“He’s wearing that jacket again,” was all I could think as I approached Kene Ekwunife at the marble-lined bar top. Coolly sipping a cocktail, a messenger bag slung across his shoulders, Kene, better known as SaveMoney artist KAMI, was impossible to miss in the half-full club. What the casual observer didn’t know is that he’d been rocking the thick-lined bomber since mid-summer. Far from the casual observer, I immediately recalled seeing him at East Room in July, myself sweating through a t-shirt as he stood draped in the neon-orange outerwear, seemingly unfazed as he explained the perseverance of style to me. While it may seem innocuous, that jacket operates as a perfect metaphor for KAMI as a person and an artist: unmistakable yet tempered, patient and consistent. In many ways, he’s evolved in the public eye without having to catch it’s full glare, not yet at least. Continue reading From Understudy To Leading Man After A Journey Of Self-Discovery, KAMI Steps Into The Spotlight
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
Here in Chicago, there are two distinct movements when discussing the local hip-hop scene. For most, there are two important eras that pace the scene: the Kanye wave and the ‘New Age’ wave. The former took place from roughly 2002 to about the time ‘Ye became a household name capable of upsetting even the President of the United States. The second is still going. Having developed over the last five years or so, it has grown out of a combination of separate movements in the city that culminated this past week in the crossover of Chance The Rapper as West appeared to pass the torch in a way on the stage of Saturday Night Live. It’s a collaboration that has been dreamed of by those locally for years and comes at a time when each is at the most influential points of their respective careers. It’s a collaboration that essentially sees ‘Ye interacting with the embodiment of his own influence. More than anything though, it’s a closing of the gap between the pair of movements that have positioned Chicago as the next great center of music and hip-hop.
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
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
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
As scenes grow and expand, many artists can get caught up in the pervading sound of the time, the flavor of the month and lose themselves trying to re-create another artist’s creative flair in their own words. This is not Calez. The 21-year-old artist from the southside of Chicago has gone about creating a space for himself within the ever-growing hip-hop scene that has exploded in the Second City since Chief Keef brought listeners to the city with his gritty street tales and gunshot-ridden hooks. Continue reading |Video| Calez: “Positive Energy”
One of my “Acts to Look Out For“ from Chicago, Saba, dropped his long-awaited video for “Secondhand Smoke” yesterday, which offered glimpses of wintertime Chi alongside Vesely-esque digital effect to create a powerful aesthetic in the lead up to his project, ComfortZone. Since seeing Saba and his co-horts, Pivot Gang, for the first time at the after-school spoken word poetry program, Young Chicago Authors, it has been refreshing to see his uniquely powerful, yet ultimately conscious rhymes begin to find their way out of the city. As we saw a crop of artists rise from Chicago last year, Saba has gone about positioning himself for the bright lights of the big time perhaps better than anyone else, playing what seems like a show a day around the city, and keeping his travel schedule tight in getting around the country to spread the Pivot word. “Secondhand Smoke”, shot by the ever-talented guys over at Heart of the City, continues to build the buzz that has surrounded Saba for some time, keep an eye out for ComfortZone.