Category Archives: The Smoking Section

All Of The Important Things I Learned At Pitchfork Festival 2015

In its tenth year, Pitchfork Festival looked to its hometown of Chicago for support. The city that birthed indie-music celebration was this year’s theme, as it helped honor P4K’s ten-year anniversary. While rain was the fest’s biggest news—it forced several Saturday artists to cancel last minute—hometown talent was Pitchfork’s most salient aspect. Chicago claimed seven of the festival’s total acts, including three of the headliners: Wilco, Vic Mensa, who was elevated to headliner last minute, and, of course, Chance The Rapper, who closed out P4K with a rousing rendition of “Sunday Candy” with none other than gospel legend Kirk Franklin.

Through the course of the three days we learned a handful of new truths. These are just eight of them. Continue reading All Of The Important Things I Learned At Pitchfork Festival 2015

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Chicago’s Hurt Everybody Brings Grunge To Hip-Hop On ‘2K47’ Mixtape

The Hurt Everybody movement is in full swing.

A year removed from their debut release on July 4, 2014, the trio of Supa BWE, Carl and Mulatto Beats have built a large and dedicated fanbase through their constant releases on SoundCloud. The group’s 4th of July release 2K47 recently demonstrated their feverish work ethic. The sophomore project, more importantly, positioned the group as one of the next up from a crowded Chicago scene.

2K47 arrives as a much sleeker, tightly-wound unveil than last year’s debut. Whereas the Hurt Everybody EP was a collection of favorite tracks recorded and released for short periods of time online, 2K47 comes packaged with an understanding of over-arching themes that pace the project. “F*ck you I’m amazing” is prevalent throughout, both a boastful declaration and a serious assertion. Continue reading Chicago’s Hurt Everybody Brings Grunge To Hip-Hop On ‘2K47’ Mixtape

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.
CHAPTER 1

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

[Feature] Meet A-Villa, The Chicago Producer Who’s A Banker By Day And Created His First Album By Night

Adrian Villagomez is a bank manager at Suburban Bank & Trust in the Chicago suburb of Bourbounais. The 33-year-old married father of one wakes up around daybreak every morning, checks on his daughter, puts on a suit and handles transactions, customers and all that goes on in a house of finance. After five though, Villagomez takes on a different persona. Loosening his tie, tossing on a pair of sneakers; Adrian Villagomez becomes A-Villa. Continue reading [Feature] Meet A-Villa, The Chicago Producer Who’s A Banker By Day And Created His First Album By Night

[Review] Mick Jenkins: “The Water(s)”

Chicago’s Mick Jenkins has some pretty serious thoughts about water.

Aside from being the namesake for his highly-anticipated project, The Water(s), the natural resource is also the first thing listeners hear on the opening track “Shipwrecked.” The 22-year-old rapper is the latest to rise from the city with poignant lyricism and a clear aesthetic that is understood throughout his catalog. The difference with Jenkins has been his ability to migrate from the city and grow his brand elsewhere in the process. Continue reading [Review] Mick Jenkins: “The Water(s)”

[Review] Lucki Eck$: ‘Body High’

Sometime last summer, set amongst the rippling gunfire of drill and the eclectic storytelling of SaveMoney, a new voice emerged from Chicago’s bountiful streets with a melancholy mood and an almost chillingly calm disposition in relaying tales of growing up in one of the country’s roughest cities.

That voice was Lucki Eck$ and listeners got to know him on his debut, Alternative Trap, a project that eschewed raucous, repetitive choruses and trap beats for a more gentle, soft-spoken aesthetic from which to explain the world he exists in. On his latest project, BODY HIGH, released last week, we get a continuance of those elements that show a mastery of his own distinct sound, without exploring too far beyond it. Continue reading [Review] Lucki Eck$: ‘Body High’

|MIXTAPE| Calez: “Ceito”

Amongst the increasingly crowded landscape of Chicago Hip-Hop these days, it is becoming harder to stand out. It seems as though you need to create an entirely new sound to even reach ears outside your own city. It’s with that as the backdrop that Calez released his latest project, Ceito, a decidedly turn-of-the-millennium, East Coast-feeling mixtape. Instead of creating a new lane, Calez plays on past aesthetics in one of the better listens of the year so far. Continue reading |MIXTAPE| Calez: “Ceito”

|MIXTAPE| Towkio: “Hotchips N’ Chopsticks”


If you want some good music out of Chicago, the SaveMoney clique is a good place to look. If you’re looking for something unique that will get your feet moving? Look no further than Towkio (formerly Tokyo Shawn). From head to toe, note to lyric Towkio is a unique talent that has been brewing on Chicago’s underground for some time now. As Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper have ascended to the stratosphere, Towkio may well be one of the city’s best kept secrets. Continue reading |MIXTAPE| Towkio: “Hotchips N’ Chopsticks”

|VIDEO| Netherfriends: “Joey Vision”

So for the past month there’s been this guy living in the attic of my house in Chicago. He goes by Netherfriends, and you may have heard of him. In the midst of keeping our neighborhood funky with his tunes emanating from the upstairs windows, the eclectic artist got together recently with Everett Ravens for a visual of his latest track “Joey Vision,” an uptempo cut that’ll remind listeners of mid-2000s Modest Mouse. Continue reading |VIDEO| Netherfriends: “Joey Vision”

|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