On their new EP, Happy Medium, everyman Chicago rap group Jyroscope reflect on navigating middle age in what remains of the middle class, while the production from fellow local Montana Macks evokes the halcyon hip-hop sounds of 90s crate diggers such as Pete Rock and DJ Premier. IB Fokuz and Collasoul Structure rap about balancing […]
Chicago rapper Herbert Wright III, better known as G Herbo, has become the kind of public figure whose smallest social media movement is fodder for the content mill. When Herb’s girlfriend, Taina Williams, recently blocked him on Instagram, the nonevent inspired blog posts at Complex, HotNewHipHop, and Bossip. Thankfully, whatever strains and pressures come with […]
Chicago rapper and librarian Roy Kinsey has drawn national attention for his remarkable concept albums and their sensitive, piercingly thoughtful lyrics. In 2018 he dropped Blackie: A Story by Roy Kinsey, a deeply personal and thoroughly researched record about race in America that’s informed by Kinsey’s family history and the Great Migration; last year he […]
Judging from the energy of practically every Why? Records release, the four rappers who make up the underground Chicago hip-hop collective and label could easily spend the rest of their lives collaborating in different configurations on a half dozen albums per year. Udababy LP, the debut full-length from Why? duo Udababy, is no exception. Rappers […]
Producer SqueakPivot has long been a crucial member of the Chicago hip-hop collective he’s incorporated into his stage name, applying his talents largely to mixes and DJ sets—I’m hard-pressed to think of a Pivot Gang show I’ve seen where Squeak wasn’t behind the turntables. He’s infrequently released his own music, though that began to shift […]
The new EP by Defcee and producer August Fanon, We Dressed the City With Our Names, ties Defcee’s history in Chicago’s rap and poetry scenes to the primordial hip-hop culture of New York graffiti artists depicted in the 1983 documentary Style Wars. The first track opens with a sample of a young graffiti writer explaining […]
When I interviewed Chicago rapper and SlumpGang member Receo Gibson a few years ago about changing his stage name from Sage, the 64th Wonder to Lunxch, he said he did it to help get out of a creative tight spot. “When I was under the moniker Sage, I felt, like, clustered,” he said. “I didn’t […]
Chicago-via-Michigan rapper Smba plies pop-punk aesthetics to make hip-hop tracks soaked in melancholy. These songs could tentatively be described as Soundcloud rap, since that term (which took hold of hip-hop four years ago) has already been stretched far enough to include any MC with a Fall Out Boy T-shirt, but they have enough dimensions that […]
Rappers Klevah Knox and TRUTH, known collectively as Mother Nature, have worked tirelessly to ascend through the Chicago scene over the past few years. COVID-19 threw a gigantic roadblock in their path—the same way it did for almost anyone who isn’t a billionaire using a society-shifting pandemic to get billions of dollars richer—but the duo’s […]
Original copies of Me & E’s Rap have sold for hundreds of dollars, but Canadian archival label Mixed Signals is about to burst that bubble.
Last year Englewood rapper, multi-instrumentalist, and studio engineer Christopher Horace, aka F.A.B.L.E., grew frustrated with his lack of progress on an ambitious full-length and released the EP (IX) The Hermit as a stopgap, throwing it together in an effort to break his creative blocks. The EP’s seven irrepressibly joyful songs have become some of my […]
Chicago rapper Vic Mensa has had a career trajectory unlike many other Chicago artists the past decade. After rising to national prominence in the early 2010s as front man of Kids These Days, he became a solo star, delivering a sharp debut mixtape (2013’s Innanetape) and a career-making hip-house single (2014’s “Down On My Luck”) […]
In the past decade, Chicago hip-hop has elevated many talented acts to the national stage, among them rapper-producer Tremaine Johnson, better known as Tree—and his wildly idiosyncratic sounds set him apart from most of those newly minted stars. The Cabrini-Green native specializes in calamitous productions whose tough-as-nails percussion frames honeyed vocal samples warped till they […]
Between the All-Star Weekend’s Big Jam and the Summer Jam, the pandemic arrived to shut down arena concerts.
The west-side rap duo have tons of fun sharing the mike on “Mmhmm,” and the video is even more contagious.