Honoring a love for music from the renaissance, Pengame Classic brings an old-school style to the current age. Upbeat melodies and rhythmic beats are weaved with Classic’s clever rhymes in an artistic expression of “vibrational rap.” He has the ability to switch up his flow while still maintaining the substance of traditional hip-hop. “Realer than most,” Classic tackles current affairs in his work, speaking his truth, and lifting the people up for positive change. His music has touched on subjects like police brutality, institutional racism, and mental health issues.
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Pengame Classic grew up in a military family. Much of his childhood was spent moving to various states and living abroad in Berlin, Germany. His mother introduced him to rap at an early age, him develop an excellent ear for sound.
“My mother was always an in-season mother,” Classic explains. “From to music and over all life, as time evolved we evolved with it.”
Classic represents his personality through an eclectic style. Whether he’s riding the beat like a southern artist or dropping into a west coast swagger, he centers his sound on the influences that resonate most. For Classic, the impact of early 90’s east coast artists is most prevalent in his original style. These elements are layered through out his music, leaving his personal signature on every track he touches.
In his youth and college days, Pengame Classic focused on basketball and academics, resulting in a late start to building his music career. By the end of 2004, after attending Kansas Wesley an University, he shifted his energy to making music full-time. Classic and his family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona in 2008, which all owed him to build a following in the local scene. Showcasing his grind and networking skills, Classic quickly started making moves, opening up for DJ Quik and Kurupt in Scottsdale, AZ at a Sean Healy event.
After getting married in 2013, Classic transformed, stepping into a new life chapter. At this time, he created a brand for his music called, Cat3goryOtha, representing his break from the norm.
“I can't be put in a category because my entire life has been to adapt and change,” says Classic.
He started his mixtape series, Back To The Past, with a feature from G-13, an artist known for his contribution on the track, "Nas is Coming,” from the album, It Was Written. From here, however, Classic settled into working a regular job and redirected his grind, stepping into the role of providing for his family. Classic continued to make a name for himself, contributing his talents on various notable mixtapes.
At the beginning of 2020, accompanied by his wife and young daughter, Classic took a month-long family vacation to Africa. Another transition in life occurred for Classic as he took the time to reflect on mental health and anxiety, and fully embraced the culture he was experiencing.
"I remember hearing the news about a potential virus in Europe by way of China called Covid-19,” Classic remembers. “We had just returned from three continents in one month: the United States, France, and Tunisia; so I only got bits and pieces about this virus. After we settled back in at home, I realized touring wasn't going to be an option. The shutdown happened and that pretty much changed my life for the better as far as music was concerned. I purchased a studio to place in my house, knowing the extent of the virus.”
Recording from home, Classic released his album, The Loner, in May. The project was themed around mental health and totaled in over 100,000 streams combined from various platforms.
“That was huge for me,” Classic says. “Being the current state of the world, I capitalized off a project from the previous year. The timing couldn't have been better.”
He took to the local papers and was published in The News Enterprises. The article appeared in a section titled, “The Pulse,” which predicts new trends, keeping an eye on the community. In late May of 2020, Radcliff, Kentucky writer, Andrew Critchelow, published an article on Classic’s work titled, “Rapper Addresses Mental Health.” That following November, Pengame Classic released his latest project, Graffiti Rapp. It features his cousin, Murakulous, the up-and-coming artist, LORD JAH-MONTE OGBON, Koncept Jack$on, and the Brooklyn artist, Skyzoo.
In 2021, Pengame released two albums, Melo Aphrodite and Casso’s Theme. The first being based on love and the latter not only being named after the producer but also carried an art-based theme. He performed music from Melo Aphrodite which features Skyzoo and Murakulous at the 1st Annual Hip Hop and R&B Cookout in Brooklyn, NY. In early 2022, he performed music from Casso’s Theme at The Karma Sutra Lounge in Manhattan, NY.
Pengame’s music caught the attention of film-maker Nadira Pankey. This lead to him writing and performing a song called “Gerald” for the film Gerald’s Hands. This song is featured during the beginning credits of the film. Currently, he is working on a new project called Cat3gory Otha set to be released later on this year.