By now, you’ve likely seen or heard the letters NFT. Whether from a “tastemaker” on Clubhouse, account on Twitter, or a think piece in a tech magazine, it’s clear: NFTs are the new “it” thing on the internet. But what the fuck are they? And what are you buying?
The concept of NFTs can be fairly confusing. That’s partly due to the fact that they so recently found applications in art, crypto, and music, vaulting them into public consciousness. Without a clear understanding of how NFTs will eventually operate, those diving in right now are entering unmapped territory.
Simply put, NFTs are a unique digital representation of an item, whose ownership is tracked and verified on a digital ledger, aka a blockchain. NFT stands for Non Fungible – meaning not able to be replaced or duplicated – Token. And that’s exactly what NFTs are: a digital token whose value of ownership is derived from its limited quantity that’s verified and tracked via blockchain.
Last year was the first time since the early 20th century that the entire world was simultaneously dealing with an issue. A collective experience not bound by borders nor politics, gender nor ethnicity. We all had to go through the same uncertainty. Locked down in his home in Los Angeles, painter Keezerfeld began working with found materials to create works that reflected a communal emotional and mental toll 2020 took on all of us and he appropriately named it The Quarantine Chronicles (TQC). With the series complete, the burgeoning expressionist painter is putting it forward as his first exposition and utilizing the burgeoning technology of NFTs to allow everyone an opportunity to own a piece of our story.
Defined as “nature personified as a creative and controlling force,” no term better describes the rap duo of Klevah and TRUTH, than Mother Nature.
The Chicago rap pairing has been manifesting their realities through their creativity for years and continued to do so with the release of their full-length album, SZNZ, with local record label Closed Sessions.
Since arriving in Chicago, Mother Nature has gone about growing deep roots in the city that go beyond the music scene. True students of hip-hop that believe in and preach the power of the genre, they’ve established themselves as progressive idealists that do the work. That’s all reflected in their music.
How Vic Mensa Found Peace Through His Pursuit of Happiness
Photos by Keeley Parenteau
Originally Appeared as Summer Cover Story for Elevator Magazine
In the early morning hours of a brisk Los Angeles February 2018, Vic Mensa sat in his car on Mulholland Drive wondering if he should drive it over the edge. Seemingly on top of the world, with a Kanye cosign, Saturday Night Live appearance, and all the shows, followers, and attention one could want, Mensa was ready to call it.
The drugs, the women, the fast life had become too much. It’s not easy to reach your dreams before you can really understand them. Feeling attacked, misunderstood, and uninspired in life while dealing with all the addictions possible, he gripped the wheel, moved his foot off the gas, and took a deep breath.
“Everything was magnified and that shit just got to be too much where it was like I didn’t love it. I remember I was sitting in my car and I was like man I’m driving this bitch off the cliff,” Vic said, explaining his thinking at the time. “ at that time resistance was kicking my ass and whenever I felt resistance I would just go snort some pills or some goddamn molly or drink and fuck some pornstars, do a club appearance. But I was doing everything except for honestly and satisfyingly expressing myself, doing what I love to do.”
A while back Mensa got“Still Alive” tattooed across his stomach, a personal mantra that kicked in when he was at his lowest.
“I was like man I’m driving this motherfucker off the cliff and then the next month after being really fucking low I got through it.”
(February 27, 2019) Amare Symone introduces herself to the world by alternating between hellos and goodbyes on her latest album, Hello Heathrow. It’s fitting. She’s been doing both through her music for most of her life. Bouncing from one coast to the next before settling in Chicago, Symoné’s family naturally instilled a sense of wanderlust in young Amare that has manifested itself into a centerpiece of the music she’s creating two decades later.
At different points in life, it was fair to wonder where you might run into Amare: hanging off Division near Young Chicago Authors, on the subway back to Brooklyn, crossing the Thames. With an array of experiences in her rearview, she’s setting up shop back here in Chicago, settling for a moment, looking determinedly forward.
(June 19, 2019) Chicago’s a city long known for both its unique musical diversity as well as its ability to innovate from them. It’s never too hard to spot an artist that’s spent time here. For classically-trained jazz musician Lili K arriving on the cusp of the local Chicago creative renaissance that would span nearly a decade, the city has been a huge part of her growth over the years. But to truly breakthrough both with herself and the world at large, it took getting away . Her long-awaited return came last month in the form of her first album since 2015, the eclectically free-spirited and aptly-named, Songs with Friends.
With nearly a decade in the game, the Milwaukee native has scouted the top and bottom end of what the music industry has to offer. Having built a name and an extensive catalogue over the last five years, she’s checked most of the boxes possible for an independent act. Now, four years removed from her last release, Ruby, the multifaceted vocalist is primed for what many might consider a comeback. Being forgotten is easy. It happens everyday. Persevering, meanwhile, is often harder to do. With Songs With Friends in the world, she isn’t worried about any of that. Lili’s just now starting to have fun with it.
Two years ago, burgeoning local artist Hebru Brantley was just that: local. Today, the towering pillar of art with the toothy grin has established himself amongst the pre-eminent in the country. His art is a commentary on childhood and the forces at work around that experience and you would be hard-pressed to walk through a neighborhood in his hometown and not see one of his characters.
By now it’s not surprising at all to hear of a new, exciting act coming out of Canada. OVO and a steady contingent of artists from indie to full-fledged pop have positioned our northern neighbors as new-age proprietors of a range of sounds that have come to pace a sort of unique cross-pollination of genres that often find new understanding within its borders. While the R&B and Hip-Hop spaces have been packed full of card-carrying Canadians for some time, it was the brash, unapologetically rock-influenced sounds of 23-year-old Grandson that caught my ear. Having only begun to step out as of late with a string of talented singles that speak to his careful interplay of established motifs, Grandson is proving that rock isn’t quite dead yet.
For 23-year-old Grammy Award-winning producer/trumpeter Nico Segal, progression has often come from home. Whether physically or musically, the Chance The Rapper collaborator has made a name for himself by working alongside longtime colleagues and experimenting with music first introduced to him before high school in his native Chicago. His latest endeavor, a new-age jazz fusion group named The JuJu Exchange, acts as a perfect continuance of a career made by listening to his heart and playing music with his friends. This time around, he’s looking to make a new kind of statement musically by returning to his roots. Continue reading How Social Experiment Producer & Trumpeter Nico Segal Formed Jazz Fusion Group The JuJu Exchange→
Reflecting on a historical year-long run that saw him ascend to the national throne, win three Grammys and assert himself as one of the world’s biggest stars, Chance the Rapper comfortably raised a glass to the crowd at Studio Paris in Chicago’s River North neighborhood on Sunday night (Apr. 16). As the clock rounded midnight and bottles with sparklers flew in from every direction — via waitresses dressed in brown overall and matching ‘3’ hats — the MC toasted those packed shoulder-to-shoulder before him and turned his sights towards 24 alongside longtime friends, and Ludacris and T-Pain. Continue reading Chance the Rapper Celebrates Birthday by Holding Special Charity Event With Friends: Recap→