Rob Base and DJ EZ-Rock laid it down in their 1988 platinum single, “It Takes Two.” In the track, Base asserts that it takes two to make a thing go right. This is most definitely the case with Filf Dos, Chicago’s hottest new hip hop duo, comprised of MC Filfy and DJ Jive Alive, whose first full-length album, Filfy Flirty, is dropping this fall. The two started playing together in 2005, as members of an Ithaca-based hip hop collective called Rare Faction, and in 2006 began their current project.
The day after their packed show at Snapshot, I sat down with Filfy at a filthy vegan cafe on the LES. The joint was swarming with flies and hipsters, and her happy-go-lucky demeanor and soft-core hip hop aesthetic distinguished her from fellow patrons, who were busy sulking over tempeh beneath greasy sheets of bangs. This yin and yang– of the breezy hip-hop head amidst the rockabilly cranksters– was a dichotomy reminiscent of her dynamic with Jive, a surly vegetarian who dresses like Theo Huxtable and manages to be likeable in spite of himself (“Why are romance novels never written from a male perspective?” he asked at one point). “I don’t want to be famous,” he claims. If the pair keeps making music like this, then it seems that fame is a fate that’s inevitable– which, though not a goal for Filfy, is not such a bad thing either.
So your myspace page says that your name is Filf Dos cause your MC name is Filfy and there are two of you. Is there more to the story?
My little brother is this 19-year old punk kid and we joke around a lot and say stupid shit to each other all the time. Upon congratulating each other on something we’d say things like kudos, or kudos, chewy, which turned into filfy kudos. If something was bad news bears we’d switch it up, so it’s be kewy chudos. So then I had a show and we didn’t have a name yet and they needed a name to put on a flyer and I was thinking, filfy kudos? Filf…dos! Awesome! So I got the approval from my little brother and I called Jive and asked him what he thought of it and he liked it. We take this project super seriously but the name started out as a joke– one that ended up being relevant.
How would you define your style as an MC?
I’m definitely not someone who likes to brag about themself, I’m not a battle rapper, I’m not rapping cause i feel like i have to prove something, I just like it. Jive and I call it breakneck poetry cause you’ll definitely be nodding your head. We definitely have that east coast flavor. We make this music because we both really love to make music. I think it sounds different cause there’s so many different elements that go into it– we’re from two completely different worlds, upbringings and whatnot.
Do you and Jive ever disagree about music?
Jive is my own worst critic. if the rhymes sound too simple, he’s like, ‘You gotta take this up a notch.’ He’s a hip-hop snob. I like commercial hip hop, jiggy music. I like that club shit. He can only take that shit in limited doses. It keeps me thinking of cleverer and more intelligent things to say. There’s a lot of his beats that aren’t necessarily my style, but he’s got a lot of MCs that he works with, and we pull which ones we like. We all seem to have our own sound and style, so we never fight over beats.
Jive is a really good DJ.
Yeah. Unlike most DJs, Jive doesn’t just sample soul. Also swing, old-timey shit. He could probably find some crusty Hawaiian record from 1935 and flip it and make it hot. We’re definitely opposites but we have a lot a lot a lot in common. Our style of clothing, the women we find attractive. Even though he’s straight and I’m queer and he’s from the suburbs and i’m a city slicker, and he likes to be in the background and I’m in your face.
Any guilty music pleasures?
There’s a hip hop group in chicago called Hotstylz and they sing a song called “Lookin Boy”- like if you see a guy who looks like Marty McFly on the street, he’s a Marty McFly-looking boy. It’s been my guilty pleasure of the summer. I really like comedy in hip hop.
But your songs aren’t really comedic.
“Letter J” is kind of. I’m doing a side project- name not disclosed yet- with a couple other dykes, and it’ll be the first solely queer project I’ve ever been involved in. It’s almost all comedy and it’s my outlet, cause I take Filf dos really seriously. I have notebooks of comedic rhymes that Jive would never go for.
Tell me about a lyric of yours that’s significant to you.
“What it is hate and respect this moment for what it ain’t separate salt from ocean.” It’s from our song “Whitney.” It’s about the ability to pull the good from any situation that might not be where you wanna be, the power of positive thinking. Separating salt from ocean is like seeing the bigger picture. Jiveowitz and I came up with the concept for that.
In the fall our album will be done. We have a couple tours pending overseas and a west coast tour in the spring.