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
At 19, Ric Wilson possesses a voice and worldview years beyond himself and isn’t afraid to take a stand with his carefully crafted raps. Having only popped up on our radar in the last six months, Wilson has made a splash with a recent run of singles and videos that resulted in his PennyRaps EP which caught the attention of outlets across the country including Ebony, The Source, BET and more. Continue reading Ric Wilson Proving He Has What It Takes Heading Into 2016
Last Thursday night, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s album Surf appeared as a free download on iTunes (reportedly the first Apple had allowed), its arrival sudden yet highly anticipated. Promises that the album was coming soon—before the end of the year, then “soon,” then “very soon”—had been floating around since Chance the Rapper announced it in an interview with Billboard last fall, and hip-hop fans were eager to find out what the project that most saw as the follow-up to Chance’s acclaimed 2013 mixtape Acid Rap would sound like.
Surf sounds like a party. It’s a different sonic world from any other hip-hop album released this year, and its cast of contributors is impressive, featuring local Chicago friends like NoNameGypsy, Saba, and Joey Purp as well as big names like Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Big Sean, and J. Cole. It’s also—although he’s the most well known name attached to it, and The Social Experiment is his touring band—not a Chance the Rapper album. It’s a collaborative effort with other band members Peter Cottontale and Nate Fox, overseen by Donnie Trumpet, a.k.a. Nico Segal.
“What I wanted to accomplish on this project most was to convey to people that I’m a producer and not just a trumpet player in Chance’s band,” Segal told me last Friday morning, groggy from an all-nighter scanning Twitter and reading initial reviews. “This is supposed to be the beginning of something, the first of its kind for something new.”
If you’re at all familiar with the burgeoning Chicago hip-hop scene, then the name SaveMoney should carry some weight; the multi-faceted collective has been at the forefront of the local scene for some time. Championed by Vic Mensa, the crew of longtime friends is comprised of 20-something creatives, students, artists, activists and entrepreneurs counting the likes of Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment band in its auxiliary ranks. While not exclusively a hip-hop group, SaveMoney has become a force in the rap world with a packed lineup that is both based in the nuances of classic hip-hop and pushing the envelope for what the genre entails.
It’s a patchwork of styles, aesthetics and sounds that make up the whole, much like the city they’re from. Hailing from a place billed as one of the “most segregated cities in the world,” children are gunned down for walking on the wrong block in their own neighborhoods. SaveMoney, with members that come from all sides and corners of the city, operates as a uniting force that is representative of the future while staying rooted in the facets that have paced Chicago for generations.
While many may know of Vic and Chance, both of whom were XXL Freshmen in 2014, the group boasts a wide-ranging variety of hip-hop intonations that run the gamut of what listeners have come to expect from the Midwest and has allowed the roster to develop into a “next-up” type of situation that has seen each artist release critically-acclaimed projects, sell out local venues and find fans both in and out of their city in the process. Unlike New York City or Los Angeles, Chicago isn’t particularly known for its forward-thinking fashion, it’s artistic intonations or eye for aesthetics. However, this band of kids, raised in the Internet age, is representative of the contemporary, progressive thinking of a new generation that has not only pushed the envelope, but found eyes and ears across the country in the process. While the north, south and west sides of the city may be geographically close, they can often feel like completely different places with separate sub-cultures and influences throughout. SaveMoney, however, has relied on an interplay of every side and corner of the city to create a truly layered representation of their hometown that defies any set boundaries in the process.
Last year, Vic Mensa performed for the second time at Lollapalooza, a festival he almost died sneaking into, and joined Chance on the final night as a headliner. With as much diversified talent as SaveMoney has as a whole, it’s not out of the question to think that might become a regular thing for years to come. The collective has grown, matured and seems ready to take on anything in it’s path, while still remaining close friends in the process. XXL spoke to Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Towkio, Caleb James, Brian Fresco, KAMI, Dally Auston and Sterling Hayes to find out what makes them tick. —Jake Krzeczowski Continue reading [Feature] Meet Vic Mensa’s Chicago Hip-Hop Collective SaveMoney
Written By Jake Krzeczowski
Crossing the street and entering the ice cream parlor it was easy to pick out Bandman Kevo. Clad in sweatpants and a pair of Louis Vuitton sneakers, he stood out from the typical Baskin Robbins patron. Shaking hands with the rising 24-year-old hip-hop artist, who has taken his hometown of Chicago by storm with a series of lavish, gold-encrusted singles that have seen regular play both on Chicago’s Power 92.3 & 107.5 and the web, he approached the counter and ordered. After grabbing me a mint chocolate chip shake and a sundae for himself, we crossed the street, entered his building, and headed up the elevator. Continue reading The Come Up: BandMan Kevo
Sidewalk Chalk embodies Chicago. As much as the recent Vice “Chiraq” documentaries have done the opposite as of late, the eclectic eight piece band from the Second City pulls from both their hometown’s past and present while focusing on writing it’s future. The immediately soulful feelings of their latest project, Leaves, released February 24, is the result of an penchant for a sound that came off less polished and more gritty, capturing the sensibilities of both vocals and instrumentation that can be lost in post-production. Continue reading |Interview| Sidewalk Chalk Grows, Releases ‘Leaves’
Justin Rose does a little bit of everything. The 23 year old from New York City started off rapping before gravitating to what he calls the “addicting” process of crafting beats. I met him this past year at SXSW while hanging out at the Illmore after-party, wondering how I was still awake. Since then we have kept in touch as Rose has spread his forward-thinking production across his scene and city, linking up with the likes of NYC up and comer Kris Kasanova which garnered him a track on Peter Rosenberg’s curated mixtape earlier this Summer, as well as doing in-house production for Nakim. When I met him on the front end of 2013 there were still a lot of question marks around both of our futures. Nearly a year later, Rose has found himself bouncing around the vibrant and bubbling New York scene that have many bloggers across the country learning how to spell the word ‘Renaissance’. The growth and uprise of that scene in New York is due in large part to progressive, hungry and cross-platform artists like Rose who are eager to find a way to push the music and culture forward without apology. I was able to catch up with Rose over the phone recently as he was leaving the studio from working on his debut project, RoseWaVve Vol.1. to talk about what the year has been like, what he’s been up to and where things are headed for the young crafter. In exchange, he sent over this video for his track, “PARTY4ME”, which we are premiering here on Ruby Hornet. Give the video a watch below and get to know Justin Rose. Continue reading |Interview| Justin Rose Makes Ripples With ‘RoseWaVve Vol. 1’
New York City has long been a dreamer’s city, a place where many a success was made and many a pipe dream shuttered. When it comes to hip-hop, it’s essentially Mecca. It’s where the music first took root, where B-boys and MC-ing first became popular. Because of that, NYC has long been seen as the place to make it, if looking to do so, as Jay-Z has reminded us for years. Seattle native Aaron Cohen made his way to the Big Apple looking for new opportunities aabout six years ago, diving into the bubbling scene that has many calling the current period the latest in a long line of hip-hop renaissances that have taken place in the birthplace of rap music. With an unapologetic rhyming style and an intimidating beard to match, Aaron Cohen hustled his way to the forefront of the underground scene in his adopted hometown. November 11, the Decon signee dropped his latest project, Potential Fans, a thrashing, complete project that stands to prove why Cohen deserves his own lane in the greater landscape of hip-hop today. I had a chance to catch up with the owner of the best facial hair this side of Action Bronson last week as he was getting off work and on the heels of the release of his latest project. It’s easy to feel the passion and drive in every word Cohen spits and speaks, check out my talk with one of the latest artists to emerge from the bubbling cauldron that is New York City today. Continue reading |Interview| Aaron Cohen Grows Earns His ‘Potential Fans’
Bands, in large part, reflect the scenes from which they come. This sentiment rings true for indie band The Tontons, who helped to open this weekend’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas with a pair of sets opening for Kurt Vile on Thursday night and another on Friday, as well as dropping their new video “Veida” on the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog. The trip to Texas’ capital for the 8th annual music, comedy and action sports fest wasn’t a long one for the four-piece act from Houston, although it was the first time playing the three day end to festival season. Continue reading Interview with The Tontons at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013
A year ago, Nate Fox was living in Pittsburgh, working on a construction site. That all changed on April 30 when Chance The Rapper released his critically-acclaimed project, Acid Rap, featuring production from Fox. The past four months have taken him far from that manual labor life, traveling the country and then the world on the strength of his production and the success of Chance’s latest release. To say it has been a long road is not an overstatement, after ten years plugging away in his native Pittsburgh and later Cleveland, Fox caught the ear of Chancellor with his beat for the Acid Rap single “Juice” with its quirky, bouncing, up-tempo beat. The rest is quickly becoming history as Fox and a talented team of producers including Peter CottonTale and Cam Osteen head back out on the road with Chance for his headlining Social Experiment tour. I got the opportunity to catch Fox while he was in Chicago preparing for the tour and had a chance to catch him for a few minutes between a salad and a session. Read about the crazy path his life has taken in 2013 and what lays ahead, below. Continue reading |Interview| Getting to Know Producer Nate Fox