Old school (GLC) meets new (Tree) in hip-hop summit

BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI March 21, 2013 4:57PM

With the rise of young hip-hop acts across the city, a sort of rap renaissance has begun. But the new school will meet the old Thursday at Reggie’s as Chicago legend GLC pairs up with rising star Tree.

GLC1GLC is among an older generation of local rappers, which included the likes of Kanye West, Twista and Common, among others.

“Today I’m seeing a lot of growth and prosperity with the light we have on the city as a whole,” said GLC, 39, who’s featured on two Grammy Award-winning albums as well as West’s first two releases.

Currently working on a new project, GLC also has managed to use his experience to help the youths of the troubled streets he grew up on. An alum of Simeon Career Technical Academy on the South Side, he speaks at local high schools on the importance of what he calls “the ism.”

“I’ve spoken at over 80 schools in the Chicago Public School system, I’ve gone one on one with these kids,” he said. “‘The ism’ is the light, ‘the ism’ is the infinite wisdom to see beyond the bad stuff, the facades. “I always preach ‘the ism’ to everyone.”

In the years since GLC came on the scene, Chicago rap has become known for two sounds: “drill” music made famous by Chief Keef and Lil’ Reese, as well as a more soulful, progressive sound a la Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa.

Tree, who began producing beats just a week after he wrote his first rhyme, finds himself in an interesting spot. His 2012 release, “Sunday School,” introduced the world to his unique blend of sampling and production that he labels “soul trap.” The MTV-approved mixtape also found its way on to many top 10 lists as the best free release of the year.

“The reason I started making beats was because I didn’t like what was being made,” Tree said. “I’m different from everyone else because I’m not influenced by the world, I’m influenced by sound.”

Currently working on his follow-up project, “Sunday School 2,” Tree feels as though being different and innovative is the key to the success.

“I don’t like what everyone else likes,” he said. “I make music for me, that I like, and if no one knew about me, I would still do music, for me and my friends.”

With a packed lineup of openers, including Really Doe, Que Billah and Vic Spencer, the city’s young talent will definitely be on display at Reggie’s.

“I am so grateful that we have the attention here in Chicago,” Tree said. “As good as it is, though, I’m kind of disheartened because we still have so far to go.”

Jake Krzeczowski is a locally based free-lance writer. Follow him on Twitter: @jakekrez

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