man, I wanna get right back on the road.” But at the same time, I hadn’t seen my girl, I hadn’t seen my family. So I can get that time back in. And then also to sit down and record ‘cause I did a little recording while we were out. I didn’t get a chance to do my stuff ‘cause I was doing songs for other people. To a point that’s limiting ‘cause you’re trying to go with what their vision is.

Plug One: Did you start working with Rashid [Hadee] when you came back or was that before?

Pugs Atomz: Nah, me and him have been working on this record for about two years.

Plug One: And that’s due out this summer?

Pugs Atomz: Hopefully. Hopefully. That’s the plan. I mean right now it’s just seeing what would be the best way to put it out.

Plug One: And what about the record with Vadim?

Pugs Atomz: Vadim is a slower round on that one ‘cause we only have probably about six songs.

Plug One: Are you guys just e-mailing tracks back-and-forth?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah.

Plug One: One thing I also wanted to talk to you about is the whole “haterville” thing ‘cause you made the song “Haterville” with Longshot. How do you feel about the perception that people [in Chicago] can’t really support each other outside their own crews?

Pugs Atomz: I think that’s everywhere. I think that’s business. There’s Starbucks and then there’s Caribou Coffee down the street -- they’re not gonna be like, “We ran out of coffee, here you go, we have some extra for you.” It’s a thing of competitiveness. Sometimes I see it as real unnecessary.

To me, the scene is such a small scale that at the end of the day to be vengeful about stuff really doesn’t matter. If you have a more united front you can get so much accomplished. And also, that stops other people from detracting what’s going on here. If one guy says, “These guys suck,” and they’re from Chicago, [then] somebody in New York sees that and they’re like, “Yeah, you guys suck.” They’re rolling with it. It’s not really helping our situation.

Plug One: What do you think can be done to help it?

Pugs Atomz: I don’t know man, I don’t know. That’s such a hard question ‘cause that’s really a personal thing and people rising above themselves and seeing the bigger picture.

Plug One: You seem like the type of dude who hasn’t been worried about that -- the segregation and the different sides of the city. You’ll work with anyone.

Pugs Atomz: Yeah -- that’s how it’s supposed to be, though. From my start in hip-hop, that’s what I was on. Some people deterred me from that in the beginning ‘cause they were like, “Nah, we don’t’ wanna work with you” -- that kind of thing -- when I was younger. But I still carry that on. Like with the Nacrobats thing, anybody that got down was somebody I met and I was like, “Man, I like what you do, come on with us.” And the others in [Nacrobats] might not have even liked the dude or the girl before and they had beef with ‘em, but when they came it was like, “We gotta be cool.”

That’s what’s funny looking back at that whole crew: the majority of those people weren’t even cool with each other and then because of the crew they became cool. Otherwise they would have never ever done songs with each other -- they wouldn’t have even have talked to each other. To me, it’s not necessarily about a peace thing, but we all are here and we need to figure out how to get it and the more of us together, the easier it becomes.

Plug One: But what about the mentality that in order to be successful you gotta leave here?

Pugs Atomz: I’m sure if I had left Chicago a while ago I probably would have been in a different place. But at the same time, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had some of the same experiences within it. That’s a tough one. I mean I was just talking to Naledge [from Kidz in the Hall] and he was like, “Man, I haven’t been to Chicago in a while.” But he can’t really come to Chicago because all his business is in New York right now.

Plug One: But does it help being in the middle of everything -- if not the industry, then in the middle of the whole country?

Pugs Atomz: I guess. I mean being in Chicago I’ve met every artist I really wanted to meet. There’s only maybe one or two that I haven’t met to somehow talk to or just vibe off of. I think it’s all about what you do, too. If you look at the Cool Kids, they weren’t really traveling -- it was all from out of Chicago. To a point, they still live here. They’re on the road heavy gettin’ it in, but I still believe that somebody can do it from the city. They just have to travel a lot.

Plug One: You’re already thinking about the road again?

Pugs Atomz: Yeah, man. That’s all I really think about -- that’s all I really do: my art and my rapping. There’s nothing else really to think about but those two things.

- PlugOne.com


Discography

1996
Nacrobats "inverted reality EP" Enohes Music
1997
Nacrobats " Morning Nights EP" Enohes Music
1998
Nacrobats "We Equator LP" Enohes Music
1999
Nacrobats " Nacrology LP" Enohes Music
2000
Pugs Atomz "thanks for not rhyming LP" Galapagos 4 records
2001
Nacrobats " Network of Stars LP" Enohes music
2002
Pugs atomz "24 Years Later LP" Birth write
2003
Nacrobats "Always LP"- Birth write records
2004
Pugs Atomz "Vandal Squad 12" Audio 8 recordings
2005
Pugs Atomz "Playing with Matches LP" Audio 8
2006
Pugs Atomz " Pugs Atomz Presents Cta Radio Chicago Hip Hop Compilation" Raptivism records

Pugs Atomz "Man of the people Vinyl EP"
Headnock Records
2007
Pugs Atomz "Conversations with a ChamelionLP"
Enohes Music/Gravel records

2008
The Gent$ "Gent$"
2009
Pugs Atomz "Roof Top" Enohes/So Flo Records

Featured:
1999
"The Black Book Sessions Comp" Galapagos 4
2001
Molemen "City Limits LP" Molemen Inc
Record Playas " Midway Sessions comp" RPC
Centric I.E. "In other Words
2002
"6 shades a diffrent color, comp" Birth Write
2003
Vector Sigma "The Key, Comp"
2008
"Solos In Stereo Compilation" Solos Records
2009
Dj Vadim "U Can't lurn imaginashun" BBE Records

Photos

Bio

Pugs Atomz awoke in this world a Leo in Pittsburgh PA., son of Radio host and a Painter. His love of Hip Hop developed when his family moved to Chicago; during grade school he would see the graffiti on the trains and in his neighborhood of Englewood. These trains also would have rap groups performing and singers doing their thing for spare change. The first rap he wrote was in 5th grade, so the next day when he recited his, everybody said, �you�re rapping, he's a rapper". From that point it started to make more sense to him.

As teenager his parents would have people like Oscar Brown Jr. in his living room performing �Signifying Monkey" and various other poets/ visual artist schooling him to give me a sense of culture. He would attend Chi Rock meetings (Think Chicago version of Zulu nation) and watching the moves being made by Twista, Common, Dem Dare and Upski. An avid listener of Jp Chill's and Pink House's Rap shows on WHPK and WKKC. In high school there weren�t too many folks at that time that could really help him
with his [HIP HOP] goals, so he became a leader and started a crew called the Nacrobats . This got him into throwing parties and performances with his and other crews. From that revenue he started to put out Nacrobat tapes and CDRs in the mid to late 90's. Nacrobats was a crew that was influential to so many kids coming up at that time, with 100 plus membership, and rep for freestyle battling any and every ware. This was the starting point for Chicago now artists like Qwel, Psalm one, Prime, Vyle, pianist Kenny Keys, producer Prolific, visual artist Rahmaan Statik and so many others.

2000 was his first solo record titled "Thanks for not Rhyming", on Galapagos4 records. It featured his crew and production from the Molemen (Mf Doom, Rhyme Fest, Atmosphere, Saigon) and received a warm response from the underground and started him doing shows across the USA. His second album titled "24 Years later" on his own Birthwrite Records faired even better, getting him shows overseas and on a few tours to get his music to the people. The time he spent in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Germany, and London seeing all the graffiti pushed him to go deeper with his music. So when Pugs arrived back in the states he started writing for the album "Playing With Matches" on Audio 8 recordings. This album was dedicated to discussing the real life of a Graffiti writer from an autobiography perspective. Pugslee the Vandal, to Sterling the young adult getting paid a thousand dollars a week to paint movie murals (�Light it up� 20th century Fox) and finally the corporate graffiti writer for Ecko, IBM, Nike etc... While all this was going on, he started doing CTA radio with Thaione Davis and Kevin Maxi, a radio show dedicated to Hip Hop with interviews and freestyles, pushing Chicago Artist on the legendary WHPK 88.5fm. Hosting a TV show "Barbershop Hip Hop", interviewing everyone from Gym Class heroes to Kurtis Blow, Pugs and partner Slim the barber would even shoot videos for the locals to have more content.

2006 he released a compilation with Raptivism Records titled "Pugs Atomz presents CTA Radio - Chi City Hip Hop". This CD was basically an excerpt of the CTA Radio show; he has been a part of every Wednesday night from 9-12am for the last ten years. This was a definite must to anybody digging the Chicago sound, ft. new songs from Common, Lupe Fiasco, Rhyme fest etc.. At the same time he was finishing up his fourth album "Conversations with a Chamelion" featuring production From DJ Hi-Tek and Colin Response, guest vocals from Capital D (All natural), Dave Ghetto, Deuce Eclipse and more. This is his most moving work to date on Gravel records. With four music videos to boot with this release, and MTV2 featuring his "Tear N Your eye" video.

2007 -2008 Saw Pugs getting into fashion and designing clothing/fitted hats with the likes of American Needle and Afro Wear. Late 2007 he got on a 38 city tour with DJ Vadim and Abstract rude around the US and Canada. Being away from home he noticed
the scene changing around him, he quickly adapted to the internet life releasing free mixtapes , "Black and Gifted", "Cta Radio Vol. 2", "The Gent$" (Pugs posh group With Wes Restless and Ill Legit), and most recently the critically acclaimed "Road to the Top".
Weekly collaborations and singles for free download. 2008 saw a rise in violence in Chicago schools, so Mr. Atomz wrote the song "Me and you" addressing it. He got involved with Coalmine Music, the Stop the violence movement, and teaching with After School matters. He was also featured on the remake of "Self Destruction" feat, Krs one andTwista among others.

Currently it's all about his new album on SoFlo Ent. "Roof Top", which features Sadat X, Naledge (Kidz In The Hall), DJ Vadim, Black Spade, Rashid hadee, Sc, and others. We are excited that his first two single, “Wait And See” f/ Sadat X and "Get it on" has gotten tons of