Even considering how much interesting material the Chicago hip-hop scene has produced already this year, the past few weeks have felt like an early Christmas. On September 7, for example, rapper and producer DGainz (probably best known as the videographer who lent drill its caustic visuals in the early 2010s) dropped the pop-heavy Oddball. The following day, Lil Chris (a member of west-side group M.I.C who’s made videos with DGainz) released a mixtape called Conscious Trap, whose title defies the convention of separating rappers into “street” and “backpack” categories. And just last week, a young MC named Max Wonders—who despite his relatively low profile has attracted the attention of hip-hop media’s cognoscenti—dropped his polished, accomplished debut album, Hues to Blame.
The track “Go Home,” with local MC Kembe X and Detroit rapper-singer Daniel Hex, hooked me with chopped horns and clattering bell loops reminiscent of new jack swing—the instrumental melds the silkiness of that early-90s style with the bombast of contemporary pop-rap.