Karaoke is always a solid weekend outing option but specialty karaoke parties can really up the fun, and Chicago's Original Rap Karaoke seems to have found a permanent new home in Jerry's Sandwiches of Wicker Park. By day, the spot serves up dozens of weirdly wonderful sandwich combinations, but on the third Saturday of every month local rap favorite Psalm One (pictured above) and her band of hip hop enthusiasts turn it into a haven for house party classics. With a collection of hundreds of rap tracks, this is your chance to get up on stage of show off your flow.
Chicago Like A Local had a chance to talk to Psalm One to learn what Chicago's Original Rap Karaoke is all about.
Chicago Like A Local: Hi, Psalm. So tell me, is it always packed for rap karaoke nights?
Psalm One: Oh yeah. I like the fact that we're staying well within our passion and our realm, which is hip hop, but we throw a party.
CLAL: Is it mainly just hardcore hip hop fans that make it out?
Psalm One: There's a little bit of everybody! Moms, dads, singles, grandmas, corporate people, would-be rappers. We had a bridal party once. We even had a bunch of CPS teachers celebrating summer vacation!
CLAL: How are the karaoke skills? Do you see a lot of good performances?
Psalm One: We have a gauge for great performances. We call it "The Glory." We actually give out prizes for people who give out "Glory" performances. For me, the best thing about karaoke is watching someone go up there and bring a classic to life. I think it's pretty split down the middle though. We get some horrible performances, people who bite off more than they can chew. You have to account for a lot more lyrics in rap music. But we encourage people to do something they're comfortable with and will even provide backup vocals if they need it.
CLAL: What are some of the most popular songs that karaoke-ers pick?
Psalm One: "Baby Got Back" is an oldie but a goody. We had a theory that it wasn't going to be very popular because they have it at every karaoke bar, but it is. We have a lot of Kanye West fans too. TLC's "Waterfall" is popular and "What A Man." Personally, I love Missy Elliot, like "Get Ur Freak On." We try to keep it classic but we do realize that there are new classics.
CLAL: What songs would you recommend to a first-time rap karaoke-er?
Psalm One: Something really generic in the rap realm. I would probably do "Baby Got Back" or even Tupac's "Dear Mama," something the crowd knows and can sing along to. We encourage the crowd to join in. It's a loving environment.
CLAL: Who else helps to host Original Rap Karaoke Nights? Do you have any special guests?
Psalm One: With my touring schedule, unfortunately I can't make every one so Race from Primeridian helps out and Matt Koehne--he's our success story. He came out for the first karaoke night in November 2012 and he's be coming to every one since. He does a great "Overnight Celebrity" by Twista and is a really great person. He went from being one of our "Glory" patrons to an actual host. E.Brown always DJs.
CLAL: And how do you guys like Jerry's?
Psalm One: Jerry's is a great environment! Karaoke goes all night but it never feels like we've been there a long time. It's all about sharing a love of classic hip hop. You don't get to hold the microphone all the time if you're not a rapper.
The next Original Rap Karaoke night at Jerry's is Saturday, April 19. SIgn-ups start at 9 p.m. so get there early to secure your spot! As always, there's no cover but it is for hip hop heads 21 years and older. For more info, click here.