In December newish rap podcast Chicago Sleepers posted an interview with local rappers Melo Makes Music and Ju where the MCs talked about bridging hip-hop with alternative rock. Ju said combining rap and rock comes naturally: “It’s not a thought anymore, I just kinda make that shit—honestly not even thinking about it.” His public output is limited—he’s dropped a handful of solo tracks since his duo Moon & Ju called it quits in 2014—but his work shows a reverence for the kind of crossover rock that peaked roughly 15 years ago, far enough in the past for musicians now in their late teens to consider it classic. Take “Stains,” released a few months ago—it’s built on a down-tempo bass line lifted from “Adam’s Song,” the weepy 1999 single by pop-punk behemoths Blink-182.
Like departed Blink singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge, Ju has developed a peculiar, distinct accent. He stretches out his vowels with a yearning snarl, in the process blurring together singing and rapping. That’s not to say he can’t simply do one or the other: last Friday he dropped the single “Funeral,” which begins with him gently singing over prickly strings that sound like a toy acoustic guitar. Once the beat drops, Ju swerves toward rapping—and I assume the line “Where is your boy tonight” is a tip of the hat to Fall Out Boy’s 2003 single “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy Tonight.”
Fall Out Boy have long loved rap. They’ve collaborated with Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz, and they tapped Treated Crew member Hxlt (then still going by Hollywood Holt) as an opener for their 2013 tour. It was probably inevitable that a rapper a generation younger would reference Fall Out Boy—like Blink, they’ve been present in pop for what sometimes feels like a lifetime.
On another note, Chicago Sleepers is hosting an art and clothing pop-up on Saturday featuring performances by rapper Qari and producer Mulatto, both of whom used to be in Hurt Everybody. (You need to RSVP to get the address; the podcast’s Twitter page has more information.) You can hear the Chicago Sleepers interview with Ju and Melo Makes Music below, along with “Funeral.”