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The best kept secret in music


"Watch out -- these five could be about to blow up"

The year 2004 was good for Chicago hip-hop, but 2005 could be even better.
For starters, the world has finally recognized hip-hop thriving along the shores of Lake Michigan, freeing Chicago's artists to focus on making dope music rather than making maps. And the time is right for Chicago to remain a dominant force in the national scene. The city's sound has become increasingly sophisticated and appreciated with the emergence of a tight crop of up-and-coming MCs, producers and DJs, a strong live-band scene and a series of well-produced and well-attended local shows.

But next month, when the Grammy Awards show is held, the question won't be, "How cool was 2004?" It will be "Who's the next Kanye West?" Before that gets too far out of hand, understand there won't be another Kanye West. In the history of mainstream hip-hop, there have only been a select few individuals who have been both super-producers and adored MCs. Kanye West is one of them; another likely won't come around this year.

However, there are several artists in and from Chicago who could reach mainstream success in 2005. Does this mean another fistful of Grammy nominations for Chicago hip-hop this year? Probably not. But there certainly could be a few Vibe and Rolling Stone covers, and perhaps even a few visits to MTV's "Total Request Live." Which, for a city largely ignored over 30 years, ain't so bad.

So, here are five to watch in '05.
[along with Rhymest, Psalm One, JUICE & Dynamic Vibrations]

Pacifics - Longtime heroes of the Chicago Underground, Pacifics are now signed to All Natural Inc., which will be releasing their latest CD by late spring. As the tone of hip-hop shifts from thug to commentary, the timing could be perfect for this Native Tongues-influenced crew. - Chicago Sun-Times & Red-Streak (1/7/05)

"Pacifics place themselves in the middle of the fun"

Watching KP of The Pacifics strut across the stage, it's difficult to place him in the same genre as DMX or Chuck D. His smile--and it's not a maniacal lip twist--makes you think that rapping is actually fun. His gyrations are not those of a prophet of rage. They are the movements of someone who takes joy in stringing together words to evoke a response from an anonymous crowd.

It's hip-hop with a cleverness that overwhelms its ruggedness. It's like early Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul. It may be Chicago's answer to Jurassic 5. "It's not like we are real political," KP says. "If there is something we care about, then we will talk about it. But we are trying to have fun. Some people are real political; some people are real gangster. We are somewhere in the middle." At this, fellow Pacifics, Strike3 and DJ/rapper Norm Rockwell, chuckle. You get the feeling they are picturing themselves becoming gangster and wielding Tommy guns and rocking sharkskin zoot suits.

The Pacifics, which may be hip-hop's longest acronym, stands for People Accumulating Creative Ideas Foregoing Ignorant Conclusions of Society. All of the group's members are from the Chicago area. KP was reared in the western suburbs. Strike 3 and Norm are North Siders. Asked what "ignorant conclusions of society" they are foregoing, they point out their heritage. They are all of Filipino descent. Strike3 explains that throughout hip-hop circles, it is generally accepted for Asians to be DJs or B-Boys. But when it comes to rocking the microphone, there is a lot of ice to be broken. "When we first started," he says, "people were like, 'Yo! What kind of hip-hop are these guys gonna do?' " But once people watch them, he says, they realize that rhyming is rhyming. Or even more basically: hip-hop is hip-hop. It's either real or it isn't. And, he says, Chicago hip-hop heads have lavished the crew with love. "We have gotten a lot of support."

Last April, the group independently released a 23-track album titled "The Sept. 1 Project." Recently, they began work on their next album, which they anticipate will be released early next year. In the meantime, they will continue performing around the city and the nation.

Sunday, The Pacifics will open for hip-hop icon KRS-One at Joe's Bar. The 21-and-over show, titled "Blastmaster Fest," also will feature some of the city's most prominent acts, like All Natural of The Family Tree.
- Chicago Sun-Times & Red Streak (2/7/03)

"URB review of "The September First Project" (3.5 stars)"

"This Chicago trio's long-awaited debut is (mostly) worth the wait" - It's not like Chicago hasn't always figured prominently in hip-hop's cartography, but with each new release from the Midwest metropolis, it becomes abundantly clear that the age-old dominance of New York and Los Angeles is becoming more and more untenable. Like the Bay Area, Boston and Seattle, Chicago's flavor of hip-hop has remained resolutely progressive and underground and the Pacifics take their place alongside peers like Typical Cats, the Molemen and All Natural.

A three-man team led by MCs KP and Mr. Rexford plus DJ Norman Rockwell, the Pacifics offer a well-crafted manifestation of hip-hop optimism. KP and Rexford showcase an impressive versatility in their lyricism, whether they're mocking materialism on "$o Money," kickin' party rhymes on "Keep It Movin'" or radiating consciousness on "Cleo." Their only weakness comes when they try to flex on the braggadocio cuts like "Brain Surgery" and "Ill Elements" - neither MC can wield a flow keen enough to cut with the kind of edge their lyrics boast about.

In contrast, KP's production, assisted by Chops and Artek, is uniformly excellent - as inviting as it is intricate, built from jazz loops in the Chi-town tradition of No ID and Common. "Keep It Movin'" appropriately slides along on a slick flamenco guitar line, while the resurrected piano melody on "Hold It Down" anchors the hook in place. Though the
album's 23 songs and redundant skits make it unwieldly, the lush musical texture helps to move the t - URB magazine (8/02)

"Platform8470 review of "Sundays' Chicken""

“Never judge a book by the cover”, CL Smooth told us, but in some cases you just know when the content’s gonna be fat. The Pacifics’ newest album for example; a fresh cover that looks like a supadope seventies funk album and has delicious soul fooood on it; chicken wings! The Pacifics are KP, strike3 and Norman Rockwell ànd have been called “the longtime heroes of the Chicago Underground”, but now they’re signed to All Natural Inc and with their sophomore LP (the first album “The September First Project: Long Overdue” was released in 2002), the Pacifics might well receive worldwide recognition. The album covers a variety of styles. Raw hip-hop like “Drop That” (produced by Beat Junkie DJ Rhettmatic), “Talk is Cheap” (produced by Illmind) featuring Dilated Peoples’ Iriscience and up-tempo, sunny songs that bounce on the line between mainstream and underground: the sparkling “Magnificent” and the smooth tracks “Story of my Life” and “One Song” featuring soul singer Russell Pride. The lyrics are cool, very relaxed and you can hear that the group really enjoys rappin and loves music; there’s references to James Brown, Rick and Bob James (“I rather bless ya soul like Bob James on the Fender Rhodes with breath control”) and saying “you’re the loop that I’m dying to sample” to a girl obviously betrays your music obsession. The scratches and samples are magnificent and bring back the voices of rap legends KRS, Kool G Rap and Notorious BIG, also the interlude with a dialogue between Norman Rockwell’s turntables and lil’ Kadence is cool. Here and there the verses go deep like on “Within the Lines”, “Story of My Life” and the spiritual “Prayers”. Besides Iriscience and DJ Rhettmatic, another West Coast legend by the name of Pep Love joins in on “Situations”; “we got the plastic cups!” This album is all about the good vibes; jazz loops, funk and tons of soul; fresh hip-hop that will hopefully mean the breakthrough of the group so we can hear more of them in the future. Easy like Sunday morning and tastefull like Sunday’s Chicken. Bon Appetit! (street date: May 10)

"Flavour Column review of "Sundays' Chicken""

Also coming from the All Natural camp is the second long-player from Filipino trio The Pacifics. Blowing through your speakers like a cool breeze on a hot summer's day, the appetisingly-titled "Sunday's Chicken" showcases the refreshing styles of Chicagoans KP, Strike III and Norm Rockwell. Obviously raised on the cream of '90s Hip-Hop such as Organized Konfusion and Main Source, the advanced musicianship heard here adds further depth to the threesome's playful true-school bragging as well as their more intense lyrical moments. The robust horns and warm bassline of the Artek-produced "Within The Lines" find the group navigating their way through Hip-Hop dreams and everyday responsibilities ("I got a son, a wife, a nine-to-five and a fever to write"), while the soulful hook and jazzy inflections of "Story Of My Life" allow the crew to cleverly extend the Hip-Hop-as-female-object-of-desire metaphor employed on Common's "I Used To Love H.E.R". Dilated Peoples' Rakaa and Hiero's Pep Love feature on "Talk Is Cheap" and "Situations" respectively, with "Prayers (God Talk)" an honest attempt to reach a higher spiritual plain through music. The upbeat shimmer of "Step To That" also shines, with some humorous night-on-the-town observations and a nod to '80s club icon Colonel Abrams' "Trapped". Pass the sauce! - Blues and Soul Magazine (UK)

"Impose Magazine review of "Sunday's Chicken""

If there’s any justice, 2005 will be the year that The Pacifics overcome their under the radar status. On their sophomore album, Sunday’s Chicken, this Chicago trio of Filipino hip-hoppers (KP, strike3 and Norman Rockwell) proves that you can be sharp-witted on the mic without being elusive and still produce party-ready beats without sounding one-dimensional. Unafraid to meld handclap-inducing beats with an occasional R&B hook, The Pacifics don’t seem to be concerned with pleasing anal backpackers. (Sample lyric: “How you gonna get above ground when all you’re doing is staying under?”) Instead they present a well-rounded album ideal for anyone ready to have a good time. From the neck-snapping rhythms and potent verbal beat downs of “Drop That” to the lush R&B vibe on the uplifting “One Song,” this album naturally exudes mass appeal. While their 2002 debut, The September First Project: Long Overdue [Propaganda Movement], wasn’t a bad effort, Sunday’s Chicken is light years ahead, showcasing superior beats, rhymes and concepts through and through. Fresh yet grimy like a basket of homemade chicken, the Pacifics’ hip-hop is tasty to the bone. –MH
- Impose Magazine (May '05)

" review of "Sunday's Chicken""

I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover but when I looked at the cover of Sunday’s Chicken, I had a good feeling about it. It consists of a plate of chicken wings on top of some paper towels, a ricepot, and a plate of rice waiting for the chicken to come. That’s home cooking, that’s soul food, but the music behind the rice pot consists of three guys who call themselves The Pacifics, a crew that calls Chicago their home. Each song has the kind of energy with a lot of brain action going on, in other words active imagination and creativity equals some incredible songs and flows, showing that the potential is there. The vibe here is very brotherly, as if they were meant to do this. They perfected their styles to where it doesn’t sound like a three headed monster, but three individual MC’s who can sense each other and what the next man will do next. Not only do they rap verses one by one, but occasionally do it old school style and trade lines. The group both respect and nurture the hip-hop they know and love, and by adding their own flavor and aspects of their upbringing. Feels like home, chicken wings, pork gisantes, and all. -

"Atypical 'Sunday' latest smash from the Pacifics"

It only takes a few bars of the song "Nobody" to let the listener know "Sunday's Chicken" isn't your typical project from the Pacifics, or from their new label, All Natural.

A bluesy riff is quickly assaulted by the profane ranting of a seemingly drunken KP, who calls for all glasses to be raised up.

It seems incongruous. Previously considered the most conscious member of the Chicago trio that also includes Strike III and Norm Rockwell, KP seems to have slipped to the dark side. One wonders how All Natural, the group that won't perform while liquor is sold, let the song onto to the record.

"[Label co-founder] Capital D let me know that he does have issues with the song," KP explains, "but being the supportive label they are, they stood behind it. We do drink and we do get wild every once and a while, but the song is more about venting, and I think there is a lot stuff in it that people can relate to -- sober or drunk."

In truth, the song isn't about drinking at all. It's about working-class frustrations, being overworked and underpaid, being honest in a society that looks first to cars and then to integrity, having multimillion-dollar dreams hinge on a lottery ticket.

Welcome to the inner-workings of the Pacifics. Once hailed as a high-energy, socially conscious group, "Sunday's Chicken" reveals the complete artists, socially aware and willing to cut loose.

The crew maintains its conscious foundation with songs like "Within the Lines" and the Primeridian-blessed "Frank Lloyd Write." But they also bring straight bangers like "Crosstown Classic," which features verses from Larry Millah and Iomos Marad, and "If U Don't Know," which includes guest verses from Shadow Master and Ang 13.

The title of the project comes from their recording sessions.

"We all work 9-to-5 and the only day we could get together was on Sunday," says Strike III. "Whenever we would get together, KP would cook some mean fried chicken -- his own homemade batter and everything."

A bowl of that chicken appears on the cover of the CD. Inside is a picture of the Pacifics eating together, like a family.

"It's grown-folks' music," Norm Rockwell explains. "We covered a lot more topics on this one, from what we feel has been missing [from our music] to what we do on a regular basis."

Strike III says the group's versatility comes from its membership.

"Each of us gives off a different style. KP is more of that conscious, storyteller. Norm is that one-liner cat, who comes up with smooth raps that crack you up, and I put forth that straight-to-the-point, raw rap. Having us writing at different levels helps us to complement each other's styles."

Norm says being on All Natural also contributed to the maturation of the Pacifics.

"We watched them for years, cats like [All Natural] and Primeridian, and we've seen what they've done," he says. "We feel if we can do what they've done, we'll be all right."

The group went outside for beats, bringing in Beat Junkie DJ Rhettmatic, Tye Hill, Gigarok and Illmind to complement the work of the group's stage DJ, Artek, and KP.

Label co-founder Tone B. Nimble explains the sound: "They've got some real soulful, little groovy cuts as you make your way through the CD. They are almost like steppers' cuts, and people ain't expecting that from the Pacifics. That wasn't our influence; they are just some Chicago cats and those songs reflect Chicago."

It's also a reflection of who the Pacifics are as people.

"As far as the content of the album, we do tackle political social issues, but at the same time we can have a braggadocios rhyme, or we can smooth it out for the ladies," says KP. "I think a lot of people thought we were just a [socially] conscious group, and we are. But that's not everything we want to convey in our music. We want to have fun with it. This is music; you've got to feel good doing it."
- Chicago Sun-Times/Red Streak (5/27/05)

"URB review of "Sunday's Chicken" (3.5 stars)"

Were it not for the bitter winters, Chicago might just be the coolest city in America. It's certainly holding it down on the underground hip-hop map with these three Filipino MCs joining Typical Cats and Thaione Davis on the city's musical radar. Mostly on the feel good tip, the positive raps only pause for even sunnier soul moments. -JR - URB Magazine (June '05)

"Review of "The Case" (3.5 stars)"

The Case (All Natural)
Rating: 3.5/5

Chicago has been trying to tell America for over 10 years that their citys hip-hop scene is bigger than Common Sense. Since the Sense got dropped, a few underground heads from Chicago have gained global respect, but the rest are barely heard. Yeah, the Louie Vuitton Don and Twista helped bring Chicago some hip-hop plaques, but underground heads need their shine, too.

Thats where The PACIFICS come into play. The group that smashes every hip-hop stereotype with their offbrand Pacific Islander flow is making their bid for greatness and so far theyre off to a good start. Its not everyday you get story raps, ill cuts, and lyrical dexterity on wax but thats what The PACIFICS bring to the table. And when the term story rap is used, its not like theyre on some Slick Rick braggadocio raps, but rather The PACIFICS tell fables. These cats think on multiple planes when they write verses and its reflected in their finished product.

Couple all of the aforementioned skill with the sick beats of producer Illmind, yet another talented Pacific Islander, and you know any collaboration between these two entities is going to be ridiculous. Thats precisely why those who love quality hip-hop should cop The Case and enjoy all of its content. There isnt a single song that even borders on filler and Illmind, who produced this offering single-handedly, provides near perfect support for The PACIFICS lyrical style. Those familiar with Illmind and his Beat Society affiliationshould be well aware of how adept dude is at making top-notch beatswhich is reason enough to buy this album.

Now before people go to the record store and get mad, this musical offering is an EP. We all know rap fans turn their noses up at EPs but it wasnt so long ago that maxi singles were hot and EPs were evidence that a group was in the studio working hard. So since Illmind and The PACIFICS are definitely making quality music together, anybody that turns their nose up at these seven songs needs to put down the pipe.

The album jumps off with a dirty Jersey beat on the track Matches which is a nice introduction for anyone uninitiated into The PACIFICS and Illminds musical swagger. MCs Norm Rockwell, Strike 3, and KP bring high energy and clear vocals to each song and its obvious that this crews skills are audibly maturing. The song Passport is a look back at all the trials and tribulations the group has endured during their 10-year career. Its a feel good song and an ode for all the upand- coming hip-hop groups around the world to stay focused. Lovers of story raps will appreciate the wordplay on songs like The Case and Antidote which take listeners on a journey through the gritty streets of Chicago. All around, this collaboration is a strong showing and hopefully not the last of its kind. - Jonathan Cunningham
- Elemental Magazine


"The PACIFICS & Illmind present The CASE" (CD/EP) - July 2006
Label: All Natural, Inc.

"All Natural, Inc presents: Anthology, Vol. I" (CD/EP) - February 2006
Label compilation featuring 2 songs by The PACIFICS
Label: All Natural, Inc.

"Sunday's Chicken" (CD/LP) - May 2005
Label: All Natural Inc.

"The September First Project: Long Overdue" (CD) - 2002
Label: Propaganda Movement Ent.

"Especialty b/w Jabs" - (CDsingle/12")
Label: Propaganda Movement Ent.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The mighty trio of KP, Strike3 (aka. Mr. REXford) and Norman Rockwell create uncut "go ill" hip hop designed to serve the soul and snap the neck. Striving to bridge the gap between the old and new generations of hip hop, The PACIFICS bring versatility to the forefront without sacrificing creativity in their music. A slew of hometown and coast-to-coast performances have earned them a reputation as showstoppers. While all three bring the rhymes, KP also shines on much of the production, Norm showcases his other passion on the cuts and Strike3 holds it down as the host of SubT's 606/Open Mic Nite on Tuesdays.

"It's hip-hop with a cleverness that overwhelms its ruggedness. It's like early Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul. It may be Chicago's answer to Jurassic 5." (Sun Times, Feb. '03)

The PACIFICS earned and have maintained their place in Chicago hip hop through their consistently high-energy stage shows. Throughout the years, they've not only performed alongside some of Chicago's best acts, but nationally, they've also opened up for artists like DJ QBert, Mountain Brothers, Fifth Platoon, World Famous Beat Junkies, Triple Threat DJs, Bahamadia, Slum Village and most memorably, KRS-One.

In 2000, The PACIFICS took their show on the road with the highly acclaimed spoken word group, I Was Born With Two Tongues, on the YellowTechnicolor Tour (which continued through 2002), performing their 1 and 1/2 hour collaborative show at schools like Stanford, Columbia, UFlorida, Rutgers, SF State, Ball State, Pomona, UofC, Duke, UMichigan & UPittsburgh. The YellowTech show wound its way around the country, leaving scorched stages from the Bay to NY - rooted in the language and rhythm of spoken word and hip hop.

The PACIFICS independently released their highly-anticipated debut album, "The September First Project: Long Overdue", in April 2002. The album, said to "offer a well-crafted manifestation of hip-hop optimism," (URB, 8/02) showcased production by KP, Bay Root Production & Chops (while also offering vocal contributions by Chops & Peril-L of the Mountain Brothers). With the help of Xylophone Films/KidHeroes Production, The PACIFICS were able to take their classic joint, "Especialty", from audio to visual, in their first ever music video.

In the summer of 2002, they hit the road once again, on the Urban Architecture 606 Tour, with other Chicago-based hip hop acts: The Primeridian, Typical Cats and DJ Presyce. With followings new and old, stage shows to match and undeniable buzz, this tour's purpose was to bridge the gaps, share the shine and take it all back to homebase - by making stops in LA, Montana, Seattle, Portland and San Jose.

KP, Strike3 & Norm have just completed their second album, "Sunday's Chicken" - release date May 10, 2005, on Chicago-based label, All Natural, Inc. The contributions to the album span nationwide with support from Illmind, DJ Rhettmatic, Rakaa Iriscience, Pep Love and fellow chicagoans like The Primeridian, Iomos Marad, Ang 13, and Denizen Kane – as well as Artek on production and behind the boards. The partnership between The PACIFICS and All Natural, Inc. marks a milestone in the group's journey, being the perfect step in taking themselves and their music to the next level.

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