The O’My’s sound like a band reincarnated from generations ago, as if they were dreamed up by a kid who knows too much about their grandparents’ past. How do they do it? Wisdom, skill, poise, restraint, and hazy fun pepper their music and demeanor. Their members may have been born after the “boomer” generation, but […]
Erica Mei Gamble releases a set of minimalist beats and electronics four years in the making
Erica Mei Gamble has been a key part of Chicago’s DIY experimental- and dance-music communities for more than a decade. She has several musical projects—including Sarica, A+E, and her S&M-themed goth horror duo with Sarah Leitten, Dungeon Mother—and she’s also the scene’s most diligent video preservationist. Gamble has posted sets by hundreds of artists dating […]
TheMIND celebrates the deluxe version of Don’t Let It Go to Your Head with his first Chicago headlining gig
Chicago singer and producer Zarif Wilder, aka theMIND, has lent his gilded vocals and carefully crafted instrumentals to more hip-hop and R&B releases than I could possibly list here. He’s worked with practically every important rapper to emerge from the city in the past decade, including the three in the supergroup Ghetto Sage: Smino, Noname, […]
NaomiG steps into a new world for women in hip-hop
At VSOP Studios in West Town, Naomi Graham sits on a black couch humming a song she’s working on called “Tainted Subs.” She has on a black hoodie and leggings and cheetah-print Crocs. She wears her hair in a black bob with a silver stripe across the front. She’s recording material for her debut rap […]
Luke Titus and Cisco Swank graft jazz skills to beat-tape looseness on Some Things Take Time
Chicago drummer Luke Titus and New York rapper-singer Cisco Swank unite jazz, R&B, and hip-hop on their new album, Some Things Take Time (Sooper). Brief but stimulating, the record feels like a walk around the block as the neighborhood awakens. Swank and Titus are both young multi-instrumentalists and producers with prodigious backgrounds: Swank attended New […]
Best rapper (temporarily) banned from YouTube
Rapper, producer, DJ, and talk-show host GreenSllime has built a cult following with his muddy, sample-heavy production and crass rhymes. In the past few years he’s made incredible strides toward establishing his voice as a solo rapper, but he’s already been an unsung hero in the local scene for more than a decade, operating mostly […]
Myquale makes hip-hop for your midwestern heart
Milwaukee native Myquale moved to Chicago in 2014 to attend DePaul, and the music he’s made as a rapper and producer owes a debt to both cities. On his self-released 2019 single “Isolation,” for example, he pairs lyrics about the long-term effects of institutional segregation on Milwaukee’s north side with a confident, sumptuously soulful sound […]
Sending love letters from Saba’s future
“Saba’s releases are such special moments for Chicago and the west side,” Reader contributor Tara C. Mahadevan posted to Twitter this week. His previous album, 2018’s Care for Me, claimed the top spot when we polled 57 local critics about their ten favorite Chicago records of the 2010s—and Saba has three releases among the 338 […]
An interview with Saba: ‘For me, home is the people’
In late 2014, I was incredibly homesick: I’d just left Chicago for college out of state, and I was struggling to adjust to a new campus and an immediate world that looked vastly different from what I was used to. Treated like an outsider, I yearned for pieces of home. Luckily Soundcloud recommended Comfort Zone, […]
Elton ‘L10MixedIt’ Chueng, recording engineer
Elton Chueng, 33, began his career as a professional recording engineer with an internship at Classick Studios in 2011. He’s since worked with some of the brightest stars to emerge from Chicago’s hip-hop scene in the past decade, including Saba, Noname, Smino, and Chance the Rapper. In November his contributions to Yebba’s 2021 debut, Dawn, […]
Long live Squeak
I met Squeak in Saba’s grandparent’s basement. The walls were plastered with magazine covers, the space stuffed with recording equipment and video games. A memory not easily forgotten—I’ve probably told this story a thousand times, in writing and in person. It was 2016, a year after the first time I interviewed Saba and a couple […]
Alex Banin mixes pop with R&B—and memory with fantasy
Former college fencer Alex Banin uses her debut EP, Did I Imagine, to make peace with her old relationships.
TheMIND reclaims his mental real estate
On his first album in four years, Chicago singer theMIND digs in against the disenfranchisement of Black voices.
The best Chicago albums of the 2010s: the critics’ ballots
Here’s where to see who voted for what and how the points got divvied up.
The best Chicago albums of the 2010s
The Reader polled dozens of critics to arrive at an absolutely indisputable ranked list of several hundred records that will definitely not start any arguments.