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Chicago’s hip-hop scene is blazing at the moment. From drill stars such as Katie Got Bandz, King Louie, Chief Keef and Lil Durk, to SaveMoney captains Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, to Village members Alex Wiley and Kembe X, the Windy City is truly a melting pot of sounds. Yet tune in to any hip-hop station in the city and it’s a good bet that you’ll hear a different voice gracing the airwaves: that of 17-year-old Spenzo. The Englewood native remains relatively unknown nationally but is dominating locally thanks to his smash hit, “Wife Er, which was recently named the city’s hottest record by Complex Magazine. Bulls all-star center Joakim Noah even co-signed the song by including it on his official pre-game playlist.

Spenzo‘s YouTube presence — he consistently drops new freestyles and music videos — has garnered him a huge following in Chicago, especially amongst fellow teens. This fact is readily apparent as he hits the stage on Saturday night at the Illini Union Courtyard Café, as the crowd is thrown into a frenzy (Spenzy?) the moment Spenzo utters the first bar from “Wife Er.” In fact, people love “Wife Er” so freaking much that dude performed it four times in a row alongside fellow Rich Crew member and freshman hooper Kendrick Nunn before finally getting into some of the grittier tracks from his latest mixtape, In Spenzo We Trust. The show was short and sweet, as Spenz was in a hurry to get back to Chicago for a performance the same night with Lil Durk at King of Diamonds. UPC was in the building and secured a couple minutes with the up-and-coming rhymer before he had to hit the road again. Read our conversation below.


UPC: First of all, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I want to touch briefly on your last mixtape, In Spenzo We Trust. What I really like about it is that it shows your versatility. Take a track like “Wife Er,” for example, which really shows that you can ride a beat. And then take a song like “Englewood,” which shows you can truly spit. It seems like you’re not really trying to carve out your own lane yet — you’re still exploring.

Spenzo: First, to start off, I’m Spenzo — nice to meet you. As far as my versatility, I just try to, whatever I feel at the moment I just go with it. If I feel a certain type of flow at the moment, I just go with the flow. That’s really it.

UPC: A standout track that I really liked was “Englewood,” like I said. I chopped it up with DJ L a few weeks ago at a party here, real nice guy. I really like the sound that you two create together. Do you guys have anything in the works coming soon? 

S: As far as DJ L, we got something coming up soon. We’ve got something big coming up soon. So be expecting that.

UPC: That’s what’s up. Do you have any inkling about when your next project should be coming up?

S: As far as my next project, it’s coming soon. I’m working, taking it day by day, trying to coordinate the best music I can right now. Trying to dig it out.

UPC: For sure. Your dad is DJ Dion, a pretty big name in the Chicago scene. Would you say you credit him for kind of inspiring you to take music as a full-time job? Or was it a combination of him and others?

S: For sure, in a sense, of course. That’s Pops, so I was around the music at a young age. He introduced me to different kinds of music, different genres, not just rap. He played a mix of rap and other music. He was kind of like in the early days of the ghetto house music. He kind of originated it in his own way. And man, just all different genres. So I kind of picked it up since I was little and it’s just been instilled in me ever since then.

UPC: I respect the fact that you’re doing this show here and turning around and going back to Chicago for a show at King of Diamonds with Lil Durk tonight too. Speaking on that, Durk is obviously huge right now. Do you guys have anything planned? I feel like you two would cook up some crack in the booth.

S: That stuff just kind of happens naturally, organically. So if it’s meant to happen, it’s gonna to happen. We’ve got a show tonight, so I’m just finna rock out.

UPC: I wish I could be up there man, I’m stuck down here. Have fun tonight and rock that shit. 

S: Thanks man, I appreciate it.

Watch the video for In Spenzo We Trust‘s opening track, “Englewood,” below. Follow Spenzo on Twitter @AintUSpenzo.