It had already been a long day by the time I arrived at the Chicken Shop inside Chicago’s Soho House. Continue reading STRETCH & BOBBITO: RADIO THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
Man, Spike Lee might want to stay away from Chicago for awhile.
On Tuesday, the trailer for his much talked-about film Chi-Raq was released online, immediately sparking quite a fervor on Twitter and beyond. While we definitely can’t make brash judgements on the film’s concept as a whole given we’ve only seen a two minute and 31 second trailer, there are some questionable aspects of this first glimpse of the comedy that seem ill-suited for the subject matter. Continue reading SPIKE LEE’S “CHI-RAQ” TRAILER JUST ANGERED AN ENTIRE CITY
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
Sometimes the most fun part of continually and endlessly covering music and the scenes that come with it is being able to watch an artist grow. It’s a symptom of regularly reporting on anything, but in music, especially today, that growth feels more palpable, as an act I’ve personally watched grow over the past couple of years has been New York City’s own Justin Rose. Rose has hit the second half of 2015 with a sort of vengeance to this point unseen from the eclectic MC/Producer. Continue reading Justin Rose Emerges From NYC’s Crowded Scene with ‘Water White’
The city of Chicago has become synonymous in recent years with exceptional musical talent led, in large part, by the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene. While acts like Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa and Kanye West enjoy the current limelight, pacing music both national and beyond, the path to the top wouldn’t have been possible without pioneers like legendary group Do Or Die. The trio, made up of Belo Zero, N.A.R.D. and AK, developed the blueprint of hustles necessary to make it musically in a city without a true industry. And now they’re continuing to prove they are capable of making the kind of songs that brought them to prominence over 20 years ago with the Sept. 18 release of their first studio album since 2006, Picture This 2, on Rap-A-Lot Records. Continue reading Chicago Legends Do Or Die Reflect On Their Influential Career – XXL
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
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 Respect The Neighbors • Jay IDK
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
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 Surf, sharing 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.”