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Boston's Rap Class of 2011

A slice of area hip-hop's diverse scene — from hardcore boom-bap to frat rap
By ERIN BALDASSARI  |  September 29, 2011

>> MEETChilla Jones's video director, D. Gomez <<

• Chilla Jones is pretty shy for a battle rapper. Nonetheless, the former church singer can flex a rough exterior when necessary — a skill that he developed after switching from a private elementary and middle school to Boston Latin. "Just having to walk the halls with seniors and being pushed around in the hallways was scary to me," says Jones.

Faced with new challenges, Jones turned into a bully: "It was my attempt at fitting in," he says. "I noticed the more I picked on other people, the less awkward I felt about myself." That path had a dead end, though, and eventually led to his dropping out of school, despite good marks. "I was just totally depressed and angry," he says, "and had no outlet."

Enter hip-hop. As the founder of the Boston rap battle league the Shark Tank, Chilla channels his aggression into rhymes instead of self-destruction. Rather than pushing kids into trash cans, Jones says he's extending his hand — not just in his league, but for his own projects. "I wanted to represent different areas around New England. There's not enough of that going on."

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