Over the course of the last half-decade here in Chicago we’ve collectively been lucky enough to enjoy as one wave after another has built, crested and broke onto the shores of the country at large. For whatever reason, I’ve found myself in rooms with many of those types, and a couple weeks ago was another unexpected opportunity as I was afforded an opportunity to catch a familiar face on the scene, but a relatively fresh name on the music side of things in the form of 23-year-old TASHA. Continue reading Home Team • TASHA
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Knox Fortune Emerges From Behind The Scenes
It’s Mid-February In Beverly Hills And Already The Night Is Getting Long.
Taking a long sip from a glass of champagne, Kevin Rhomberg lifted his head from his glass, haphazardly brushing his mess of shoulder-length hair from his face and looked out across the scene before him. Stepping back from the surreal reality he now enjoyed, he began to try and make sense of the last few hours between congratulatory hugs and an endless stream of photos. Earlier that day, Rhomberg had earned his first Grammy award for his work on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book that picked up the nod for ‘Best New Rap Album’ under the assumed alias of Knox Fortune. While many saw the win that weekend as the conclusion to a long story, Knox stood watching his friends, colleagues and heroes mingling with ease at the GQ-hosted event at the gilded Chateau Marmont. Understanding in that moment just how far he’d come in music, the night instead felt like the beginning of a story with a lengthy prologue, even the loftiest of dreams now within reach. Continue reading Knox Fortune Emerges From Behind The Scenes
From Understudy To Leading Man After A Journey Of Self-Discovery, KAMI Steps Into The Spotlight
“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
Chicago Renaissance Continued: Meet The City’s Next Wave Of Musicians
As The Clock Neared Midnight On December 31, 2016 Kaina Castillo, Clutching A Microphone In One Hand And Bottle Of Champagne In The Other, Led A Packed Room As She Counted Down The Final Moments To The New Year…
To her right was a set of fresh-faced twins named Eddie and IZ, emphatically jumping up and down with the passing seconds. To her left, horn players Sen Morimoto and Sam Veren urged the crowd before them as the countdown hit three, and then two. A moment later, the whole group stood under a shower of bubbling champagne as Castillo exclaimed “Happy New Year,” popping the cork from the bottle in the process. As the suds rained down on the group of young friends from the ceiling, it was immediately evident that 2017 would have plenty in store for the central figures in what’s quickly becoming the next wave of Chicago music. Continue reading Chicago Renaissance Continued: Meet The City’s Next Wave Of Musicians
Saba’s Westside Tales: Chicago Artist Offers Relatable Voice On ‘Bucket List Project’
As the first snow of December laid its foundation outside my window, I found myself seated across my kitchen table from Chicago rapper Saba. As the TheseDays team settled into chairs and couches around the floor, we gave the man a few minutes to warm up from the photoshoot outside in the newfound winter. It’s been three years since last sitting down like this with Saba for a story and in the time since the young man from the Austin neighborhood on the west side of Chicago has come a long way. From performing alongside Chance The Rapper on ‘The Late Show’ to touring across the country and Europe, his horizons have certainly expanded from his Grandma’s basement out west. That three year journey manifested itself in September in the thirteen song collection, The Bucket List Project, a thoughtful, charged glance at life’s experiences juxtaposed with early success. While the stages may have gotten larger, the lights a bit brighter and the stakes ever higher, life isn’t all that different for the kid I first saw spitting raps on a Tuesday night at Young Chicago Author’s Wordplay open mic. Continue reading Saba’s Westside Tales: Chicago Artist Offers Relatable Voice On ‘Bucket List Project’
The Trapo Story: Madison’s Finest Gears Up For His Next Chapter with ‘Shade Trees’
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’
Beyond The Theory: Towkio Rides A .Wav Of His Own
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
Carrying The Purple Torch: Eryn Allen Kane Continues Her Soulful March Forward
Originally Appeared for TheseDays in July 2016
Five minutes before taking the biggest stage of her life, Eryn Allen Kane is freaking out.
Her mind running, palms sweating, feet pacing, she begins to make sense of how she got to this point: backstage preparing to perform alongside none other than Prince, her first proper stage experience outside of backup duties.
Suddenly, a familiar face steps into the green room. Recognizing the worry on her face, sensing the nerves bubbling to the surface, Prince assures her, “don’t be nervous, why are you nervous, why?”
Looking at him, Kane could think of only one thing to say, “because you’re Prince, man.”
“So what,” he returned. “You’re Eryn and you’re here for a reason and this is your time, this is you.” Continue reading Carrying The Purple Torch: Eryn Allen Kane Continues Her Soulful March Forward
Home Team • Ian Eastwood
As we continue along this ever-expanding idea of a Chicago Renaissance, it’s undeniable that the forward-thinking artistic movement goes well-beyond just music. Art, at its essence is interpretation and no one takes cues like fast-rising dancer, choreographer and Oak Park native, Ian Eastwood, who has been forging a new path in his own lane that speaks to a larger independent movement that has come to pace this scene of artists and creatives operating out of the midwest. Continue reading Home Team • Ian Eastwood
Artistic Empathy: Kweku Collins Moves To The Front Of The Class
(Originally Appeared for TheseDays News)
At a time when most of his peers are hunting down summer jobs, jonesing for internships or cramming for finals, 19-year-old Evanston native Kweku Collins is lounging idly on a couch. An electronic vaporizer in one hand, the other rubbing his loose collection of curious locks, each with it’s own plan and direction that dictate his wily look, Collins looks very much the part of a college student nearing the end of his freshman year and in a way, he is.
Instead of picking a school and signing up for classes though, the ever-sleepy-eyed Collins sent a mixtape to Alex Fruchter and Mike Kolar, owners of the local imprint Closed Sessions. He hit send on the email at the beginning of February 2015, by the time the Chicago River was dyed green, he was a signed artist with a team to boot.
Continue reading Artistic Empathy: Kweku Collins Moves To The Front Of The Class