By now it’s not surprising at all to hear of a new, exciting act coming out of Canada. OVO and a steady contingent of artists from indie to full-fledged pop have positioned our northern neighbors as new-age proprietors of a range of sounds that have come to pace a sort of unique cross-pollination of genres that often find new understanding within its borders. While the R&B and Hip-Hop spaces have been packed full of card-carrying Canadians for some time, it was the brash, unapologetically rock-influenced sounds of 23-year-old Grandson that caught my ear. Having only begun to step out as of late with a string of talented singles that speak to his careful interplay of established motifs, Grandson is proving that rock isn’t quite dead yet.
Three years ago things were just getting exciting around Chicago. Chief Keef had just made the country take a collective gulp as he shoved guns into the lens of a Handicam protected by his thick mop of locks, Kids These Days had just dropped Hard Times and were preparing their proper full-length and a kid named Chance was beginning to get some attention for his recent 10 Day mixtape. The spotlights were on their way, quickly tearing themselves from Atlanta long enough to get entranced by the almost creepy sound of drill, packed full of real-life assertions that played on America’s penchant for struggle behind glass. Fresh off of journalism school I arrived in Chicago, the local scene seemed set for big things and I was at the center of it, reporting at the time for the Chicago Sun-Times. Continue reading THE STATE OF CHICAGO HIP-HOP: NO END IN SIGHT
Last Thursday night, Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s album Surf appeared as a free download on iTunes (reportedly the first Apple had allowed), its arrival sudden yet highly anticipated. Promises that the album was coming soon—before the end of the year, then “soon,” then “very soon”—had been floating around since Chance the Rapper announced it in an interview with Billboard last fall, and hip-hop fans were eager to find out what the project that most saw as the follow-up to Chance’s acclaimed 2013 mixtape Acid Rap would sound like.
Surf sounds like a party. It’s a different sonic world from any other hip-hop album released this year, and its cast of contributors is impressive, featuring local Chicago friends like NoNameGypsy, Saba, and Joey Purp as well as big names like Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Big Sean, and J. Cole. It’s also—although he’s the most well known name attached to it, and The Social Experiment is his touring band—not a Chance the Rapper album. It’s a collaborative effort with other band members Peter Cottontale and Nate Fox, overseen by Donnie Trumpet, a.k.a. Nico Segal.
“What I wanted to accomplish on this project most was to convey to people that I’m a producer and not just a trumpet player in Chance’s band,” Segal told me last Friday morning, groggy from an all-nighter scanning Twitter and reading initial reviews. “This is supposed to be the beginning of something, the first of its kind for something new.”
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
The clock had just rounded one in the morning and the party was still going strong at an apartment on the campus of the University of Illinois. I had traveled south from Chicago to catch Chance The Rapper, arguably hip-hop’s breakout star of 2013, open his Social Experiment Tour. I noticed the Chicago emcee Vic Mensa leaning against a counter next to me, idly checking his phone. Looking around, I saw many at the party gawking at the 20-year-old rapper and quickly whispering to friends, as others aimed cell phones his way. Walking over, I asked Mensa, who an hour earlier had sent the crowd of college students into a frenzy with a guest verse on Chance’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” what it was like to be the most popular person at a party that no one seemed to talk to. Escaping the glare of his phone, Mensa’s eyes snapped up. “It’s hella weird, G,” he said. “It’s been happening more and more, and it just keeps getting weirder.” Continue reading Vic Mensa Will Be 2014′s Breakout Hip-Hop Star
Photo by Jake Krez
Back in November, Chance The Rapper took a few days off of his headlining “Social Experiment” tour to play a pair of sold out shows at The Riviera in his hometown of Chicago. The dates, sandwiched around Thanksgiving were a milestone in the young artist’s career, a full year almost to the day since he had first played his first sold out show at The Metro in support of his upcoming Acid Rap tape that eventually launched him into rarified air. The performances at The Riv were a quintessentially hometown experience that oozed Chicago from the get-go with Stunt Taylor opening things up with a run through of his street banger “Fe Fe on the Block” before turning the show over to Chance and his band, made up of Donnie Trumpet, Nate Fox, Greg Landfair and the tour’s Music Director Peter CottonTale who re-arranged the tracks from Acid Rap to fit subtly into a live atmosphere. 2013 was the craziest year to date of young Chancelor Bennett’s life, and he wrapped it up appropriately, as you can see in the video below, shot by Bryan Lamb (FragDFilms) and myself at the first show. It’s a little late, but these days who can get enough Chance?
Written and reported by Jake Krzeczowski (@JakeKrez) for Complex Magazine
On June 17, moments after driving away from a courthouse in Skokie, Il., where he’d received a warning from a judge for a speeding arrest, Keith Cozart was stopped by two unmarked police cars. Brandishing automatic weapons, the officers ordered the 17-year-old to step out of his car, and put him in handcuffs—this time for a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
So far in 2013, almost 1000 people have been shot in Chicago. Almost 200 have died as a result of their injuries. Both those numbers are sure to rise by the time this is published. The west and south sides of the city, where most of the shootings occur, are frequently referred as “war zones.” It is in this climate that two cars of South Side police officers made the hour-long drive north to suburban Skokie to stake out traffic court for Cozart, better known to the world as Chief Keef, arresting him for the third time in three months.
Photo by Jake Krez
By Jake Krzeczowski Correspondent May 25, 2013 5:56PM (Chicago Sun Times)
The Electric Daisy Carnival has officially put its name on Chicago — or Joliet, rather.
The inaugural three-day electronic dance music festival began Friday with unseasonably cold weather that did little to curb the steady stream of under-dressed fans who flocked to the five stages. Continue reading Electric Daisy Carnival rolls into Joliet
Photo by Jake Krez
BY THOMAS CONNER AND JAKE KRZECZOWSKI May 8, 2013 5:32PM
Updated: May 9, 2013 2:24AM
Just when it looked like they were really going to go places, Chicago band Kids These Days has split up.
The young South Side band, which encompassed a multitude of styles, just released its acclaimed debut album, “Traphouse Rock,” last fall. In little more than a year, the pop-rock-rap collective landed gigs at Lollapalooza and Coachella, a showcase at South by Southwest and an appearance on the TBS talk show “Conan.” Continue reading Chicago band Kids These Days confirms breakup
By Jake Krzeczowski (Originally Published for the Chicago Sun Times)
April 30, 2013 8:23PM
For experimental electronic musician-composer James Blake, the road less traveled is much more rewarding.
On Thursday, that road leads to the Metro, where the British artist’s intriguing combination of live instrumentation and digital production will be on display for a sold-out show.
While across the musical landscape there has been talk of the laptop replacing the guitar as an introductory instrument, the 24-year-old Blake, who took piano as a child, viewed the computer as a sort of means to an end. Continue reading Britain’s James Blake continues electronic journey on ‘Overgrown’