Radius Credit: Eric Gupana

Over the past few years, Chicago has steadily grown its beat scene, and producers dedicated to instrumental hip-hop have a few monthly showcases to check out their peers, chief among them the Whistler’s Push Beats and Cafe Mustache’s Open Beats. And late in 2018, the Fresh Roasted series (also usually at the Whistler) held a massive, March Madness-style live beat-making competition that culminated with a December championship show at Sleeping Village. Producer and ETC Records founder Ramon “Radius” Norwood has helped the community prosper as a participant, promoter, and creative leader. And his new self-released LP, Embrace the Circle (his second album in roughly two months), requires you to take part in the scene if you want a copy—Radius says he won’t stream it or sell it online, so you’ve got to come to one of his gigs to buy one. A good time to do so would be his imminent record-release show at Elastic, which features appearances from several of Radius’s friends who contributed to the album. Like much of his work, Embrace the Circle demonstrates the connections that local hip-hop maintains with local dance music and jazz, and Radius applies knowledge from these subcultures to find the best way to enter a groove. The album is largely instrumental, but Thaione Davis’s rapping on the dub-heavy “Tower” gives Radius’s relaxed instrumentals an electric energy.   v