For Chicago rapper Psalm One, a.k.a. Cristalle Bowen, 2013 has already gotten off to a smashing start.
Last year saw the release of "Child Support," the outspoken Rhymesayers-signed artist's newest album, which was created in collaboration with underserved elementary and middle school-aged participants in the American SCORES after-school program Psalm took part in in through the ASCAP Songwriter Residency. The students hailed from nine different cities across the U.S.
"We had the children pick out the beats, which was very new for me. I've never really rapped on an album where I wasn't picking the music before," Psalm told HuffPost. "It was amazing letting myself be inspired by kids half my age and younger."
Now, coming off sharing a sold-out bill at with Doomtree's Dessa at Schubas, Psalm will be one of the featured artists at WBEZ and Vocalo.org's fifth-annual Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip Hop Arts Saturday at the Metro, a unique all-ages event created with the aim to celebrate both the present and future of Chicago hip hop.
Relaunching our weekly My Chicago interview series, The Huffington Post recently spoke with Psalm One.
What is your age? What is your occupation? 32. Musician and program director for my own youth mentoring program.
Where in the city do you live and how long have you lived there? In Edgewater for the past two years.
What was your first job in Chicago? I was a drummer at my uncle's church in the early '90s. I worked as a musician even then. My first pay checks were from God.
Which Chicago "celebrity" -- living or dead, real or fictional -- would you have over for dinner? What would you talk about? Oprah. We would have a fabulous dinner and I would probably tell her a very dramatized version of my story and ask her to adopt me.
"Kids Right Now," off Psalm One's "Child Support."
Where is your favorite place for a nightcap? I prefer my bedroom, because I don't think it's a nightcap if I'd have to leave and then go home again. But for a bar, I'd say The Burlington on Fullerton in Logan Square. It's all dark and divey.
Where is your favorite place to grab a hangover brunch? Personally, I've got to keep it real gangster: White Palace Grill at Roosevelt and Canal. It's open 24 hours a day and they make my omelettes the way I like them. It's kind of janky, but I like that. When you go at 2 or 3 or 4 a.m., it's good people watching, like it's a movie.
What are your go-to spots when you have visitors in town? Unfortunately, I'm forced to take all my visitors to Harold's Chicken because it seems that for all my friends who don't live here, it's one of the first places they feel they need to go. But if I can take them away from there, I like to go to Lawrence's and Twisted Spoke on Ogden. If they're here for a week or more, I try to take them to Subterranean for 606 Hip Hop. It's classic as far as the local hip hop scene is concerned.
What is the last cultural event you saw in the city? What'd you think? I saw Stew & The Negro Problem at the MCA with my mom in November. It was amazing because I had never seen them before and I was intrigued by their name. Stew is the only black guy in the group and the band is white -- and they're "The Negro Problem." There's a lot of different witty things happening and it's part concert, part intellectual discussion and part comedy act. It was all based on the history of Chicago. They were singing songs about Chicago and he's not from here. It was really interesting to see someone coming to the city to pay homage and tell us some things about our city we may not have known.
If you had to have your last Chicago meal for some tragic reason, where and what would it be? I would probably go to Carson's Ribs because it's really "Chicago" and I'd get a lot there, it's a huge meal. I would probably stay to my roots and get the rib tips dinner with a baked potato and a salad.
Cubs or Sox? Sox.
Wicker Park, 1993 or Wicker Park, 2013? '93, hands down. My kind of coming-of-age story happened in Wicker Park around that time. I remember where I was, what I was doing and thinking and I don't really think I'd be the person I am today had I not able to walk down those streets at that time. I was an unofficial member of Young Chicago Authors and I had a lot of great opportunities to sort of cut my teeth on writing and have people tell me it was good and encourage me. I wasn't rapping then, but I was writing cryptic poetry and decent stories. I would ride the Ashland bus up from 62nd to Division and get out of my neighborhood and see different parts of my city.
Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago-style pizza or Chicago-style politics? Pizza first, then politics and then the hot dog. It's not that I don't love the hot dog but, you know, I like ketchup on it too -- though not on a Chicago-style one.
What advice would you give to a new Chicago transplant? To buy your winter coat here and to take advantage of a lot of the free festivals and the cool things that are offered here that a lot of Chicagoans don't take advantage of, like stuff at the MCA, stuff the mayor's office puts on and programs at the Cultural Center.
What do you miss most when you're not in Chicago? I miss the Mexican food. It's a really big deal. When I lived in the Bay, I got into Mission-style burritos and cuisine, but they didn't measure up to me.
If you could change just one thing about our fair city what would it be? I would change the school system and budgeting for these schools. I'd build more instead of tearing them down.
Describe Chicago in one word. Gluttonous.
In 1951's "Chicago: City on the Make," Nelson Algren wrote: "Once you've come to be a part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real." Through My Chicago, HuffPost is discussing what, to this day, makes the patch we call home so lovely and so broken with some of the city's most compelling characters.