Chicago rapper Femdot against a white backdrop wearing an orange beanie and black windbreaker
Femdot Credit: Michael Salisbury/These Days

On September 7, Chicago rapper Femi Adigun (aka Femdot, often styled femdot.) tweeted a loosie called “happyseptember.” that he’d recorded on a recent late night. “A lot of times I record to get words I can’t get out any other way,” he wrote in his post. “Wrote this cause it helped me. But maybe it can help you too.” His somber voice cuts through the unstable samples of the instrumental track, and his lucid depictions of grief as a constant presence in his life demonstrate the real-world effects of tragedies that often announce themselves in social-media notifications. The song hit me in the gut even before it was over, and Adigun has moved me as consistently as any other great Chicago rapper—I say “other great” because he’d established himself as belonging among them even before this year. If you need convincing, his new eight-song release, Not for Sale (Delacreme Music Group), can do the heavy lifting. Adigun usually favors material that emphasizes the speed of his delivery, but Not for Sale does more than give him opportunities to rap like the Road Runner tearing up the desert—it also accentuates the swing and melody in his performances. On “Mueen / Pray Pt 2.,” he rattles off a series of snapshots from his life, each in the form of a question, inviting listeners to identify with his moments of joy or self-doubt. The whole series builds up to a grand rhetorical question Adigun asks himself: After persevering as an independent rapper, why would he switch horses midstream? By that point in Not for Sale, he’s already proved he’s made the best choices for himself.

Femdot’s Not for Sale is available here.