Ke Millie, one half the West Side bred rap duo Heavy Steppers, recalls the time he first heard their seminal track, “Heavy Steppers” on the radio.
“It was shocking,” said Millie. “I tried to record it… l was like: ‘Damn, that’s crazy! We’re really doing it.’ ”
SBG Kemo echoes Millie’s sentiments regarding the relatively instant success the duo has achieved over time.
They met via mutual friends.
“It’s cool to know people mess with you for real,” says Kemo. “Just lets you know to go a little bit harder. … We met through mutual friends; some people I’d be around are real cool with him. And then I heard his music. It was really different. So I’m like: ‘Man, I want to do something with him.’
“And then we would kick it as homies. The music stuff does come with it. It would gradually evolve to what it is.”
Last year, Heavy Steppers, thanks to their album “Hood Trophies,” achieved about 5.1 million streams on Spotify and close to 1.5 million listeners, according to the streaming service’s numbers.
Standout tracks over time include “Me and Millie,” “The Playas Club” and “Gangstas Only,” among others.
“[Fans] probably expect to see a bunch of crazy s—, man; we bring the energy to wherever we go,” Millie says. “Always high energy in whatever we do.”
Also, the duo was involved in the “Heavy Steppers Challenge,” which received a boost when Chance the Rapper got involved. Millie says that moment is the catalyst in him being much more dedicated to the music.
“I was working a job driving trucks when Chance did the [Heavy Steppers Challenge],” said Millie. “I was so excited. I almost crashed the truck. I was like: ‘This is unbelievable.’ I almost called the job to tell them I’m quitting.”
Making a name for themselves in Chicago’s rap scene while one member of the duo is finishing up college in another state presents temporary problems — and potential pop-up shows.
Next month, the duo is scheduled to perform as the opening act for Chicago rap legends Crucial Conflict, and Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz.
West Side rap duo Heavy Steppers.
Millie says Kemo “finds his way back to the city” when needed.
Kemo attends Wilberforce, Ohio’s Central State University. He majors in business administration and accounting with a minor in management. He says people often recognize him from the music, causing him to take online classes.
“Once I get to school, I try to be regular; [college] is my time to have a break from everything,” said Kemo. “It still happens from time to time, but I want people to be comfortable with me being around and vice versa.”
Kemo counts his blessings, though. While in high school, he got into a fight, and was arrested for attempted murder. He says he was released after 15 months after obtaining a not guilty verdict.
“I guess it took me longer to figure out some stuff,” said Kemo, who says he graduated from high school during his incarceration. “When I came home, I already graduated. I missed prom. And I was like: ‘I gotta figure things out soon.’ People started telling him to rap, and take it seriously. That was the spark to make music.
“It’s tough because you got to balance everything. I’m saying you got to be determined to finish what you start. I could have stopped and I probably would have been farther along than I have been in my music. It’s just me being hardheaded and me being … determined to do it all at once.”
The duo cites local rap legends Chief Keef, Lil Durk and G Herbo, along with Meek Mill as influences.
They believe the city’s rap scene is much more welcoming than before.
“I feel like we’re getting out of that crabs-in-a-barrel mentality,” said Kemo. “We have some bumps in the road, but that’s what comes with it. Everything is everything. It’s all love with us.”
Source by chicago.suntimes.com