Remember Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first album? It was self-titled, but it had the explanation underneath on how to pronounce it. “(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)” was emblazoned smack dab underneath the band’s name, since no one could figure out how to say it on their own. The same thing happens with Chicago’s group of funny-boy rappers, Le Roy. I know what you just did. You just read that and in your head it sounded like “Lee-Roy,” didn’t it? Sorry, you got it wrong.
Maybe for their first official release they should take page out of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s book – (Pronounced ‘Lŭh ‘Rŏy).
But that’s not the point, is it? The point is Chicago has a group of funny, not-so-bad-boy rappers all up in its guts. Le Roy, the Chicago transplants from western Illinois, is here and they’re giving people a reason to shake their asses and laugh until they break their chairs (it’s happened).
Le Roy consists of Zilla, Nasty Nate, Bearclaw (AKA Seanye West), and their newest member, dancer extraordinaire, Baby Gaga. These guys have slowly but surely been making their way into the Chicago comedy scene for the past few years.
So what’s their story, you ask? Bearclaw explains to me, “We’re from a few hours west of Chicago, a city called Moline. Me, Nasty Nate, and Zilla all used to work at this small sandwich shop together. It wasn’t a very busy place so we would pass the time by just writing stupid raps.” Bearclaw went on to say that writing rhymes eventually turned into a hobby outside of work. They started making beats to accompany their poetic lines of dick and fart jokes.
Soon after, Zilla’s bedroom became somewhat of a homemade recording studio. It was nothing fancy, but it was enough to upload to a MySpace page and make friends laugh from their computer chairs. From there, it was a bit of a slow crawl for the boys. Recording a new song every few months without any live shows got them a little anxious. Moline wasn’t exactly the place to play unless they wanted to only perform for their friends at every single show. In 2007 the original Le Roy boys decided to relocate to Chicago.
Two more years passed with Le Roy writing a slew of new songs but not really knowing what to do with them. “A good friend of ours, Siri,” explains Zilla, “was an intern for Vocalo.org and started telling Brian Babylon [radio show host] that he needed to hear us. She showed him some of our songs and he wanted us to play at one of his comedy shows.”
In August 2009, with the addition of their extra sexy dancing machine, Baby Gaga, they played their first live show to a south side Chicago crowd at the Bronzeville Coffee House.
Playing a few more shows throughout the city (Town Hall Pub, Jokes & Notes, Bronzeville Coffee House a few more times) Le Roy has made plenty of people laugh with their mix of nerdy and dirty. How often have you heard a rappers reference time travel, black holes, dark matter, oral sex, tiny dicks, and peeing in butts? Probably not too often, right? These guys take the high road with their college educations while simultaneously appealing to the inner 12 year old in all of us with the easy mention of boobs and butts to make us all giggle. Of course we’ve all seen or heard dirty raps before, but with Le Roy, it strikes a different chord.
Last week I followed the boys back to their home turf for a Blackout Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving show. Dressed as pilgrims, they came out and impressed friends and strangers, making everyone laugh along the way. After the show, I talked to a few members of the audience to get an idea of how Le Roy was received. Derek Ahrens of Davenport, IA commented, “I really enjoyed it. I usually don’t dig on hip-hop, especially white guys doing hip-hop. But they were sincere white guys doing hip-hop. They weren’t trying to be gangster. You could tell ‘cause they referenced Star Trek – not just regular Star Trek – Star Trek the Next Generation, they referenced Full House, and they said something about ‘I’m gonna open your blouse like a china hutch.’ You’re not gonna hear that on a Gucci Mane album, and I support that.”
When asked about their music-making process, Zilla seemed to make it clear that The Beastie Boys are one of his main influences for his rap style, while Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, is his most recent influence for making beats. Always on the lookout for new samples to use, Zilla acknowledges the difficulties of creating new beats, “It’s tough to use samples that Girl Talk hasn’t already done. I have a whole list of songs I plan to use and then he releases a new album and half of the samples on it are ones I wanted to use for Le Roy.” This doesn’t necessarily make it impossible to create new beats with old samples, but it seems like Zilla is more concerned with creating something new that people haven’t heard before. Bearclaw elaborates, “It doesn’t matter if we make a song and include some samples if Girl Talk uses the same ones a year later. His are the ones people are going to remember.”
But the boys don’t let anything like that slow them down or stop them from doing what they want to do. “We’ve been practicing and writing new songs a lot lately,” said Nasty Nate, “and we’ve got a few shows booked for December and January.” So keep an eye out for these perverted gentlemen across the Midwest. Whether you’re in Chicago or closer to Iowa, you’ll most likely get a chance to go see them sometime soon, and you should definitely do so.
-Brian Speer, The Runt