St. Louis Rapper Khori⁴ Permanently Plants Himself In Chicago

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 13, 2014 7:00PM

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Photo courtesy of Side By Side PR

When Chicago-based rapper (by way of St. Louis) Khori⁴ told Chicagoist he's an engineer during our interview we inquired, "Civil, chemical?" Given the context of our conversation we probably should have assumed he meant a sound engineer but you simply don't know what to expect from him.

At 26 years old this artist on the verge already has quite a story to tell. In fact, he reveals later that he was offered a civil engineering scholarship at one point but passed on it to pursue music instead.

Khori⁴ (whose birth name is Corey Bradley) grew up moving back and forth between St. Louis and his stepfather's military base near Chicago. He shuffled between public and private schools. His father was a wealthy heating and cooling business owner while his mother dealt with financial struggles. It's no surprise to hear a balanced, informed world view when Bradley talks.

"I've seen both sides and knew what wanted in life," Khori⁴ told Chicagoist. "I knew that there was more out there in the world than what some of my friends who had been stuck in St. Louis their whole lives saw. I got the opportunity to travel a little bit and my perspective on how things could be kind of translated into my music."

Two years ago, Khori⁴ returned to Chicago again and made the move permanent when his music career began gaining momentum. Though he's been rapping since his early teens and has worked with some of St. Louis's biggest producers, Bradley found it hard to find success there, something he attributes to a better hip hop "foundation" in Chicago. "All there is in St. Louis is club DJs and the radio. In Chicago I've noticed that there's more hip hop events and word of mouth just spreads more."

The MC also cites his current home as the place that has best embraced his tendency to focus on lyrics over beats, to touch on larger ideas with his music than the traditionally shallower themes of mainstream rap music.

"In St. Louis, mainly it's Atlanta-based. They play a certain type of music which drill [music, born in Chicago] fits into because it's beat driven. People respect the conscious rap but the majority of people still like bouncing to the beat and it's really not so much about the lyrics."

Having spent time in two cities with problems both unique and universal, he's not short on material. Friends and family of the rapper have joined in the much publicized Ferguson protests in his hometown and he doesn't seem surprised by the events that led up to and followed Mike Brown's controversial death.

"The difference that I see in Chicago is the city is way bigger. When I first moved to Chicago I stayed on the South Side around 70th and South Shore Drive and then I moved out to north Rogers Park. It just seems like Chicago is so big to where I didn't have the same type of issues that I had in St. Louis." Khori⁴ adds, "There the police just hawk you. The city is so small and there's so many small municipalities, whenever you drive anywhere the police are always harassing you. In Chicago, it's bigger and they have so much more to do."

Bradley has found friends in familiar faces to Chicago's teeming hip hop circle. His most recent release was a single with ShowYouSuck and is preparing to release his first proper release, an eight-song EP titled Paradox which he hopes will drop no later than January.

The superscript in his stage name, a reference to his several reincarnations as a musical artists over the last 14 years, promises his best sound yet. It's one that puts Khori⁴ in control of both the instrumentals and vocals on his tracks.

"For the longest time I would kind of just go off the producer and my songs were more up to them. Now it's more so my voice and the beat just kind of plays a role in the background. I was always about making conscious music but before it was not preachy but just more direct. Now it"s music that you can vibe to. Even if you"re not listening to the words, you can feel it. You can understand what I'm saying without even really listening to the lyrics because it's just that raw emotion that you can feel."