Abstract MindState: The Revolution Must Now Begin!
By Jessica LaShawn
To be an abstract artist, one must have a unique form of character about their work that has no precedent. The
mind state of an abstract artist could be considered diverse and strong, while their talent is pure and untamable.
With these words in mind, the name for one of Chicago’s most respected unisex duos eloquently personifies their
talent, success, and their story. EP Da Hell Cat and OlSkool Ice-Gre demanded respect from hip-hop when they
joined forces at Jackson State University. Their mission was to solidify their talent in every metaphor verbally spoken
or liquified from a pen on paper. Their passion for music was regenerated by their cosmic bond and precipitated in
their contagious energy. I found the duo very entertaining and their music enlightening and inspiring. After listening
to samples of their previous work such as “The Gospel”, “My Music”, “The Last Demo”, and “We Paid, Let Us In”, I
wondered why hip-hop lovers have yet to flock to their music. Their newest endeavor “Chicago’s Hardest Working
Mix Tape Volume 1” is nothing short of a melodic and lyrical advancement of the industry. All one can wonder is,
how do they continue to keep coming up with more? I took the time to interview EP and Ice-Gre in order to talk about
Abstract MindState and felt blessed to travel in the mind of two lyrical geniuses.
EP: MindState in the building!
Jess: How did you guys come up with your group and individual names?
Ice: Well on the Abstract MindState side of things the name came about while we were going through a change
in the group. We were just trying to pick a name that matched the level we were mentally at during a particular point
in time. The name we had before in direct relation to a few things we went through didn’t fit what we were trying to
say and what we were going through mentally and lyrically within us. But with my name (OlSkool Ice-Gre), I’ve been
that name since I started rapping years ago. I was actually inspired by Ice T because he was hot stuff when I started.
Everybody was calling themselves Ice something so that’s what I did instead of calling myself Cold Greg. (laughs). I
just took the g off of Greg which gave me the nick name of Gre-Gre .I added OlSkool onto my name as a way of
showing my appreciation because 1. I put a lot of time into the game and I used that as a way to show my
appreciation of those that came before me. I see OlSkool as a term of endearment and appreciation.
EP: Well when Greg and I met my full name was Ebony Poetess the female messiah, which is kinda long.
Throughout our time together it just got shortened. Everybody started calling me EP and it got to the point where
people didn’t even know what EP stood for..I was just EP. But eventually down the line the phrase Hell Cat got
added because I guess fire is shot up out my mouth when I rhyme.
Ice: She spits fire don’t be scared because she does spit fire!
EP: That’s right I spit fire.
Jess: Do you feel that your names represent yourselves as a group, individually, and your lyrical content?
EP: Aww Fa’ Sho!
Ice: Defiantly ..Yeah!
Jess: I’d have to agree with you two. How were your individual lifestyles growing up in Chicago? EP I know that
you are from the west side and Ice-Gre you’re from the south side of Chicago.
EP: OMG but it so similar.
Ice: But it’s too similar but we’re from two different places which makes us trip out. Honestly just to be real … I
represented the rough part , I came up around one of the highest crime rate areas on the south side and EP came
up on the hard core areas of the west side. It’s crazy how similar our childhood lifestyles were.
EP: It was the same but actually it still is the same story, we say the same things, we have the same cycles
going, and knew the same people almost. We came to find that out later on.
Ice: The gang thing was both heavy in our lives…you know I never actually was in a gang but you know I hung
with all of them back then.
EP: I ran with them and I actually banged with them.
Although some might wonder how this mighty tag team came about such wisdom within their lyrics, they both insist
that their ages aren’t an important factor because they believe there is no age in true hip hop. Therefore, if you’re
wondering how long they’ve been on this earth, ask your self first, how long has hip-hop been reshaping their lives.
Ice: We really don’t focus on our ages anymore because young kids in the game start to associate your age
with your music. When you see us, hear us perform, and feel our music you don’t care about our age. Now when the
world hears our music and gets to know what we are about then we’ll keep our age to ourselves but when people
really start feeling us then we’ll gone and let them now.
Jess: How were you individually introduced to rap/hip-hop/poetry?
EP: Well I’m a dusty person, that is and was all I listen to and here in Chicago there was a radio station called
WHBK which was on late Saturday nights/early Sunday mornings. There was this guy named Strictly Love and his
flow just inspired me and later on I began to listen to Queen Latifah and she was the influential artist that made me
really want to get serious about hip-hop.
Ice: Well I had a cousin back in Dayton, Ohio who introduced me to Grand Master Flash “The rhythm to the
twist” but I use to play drums and sing background. I was actually in a band with my cousins like we were Prince and
EP: But that is what it was like being from Chicago.
Ice: EP knows my cousin Kool-Aid well Kevin and we played the keyboards and synthesizers. I did all kinds of
things before rapping like graffiti, break dancing which I was good at and I got into poppin. But rap made me leave
all of that alone for the most part. My folks kinda thought that my rapping was a phase because they’d seen me give
up on break dancing, playing drums and all of that stuff. They didn’t know that I was serious about music until they
saw that I was serious about it when I came home from school for break and then when school was over for real.
Jess: What inspired both of you to go to a Historical Black University?
EP: Well my family is from Mississippi and my grandmother’s kids…well my mom and her sisters went to Alcorn.
We all laugh!
EP: I knew that if I were to go to college that I wasn’t going to go in the city. I needed to go somewhere where I
could escape. I chose a black college because my family went to one. The only reason I didn’t go to Alcorn was
because my family wanted me to go there. I went to Jackson State because it was the rival school of Alcorn and that
was my way of kind of pissing them off. They got over it because they were happy that I was actually going to
college in the end.
Ice: Yeah okay you took the rebel route.
EP: Yeah I took the James Dean route.
Ice: Well with me I have a similar situation as EP which is that my family is also from Mississippi and everybody
went to Jackson State which kinda made it a family tradition. Originally, I was supposed to go to Southern Illinois in
Carbondale with my best friend because I was accepted. But I had a cousin that had already been at JSU 2 years
and he came back and told me that I had to go there because it was hot. I am glad that I made that choice because
a lot of good things came out of that decision!
Jess: Well I must take this time to represent my alma mater the great land of the brave: academic resort…none
other than Alcorn State University!
Ice: Booooo the woods…you were out there in all of them woods.
EP: The woods.
Ice: Hey what was the name of that place you had to drive through to get to Alcorn, it started with a P.
Jess: Port Gibson.
Ice: Yeah Port Gibson yeah I know about Port Gibson. (Everyone laughs)
Jess: Did the southern/ country atmosphere have any effect on your style in terms of developing your music?
Ice: Well let me put it to you like this…I went down there thinking that couldn’t nobody even mess with me. I had
my cousin’s friend setting up battles with cats so I could lyrically destroy them. The south helped me developed a
positive arrogance about my music. I felt good when I demolished this guy from Chicago.
EP. Well since that is our roots it allowed something to come out that wasn’t on the surface. The south is so
relaxing and peaceful that when you go down there it feels like you’ve been sleeping and when you get there you
finally wake up. The south put me in a position to battle and actually develop my talent.
Abstract MindState adds to their ability to appeal to the masses by way of sharing their educational testimonies. Ice-
Gre was able to obtain a degree within Mass Communication from Jackson State University but due to financial
situations, EP continues to press towards earning her degree within education. She currently teaches within the
Chicago land area. She is eager to fulfill her requirement of 8 hours in order to obtain her degree. Many can relate
to her personal struggle to pursue her education. It may be somewhat easy to go to school but staying in school and
working towards earning that degree is the real adult maker of the college experience.
Jess: How would you categorize your music?
EP: Thought Provoking Hip-Hop!
The latest endeavor of these lyrical professionals happens to be the debut of their mixtape. The mixtape shows an
array of Chicago styles that have been personalized by this duos vision for making a hit unforgettable. With stereo
bumping tracks such as "Leave" , "Insanity" produced by Kanye West and "Don't Know What You Got"
featuring John Legend, this mixtape will definitely make the summertime complete.
The idea of the hip-hop nation sleeping on two of the most innovative artists to come out of Chicago is depressing.
Yet their music is uplifting because it deals with real issues and not just glorified negative situations like carrying
your guns on the block. The beginning of the rebirth of hip-hop has not been hiding under a rock in-between the
street of Chicago’s south and west side but it has been maturing on the road from Chicago to Mississippi. My
warning to the music world comes clear and cutthroat, Abstract MindState is a force to be dealt with and they are
here to make a radical change in what we consider hip-hop music and it’s lyrics.