Category Archives: News

Protestors Take To Streets Demanding Mayor’s Resignation

The City of Chicago is in an unprecedented time in it’s history.

Yet again, protestors have taken to the city’s streets to call for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of the release of video showing Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times before trying to reload his weapon. Continue reading Protestors Take To Streets Demanding Mayor’s Resignation


It’s no secret that Chicago is squarely on the map in the lexicon of the national hip-hop conversation. The proliferation of talent in the ‘Go was a central theme in a feature we ran last week, and this week we unpack the sort of ripples that such a movement in Chicago has helped to establish. Midwest cities such Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Louis have long been a breeding ground for underground talent. However, there currently stands a select number of truly talented and unique acts across the breadth of the country’s heartland that are largely pacing music on the national scale and beyond and deserve a fair amount of attention. Continue reading 10 BUZZING ARTISTS FROM THE MIDWEST YOU NEED TO KNOW


Last week, it was reported that ISIS member Denis Cuspert was taken out by drone strikes in Syria.

What does this have to do with hip-hop? One headline for the story read: “German-Born Rapper Who Joined ISIS Was Killed In U.S. Airstrike.”  I immediately clicked the link, scanning the story for any mention of an actual affiliation to music, and unsurprisingly I found none. As has been the case for years, media outlets love to use the genre of rap and rapper as an occupation to push an agenda associated with violence, anti-government and mayhem. Continue reading TO PIMP A GENRE: HOW RAP IS DEFINED IN MEDIA

Malcolm London Arrested By CPD In Aftermath Of Laquan McDonald Video

UPDATE: Following his bond hearing the morning of Wednesday November 25th, all charges against Malcolm London have been dropped.

By now you’ve heard about the release by the Chicago Police Department of a video showing the last moments of Laquan McDonald’s life before he was gunned down sixteen times by police officer Jason Van Dyke. Immediately following the video’s release, protests sprung up all around the city’s Loop and in the process of peaceful pushback against Police turned controversial as the CPD allegedly attacked and took activist/poet/artist Malcolm London into custody.

Charges pending against London currently include aggravated battery of a police officer which stems from Police saying that he struck an officer, an allegation that has not been corroborated by anyone on the scene. London is accused of striking an officer in the 100 block of East Balbo Drive as police blocked protesters from marching across the bridge and has since been transported to the police precinct at 26th and California Ave., where he will appear at a bond hearing today at 1:30 p.m.

The arrest is the latest in a series of callous and seemingly uncalculated moves by the bungled Chicago Police Department who pushed to have the video kept from the public ahead of its release and has faced criticism from the media regarding assertions from business owners that officers deleted video footage from nearby surveillance cameras the night of the shooting. The arrest of London, one of the city’s brightest stars who has gone as far as lobbying the United Nations on his hometown’s behalf against police misconduct, is a furtherance of the actions of those in City Hall and beyond. Freelance journalist Brandon Smith, whose Freedom of Information Act request prompted the release of the video, was barred from the press conference from Rahm Emanuel and Gerry McCarthy that pre-empted the video release.

Reports on the ground from last night have detailed a markedly different story around the arrest of London than what the media and police have put forward thus far.

According to Ric Wilson who was in the crowd with London as he was wrapping up the protest on Balbo said that a “random white dude who we thought was a cop threw a smoke bomb in the crowd. It sat there for a few minutes and then they framed Malcolm for doing it and snatched him up once everyone wasn’t close enough to snatch him back. Then they surrounded him and blocked us from him physically.”

A seasoned activist and veteran of protests across the world, it is fairly certain that London would not be at any protest throwing smoke bombs or doing anything that what we all know him for. Joining him in the protests were artists and activists from across the city including Vic Mensa who stood by his words and continued to position himself as a leader in his city by participating in the protests throughout. Ferrari Sheppard has been keeping in touch with London and organizers assembling outside of the police station on California and 26th.

[from DNAInfo]: At a press conference at City Hall Wednesday, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) singled out London by name, and said he wanted to “applaud the youth in our community for last night’s actions, particularly the young man I mentioned previously, Malcolm London, who has been held in jail unjustly.”

“He needs to be released today, so that he can continue this activism,” Sawyer said, alleging that London was “arrested on some trumped up charges.”

We’ll update this story as we get more information from London’s bond hearing. You can donate to help raise bail for him below.

Continue reading Malcolm London Arrested By CPD In Aftermath Of Laquan McDonald Video

DMV Product Jay IDK Prepares for Breakout Year

Age: 23  •  Hometown: Prince George’s County, MD •  FollowTwitter // Soundcloud

The DC/Maryland/Virginia area, affectionately known by locals as the ‘DMV’, has been a solid outpost for hip-hop music for some time, producing well-known talents such as Wale, Pusha T and Pharrell as well as progressive new-age acts like GoldLink, Fat Trel, and Kali Uchis. While not necessarily a hotbed of talent, the locale is consistent if anything, which makes sense that it also birthed current rising star Jay IDK.

Continue reading DMV Product Jay IDK Prepares for Breakout Year

Donnie’s Song: The Inside Story Of How The Social Experiment’s ‘Surf’ Came To Life

For the past two years, writer Jake Krez lived in the house that would become the starting point for Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surfsharing the house with Social Experiment members Donnie Trumpet and Peter Cottontale. Many long days and nights were spent by the group crafting the project, which was released last week on iTunes. As the album neared completion, Krez sat down with Trumpet to talk about the group’s path to the final product. Here’s his up-close-and-personal look at how ‘Surf’ came to be.

A House In Chicago, Winter 2013

It was the beginning of winter in 2013. The stark cold of Chicago in November sent Peter Cottontale and Nico Segal — known more famously as Donnie Trumpet, the creative lead on Surf — down from the attic of the house Peter and I rented just north of the Logan Square neighborhood of the city. Setting up shop just outside my bedroom door in the basement, the two began tinkering, laying out
the arrangements and initial imprint of what Surf, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment’s just-released project, would become.


It was a different time for the Chicago music scene. Vic Mensa had yet to crawl onstage with Kanye West, and Acid Rap — the mixtape that put Social Experiment affiliate Chance The Rapper firmly in the national spotlight, thus setting the stage for Surf‘s hype — was only eight months old. At the time, the biggest thing happening was the breakup of Kids These Days, the seven-piece band that started it all. The group, which featured Segal on horns alongside Mensa and Social Experiment drummer Greg Landfair, cut ties shortly after Acid Rap released in the spring. It was a distinct moment in time for the Chicago scene at large; Kids These Days had blazed a trail right to the stages of Lollapalooza and The Conan O’Brien Show that Chance and Mensa would later build upon, respectively, as solo artists.

Segal was perhaps most affected by the breakup. It was while performing alongside Kids These Days at South by Southwest in 2011 that Chance was “discovered,” and Nico had been a big part of his growth, along with the growth of many other local young stars. I remember being invited to join some of the Kids These Days members the weekend after the breakup announcement on a trip north to a family farm in Wisconsin. Sitting around a fire that night, I remember watching Segal, ahead of going on tour with Frank Ocean, shed real tears about the group’s end. His music is his life — his trumpet rarely leaves his side. In that moment, it seemed his passion for assembling and marshaling a talented group of artists had gone forever.

“The end of the band was definitely hard. That group was all I had known since I was 14 years old,” Segal told me, sitting in the attic where Surf began. “What I realized is that I just love making music with my friends, and I’m fortunate enough that my friends are really, really good at what they do. So as much as the breakup hurt, I was lucky enough to be able to find something that I could really understand and enjoy musically.”

Continue reading Donnie’s Song: The Inside Story Of How The Social Experiment’s ‘Surf’ Came To Life

Towkio and Kehlani Pack Out The Metro in Chicago

Photos by Bryan Lamb

Two years ago I stood on the floor of The Metro in the shadow of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and watched as Chance The Rapper turned a crowd of teenagers and kids in their early 20s into a frenzy. It’s crazy to think it’s been two years since Acid Rap Live. The movement continued Saturday (May 16) as the latest member to emerge from the local SaveMoney contingent took his place alongside Chancelor Bennett and Vic Mensa, proving himself a formidable act on the strength of his recent release,.Wav Theory. Continue reading Towkio and Kehlani Pack Out The Metro in Chicago

Vic Mensa Rocks Secret Show in Chicago

Originally Appeared for XXL Magazine

The ripples of Kanye West were abundant at the Chop Shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood Friday night for 21-year-old Vic Mensa’s homecoming. That the show sold out in under 20 minutes was no surprise given the hometown hero’s recent ascendance via Yeezy. Fresh off unveiling “Wolves” alongside ‘Ye at Saturday Night Live and then again the following week in London, the show was the city’s first glimpse of Vic as a bonafide star that many watched grow from day one. Continue reading Vic Mensa Rocks Secret Show in Chicago

Chance the Rapper spearheads #SaveChicago campaign

Photo by Allen Daniels

On Chancelor Bennett’s sophomore mixtape, “Acid Rap,” he rhymes on “Paranoia”: “It just got warm out/this the s— I been warned about/I hope it storm in the morning/I hope it’s pouring out.” For those in-the-know about Chicago summers, it’s a nod to the dramatic uptick in gun violence that tends to follow the rising temperatures. Continue reading Chance the Rapper spearheads #SaveChicago campaign

|VIDEO| Tree x Chris Crack: “CUTS” + Two New Songs

Consider the Soul Trap movement in full effect. Starting in 2012 with Chicago’s MC Tree’s project Sunday School, we have been consistently graced with the chopped soul sampling production that has come to define the 30-year-old artist. Recently, he teamed up with fellow Chicagoan Chris Crack for the much talked about release, TreeSwag, which dropped earlier this month (get it here). Continue reading |VIDEO| Tree x Chris Crack: “CUTS” + Two New Songs