As the first snow of December laid its foundation outside my window, I found myself seated across my kitchen table from Chicago rapper Saba. As the TheseDays team settled into chairs and couches around the floor, we gave the man a few minutes to warm up from the photoshoot outside in the newfound winter. It’s been three years since last sitting down like this with Saba for a story and in the time since the young man from the Austin neighborhood on the west side of Chicago has come a long way. From performing alongside Chance The Rapper on ‘The Late Show’ to touring across the country and Europe, his horizons have certainly expanded from his Grandma’s basement out west. That three year journey manifested itself in September in the thirteen song collection, The Bucket List Project, a thoughtful, charged glance at life’s experiences juxtaposed with early success. While the stages may have gotten larger, the lights a bit brighter and the stakes ever higher, life isn’t all that different for the kid I first saw spitting raps on a Tuesday night at Young Chicago Author’s Wordplay open mic. Continue reading Saba’s Westside Tales: Chicago Artist Offers Relatable Voice On ‘Bucket List Project’
It’s 3:30 in the afternoon on a sunny Fall Tuesday in Madison, Wisconsin and I’m about three feet deep in a decades-old tweed couch. To my left is 18-year-old Davon Prather, better known to the world as Trapo; the only artist that’s pried us from the bustle of Chicago since our foray to Milwaukee a year ago.
Ahead of me, one of our crew, Westley, sits perched on the edge of the adjacent couch leaning aggressively into a Nintendo 64 controller, squaring off against Tray, who’s apartment we find ourselves in. Set amongst the high-pitched hum of the Super Smash Bros. backing track, Trapo tells us of making a name for himself from humble beginnings while carefully rolling a blunt on the table before him. Continue reading The Trapo Story: Madison’s Finest Gears Up For His Next Chapter with ‘Shade Trees’
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
Originally Appeared for TheseDays in July 2016
Five minutes before taking the biggest stage of her life, Eryn Allen Kane is freaking out.
Her mind running, palms sweating, feet pacing, she begins to make sense of how she got to this point: backstage preparing to perform alongside none other than Prince, her first proper stage experience outside of backup duties.
Suddenly, a familiar face steps into the green room. Recognizing the worry on her face, sensing the nerves bubbling to the surface, Prince assures her, “don’t be nervous, why are you nervous, why?”
Looking at him, Kane could think of only one thing to say, “because you’re Prince, man.”
“So what,” he returned. “You’re Eryn and you’re here for a reason and this is your time, this is you.” Continue reading Carrying The Purple Torch: Eryn Allen Kane Continues Her Soulful March Forward
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
It’s no secret at this point in the year who one of the most exciting break out stars to emerge from Chicago is. Kweku Collins, our May cover artist, has taken the year by storm and cashed in a big win with the release of his debut full-length project, Nat Love, which has gone on to stake his name as one to watch for sometime, gaining some big-time co-signs from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum and what seems like a huge cross-section of blogs and websites that make up critical review in 2016. Continuing to progress through a year that has seen him rise by leaps and bounds, Collins stopped by Peter Rosenberg’s studio between a pair of trips out to New York City over the past week.
(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
The city’s hip-hop scene lost a longtime venue over the weekend as The Shrine, who had announced it’s impending end last week was forced into early retirement over the weekend after an argument at the club spilled onto the street where two concert-goers were shot. Continue reading Chicago Loses Another Venue as ‘The Shrine’ Closes Following Shooting
It’s not all that difficult to read what Jamila Woods is thinking or feeling.
To do that, you just have to look to her expressions, which tell a story that has been evolving for some time.
The 25-year-old native Chicagoan has been plying her trade around her hometown for some time now. Having entered the creative world as a poet, she has since made welcome forays into music, teaching and writing. Pulling from a multitude of experiences, Jamila speaks with a sort of frank realness that allows any listener an immediate understanding of her comfortability within her own thoughts and feelings.
Continue reading The Evolution Of Jamila Woods
Via Rosa is most happy when she’s cooking and creating.
A few years ago, she was following the path that those interests had paved for her, working on a degree in culinary arts and singing. She left that life in California to move back home and both take care of her grandmother as well as the building (acting as landlady) on Chicago’s south side.