• Virgil Solis
  • ShowYouSuck

Mixtapes were once, by definition, stopgaps: collections of freestyles, new renditions of popular songs by other rappers, B sides, and whatever else you could package together and pass off to fans while they waited for a studio album. But since the digital takeover mixtapes increasingly resemble “proper” releases in quality, scope, and detail. Price has been one of the few things keeping the line between mixtapes and albums stable—mixtapes these days are essentially studio-quality releases available for free download through sites such as Datpiff or LiveMixtapes—though the line went askew the night Drake released If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, a mixtape he first posted for a fee through iTunes. The convoluted nature of mixtapes in the digital era continues to be more confusing with each passing day, to the point where it feels hard to know how to categorize a new project’s format. Earlier this week Mick Jenkins released the details for his forthcoming Wave[s], a nine-track EP that the local rapper will release through his label (Cinematic Music Group) as a pay-to-download collection, and Pitchfork called it a mixtape; these days it seems that the only thing that defines a mixtape is that it’s made by a rapper.

Which brings me to ShowYouSuck, a Chicago MC who’s won my affection time and time again during the past few years. Earlier today he released Loose Slices 2: “The Mixtape or Something,” and the subtitle is apt. The release collects unreleased cuts and previously released loosies—a definitive stopgap release. But unlike many similar digital-era collections, which repurpose solid stand-alone songs as an awkward whole, Loose Slices 2 feels necessary. It’s been a pleasure watching and hearing ShowYouSuck grow the past couple years, and this collection is a quality document of the rapper’s growth and tireless drive to improve through the power of positive thinking.

The MC still raps about some of the same things that preoccupied him when I first got hooked on his music several years ago (my appetite for pizza-inspired hooks hasn’t wavered), but ShowYouSuck delivers these rhymes with a masterful confidence and swagger. He’s become a more versatile rapper too, and he’s got a gift for making something as seemingly mundane as relaxing with episodes of Bob’s Burgers feel like the greatest way to spend leisure time (and I say this having spent too much leisure time rewatching that delightful show).

Show’s a great performer to see in the flesh, and if for some reason you haven’t experienced his live set then this weekend is the time to do it. On Sunday he’s performing during Wicker Park Fest; he goes on at 5:15 PM on the north stage, and wraps up at dinnertime, so you can hop over to one of three nearby pizza spots right after his set wraps up.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.