Ric Wilson Credit: Micheal Salisbury/Courtesy These Days

Online menswear giant Bonobos recently put together an ad campaign with a video that features a rotating panoply of men wearing its clothes. The people behind the clip began it with a shot of effortless cool: a close-up of Chicago activist and rapper Ric Wilson (the ad also closes with images of two other key figures in Chicago hip-hop, star-in-the-making MC Kweku Collins and eminent poet and mentor Kevin Coval). Wilson certainly fits the role of leader in his stance against prejudice and violence—he’s worked with racial justice organizations including Black Youth Project 100 and We Charge Genocide (the latter sent him to speak about the torture of people of color at the hands of CPD before the United Nations Committee Against Torture), and he’s also at the forefront of Chicago hip-hop. On his new EP, BANBA (for “Black Art, Not Bad Art”), out on Innovative Leisure, he blends chic, minimal, electronic instrumentals that burble and zigzag with earthy, delicate compositions teased out by a full band. BANBA sounds like it came straight from a guy raised in the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church—an incubator of the early civil rights movement—who came of age when local MCs were experimenting with horn sections and suave club production. Wilson feeds off BANBA’s charming bounce with activist aphorisms and euphoric bars that celebrate where he’s from, and songs such as the sauntering “Sinner” show that Wilson will go far by keeping the people, places, and causes that mean so much to him close to his heart.   v