A longtime Chicago street celebrity, rapper Sharkula is known for his abstract, free-association rhymes and friendly demeanor.
A relentless self-promoter, he can regularly be found around the city (particularly the Logan Square and Wicker Park neighborhoods) handing out flyers and stickers, as well as hawking his recordings. His fractured, spontaneous lyrics are surreal and sometimes off-color, but his overall attitude is far from violent or threatening. He has often been compared to Kool Keith (with whom he has collaborated), Wesley Willis, and Ol' Dirty Bastard. Actively self-releasing material since the '90s, he has occasionally received acclaim for some of his more widely distributed albums, including Martin Luther King Jr. Whopper with Cheese (2004) and Dirty Caviar (2015). He is also the subject of the 2010 documentary Sharkula: Diarrhea of a Madman.
Brian Wharton started attending hip-hop shows in 1987 and began rapping soon afterwards. He also breakdances and makes graffiti art. He began selling homemade cassettes and CD-Rs on Chicago streets and train platforms beginning with 1997's I Wonder. While mainly known as Sharkula, he's occasionally gone by the names Thigahmahjiggee, Thig, or Dirty Gilligan. A few of his albums have been pressed to vinyl, such as 2003's Thigahmahjiggee vs. Sharkula and 2008's The Diagnosis of Sharkula. His 2004 album Martin Luther King Jr. Whopper with Cheese was voted one of the best albums of the year by The Chicago Reader, and he's often been named one of the Best Street Characters by the paper. Sharkula and producer Jeremiah Jae released a collaborative CD-R titled Awesome Black Mountain in 2010. Also during the year, Joshua Conro directed a documentary about the rapper titled Sharkula: Diarrhea of a Madman. Subsequently released as a DVD, the film helped expand Sharkula's fan base outside of Chicago. He collaborated with Willis Earl Beal, who often namechecks Sharkula as an inspiration, as well as kindred spirit Kool Keith. Sharkula's Dirty Caviar, originally recorded in 2005, was released by Atomic Mouse Recordings in 2015. Following a 2018 Midwestern tour with Kool Keith, Sharkula recorded an album with experimental electronic artist Mukqs (Max Allison of Good Willsmith). Prune City was released by Hausu Mountain in early 2019. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi