We’re kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

In the past week two members of the Chicago hip-hop pantheon have been making big public moves as they ready forthcoming albums. Lupe Fiasco dropped a horn-sampling single featuring ratchet crooner Ty Dolla $ign called “Next To It,” and it’s a banger that’s got me more interested in August’s Tetsuo & Youth than I otherwise expected. Meanwhile Common recently began posting profile photos of local street rappers (Lil Herb, G Count, etc) on Instagram along with quotes about their experiences in Chicago to promote Nobody’s Smiling; it’s an interesting marketing push that embraces this city’s hip-hop community, and I’m eager to see if Common approaches Chicago in a similar way with his new music.

In the midst of these two big-time campaigns local rapper-producer Roman Flowrs dropped a delightfully low-key EP of soul-driven hip-hop instrumentals called Denise. Roman named it after his first crush, Lisa Bonet’s character on The Cosby Show, and occasionally Roman’s warm production has just a smidgen of lo-fi fuzziness that sounds like the songs could’ve been lifted from a VHS recording of the TV show. It’s also in tune with the laid-back sound of 2013’s OneHellofaPromo, on which Roman fills his lyrics about growing up in Englewood with the kinds of personal details that make him seem like someone you could’ve been fast friends with growing up. The pleasant, lived-in beats on Denise exude the same personality as Roman’s rapping, and listening to “Big Bank Huxtable” I can just picture him as a kid waking up on Saturday mornings to watch old episodes of The Cosby Show.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.