Roy Kinsey Credit: Connor Weitz

Chicago rapper and librarian Roy Kinsey has drawn national attention for his remarkable concept albums and their sensitive, piercingly thoughtful lyrics. In 2018 he dropped Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey, a deeply personal and thoroughly researched record about race in America that’s informed by Kinsey’s family history and the Great Migration; last year he put out Kinsey: A Memoir, which makes equally nuanced and emotionally resonant observations about Black queerness. Kinsey brings a clear vision to intense subject matter, but that’s not his whole skill set—it turns out he’s just as good at music that’s supposed to be carefree and fun. On his new EP, Juke Skywalker Vol. 1 (House of Marcell), he celebrates by nonchalantly unloading life-affirming verses atop instrumentals built for maximum joy. These songs emphasize Kinsey’s rapping rather than his storytelling—he’s talented enough on the mike that he can lock into the songs’ strict rhythms while still sounding loose. His athletic performances mirror the sweltering juke percussion, and he makes it all seem easy.  v