In December 2016, as I whittled down my annual “best overlooked Chicago hip-hop” list for the year, local rapper Lin-Z released her debut, Awetumn—an EP so good that I wished it’d come out earlier, if only so I could’ve done more than mention it in passing in that post. In the spring Lin-Z will drop its follow-up, the EP Sprung, and last Friday she released its first single, “Grown.” Even if the rest of the EP isn’t as strong, “Grown” is extraordinary enough all by itself for me to call Lin-Z one of the best emerging rappers in the city.
Atop humming organ and tiptoeing percussion, Lin-Z raps with poise about meandering through the awkward first stages of adulthood as a queer black woman. Switching between a staccato flow and breezy half-singing, she addresses the gap between the grind of paying bills and her idea of a proper grown-up life—and on the struggle to close the gap between the two. On the hook, she raps about the “tired in my bones,” but she seems almost proud of her physical and mental fatigue—to her it means she’s an adult, making her own life happen on her own terms, no matter what anyone else says.