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.
And so it is. After a long and well-documented battle against current landlords, the owners of the Double Door were finally served an eviction notice, delivered by the sheriff who subsequently had the locks changed. So ends a chapter in the history of Wicker Park, once a bastion for local artistry, now simply a continuation of the nearby Loop that seems to be creeping increasingly upward along Milwaukee Ave. Continue reading Double Door Closes, Signifying End Of Wicker Park As We Knew It
It’s 3:30 in the afternoon on a sunny Fall Tuesday in Madison, Wisconsin and I’m about three feet deep in a decades-old tweed couch. To my left is 18-year-old Davon Prather, better known to the world as Trapo; the only artist that’s pried us from the bustle of Chicago since our foray to Milwaukee a year ago.
Ahead of me, one of our crew, Westley, sits perched on the edge of the adjacent couch leaning aggressively into a Nintendo 64 controller, squaring off against Tray, who’s apartment we find ourselves in. Set amongst the high-pitched hum of the Super Smash Bros. backing track, Trapo tells us of making a name for himself from humble beginnings while carefully rolling a blunt on the table before him. Continue reading The Trapo Story: Madison’s Finest Gears Up For His Next Chapter with ‘Shade Trees’
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
The beautiful thing about Chicago as a creative outlet has always been the affordability it allows while interacting in a locale on par with Los Angeles or New York City. Lower rent and less people means a bit more room to move around, be creative and grow into one’s destined medium. There’s room to move around and explore and no one knows that better than 20-year-old singer/do-everything Kaina Castillo who has been making a name for herself around the city through a series of hustles that have only begun to find their way to the public. Continue reading Kaina Castillo Steps to the Front of the Stage
At 19, Ric Wilson possesses a voice and worldview years beyond himself and isn’t afraid to take a stand with his carefully crafted raps. Having only popped up on our radar in the last six months, Wilson has made a splash with a recent run of singles and videos that resulted in his PennyRaps EP which caught the attention of outlets across the country including Ebony, The Source, BET and more. Continue reading Ric Wilson Proving He Has What It Takes Heading Into 2016
Over the past couple of years, Chicago has become a fertile locale for new musical talent. From Chief Keef to Chance The Rapper to The Orwells and all that’s in between, the plethora of music happening in the ‘Second City’ has some residents whispering words like renaissance and golden age. The reason for the progression is the city’s innate relationship with a series of musical movements spawned and perfected within Cook County’s borders. By playing on a cross-section of those influences and the movement created by their peers, production duo A Billion Young have positioned themselves as the next act to emerge from a crowded ground floor. Continue reading [Feature] Growing up on Glenwood: An Interview with A Billion Young
Alex Wiley has been working hard lately. The Southside MC has been busy for the better part of 2012 garnering followers through a steady flow of videos and songs online and collaborations with Kembe X and a host of other Chicago artists. Wiley is now looking to drop his own solo project, one that has gone through several changes throughout the last few months. What originally started as an EP under the name Village Up, has transformed several times during endless recording at SoundScape Studios, where I recent met and spoke with the budding emcee. To be sure, Wiley was due for a nap. Luckily, I was able to catch him just before he curled up on the couch, exhausted from a long day.
That Wiley sleeps at all may be the most surprising thing. The high-energy emcee can be found around town rapping in a Santa suit like he did onstage at Chance The Rapper’s AcidRap Live show at The Metro November 23, or chopping up philosophies on the intricacies of the perfect taco bar, which he has plans to unveil somewhere in the near future. A glance at Wiley’s robust Twitter feed could make anyone wonder if the kid sleeps at all. Since releasing #MoPurp with Chance and Kembe earlier this year, a video for which has garnered over 75,000 YouTube views in just under six months, Wiley has set about making his mark on the Chicago scene and beyond and is nearing the release of his debut project, Club Wiley, which has spanned almost a full year of his progression and is set to drop early 2013 via the indie label, Closed Sessions.
RubyHornet: How did all this get started for you?
Alex Wiley: My friend Kembe was rapping and shit, and I used to go to the studio with him and we started making these joke songs whenever he was done recording what he had written. We would just call it Swag Village because we just made really dumb songs and put them on Facebook. I just kept doing that and just started rapping over old “Electric Relaxation” and Nas beats. It was just like a weird progression, it was really slow. When Kembe’s mixtape was about to come out, this kid Genesis was harassing like every blogger with it and it found it’s way to Alex at RubyHornet and Andrew at FakeShore first. Once we started getting local blog posts, it just progressed and my friend Calez got on 2DopeBoyz and then we did a song and that went up, and then all of a sudden people were kinda taking us seriously as rappers.
RubyHornet: What’s the transition like, going from another kid to being taken seriously in Hip Hop?
Alex Wiley: I dropped out of school at like 17, and I used to intern at a couple boutiques around town and that was probably what I was going to do for the time being, working at some little store. Then I just got to rapping, and it was cool and once I started doing it I just really, really like doing it.
RubyHornet: With everyone coming out of Chicago, how do you stay different?
Alex Wiley: I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it a whole lot to be honest. I think me and my friends have just been in a good situation and we are just ourselves, and get good enough feedback to where we can keep doing it. I don’t think our particular side of the Chicago scene has a whole lot of competition and shit going on. I think everyone’s just themselves and people will fuck with it, or they won’t so much.
RubyHornet: Do you feel fortunate to be part of the rising scene in Chicago?
Alex Wiley: This is amazing. I mean, there are people who have been doing it way longer and have way more material out that are still trying to put it all together. I just feel like I’m in a good situation with local people that I fuck with, but that we can still get the job done on a non-local level. I think it’s cool, I do feel fortunate to just be able to come by and be in the studio like this and work regularly.
RubyHornet: What do you credit that to?
Alex Wiley: Man, I don’t know. I’m just thinking how I got to a point where a label would even want to fuck with me. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be honest. I mean it’s cool, I’m just fortunate to be where I’m at. I feel like it’s on me now, you know? It’s not going to be where I didn’t make it because my situation was fucked up, it’ll be because people don’t really like my music, but I don’t really see that being the case.
RubyHornet: Do you feel any pressure from that?
Alex Wiley: I haven’t had the experience of putting something out where people were just like “this is terrible.” So I don’t know, I feel like I can just do what I want to do, and people are going to fuck with me on some level. yeah, I don’t think so.
RubyHornet: What’s the relationship like with SaveMoney and Chance and those guys?
Alex Wiley: I went to grammar school with Chance, so I knew him since I was like five and then went to high school with most of the rest of them. So I’ve just known them for awhile, I have songs with a few of them and I fuck with them.
RubyHornet: How big was it for you to get on #10Day?
Alex Wiley: I wanted to be on it just because I knew how good it was going to be. I don’t think any of us knew it was going to crack the way it did. I had heard a couple records on the album and had been sort of subliminally asking Chance to be on it for awhile. When he came to the studio to do “MoPurp” and this other song, “Spaceship”, we did both of those in one night. He played me a couple records and I was like, I guess it wasn’t so subliminal, I just asked him, but jokingly because it was still his decision. He called me like three weeks before 10Day was out basically and was like “I want you to add a verse to ‘Windows’” because “Windows” was already out and he said he wanted me to add a verse to it and give it a little more bounce. So we just did that, and I think it came out cool. That tape, I think, is like a Chicago classic.
RubyHornet: Tell me a little about your label situation with Closed Sessions.
Alex Wiley: Man, it’s cool. I just think what we have in store is cool, like our plan for this shit, just where we’re trying to go. I think it’s just going to be very interesting to watch. If we do it right, and I think we will, I think it’ll be something to really watch because I think we’ll be getting at this shit that only major artists get at and still be doing it our way while still keeping it indie.
RubyHornet: What does Chicago mean to you?
Alex Wiley: I don’t want to leave. I feel like other rappers want to get rich and move to LA or some shit, but I really like it here. I think you can hear it in my music that I’m from Chicago and this is what I’m about. I feel like Chicago, all the people that are hot here, you can just hear they’re from Chicago, they’re popping because they bring that Chicago shit.
RubyHornet: What do you want listeners to take away from an Alex Wiley record?
Alex Wiley: I want them to just inherently like it as a song. I’m not trying to make music that’s preachy or making people think too deeply. I just want people to hear it and like it and just be pleasing to the ear. I just want people to like it and fuck with it. I just want people to feel it.
RubyHornet: What can we expect from Alex Wiley moving into the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013?
Alex Wiley: Just like a barrage of shit coming in January. We got videos, several more singles, it’s just a whole bunch of shit. We’ve been saving records for a long time. People think that because I’ve only dropped a couple songs in the past couple months that I haven’t been recording, but I’ve been recording a lot of shit for the coming weeks. I think it’ll be a good gauge of whether people will fuck with my tape too, because a lot of these songs didn’t quite make the project but they still kind of had that sound. I’m really eager to see if people fuck with it, I think they will but you never know what happens.