Englewood rapper Heavy Crownz blends art and community organizing.
If an MC has put in enough work that they can wrap a verse around a beat so tightly you can’t separate the two, then the odds are good they’ve accumulated a trunk full of unreleased material in the process. Englewood’s CantBuyDeem is just such a rapper, and he’s strung together a handful of those […]
Chicago rapper Vic Spencer has built a catalog worthy of a book-length exposition, but for the time being I’ll restrict myself to a handful of observations about December’s Spencer for Higher 4 (Old Fart Luggage). One: UK rapper-producer Sonnyjim, who had a hand in every beat on the album, employs sumptuous sonics that help even […]
Cae Monāe’s existence is her art. Whether she’s taking over an Instagram square with her face abstracted by embellishments and makeup or adorning herself in a custom outfit and commanding a stage with iPhone beats, she demands consideration. And why shouldn’t she? She’s a Black trans woman, so invisibility isn’t an option for her. It’d […]
On her 2020 debut album, Nightmare Vacation (Atlantic), punk-pop rapper Rico Nasty introduced her versatility to new listeners while showing longtime fans that signing to a major label wouldn’t jeopardize the playful mix of genres and vocal approaches she’s flaunted since she hit the music scene in 2014. Songs such as 2016’s nursery-rhyme-like “Hey Arnold” […]
New York is an ever-present character on Wiki’s latest full-length, Half God. The rapper’s third studio album offers rich vignettes from his life set against the backdrop of his hometown and its narrative: snapshots of the nascent stages of a new romance, scenes from his Lower East Side neighborhood, observations of the gentrifiers who threaten […]
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 […]
On “Stiff Arm,” three songs into Mick Jenkins’s new Elephant in the Room (Free Nation/Cinematic Music Group), Chicago performer and activist Ayinde Cartman delivers a scorching rumination that doubles as thesis statement for the album, identifying a key paradox of Black life in America. “Our existence is the elephant in every boardroom,” Cartman declares. “How […]
Experimental Chicago hip-hop duo LOWERLIPDRIP released four digital singles between 2019 and May 2020, each consisting of two tracks that overflow with freewheeling glee and unpredictable stylistic shifts. Those singles not only helped establish LLD as a local force to watch but also caught the attention of b4, a recently established imprint of venerable UK […]
Chicago singer, producer, and rapper Thomas DaVinci is a chameleon, able to adapt his supple voice and fluid flow to any instrumental track. On his album Home Grown, which he self-released in May, he applies his versatility to a broad swath of stylish sounds, including a few that wouldn’t quite fit together without him. Granted, […]
Street View featuring nightlife personality Claire Van Eijk in a sexy/sporty look.
Bopping has already swept the Chicago hip-hop scene—all the dance needs to break nationwide is a crossover hit.
Film excerpts from the Chicago Blues Museum exhibit at the DuSable Museum screen in “Bronzeville Nights,” Tuesday 2/23 at Noon.
Ronald Lawrence and Hassan Pore take aim at hip hop’s Bronx creation story, making the case for Grandmaster Flowers, “the original grandmaster” and his colleagues as the originators of hip hop in the parks and nightclubs of Brooklyn and Queens starting in 1968. Lawrence and Pore’s documentary Founding Fathers is the opening film of The […]
Sonali Aggarwal champions the music’s activist potential in her documentary “Whatever Happened to Hip Hop?” screening Saturday in the Humboldt Park Art Fair Film Festival.