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"Everybody's got a Nirvana CD and everybody's got a Wu-Tang CD," says Hot Chicken's Isaac Ramsey, a vocalist for the band.

"People are listening to everything," says Ben Bateman, also a vocalist.

Hot Chicken audio slideshow.


Hot Chicken has a lot of voices, which is good, because it knows that audiences are savvy and can handle hip-hop that comes with a side of gospel or R&B or any of the flavors the band can think to throw in.

In only six months, the four-piece -- pun intended — has concocted its palpable approach to hip-hop, with each member taking turns on vocals, instruments and production. While the band is a relative zygote, its music is mature — evidence of its members' collected decades of experience in the Richmond hip-hop underground.

Frontman Martin Reamy has a resume including membership in hip-hop acts such as SupaFriendz, Jazz Poets Society and Love Assassins, as well as experience providing rhymes for jazz acts such as Devil's Workshop Big Band and Modern Groove Syndicate.

Ramsey began playing drums for hardcore bands in high school. He went on to create an angsty brand of hip-hop under the name Swordplay, in which he noticeably incorporates the rougher vocals of the indie/hardcore scene.

Like Ramsey, Spencer Shorter started off on the drums, playing in bands since fifth grade. After moving to Florida to attend Full Sail University in 2002, Shorter moved to Richmond to be closer to family and collaborate with Soundproof, his cousin's project.

Bateman, the newest addition to Hot Chicken (and member of Richmond rap group Luggage) started off young like the rest of the band, playing trumpet until braces got in the way.

Hot Chicken's harmony-rich hip-hop is clever and humorous, personal yet accessible. These guys sing songs about everything from "douche-bags" getting chased by lobsters to David Bowie's eyes, all while sounding like something similar to OutKast or Gnarls Barkley, with a side of Sage Francis.

At a recent performance at MACRoCk, the Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference in Harrisonburg, the band harmonized onstage to a running vacuum cleaner, a bit of absurd experimentation that proves its influences range beyond a CD collection or even its own musical histories.

"Our motto is 'Do you,'" Shorter says, and the band is definitely collecting the "you" of each member, incorporating these perspectives into a coherent whole.

While Hot Chicken has stuck to playing shows in Virginia, there's no telling where its friendly blend of spices will take them.



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