Chill EB and Me: Rappin' About Scientology
Chill EB and a fan on set (from Chill's Facebook page)
Last night, rapper Chill EB showed up in the comments to the story we had written about his interesting career as a 1990s Bay Area up-and-comer who today is Scientology's in-house hip hop act.
What ensued was several hours of interaction, as the rapper dangled the possibility of an interview with the Voice while also defending himself from several of our readers, who seemed to be in an aggressive mood.
Finally, at about 2 am, Chill offered to meet through Twitter in order to exchange telephone numbers and have a conversation. Instead, a two-hour Direct Message dialogue ensued. After the jump, some background for those unsure who Chill EB is, and our exchange...
As we explained yesterday, Norman Berry, a/k/a Chill EB, started rapping in 1985, and by 1990 and 1991, he was having some success in the Bay Area scene, with several radio hits and steady television commercial work. Things then started to wind down, and in 1994, he decided to end his career.
In 2009, Chill resurfaced with the anti-psychiatry song "Y'all Better," which he has performed for Scientology audiences (the church hates the psychiatric profession with a passion). In the last year, Chill has been showing up at Scientology events, performing at the opening of new buildings, and earlier this year he recorded an official song and video for the International Association of Scientologists titled "Dauntless, Defiant, and Resolute." (During our conversation, I repeatedly refer to this official video as "the IAS" video.) That video was only for internal consumption, and has not been seen outside the church. But in the last few months, an IAS chapter in Copenhagen made its own, rather awkward, video set to the song, and last Thursday night the video leaked to YouTube. We quickly put it up, and it was then picked up by various news organizations.
Yesterday, we followed up our posting of the Copenhagen video by looking at Chill EB's entire career, from his hits in the early 1990s to other songs he has put out recently with Scientology connections. His video for "Define Better," an anti-psychiatry song, for example, links to the website of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Scientology's anti-psychiatry front group.
During our conversation in the wee hours this morning, I repeatedly asked Chill about seeing the original, official IAS video, which has not leaked yet. He, meanwhile, tries to convince me that he only made the IAS song as retaliation for harassment he says he's been getting from Anonymous, through its website, WhyWeProtest.net (WWP), and in particular a user named OpenComments. [OpenComments turns out to be a YouTube account, not a WWP user. Chill for some reason expected me to be familiar with OpenComments, but I was not.] He also complained about my readers, one of whom revealed to Chill that he had such personal information about him as the names of his grown children. You will also see that I am awkwardly attempting, in some cases, to get a source to keep talking. But if I'm going to print this, it has to be warts and all, I figure.
With that as background, here's how our exchange began at about 2 am. Direct Message is a clunky tool for a flowing conversation; I have rearranged some responses for clarity in the flow of the exchange, but I have not edited the responses themselves, except for minimal changes in punctuation, again, for clarity. If each of us seems like fairly good spellers for Twitter in the middle of the night, well that's how it went, yo. -- T.O.
Hey man. Our conversation is off. One of your readers crossed a line. Given the mentality of your readers I need to learn more about you. I hope you understand. Thank you.
Ah, that's weak. It's a blog. I don't control my readers. I don't even know who most of them are. Call me.
Weak huh, that's supposed to encourage me to call you. Dude I left the military many years ago. I don't have a boss.
Just busting your chops. You seem like a cool guy, which is why I feel like I can talk to you. Let's talk your career, not my readers.
Yeah, I'm pretty cool, with everyone. I try to get along. I understand other people have their hang ups. Nobody is perfect.
Send me a link to the IAS video. I want to feature it!
There is no link. You'd have to contact them directly. You wish to see the video that started it last year look up Y'all Busted on Youtube.
I included the Y'All Busted video in that blog post! Didn't you see it? And I linked to your London performance. It's the IAS vid that I want. So here's the key question. Are you a Scientologist yourself, or just recording and appearing for them?
Tony, I really try not to spend too much time entertaining these blogs. I really am busy. Plus, there's so much hatred and anger. The point you make that it's a blog. Well you're right. I don't have to read it or participate. You ask am I a Scientologist? What is a Scientologist? I know what my answer would be if asked but I don't wish to speak religion & politics.
I don't think I showed any hate or anger in my post. I was genuinely curious about your career, from "Let's Roll" to now "Define Better." Like I said, I can't control my readers. Some of them are former Scientologists, and carry a lot of resentment from their time in. No, you don't have to participate. But my posts reached a lot of people. And anything you say will reach many more. The Voice has reach.
I appreciate that reach of The Voice but I'm not looking for it. I do not take it for granted either. I was hoping you were being facetious.
What's the story on the song "Prove It"? Does it also have a Scientology theme?
Scientology theme? Y'all Busted doesn't even have a Scientology theme. I recorded the IAS song as a result of OC from WWP.
Golden Era helped you record IAS, didn't it? And film your video? What's WWP got to do with it? WWP didn't even know about you until July.
When you were first responding. But these haters who are only trying to be destructive have made me reinstate my "zero tolerance policy,"
All I did was play your videos and write about your career. I didn't attack you. And now I'm just asking simple questions.
I told OC that he kept being a jerk to me I would do another song. So accredit the IAS song as a response to this anonymous attack.
Sure, you want me to believe the IAS song was done to answer some guy at WWP. And not because Scientology was paying, and making a video.
They wouldn't listen. All those critics that would send me bullshit messages. So I recorded that song. I know how to read so it's simple.
Come on, Chill. Games. Let's talk what's really happening. You're in South Africa, right? That's cool. Where did you film the "Prove It" vid?
See. We can't even begin to seriously speak because you're already misleading the conversation. Who ever said there is a video to Prove It? If there is one I haven't seen it and have no knowledge of it. It's nice of you to want to help promote it. If you want to view the video?
You're right, you talked about a single for "Prove It" coming out. I assumed a video, and if I'm wrong I apologize.
When/where did you hear me discuss Prove It? I was about to give you props for being "in tune" with me. Vibing like me and my real homies do. But you already knew about Prove It! sweet!
In your Twitter feed. You tell fans they can win a copy of the single. So just now, that's how I heard about "Prove It." From you. You've recorded a song for the IAS and one for CCHR. Is Narconon next? Applied Scholastics? Scientology itself? Which is "Prove It" for?
Hahaha, you'll have to wait and see. Right now it looks like it's time for me. I seem to be the one having to "prove" something. I may do one for Youth for Human Rights. I may do one for the local Symphony. Who knows what I might do next. Don't waste time trying to guess.
Ah yes, Youth for Human Rights. That makes sense. "Human Rights" is the big push now. That's a good look for you. I see that. My favorite line from IAS was "Psychiatry and SPs you know we take 'em down." Did they explain to you what an "SP" was? I know you're proud of that IAS video. How about letting me see it? My readers liked the "Define Better" video. Let the world see IAS, man.
Contact the IAS or go watch it on one of their television thingys. As far as games? You're playing games. I'm being real. Since WWP is intent on "ruining my career" let them find it. They've investigated this far with inaccurate information or results.
The IAS won't show me anything. You can't show it to me, can you. They own it. And they decide who sees the IAS video. Right? I'm not the WWP. I didn't go look up your kids. I looked up your videos. I showed "Define Better." And I want to show IAS.
Yeah, but you have the Voice to say that aint cool. It's not necessary and it's not cool. I don't include you in their "group." That's why I'm even responding. But since I know what they are about I believe they are using you to smear me. I'm not interested. Thank you. Why would they [the IAS] be reluctant to let you watch it? Why is it such a big deal? I respect all religions. I was talking about sharing in person. I do not own the rights to promote it with out their knowledge or consent. I could play it before friends.
I would love to see it with you in person, are you kidding me? When are you going to be in NYC? You travel a lot.
I don't know. Maybe soon. No disrespect, If I did do an interview in NY I would prefer my friend Sway or Davey D. No disrespect.
Oh, I don't care if you do other interviews in NYC. That's fine. I just want to get to know you, if you have the time. The IAS song itself is cool. The video they made in Copenhagen, however, wasn't cool. Were you disappointed to see it made fun of so much?
I have no comment on the video from Copenhagen. If anything I would be flattered. Honored that someone would be inspired to use my song.
I asked earlier if you knew what an "SP" was when you put that in the IAS song. It stands for "suppressive person." Did they explain that? Have you performed for David Miscavige yet? Have you met him? Tom Cruise?
Of course I know what an SP is. You think I say shit I don't know what I'm talking about? I'm not a chump like some think!
So you've had some Scientology training? You've taken some classes? Have you been audited? Using the e-meter?
I simply can not deny or confirm your questions. I don't know your intent but according to your page you're going for a religious slant. Are you asking me or telling me? You are making assumptive statements but punctuating them with question marks. This leaves me confused.
Chill, your song "IAS" was made for, and was funded by, a religious organization. I can't avoid questions about a religious org, can I? No, I'm asking sincere questions. I don't know if you've had training. I'm just asking. You knew what SP was, so you may have training.
You're an independent thinker, right? You can avoid whatever you wish to avoid. Same as me. You want to know about it go to their place. They have one in NY. Push the buttons on the little displays and it plays on a loop. Ask question with them about Scientology. I'm not well versed enough to discuss it fairly. I tell people to go see for themselves. But yeah, WWP gave me so much information. I made my mind to find out more. So yes, I have the basic books and I've read one. Big deal, huh?!
OK, the Basics, cool. Was it Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health? That's the main, starting book. Were you surprised to see the photos from your video shoot at WWP? How did people at Golden Era react? [Golden Era Productions, Scientology's filming facilities, which appears to have made the "Dauntless, Defiant, and Resolute" video.]
I don't know. They probably don't care. They expect it and predicted it. Personally I don't care. I think it's a bit odd. Had they paid attention to their own blog and compared the pictures they took from my page with the video parody of my song they should have known that they are not the same images. Yet they are promoting some "cover up" theory. Like I'm trying to hide something. It's really odd.
How about a rhyme or two from "Prove It"? Lay it on me.
Naw. No lyrics yet. Let me figure out a release date. If you are sincere as you say I will get you a copy first.
Excellent! I would love to introduce "Prove It" to the world, whatever it's about. I saw photos of you performing on a roof somewhere, and there was a tent out on some hills, and then the guys with guns. All for IAS vid?
The Way to Happiness. What's your history with Scientology? You sound just as knowledgeable as I am on the subject.
I've been reporting on Scientology since 1995. It's a very complex subject. I have sources all around the world. I enjoy it a lot. So there's a Way to Happiness song and video too? Hey, I want to see that! Same deal, I have to get it from them?
Have you read it yet? How about Dianetics. I don't know the order but everyone says do Dianetics first. You should call them and introduce yourself. No Way to Happiness song but that's a great idea! Didn't even think of that!
I had lunch at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, actually. With Karin Pouw. Do you know her?
So that's why you said they wouldn't share anything with you? I get it. Well, sorry I don't know answers to your real questions. Don't think I know her. Cool.
See, I gave you an idea for a song. So what's the event in Joburg? Another building opening up?
Photos on the roof. Yellow tents/IAS vid? I can not deny or confirm.
Yeah, yea. I know, you know nothing. But hey, you're touring all over the world, that has to be cool. Are you enjoying it?
You have sources around the world. Don't you have some in Johannesburg? What did they say it was? What was their feedback?
No, I have no sources in Joburg. Yet. I only know you're there because you said so, on your Twitter. Is it nice there today?
No, what's funny is I am nothing yet I'm traveling around the world. People enjoy it yet your readers/my critics say I lack talent. LOL. I don't know. I heard it was storming.
I never said you weren't talented. What interests me is you record Scientology songs and travel for Scientology. I want to know about it.
I was not suggesting you said it. It's been said by some of your sources. How did you even hear about me? WWP, right. OpenComments?
OpenComments? Is that someone at WWP? Never heard of it. I actually first heard about "Define Better" from one of my many sources. Months ago. Then Thursday night, two of my regular sources (not WWP) alerted me to the Copenhagen vid, and I jumped on it before anyone else.
Yup, and he already threatened me that he would "ruin" my career. I read somewhere related to this blog something from WWP. You say I "record Scientology songs." Fact is I recorded 1 Scientology song [the IAS song]. Y'all Busted, Define Better, and Prove It! are contemporary.
Fair enough. Did Golden Era produce "Define Better"? Looks awfully expensive. I mean, "Define Better" is a slick video, but that CCHR link suggests that they were helping pay for it? Just asking. Storming? Well here it's dark. And almost 4 am. I gotta get some shut eye. I have a ton of work tomorrow before Thanksgiving.
Yeah me too. I've been traveling for the past day and a half. Take care. Sleep well.
You too. It was good talking to you. And I still want to see that IAS video. Some day, I hope. Later. Passing out now. If you want to answer one of those final questions, cool. If not, that's cool too. Gotta sleep. Thanks for the chat, Chill.
Thank you. I can not deny or confirm your question. Thank you, I'm glad you like Define Better. CCHR is helping promote on their page. You don't have to be religious to be a part of CCHR.
Aight, good night/morning.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #1: L. Ron Hubbard #2: David Miscavige #3: Marty Rathbun #4: Tom Cruise #5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin #6: Anonymous #7: Mark Bunker #8: Mike Rinder #9: Jason Beghe #10: Lisa McPherson #11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants) #12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives) #13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists) #14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists) #15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics) #16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
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SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
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JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
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HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
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THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
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