Fess Grandiose Credit: Tim Schreier

In May, the New York Times reported on a surge of teenage Europeans who run YouTube channels that live-stream music 24 hours a day, operating in a legal gray area reminiscent of 20th-century pirate radio stations. Chief among these channels is the UK-based College Music, the operator of two live streams including “24/7 lofi hip hop radio – beats to study/chill/relax,” which has more than 400,000 subscribers to its broadcasts of mellow, mostly instrumental tracks by relatively unknown artists. In this world, Chicago producer Fess Grandiose could be a superstar. He’s a big player in the local beat scene; a couple years ago he launched “Open Beats,” a monthly series where any hip-hop producer can show up and perform a short set of original music, and he records for venerable beat label ETC. Fess’s brand-new second album, Front Room Methodology, exudes Chicago in mood and detail. Its deceptively thumping closing track, “Kimball House,” is named after the Logan Square abode that previously served as his recording studio and once hosted a daylong DIY rap festival called Kimball House Rocks, and Fess gingerly applies enough hi-hats to enrich the track with the smoothness of deep house. But for all the qualities that could make his music fit into lo-fi hip-hop radio formats, it also has an active streak—play Front Room Methodology in the background and you might miss out on some magic.  v