ChanSe NFO recently dropped a single with an intense music video along with it called KAREN. ChanSe’s flow breaks through with a biting speed. The slight distortion on his voice makes for a signature sound and style that is been enjoyed in his previous records. The editing of the visual sticks out because ChanSe does not make the typical choices that a lot of hip hop artists make. The black and white color scheme, strobe lights and lyrics smashing into the frame make for a ride of an experience.
“I keep a 40 on me just to gargle when my breath stinks,” is the first line that smacks almost immediately, and it is quite humorous to imagine. ChanSe then follows up later with, “Then go and run his mouth about the shit you did, WEIRD, lets be CLEAR, you ain’t about the mission then you rear view MIRRORED.” This line refers to guys that act tough, fake being hard and boast about their fighting skills, or embellished exploits that obviously never happened. The rear view mirror reference has to do with the one in the car that is too scared to go through, with whatever mayhem is about to occur. So they are looking in the mirror, wishing they did not decide to ride with the real ones that day. It is a strong visual line.
Chanse NFO ends the song abruptly after one more string of rhymes. The track is 1:30 in length and guaranteed to have you replaying it right away! The instrumental is produced by Theisy, and the visual was shot by Theisy as well, then edited by Jnicoo Productions.
Regular colleagues in hip hop, Kastaway and Krikit Boi, put out a record in late 2020 that addresses social and racial issues, while celebrating the union between African American and Latino culture. Kastaway peppers this 14 track record, EL PILON with strong and notable features, while also bringing nothing less than excellence himself to the song writing table. CULTURAL COALITION is the first song where his strings of rhymes smack you in the brain with overwhelming thought. “Sink or swim, no you better think again, pretend it’s a grenade before you pull the pin,” or, “This is no gimmick this is soul spirit mixed with prolific pro spitting.“
In track 4 of EL PILON, Kastaway brings on Chicago heavyweight, WRDS for his song, KINGS. “Knowing that the black out is part of my youth, melanin is menacing ,they taught ya in school,” raps Kastaway in the first verse of the song, in a fast and uptempo manner. Later following with, “Yeah, it’s true. I was raised on the hot blocks, where my father left me for the hot rocks.” Every track is filled with racial and political points, woven into the lyricism. Every song on the record has purpose, and does not waste time to be honest and truthful, in regard to the opinions of African and Latin Americans, and the struggles they face collectively.
The next song on the record, LIVE YOUR LIFE, is a brilliant and gutsy song. Skirting the lines of whats acceptable in the new normal world we find ourselves in. This song features vocals from Lester Jay. Track 6, MY FRIEND is a lyrical and melodic ode to an old friend that Kastaway had a falling out with. The song serves as a way of healing and forgiveness to this individual. The hook is super catchy, and the verses make you think about past friendships. The song features Stig Van Eijk.
Track 10, THE FEEL features a familiar cohort in Mic Logik! Altogether Kastaway features at least 12 listed artists on the 14 track record, and that is impressive to be able to organize a track listing of that density. EL PILON is a lengthy, lyrically dense, thought provoking, feature heavy and politically charged record, that deserves any hip hop head’s ears for a listen! The union between African American and Latin American culture as being part of the concept to the album is a poignant statement of self discovery and community building. Bravo, and kudos to Kastaway and the producer Krikit Boi!
Father Darko, who also is known as Mikal Bae for visual work and music videos, recently put out a 3 song, ambient, trippy, jazzy, dusty, boom-bap fusion, instrumental project. Father Darko has put out at least 9 records since April of 2019, and he deserves more recognition for his consistent output and additions to the culture and community. It is always fascinating to see more Father Darko tunes alongside slapping music videos from his visual brand, Mikal Bae.
It is Quite surprising in how fast this project can be consumed. You will unknowingly have it on repeat before you can process what you have heard. Track one, I DIED IN MY DREAMS AGAIN, features a range of complex composition culminating in a Travis Scott sample, that blends quite well with Father Darko’s drums, melodies and extraneous sounds. Track 2, WHEN IM AFRAID TO LOSE MY MIND, has a more sweeping luxurious, quasi melancholic sound and feel to it. Father Darko features Nelo Sahd on this song, who is assumed to be the screaming vocals towards the end of track.
The third and final song on the 3 track record is DROWNING, IT’S SOMETHING YOU’LL GET USED TO. The drums on this record sound like whips cracking, coinciding with these distorted, high pitched feminine sounds. It is an extremely interesting blend and feels highly futuristic or something right out of the video game, PORTAL. There is a depressed, ominous, robotic vibe that seems to glaze the entire 3 song project. A cohesive record of music that allows one to really ponder, and has one inside their own head for a time.
G.T.I.M. has incredible skill and dexterity as an emcee and lyricist. His single and music video to FIYAH, exemplify this well! The song was produced by CuzzinVinny90, and the video was produced by Harry L.A.W. Johnson of G1NE Media. “Ask the homies, I be only writing FiYaH,” repeated over for the hook, before an uptempo verse where G.T.I.M. raps. “I’m a killa spitta from the Chi, Ain’t talking bullets when I make a rapper die. Merk with the words and the verbs thats why, everybody rally when I pull up to the spot!” G.T.I.M. explains here that his talent with rapping is lethal, he kills it every time, and he has his community’s support!
The visual is a dope horror-core piece, where G.T.I.M. is dressed up a cleric or priest who is performing an exorcism on a woman who is seemingly possessed. The set is super dope and scary; lots of dark colors, reds, pentagrams, fire, candles, chains and edits bring this music video together, hitting the mark with the theme of spitting FIYAH. Later in the second verse G.T.I.M. chops, “When I pull up to the party they think I’m illuminati, chopping up on a rapper, I slap em with the karate!” This line flowed well and makes one laugh in regards to the Illuminati line, it is a running joke that famous rappers always have to sell their souls to become successful. G.T.I.M. plays off this idea more in the second verse, while maintaining how effortless it is for him to write and flow.
The hard hitting trio is at it again with back to back Friday drops with FLEX and INTRO. Flex features Mic Logik, WRDS and I.DEAL, suited up in nice threads and dropping fast uptempo lyrical verses to compliment a catchy melodic hook sung by WRDS. In FLEX, I.Deal takes the first verse dropping lines such as, “Yeah baby got the balls to do it, I make baller music, while ya’ll are losing. Once you saw the movement, who you calling stupid? Took the team out the country, all inclusive.” That line must infer to the CHI-Native trip where they filmed PRINCESSA, it takes work to make music career moves out of state, let alone outside of the country. It is awesome seeing what CHI-Native is doing in the music industry!
WRDS takes the middle verse of the song where he ends his verse rhyming, “I’m a good guy, with a rough edge, little bit of hood ties, man I pray for my dawgs and the good vibes, man this ain’t so long this is good-bye!” Referring to his background, and how he wishes the best for his people still stuck in lifestyles he does not participate in. Another string of lines that stood out were, “If you know me you know, I’m keeping it loco, keeping it vocal, keep on being a beast with the beat in a chokehold!” Comparing his dexterity and skill in rap to a wrestling move meant to knock out your opponent. Always love to see creative gun fight, knife fight, fist fight, type action oriented metaphors.
Mic Logik takes the anchor verse with great lines like, “Chi-Native always coming with the dope raps, matter of fact, everything I ever wrote’s crack. Heard me rhyme then you know that I’m a throwback, they ain’t feeling you, beats got no slap.” Drug comparisons stay popular in hip hop because of obvious reasons, but again seeing new unique ways to say ingrained metaphors is very appealing to the hip hop head. “Say what I want and I never ever hold back, and that’s worth more to me than a gold plaque.” Mic Logik is describing how he would rather write songs and retain creative autonomy then to sell out and relinquish control, in order to obtain music industry awards. This is a feeling shared by many in hip hop and the music industry due to the personal nature and link between a rapper and the words they’re rhyming.
In Chi-Native’s latest drop, INTRO (NATIVE TONGUE), which hit YouTube on Friday the 13th, the 3 emcees spar with their most lyrically intense verses in front of a huge pile of speakers and vintage suitcases. They are also rapping on top of what looks like a parking garage with the car lights beaming. The video maintains a high level of energy throughout. I.Deal starts off the song with, “The name is I.Deal but don’t forget the dot, so we can skip the props I’d rather go and get some guap!” This is a dope line saying he does not even care if others respect him, he is securing the bag.
Mic Logik takes the second verse with memorable lines such as, “No we not the same type, most of y’all are lame or suspect like Kurt Cobain’s wife.” Comparing people in life that move snake-like, to the mystery behind the death of the late grunge rock music artist. WRDS takes the anchor verse with, “I’m loading my pioneer, I’m hoping to let it burst, W man no wonder that letters first, crumble up the paper I wrote up a better verse!” The way that line flows over the instrumental is definitely endorphin inducing. The whole song is a hit made by well pocketed verses from each of the three Chi-Native rappers.
Chi-Native has now released visuals to accompany their hit songs, GOOD ONE, PRINCESSA, TEN TOES, FLEX and INTRO (NATIVE TO NGUE). These videos have been dropping every Friday in anticipation for their upcoming album PASSPORTS. We look forward to whats going to hit the airwaves next from Chi-Native!
Regular collaborators, Novatore and MOECYRUS, deliver a strong boom bap hit in their AZTHMATIX ANTHEM song and coinciding music video. The single is the lead song from their collaborative 5 track project, FATALITY EP. The video features the two heavy hitting Chicago emcees strolling through Chinatown, culminating in comedic dream sequences. Novatore begins the track with lines such as, “Dropping hits, we coalesce, though we was opposites. Cop a zip and flip it, tripping when the profit hits.” A line about teaming up with MOECYRUS to make history with dope underground hip hop, and comparing it the rush of making money off of selling an ounce. Later Novatore drops lines like, “Severing heads like in Seven and box the cranium, I’m mainly undefeated, depleting you like uranium.” This is a nice movie reference with Seven (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman) being compared to that of material needed to make nuclear weapons, basically that Novatore’s rap skill is lethal and ultimately atomic!
MOECYRUS pops off with the 2nd verse in the anthem with, “When I see that ugly smirk, I’m like woooo! I wanna hit that shit, mop the stupid out of idiot I’m on that shit!” Referring to all the ignorance that MOECYRUS has to deal with in life. “Me and Novatore we’re like pistol whips and robberies, hit you with the metal piece, infiltrate your salaries, siphon all your energy and snatching up your fans, if you’re inconsistent than you probably shouldn’t rap.” This is a great string of lines comparing the skills of the dynamic duo to that of armed robbery, grand theft and how they are so good that they will take other rapper’s fan bases from them, for lacking and not releasing music consistently. If you are familiar at all with MOECRYUS or NOVATORE then you know how accurate those statements are! The full 5 track ep is available on bandcamp by MOECYRUS and NOVATORE, the Fatality EP by AZTHMATIX.
ChanSe NFO latest track, GROSS, is a heavy song with fast low bass flows from your favorite Never Fall Off emcee. “I might have fun on the track, think ima feel it and spazz, I might go dumb on the track, give em the drama that nah mofo relax!” ChanSe follows that rhyme scheme for the first part of the song until he gets to his more uptempo structure, “I don’t really think you wanna talk a bunch, reach inside your pocket thats an option but a funny one, when I get offended I pretend and then I sucker punch!” This an awesome sequence of lines, don not try pulling a gun on ChanSe, he will be ready with his fist before you have time to shoot.
Real men have solved their problems for eons with bare knuckle boxing, ChanSe would not need to use a tool. “The loudest one be the weakest one in the room, if he talking shit, that’s probably nothing else he can do, kinda feel bad cuz you ain’t feel comfortable in your shoes.” What a brutally honest and truthful line, usually the one that barks the loudest has the weakest bite and its mostly bluffing or over compensating for a lack of something. ChanSe points this aspect out brilliantly in that sense of toxic masculinity. GROSS by ChanSe NFO is a dope and meaty track for your hip hop consumption and we highly recommend you stream it now!
Chicago recording artist and emcee SaruS releases YOUNG, a single from his upcoming EP, ON MY OWN TIME. The visual features Sarus in different parts of the city, downtown, on a swing-set, in Millennium park and in a high rise apartment. The hook is catchy, and Sarus has a strong unique voice whose specific sound reminds one of a mixture of Minneapolis rap, and west coast pop records. “We too young, we too young now, we too grown, we too grown wow. And I’m just trying to find my place now, but I’m still chilling in my playground.” A great line that philosophizes the idea of remaining true to one’s original self a in relationship before the world changes you.
Lines from SaruS that also stood out are, “Blessed for everyday, but steady counting my sins, I swear if Heaven got cover, I don’t think I’ll get in.” This line is great for comparing heaven’s pearly gates to that of having to pay an expensive cover charge in order to get into a fancy club. Thinking deeper into the line it also evokes such thoughts as not having enough good karma in this lifetime to afford an afterlife. As catchy as the record is, it is also quite esoteric in meaning. A great song to sing along too, but also a fantastic record for sparking self reflection. On My Own Time is arriving soon but until then get familiar with YOUNG.
“I’ve been up, I’ve been down, feeling upside down-” WRDS begins the song with that catchy melody going into an uber lyrical verse. GOOD ONE from the upcoming collaborative album, PASSPORTS features WRDS, I.DEAL and Mic Logik, all trading off full verses, while adding richly sung vocals over the instrumental. The music video was directed and edited by Ron Guloy. GOOD ONE is produced by Ed Talenti, and the record was recorded, mixed and mastered by A.Quality. The CHI-NATIVE team consists of WRDS, I.DEAL, Mic Logik, and ThrowEmc.
It is refreshing to see three recording artists share the record so equitably, both in their lyrics but also in how their sounds all compliment each other quite well. Shot at what looks like a summer villa or home, showcasing the emcees living it up, drinking good liquor and playing chess. The CHI-NATIVE team has undeniable chemistry both on screen and in their sonic and lyrical content. Chicago has seen many groups come and go over the years in hip-hop, and CHI-NATIVE being so fresh, it is exciting to see how good they are already. The song has much replay value and will guaranteed have you bumping it over and over again. It is full of feel good moments, yet also a tad bittersweet, a classic in the making.
“I’ve been moving these verses out like some Pirus up in the kitchen, I’m flying to get auditions, I’m squashing the competiton.” WRDS drops a line about his work ethic being comparable to that of hustlers in a gang, as well as him being on the go a lot. “I must have gotten my heart broke and never got it fixed, and so now they looking like targets that I just gotta hit.” I.DEALs verse is an emotionally charged one, as he describes the trials and tribulations of relationship experiences, and why he is the way he is now. I.DEAL also carries the main part of the chorus on, an amazingly high voice that you would not think was possible when hearing him rap.
“Cause I feel like the time will come again when we will maybe speak, forgiveness is a strength of mine, and I don’t think that makes me weak, I think you need some introspection…” Mic Logik adds his third verse explaining his capacity for empathy and understanding is something a lot of other men lack. He also sings the “good one” hook adding another layer of vocal texture and surprising listeners while doing so. This single definitely has commercial appeal! GOOD ONE pulls deep reflections from each of the rappers on the lives they have lived so far, why they are hopeful for the future, and their presence in the current moment. “I’m not here for a long time, but I’m here for a good one, a good one,” the hook echoes in your head as you cherish being alive.
Each of the three CHI-NATIVE emcees evoke much thought and reminiscence in their lyricism while moving listeners to the good vibes of the hook and bridges. It is impressive they all sang and rapped on this instrumental. This trio has a strong sound together and Ever Evolved looks forward to their future drops every Friday. Get in tune with CHI-NATIVE! Be on the look out for their album PASSPORTS!
Azmattic and RhymSter come together as a lyrically monstrous and formidable songwriting duo. THE JAZZ CIGARETTE, which features various producers from around the world as well as local Chicago recording artists, is a breeze through listen, and instant underground hip hop classic. Authentic jazz samples, breaks, beats and flavorful singing hooks make the LP something that brings you back, while also reminding you just how fresh the duo’s cuts are.
The first single off the record is HOP SKIP & JUMP 2.0, featuring Mike Booth aka TrueDeal, and production by Trog’Low; A truly nostalgic sound in this track, bringing the listener back to that early 90’s, heavy sampled vibe with succinct rhyme structure. “I need some time baby, we only time baby, but maybe we can get some time, cause it’s our time baby, and no I haven’t been around. I’m on my grind lately, and I’m not good at many things but I can rhyme greatly.” Azmattic raps over the beat, a unique way of saying he is been working hard and philosophizing about the passage of time. Mike Booth adds his deep bass vocals to the hook of this track, and RhymSter raps “Hit the blunt with an ice coffee, an AM meal, life wanna break down my walls, but I’m the man of steel.” Relating his morning ritual and the idea of never giving up. The track is a solid bang right off the bat and a great intro for the LP.
RHYMIN DUDES is the next song off the record featuring Jai The Artist, J-Bose and the 2nd tune also produced by Trog’Low. J-Bose’s voice is the strongest on the hook, but you can also hear Jai and Azmattic. A super fast and upbeat track, with an upright bass sample and speedy raps, crafts this song into a jazz-hop banger. Azmattic and RhymSter both add their respective verses, and really challenge each other in terms of lyrical dexterity and speed. “Do you, understand my persistence, while I ran into the distance, you can plan your superstition like its voo-doo,” and RhymSter comes in immediately after AzMattic with a chopped tempo eventually slowing down with, “Things fall apart but check your head, keep yourself on ice, its do or die and I’m the main ingredient for life!”
The next notable song off the record is ICED COFFE AND BLUNTS, another track featuring Mike Booth. RhymSter and AzMattic trade short bar verses back and forth while describing their musician lifestyle in the form of coffee consumption and heavy cannabis. This song is a great listen, amazing lyrics being volleyed back and forth, like a tennis match between RhymSter and AzMattic, ending with the soulful vocals of the freestyle monster, Mike Booth. “Iced coffee and blunts!…You put the ice in the coffee.“
The interlude track is a hilarious banter by the Illadvised and Unprepared Podcast, ending with a the strength of the amazing voice of FAFA. WHAT YOU GONNA DO, featuring Jai The Artist and U’Nique Music, is a change up being a much more slow bop jam. RhymSter starts off the song with many cultural references, leading into a short verse from Azmattic. Jai The Artist and Azmattic take the hook which is a soulful chant, “What You Gonna Do?” RhymSter comes back in with, “Don’t be major in minor things, how you do anything is how you do everything,” a line that smacks you back to the drawing board and makes you realize, one may need to get their shit together! Later RhymSter shouts out the Robber Baron for getting the capital to invest. This track evoked a lot of introspective thought, because many of the lines by both RhymSter and Azmattic pose deeply interesting questions.
I GOT feat. Jah-Dee begins with a scratch sample of the aforementioned, older hip hop artist saying, “Welcome to the next level!” Azmattic begins this song rapping, “Yeah this boy is more hip than what’s attached to your femur,” with every subsequent line explaining how hip hop and rapping keeps him alive as a sort of therapy. RhymSter later rhymes, “I rolled up another cigarette and put the Jazz in it, ain’t it clear I came here to win it… I’m a doctor in practice, playing like the point guard on the mavericks.” This song gets you in your motivational feels, and makes you want to pick up a pen to get to the next level.
Out of the entire project, “IF I LEFT THE GAME” is the most contemporary sounding song. Azmattic begins the track comparing himself to Barry Sanders, and saying that just because he lacks the riches one can earn from rap, does not mean he is going to stop making music anytime soon. RhymSter comes in with the second verse comparing himself to MJ, when he came back to the Bulls in 1995. RhymSter hits some fast chopping flows on this verse, and then slows down, very dynamic.
As a whole package, this project has everything a hip hop head could want and more! If you are looking for lyrics, breaks, boom bap beats, dynamic flows, soulful hooks, fast rap, introspective lyricism, chant along tracks, etc, THE JAZZ CIGARETTE by Azmattic and RhymSter will definitely quench the hip hop thirst. And do not forget to check out their latest visual for THE JAZZ CIGARETTE which is “ICED COFFEE AND BLUNTS” featuring Mike Booth, shot, directed and edited by Hayward of Beat Box Ent.