Category Archives: Interview

Artist Hebru Brantley Paints His Way To The Top

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.

Continue reading Artist Hebru Brantley Paints His Way To The Top

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Talking To Nikko Washington, SaveMoney’s Creative Force

Originally Appeared on TheseDays in September 2016

By now, SaveMoney has emerged as a force not only on the local scene, but the country and world at large. With a year that has seen the likes of Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa take marked steps towards the throne while the rest of the contingent has made their respective steps forward, the collective as a whole has established itself as the pre-eminent music organization on the come up today. While known mostly for the rap side of things that have taken over the city in the wake of the Drill movement, SaveMoney has never been solely one thing, a sentiment that has been echoed since interviews with the likes of Chano and Mensa back to 2012. It’s a loose contingent that counts creatives of all types in it’s ranks and one man in particular has been tapped to make sure it all comes together appropriately. That man is Nikko Washington. Continue reading Talking To Nikko Washington, SaveMoney’s Creative Force

Beyond The Theory: Towkio Rides A .Wav Of His Own

Originally Appeared on TheseDays in July 2016

It’s the Fourth of July and I’m sitting across a couch from Preston Oshita as he decides between a hot dog or lobster roll. Studying the menu before him he weighs his options, the waiter just let him know the oysters weren’t available. Taking a moment and decides on the lobster. His food on its way, the artist better known as Towkio quickly reflected on his choice: “I’m not huge on fish but lobster just seems appropriate”. Such is a small indication of the kind of leap in lifestyle the 24-year-old crossover act has achieved since stepping out to the world four years ago as Tokyo Shawn. In the time since, he’s gone from sleeping on my couch to some of the biggest names in music, continuing a winning streak with his July release, Community Service 2, which continued building his distinct sound and mentality. Sitting on the couch with the fireworks crackling in the background, he settled into yet another sofa to explain the ride that has positioned him as one of the most exciting breakout stars of the last year. Continue reading Beyond The Theory: Towkio Rides A .Wav Of His Own

Catching Up With Lil Uzi Vert at The Metro

Originally Appeared in FLAUNT Magazine August 2016

With forty-five minutes left to go before the ten o’clock curfew for the sold-out show at Chicago’s Metro Lil Uzi Vert is nowhere to be seen. A surprise performance from Lil Bibby and subsequent set from DJ Oreo keeps the crowd moving with a consistent offering of turn up songs that has the room moving in frenetic dance circles, albeit without the name on the marquee. With just under forty minutes to go and organizers looking around nervously, the small ball of energy that is Lil Uzi rockets onto the stage. Reacting immediately, the temperature in the venue seems to rise exponentially. As Uzi works his way through the first single joined by none other than Famous Dex, I prop myself up on a folding chair to get a better view. Reaching to the ceiling for support my hand slips on the condensation from the pure energy in the room. Looking around one can see the future of hip-hop. While everyone in the venue seems to know all the words to every song and dance move to boot, all seem to do so without ever looking at the stage. Instead, a sea of cell phones light up the room, most screens flipped inward, the fans watching themselves enjoy the music for their followers. Continue reading Catching Up With Lil Uzi Vert at The Metro

Brandon Breaux: The Man Behind The Cover Art Of Acid Rap, 10 Day & Chance 3

(Originally Appeared for TheseDays)

At this point, it’s a sort of foregone conclusion that Chance The Rapper will only continue to assert his control over the music world at-large with the impending release of his #Chance3 project. That got a further teasing this week with the unveiling of theartwork for the project. Three years since Acid Rapand nearly five since 10 Day, Chance’s new project will be the third installment in what he’s calling his mixtape trilogy, As Chance has grown and evolved both as a musician and a person, the covers of his projects have seemed to reflect each; the music itself following suit. One prevailing aesthetic of each project though has been the cover art, which seems to be artistic takes on distinct points in young Chano’s growth. The reason for that consistency is easy to figure as well, there has been a singular force behind the imagery that finds itself to the front page of Chance’s work and that force is none other than Chicago artist Brandon Breaux.  Continue reading Brandon Breaux: The Man Behind The Cover Art Of Acid Rap, 10 Day & Chance 3

Preview: Dan Poneman’s ‘SwagAir’ Showcase & Q+A

Daniel Poneman knows basketball. He should, the game has been a part of his life since he was a kid. However, Poneman’s relationship with the game is markedly different than that of your average AAU player or high school starter. While the path a celebrated basketball player takes is well-documented, often ending up somewhere in this month’s March Madness tournament, Poneman’s journey from the end of the bench on his traveling team to being one of the pre-eminent college scouts by his teenage years is far from typical. In high school, while lining up next to some of the top talent Chicago and the country at large had to offer, Poneman was smart enough to recognize the resources around him and began blogging about local talent on social media and eventually SwagAir.com, a site that later caught the attention of college coaches across the country and led to headlines from outlets like ESPN and the New York Times. A catalyst for NBA players like Anthony Davis, Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor, Poneman is continuing to invigorate the local hoops community, this time in the form of his SwagAir Showcase. Continue reading Preview: Dan Poneman’s ‘SwagAir’ Showcase & Q+A

Kaina Castillo Steps to the Front of the Stage

Age: 20  Neighborhood: Irving Park • Follow: Twitter // Soundcloud


The beautiful thing about Chicago as a creative outlet has always been the affordability it allows while interacting in a locale on par with Los Angeles or New York City. Lower rent and less people means a bit more room to move around, be creative and grow into one’s destined medium. There’s room to move around and explore and no one knows that better than 20-year-old singer/do-everything Kaina Castillo who has been making a name for herself around the city through a series of hustles that have only begun to find their way to the public.  Continue reading Kaina Castillo Steps to the Front of the Stage

Justin Rose Emerges From NYC’s Crowded Scene with ‘Water White’

Age: 25 • Currently Resides: Jamaica Queens, NY • Follow: Twitter // Soundcloud


Sometimes the most fun part of continually and endlessly covering music and the scenes that come with it is being able to watch an artist grow. It’s a symptom of regularly reporting on anything, but in music, especially today, that growth feels more palpable, as an act I’ve personally watched grow over the past couple of years has been New York City’s own Justin Rose. Rose has hit the second half of 2015 with a sort of vengeance to this point unseen from the eclectic MC/Producer.  Continue reading Justin Rose Emerges From NYC’s Crowded Scene with ‘Water White’

Chicago Legends Do Or Die Reflect On Their Influential Career – XXL

The city of Chicago has become synonymous in recent years with exceptional musical talent led, in large part, by the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene. While acts like Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa and Kanye West enjoy the current limelight, pacing music both national and beyond, the path to the top wouldn’t have been possible without pioneers like legendary group Do Or Die. The trio, made up of Belo Zero, N.A.R.D. and AK, developed the blueprint of hustles necessary to make it musically in a city without a true industry. And now they’re continuing to prove they are capable of making the kind of songs that brought them to prominence over 20 years ago with the Sept. 18 release of their first studio album since 2006, Picture This 2, on Rap-A-Lot Records. Continue reading Chicago Legends Do Or Die Reflect On Their Influential Career – XXL

The Break Presents: Jay IDK

Hip-hop has always been a storyteller’s game at heart and 23-year-old DMV native Jay IDK has plenty of his own on his sophomore album, SubTrap released in July. IDK, which stands for “Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge,” is the baseline from which the project emanates. Stitching together a series of experiences he garnered during a five year journey from high school to prison to college, IDK tells the stories of those he came in contact with as a way to explain middle America in 2015. Continue reading The Break Presents: Jay IDK