‘Cheats Movement’ Provides The Pulse For RVA Rap Scene

Led by Marc ‘Cheats’ Cheatham, The Cheats Movement Podcast, is the most active Hip-Hop blog in Richmond. With a show every other week, the podcast invites local rappers to display their skills and drop new music.The cheats movement group also consists of Gigi Broadway, Rich Hernandez, Hip-Hop Henry, The Gawd KB, rapper RT, DJ Mentos and Jess.

The group’s origins began with Cheats and Hip-Hop Henry’s friendship. Cheats had been blogging since 2011 promoting independent hip-hop and hosting shows in the city. During this time, Cheatham would also check out Hip-Hop Henry’s and KB’s own platform, “The Listening Party,” on a routine basis. It was there where Cheatham proposed the idea of a collaboration \ nearly two years ago an the first episode of the podcast premiered shortly after.

“It made sense for it to be one because when we were doing the “Listening Party,” Cheat’s would always be there becoming like an honorary member if you will.” said Hip-Hop Henry. “It was a perfect transition.”

Centered around separate relationships built years prior, “Cheats Movement” made the most natural sense for all of the group members.

“The concept was there from the very beginning,” Cheatham said. “It took us about three episodes before we got it to 100 percent,”.

Reflecting the spirit of rap’s Wu Tang Clan, all eight members serve a meaningful purpose in the group. Everybody brings a new point of view to the table, according to Hip-Hop Henry.

KB is described as the “muscle” of the group and the “mad” rapper while RT, a rap artist himself, is a “jack of all trades.”

“I’m always doing my own thing, but when I’m with my team, I work well with them too,” said RT.

Rich is the funny “anti-hero” while Gigi provides a strong presence as she is one of two women in the group. Her “feminine mind with a masculine attitude” helps her hold her own during the heated debates on the show, which provides a Voltron-like chemistry.

“We’re always there to support one another. RT we support his music. Gigi’s photography, we’re down for that as well. Just recently, we were there for Hip-Hop’s J Dilla event,” KB said.

As a rapper, RT said he has never found a conflict of interest being on the show.

“Me and Cheats go back before I was in the Cheats Movement Podcast,” RT said. “For years, I’ve been doing work in Richmond, specifically with magazines and involved in the music scene and we’ve always been connected that way.”

When asked about why they chose to go the podcast route, Cheatham said he believes it’s the medium that fits the group best.

“I think there’s room for flexibility,” Cheatham said. “We do what we think is achievable and feasible. The podcast was an extension of expressing our personalities.”

The podcast has come with struggles the group interprets as opportunities for growth. Early hiccups like finding the right location to record, getting everyone together and managing the show has helped them fortify their overall production.

“For us to have a platform where our opinion matters really means a lot. We give these local artists an opportunity to do what they do,” RT said.

The group said their greatest feat was bringing legendary Brooklyn rapper AZ to the Broadberry in June 2016. The show was held to commemorate the 20 -year-anniversary of his classic debut, “Doe or Die.” In addition, bringing artists from other cities such as New York and Boston to perform in Richmond has elevated the group’s presence in the city.

“We’ve built a brand and community that understands that we’re not in it for ourselves. When we say we’re going to do something, we have that stamp of legitimacy because we’ve proven ourselves,” Cheatham said. “We’re the one that are taking the calls, getting the emails.”

The group’s rise has coincided with a recent change in the climate of Richmond Hip-Hop where more groups are taking initiative to celebrate the city’s rich rap culture.

“The reason I started blogging is because no one was doing it. No one was covering Richmond Hip-Hop. Because of people like Kelli and Lonnie, the Listening Party, Music Heals have presented the culture in a professional, inclusive and accepting manner.” Cheatham said. “Now you’re starting to see Richmond catch up to the fact that hip-hop is the driving force behind everything.”

Moving forward, the group said they want to help lay the foundation for those to come.

“I just want us to keep going,” Gigi said, “The central force for good hip-hop music.

“I want us to inspire other people. I want us to inspire the next generation to take what we’ve done forward,” Cheatham said.


Muktaru Jalloh, Staff Writer

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