Premiere: Trudell Raps About the Working Man’s Struggle in “Punching Clocks”

Meet Trudell. A Chicago first grade teacher by day and fiery rhyme-slayer by night, he is the epitome of a dream chasing go-getter.

Balancing a taxing work life with his creative pursuits, Trudell’s music encompasses a wide array of perspectives. It often touches on themes like overcoming challenges in relationships, growing up in poverty, and the harsh realities of Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods.

Green Label is proud to premiere Trudell’s newest single, “Punching Clocks,” featuring Nenette, which serves as an anthem for those trapped in (and desperate to get out of) the mundane routine of the 9-to-5.

The emcee is gearing up to unveil his forthcoming mixtape, Focused On the Sky, which he says will continue to document his visionary attitude. Expect to see that project released on his SoundCloud on May 21.

We talked with Trudell about what it’s like to balance a day job with a creative passion, the current state of his city’s rap scene, and his future plans as an artist.

Tell us about why you decided to start rapping, and how your music career began?
I started rapping at 13, when my cousin and I would freestyle over Cash Money beats, like Hot Boy$. I started taking it seriously when I graduated high school and went to Columbia College in Chicago. I got my masters in teaching, and at that point my rapping kinda slowed down. But now I’m teaching first grade I’m getting back into it.

What’s it like being a first grade teacher while also being a rapper? Is it hard to balance the two?
It’s extremely hard to balance, but it pays the bills and teaching puts me in the position to do rap, as far as gathering the expenses it takes to create a buzz. It’s cool. You have to have a lot of patience to teach first graders.

Do you ever feel inspired by your students?
All the time. I have a song called “Monster” which tells the story of two people who grew up in bad situations. I have kids in my class who would thrive more if they were in better situations and more loving households. “Monster” is basically like, how society might look at me like I’m a monster, but really, society is what’s created me.

On this new record, the hook repeats “I can’t take these punching clocks.” Can you tell me what that metaphor is meant to represent?
It’s like settling. It’s like working a job that you don’t see yourself doing for the rest of your life but you do it to get by. You look at your life like, “Damn, 10 years went by and I’ve been doing this same thing for 10 years.” If you don’t do something about it, those 10 years will turn into 20 years. “Punching Clocks” is meant to represent that feeling when you can’t take it anymore but you’re not doing anything about it.

How is “Punching Clocks” a continuance from your last single, “Long Way to Go”?
They’re both on a journey to reach something. “Long Way to Go” is more positive and inspiring, whereas “Punching Clocks” takes a more painful angle.

Your latest tape is called A Dream Turned Reality. What was the inspiration behind that title?
With that project, the goal was to turn my dream into a reality. I’m all about chasing dreams and reaching things I’ve never reached before.

How do you feel about the current Chicago hip-hop scene and how does your music fit into that?
I definitely don’t fit into the drill scene at all—it’s not really my cup of tea. But I like how these young guys are creating buzz for themselves, and I’m trying to figure out their secrets. Outside of that, there are a lot of great artists coming out of Chicago, the ones with more substance and a purpose, which is more where I belong.

Do you have any big plans in the works you’re able to tell us about?
I’m working on booking some shows right now, along with my mixtape, called Focused On the Sky, which is coming out May 21.

Images: Side by Side PR

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