Defcee Credit: Aris Theotokatos

Chicago rapper and educator Defcee is one of the great talents in this city, and he so actively supports the local music community that you’re even more likely to catch him rocking in crowds than performing in front of them. As he raps on the sprawling 2018 Soundcloud single “Summer Courses,” atop a thin, funky synth line and wistful string samples. “I’m the white rapper with no name at the Pivot shows, diddy boppin’ / Just me and these beats, but I’m frontin’ like the city’s watching.” Defcee raps as if all of Chicago depends on it, rounding every syllable off and delivering it cleanly with a sharp sense of purpose. But he’s a craftsman who knows how to have fun, and you can’t help but get the feeling that he enjoys the creative process. Last month’s A Mixtape as God Intended, Vol. 1 is a mixtape in the classic sense—and not just because local hip-hop label Machine Wash Music released a cassette version with a J-card that jacks the layout of old Maxwell tape inserts. It plays as a single 19-minute track, with its moods and instrumentals separated by introductions from Defcee’s pals in the scene, including rapper Joseph Chilliams and producer and DJ Green Sllime. Defcee illustrates his world within the sprawling Chicago scene throughout the recording, frequently referencing his fellow local hip-hop artists, “Last seen at the bar arguing with two Tomorrow Kings / Asking Rich to borrow rings to rock at the Bada-Bing.” “Rich” is Rich Jones, whose monthly hip-hop series, All Smiles, hosts Defcee’s belated Mixtape release party tonight. Opener J Bambii dropped her three-song Retrograde just days before the end of 2018; the EP’s light funk synths, tender soul keys, and gentle percussion shadow her every lyrical twist and turn.   v