If you enjoy hip-hop, you’re probably familiar with the industry’s clichés; if you’re not a fan of the music, it’s probably because of them—those who dominate mainstream rap, such as lyrics and videos focusing on the astonishingly “groundbreaking” societal topics like “bling,” “whips,” “ice,” and “bitches.” So, where do mopeds, BMX bikes and Cartoon Network fit into the rap recipe? They don’t, and neither does 26-year-old Chicago rapper Nigel Holt, aka, Hollywood Holt.
“I don’t really try to make music that is ‘this,’ or music that is ‘that.’ I just make shit that I’m into and that is the best stuff out there,” he says. “That’s why I’m the best rapper.”
Holt, who also spends his time as leader of the Chi-town moped gang Murder Club Moped Crew, refuses to take himself too seriously. His music is hip-hop, but with punk-rock energy and a heavy dose of hipster appeal. Like Kid Sister, The Cool Kids and Kanye West—who featured Holt’s latest single “Hollywood” on his blog—Holt is rising to the top by first dominating the Chicago club scene. But he hasn’t been doing it alone.
Since childhood, Holt has basically been joined at the hip with his cousin, DJ/Producer Million $ Mano, who is best known for his work as the DJ for M.I.A. Mano has performed twice at Salt Lake City’s W Lounge, and during his last performance Mano brought Holt, who spent the night dancing on platforms and rapping into mics. Now, Holt is coming back to the downtown venue with Mano to headline his own action-packed show Sept. 9.
City Weekly: You’ve done Lollapolooza, been on tour with Kid Cudi, Lady Sovereign ... how’s the touring life?
Hollywood Holt: It’s good, man. I’ve been stuck in Reno for the past three days. We’re at a hotel full of families. There are kids everywhere, it’s totally not a place you’d see a guy like me with tattoos and shit, but it’s been cool.
CW: How was it last time you were in SLC?
HH: It was good. I was touring with Lady Sovereign. I had no idea what to expect, I had never been to SLC and I know nothing about Mormons. There was a group that wasn’t dancing at first so I was like, “Are those Mormons?” Then there was one dude dancing with his shirt off with no socks or shoes. The after-party at the W was dope though. Way crazy. Fuckin’ packed. I fell a lot. And of course Mano killed it.
CW: How long have you worked with Mano?
HH: Since we were kids. We’re cousins, so we’ve always been friends. I’ve been rapping and writing for years and he’s been making beats with me always.
CW: Yeah, I interviewed Mano a few months ago and it sounded like he had a lot on his plate.
HH: He DJs for me, M.I.A., Mike Terror, The Cool Kids when they need him, and he produces tracks among tons of other shit. Mano is a super humble dude. We’re both creative, which is why the shows are so fuckin’ good. He’s the best DJ and I’m the best rapper. We just vibe off each other and it’s a huge party.
CW: You said you don’t shoot for a certain style in your music. How do you describe it then?
HH: It’s the best. That’s it. It’s hip-hop and it’s the best. The best hip-hop.
CW: Describe your show. I’ve seen you crowd surfing on YouTube.
HH: I feel a release at my show and that’s what I want for other people. It’s a really live, really fun show. You can scream, crowd-surf, rage out. Me and Mano both have tons of energy and we put it all in the show. It’s the best show ever.