Supa Bwe
Credit: courtesy of the artist

Supa Bwe’s ear for melody and taste for sweet hooks make him one of the city’s best rappers. Since breaking out in 2014, he’s amassed a cult audience with performances that blend screamo intensity and R&B sensuality, and he was doing it years before Soundcloud rap introduced a cohort of shouty rappers who sounded like they belonged on a Warped Tour side stage at 3 PM. Supa leans further into pop with his new album, No Thanks (Freddy Got Magic). On “You Don’t Listen” he polishes his blunt verses with a hint of Auto-Tune, and his sturdy, to-the-point flow plants the song in your head like an earwormy radio hit. He’s also put a new sting into his aggressive shouts, as much with content as with delivery: he’s now focusing much more intently on indictments of white supremacy. Supa has delivered thoughtful dissections of racism before (on the 2014 Hurt Everybody single “Treat Me Caucasian,” for instance), but throughout No Thanks he goes even further, harnessing the language of the police-abolition movement (“ACAB”) and Black revolutionaries (“Hellcat”). These explicitly political verses resonate as powerfully as the best work in his back catalog. Supa has lots of people in his corner too, and plenty of them show up on No Thanks, including Jamila Woods, Mick Jenkins, SheGo Turbo, Chance the Rapper, and Twista. The album makes a great case that Supa also belongs in the top tier of Chicago hip-hop.

Supa Bwe’s No Thanks is available via his website.