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[Artist Interview] Chicago Rapper ProbCause fills us in on upcoming projects, dream collaborations and artistic endeavors, including a children’s book

When we found out ProbCause was opening up for Lettuce’s West Coast “CRUSH”  tour, we couldn’t help the huge grins that emerged on our faces. Colin Grimm, also known as ProbCause, is a socially and politically conscious hip hop artist out of Chicago who has been winning over crowds with his aptitude for elevated, fresh and influential rhymes. However, Colin does not dabble in the music scene alone. He has a multitude of creative facets including animation, shoe design, jewelry making and many other artistic outlets that he indulges in. We were lucky enough to have an opportunity to sit down with the imaginative producer after his set and ask him a few questions that had been lingering in our heads for some time. Check it out!

CYM: Name an album that had a great deal of influence on your sound that people might not expect?

ProbCause: Bon Iver is one of my favorite projects, and people probably have no idea I fuck with shit like that. His self-titled is definitely one of the most influential to me. I also like Paul Desmond, who was Dave Brubeck’s saxophone player – He was the man! He’s got this live Orchestra album, called Paul Desmond with Strings.

[Laughs] They’re both pretty experimental artists that are outside of their trajectory in music. So I like that idea of catching people off guard and never staying still in one genre. Keeping it fresh, keeping them guessing, which is why we get to open for a funk band like Lettuce!

ProbCause at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Or. Photo taken by Sydney Paschall for Compose Yourself Mag.

CYM: That leads me to ask how joining the tour come about in the first place – It seems to work as a really dope dynamic, like when you toured with Cherub a few years ago.

ProbCause: I’ve worked with Lettuce in the past, doing some of their graphics like for New Year’s, and also some of the merch they’ve got right now, so that was part of it, and then I met Deitch and we became homies. Then, Break Science did a remix for me. So it kind of came together through multiple avenues of homies, haha. They reached out to us about jumping on the tour, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s been super cool and the cities have been pretty vibin’ so far.


CYM: You’ve performed and made music with so many inspirational and talented artists like Twista, Chance the Rapper, Gramatik, etc. If given the chance, who would you collaborate with dead or alive?

ProbCause: David Bowie would be crazy, Maurice White, Mos Def, truthfully Lettuce but that shit just happened actually, so hopefully we can tighten it up and have it done for this West Coast tour! But I could go on forever. There’s a lot of people I’d love to work with, there’s nothing like a good collaboration!

CYM: In addition to music, you also design shoes, animations, and most recently you’ve been working on your own jewelry and a children’s book! Can you tell us more about those projects?

ProbCause: The jewelry line came about when I met this guy, Mark the Jeweler in Chicago. He  wanted me to do a design for a charity during Christmas, and then we just started doing other things from there. Merch type stuff will be coming up, bracelets, necklaces – all sorts of things. I’m always doodling or designing wherever I am. On this tour I’ve been trying to do a sketch per day. I’ll probably put a collage together once I’m done.

The children’s book I’m working on is called Roger’s Park, and it actually takes place where I live now in Chicago.  I have all of the artwork and the first draft finished, but basically Roger is a character who discovers a park, kind of like Secret Garden meets Where the Wild Things Are. I saw this screen door screwed onto the side of this overpass near a train yard, and it was covered in vines. I just started thinking it could be the doorway to some weird, magical little world, and then the idea for the book came. For now I’m going to wait before releasing it until the perfect opportunity presents itself.

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