Rick Chyme may qualify as rap’s star athlete.
The award-winning Grand Rapids musician has emerged as one of the most prolific, innovative, intensely collaborative and respected hip-hop artists in West Michigan, one who credits the sport of basketball not only for his entry into the world of music but as a model for teamwork in creating his art.
“Growing up, I played sports, so it’s kind of ingrained the mentality of how we can accomplish more together,” says Chyme, who played basketball for Rockford High School and Western Michigan University.
“The way that basketball and hip hop run, these cultures run parallel and they kind of intersect. It put me in proximity to that music from the time I was 10 until now. Basketball brought me to hip hop. Those poets and storytellers kind of gave me an escape as a listener early on, and then the music has given me an outlet therapeutically.”
It’s done more than that: Chyme’s far-reaching 2013 album, “The 5iveit LP,” won album of the year honors at the Grand Rapids Jammie Awards earlier this year, bolstered by an impressive roster of West Michigan guest artists and producers, including Nixon, Ryan K. Wilson, Edye Evans Hyde, Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, Red Pill and Michael Sullivan.
Chyme – sporting a distinctive, flowing beard – also turned heads for his bold ventures, including his bid to set a world record last fall for freestyle rapping at Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize competition. He spent more than 17 straight hours rapping throughout the city, with instrumentalists joining him and videographers documenting his interactions with fans.
“The ArtPrize freestyle,” he notes, “was a huge collaboration not just with musicians, but those thousands of people who were down in the city that day.”
In his short but colorful career, the wordsmith and motivator also has traveled extensively, including performances earlier this year at the prestigious South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.