Great and iconic music is reflective of the times that it was made in. It is also reflective of things that have been permeating through out history. Both are true when it comes to the hit social-political single, IT’S GOING DOWN, by Keem Singing and Radcliff Music, produced by Keem Singing and RhymSter of Ever Evolved. With imagery (visuals by Hayward of B.B.E. and BTS by Scotty Rocks of the Dog & Pony Show) of Keem portraying Malcolm X, and black freedom individuals holding a vigil in response to police brutality, Keem sings, “There’s a fire burning, spread across the nation.” Radcliff Music raps a verse that pays tribute to fallen black people at the hands of police officers ie. Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Emmet Till.
Whether or not our country is better than it was in the 60’s, there is photographic and video-graphic evidence that suggests that systemic oppression against people of color has largely stayed the same. So far the music video gets rejected by multiple platforms for its supposed edginess. IT’S GOING DOWN is only edgy in that it sheds light on the frustrations that BIPOC have faced in this country for hundreds of years. Platforms will put up and publish images to negatively stereotype the black man. But show something that incites pride, political organization, and intelligence, now its edgy. When it is a music video of black men coming together to demonstrate?
They call him Renaissance for his ability to blend an eclectic mix of styles including R&B, pop, trap, and soul. A singer and songwriter, John Renaissance has placements on NBC, worked on Empire, the Steve Harvey Show and he is a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians. A multi-talented phenom, his latest record MOSCATO, is a pop smash hit anticipating a long game break in the mainstream.
Eight months ago John Renaissance was featured on a song called, “BOTTLES IN THE AIR“, by an artist named DND. Upon viewing that, it was clear Renaissance could easily take that Usher, Donny Hathaway, Trey Songz, Jeremih and Chris Brown like sound, and push the craft even further. Now since dropping MOSCATO in late February, John Renaissance bodies the song and leaves listeners wanting a whole album of more!
To help break the record to a larger audience, John Renaissance started a “MOSCATOchallenge” on social medias. Type in hashtag #johnrenaissance or #moscatochallenge to find it. You can either do a dance routine, a freestyle, or find your own creative way of showing your support to John Renaissance, and his soon to be hit record to the industry.
To get on the phone with John Renaissance was a pleasure, he is a joy to talk to, and very knowledgeable about the music industry. He explained how the Chicago Federation of Musicians is essentially the Chicago union for working musicians and musical performers. Over the course of JR’s career, he has rejected seven record deals; One record deal he declined for the label taking too long to come up with the legal paperwork. Another deal he declined due to the A&R being unprofessional, and sexually harassing a singer he regularly collaborates with. These are certainly commendable decisions, and his intelligence and discernment is something to be applauded.
John Renaissance is a well traveled artist, from New York to LA to Atlanta and hanging out with Lil Boosie; he is full of great stories. He spent the better part of last year working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean as the nightly musical entertainment, performing covers and originals, getting paid to do what he loves to do and live while cruising the Earth’s seas. His perspective on the pandemic, the start of the racial tension, and the BLM protests was quite insightful and beautiful. He said that everyone on the ship was from every corner of the planet, and that there was nothing short of love and unity to experience in that cruise.
John is working on a single called NOAH’S ARK, about how the world is seemingly falling apart, and he is singing on a yacht. He is also working on two other singles, THOUGHTS FROM A PRIVATE JET and CATALINA, and a full project called LIFE IS A TRIP, a Drake influenced style of diary writing. JR will release a precursor EP to that project as well titled, WALK AWAY.
John Renaissance is inspired by Smokey Robinson. He wants to write the records, find the artists, build the empire. He is actually secured two SAG roles for artists of his, NDPNDNT and Aaron Mack, both with roles on EMPIRE. John Renaissance has a quote that will be used directly, it is a fantastic way to sum up his brand in one word when needed: “You can be a jack of all trades, master of none, but me? I’m a Renaissance Man.” JR is inferring that everything he does and touches, is at a masterful level. After listening to his music and hearing his stories, one would undoubtedly have to agree.
California born, Chicago based elite emcee, Orlando Coolridge took this latest single to his west coast roots with AK LIKE YOU KNO. A groovy bass rhythm and a clap on the one and the three. Coolridge croons a catchy hook with slight auto-tune to add some accent to the chorus. A member of SlumpGang777, and a regular contender on the No Coast rap battle circuit. When Coolridge is not lighting up his opposition in a battle, or touring with his collective, you can find him rocking some of the best shows in the Midwest, and dropping regular tunes with it.
AK LIKE U KNO brings out a funkier side of the rap battle extraordinaire, and the song still contains the classic Coolridge bar structure. Coolridge raps, “You can probably catch me on the I-5, chronic in the left hand, sliding by the skyline. It’s my time, to show off my divine mind, my style ages like fine wine, Malibus most wanted with the fine dine.” The exceptional way he strings together lines is definitely not void in his latest single, you get classic and contemporary Coolridge all in one record.
Ivan L is a hip hop artist based in Pompano Beach, Florida (same area Kodak Black hails from) with an impeccable work ethic. Ever Evolved has booked him for Chicago gigs multiple times, and he always delivers an amazing performance. On June 9th he released ALL EYES ON VITO, a fifteen track album that Ivan L describes as a retro-futuristic mashup with West Coast influence. His style is also slightly reminiscent of A$AP Ferg and Big KRIT. He has a great blend of Southern and Western hip hop in his latest record, and it is perfect to bump for that night time driving.
The entire record is filled with strong lyrics and references to pop culture, both old and new. Take LE$STAT ON WASHINGTON AVE, a reference to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, or MICHAEL BAY featuring Ant40oz, a reference to the infamous crashing glass and explosions of Michael Bay directed cinema. In CAN’T SLOW DOWN 2096, Ivan L drops unique and new Michael Jordan references one may not be privy to in other hip hop. In JULIETTE MICHELLE, a reference to an extremely busty and thick cosplay model, in this track Ivan L also references things like Norman Bates from AMERICAN PSYCHO, in regards to his rapping prowess. There is so much cultural history that Ivan L drops inside, ALL EYES ON VITO.
The production is a mixture of cutting edge newer sounds, as well as core hip hop, archaic drum breaks. There is also sampling of the classic film, BACK TO THE FUTURE with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The concept and theme of new vs old are prevalent through out ALL EYES ON VITO. If you enjoy old school hip hop, new wave hip hop and music with many references that continue to tickle the nostalgia of 80’s and 90’s babies, then this record is absolutely for you.
Will Is Chillin’ dropped a six track EP earlier this month titled LOITERING. The whole record perfectly sums up what everyone has been feeling the last two months, with the state enforced lock downs due to the COVID-19 historical pandemic. In the first song, I CAN’T WAIT TO BE OUTSIDE, Will Is Chillin’ lays out some very logical and common sense issues that arose because of mandatory business closings. He raps, “Can’t bartend from home, rent due on the first, how am I to make ends?” In Chicago, tens of thousands of service industry workers lost their jobs, and many well respected traveling musicians and artists rely on that as a source of income. Will Is Chillin’ recruited VantaBlac Sol and Rebel Legato, fellow Tiny Chain Gang members on track four, RIVER.
The shutdown definitely has weighed heavily on artists that both perform and work in bars. But not just artists, anyone can relate to these themes throughout LOITERING. Later in track one he raps, “Yes, I’m unemployed and it is out of my control… Wait, I can’t be depressed, need to remain positive but I won’t take a test!” There are many citizens right now that would oppose a mandatory vaccination, or to be tested after being exposed by contact tracing. This line tackles multiple ideas in that regard, Will Is Chillin’ needs to keep it together, smile through it, and hopefully not inundate himself into the medical system too much.
On the last track, APRIL 1ST, Will Is Chillin’ brings up points such as, “Stuck in this predicament, no therapy to cope, daring your eviction necessarily revoked.” This is a line that had one a tad baffled, but the ideas surrounding a lack of access to mental health care, and possibly being evicted due to not being able to pay rent, are extremely relevant given the current COVID-19 crisis. Will Is Chillin’ creates many layers of commentary through each track about our collective fears, anxieties, thoughts, hopes and worries in relation to the pandemic of 2020. If you cannot wait to be outside too, then make sure to give Loitering by Will Is Chillin a spin!
Chicago’s own hardened rappers, A.M. Early Morning and Johnny Gunnz, release their record, ANIMAL, that should be in the conversations that mention the popular New York gangster trio, Griselda and their debut album on Shady Records. ANIMAL is a seven track project, but it feels like a full record at slightly over eighteen minutes long. It is full of high pitched, sampled female vocal melodies and slow, tight structured bad-ass criminal punchlines. A.M. Early Morning and Johnny Gunnz capture that truly gangster style of rap that has largely been absent from hip hop, with the exception of Pusha T, The Game and now the recent critically acclaimed Griselda Records.
If a hip hop fan thinks of Chicago gangster rap at this very moment, put ANIMAL in the equation. Every record on the album has notable and memorable punchlines such as, “I’ll have Vatos leave your Tahoe on cylinder blocks, you the type to be caught slipping, chilling in crocs,” from Johnny Gunnz on the intro track, TYPICAL produced by Max Julian. A.M. Early Morning raps, “Switching burners like draws or a white tee, problems go away for a small fee, devil in the back working overtime, drug dealers now bums holding up signs,” on the song BODEGA GLASS, featuring Eto, produced by D-Nast On The Beat. Lines like those are what east coast hip hop heads love about the New York trio Griselda, if given the chance to be privy to ANIMAL by AM Early Morning and Johnny Gunnz, they would be instant fans of them as well!
The flow of the project is seamless, including a staple of a hip hop classic record; the skit. Boogie Man is featured scratching some dope cuts on track 4, the BOOGIE MAN SKIT. The complex scratching from Boogie Man offers a transition that is largely missing from new age hip hop today. Don not forget about independent hustlers of amazing quality rap music, and include AM Early Morning and Johnny Gunz in the conversation. Place ANIMAL next to Griselda and Pusha T in your daily hip hop playlist, it deserves shine along the mainstream.
Production by Max Julian, D-Nast On The Beat, Mister Castle, Johnny Slash, Ill Brown, and Boogie Man.
Maalik Falsetto is a Chicago filmmaker, photographer and producer with his own production company, Maalik Falsetto Productions. He started this company in 2016 to cater to creatives and help them see their film and photography projects come to life. Maalik recently won the My World Is Yours competition for creatives hosted by Art After Dark. Maalik was picked after submitting a beautiful urban photo set.
Recent projects produced by Maalik Falsetto include MUSE, a short film about “Two college students meet at a party, realizing that they may need to rely on each other more than they know.“THE OTHER FOOT, an alternative history piece about slavery, and AMBROSIAL a story about overcoming the grief of a brother slain by police. Congratulations to Maalik Falsetto on his recent contest win and continuing to help creatives produce quality visual content.
CantBuyDeem and Konsept the Emcee came up with a unique idea for their latest single, BONNIE. The idea that sometimes the only person you can trust in your life is your lady, a Bonnie to your Clyde. Bonnie and Clyde were an infamous heterosexual couple back in the early 30’s. They robbed banks and gas stations, traveling the continental United States, until they were gunned down in Louisiana by Texas and Louisiana officers in 1934.
The song alludes to this ride or die theme through out both verses from the seasoned Chicago rappers, and it does this exceptionally. CantBuyDeem raps, “If I get locked, she take my phone, and keep my money coming in.” The idea that CantBuyDeem’s lady will still help him secure income, even if he is incarcerated, that is a Bonnie and Clyde type love. Konsept the Emcee raps, “You gonna hold me down, I’ma hold you down, you done kept it silent since you’ve been round;” the idea that Konsept’s lady will not snitch on her man no matter what, a staple in a relationship built like Bonnie and Clyde.
Bonnie, the new single by CantBuyDeem featuring Konsept the Emcee is streaming everywhere!
“How do you expect me to heal? Things that we did to survive, like were we even alive?” The last line pierces the heart of listeners in M.Whise chorus, on his new song, HEAL. He takes a slower melodic flow in his signature deep gravelly voice, and poses many philosophical questions about life. M.Whise brings up ideas that will have a listener thinking about the cycle of life and death.
“If heaven is really a place, I hope that the studio decent.” A relatable line for all recording artists; the idea of getting to continue making music in the afterlife. “I’m so afraid of the day that I’m forced to show people the actual me,” the thought that M.Whise would have to become violent in defense of himself, is something he wishes he will not have to face. Because if that happens, the beast is unleashed.
“Tables start changing on me, sending shots aiming for me, occasionally, you gotta get in that bag, and say bitch stop playing with me.” M.Whise is alluding to people that have switched up their energy on him, or have done him dirty in the past. At the end of they day, one has to stay focused on securing their income, and not worry about the hatred. Something M.Whise certainly understands well enough to translate that message into a song!
HEAL by M.Whise is a cathartic and therapeutic track. Bump Heal today, its perfect for those lock down blues.
“I used to want to be a fireman, till I found out, they don’t get a lot of bands.” This line sticks more than the GOAT himself, Lil Wayne, and his song of the same name. The project FIREMAN by FESSA is impeccable sonically, visually and lyrically. Fireman is a great show of growth and grit, from the veteran WeWiNNiN collective emcee.
This music video is full of symbolism, so many different objects are being set ablaze by FESSA himself; including pairs of Air Force Ones. For those that need a little history lesson, FESSA used to be Professor Mic, and this re-branding is really starting to catch fire, pardon the pun. Through out his rap personas, he has never ditched the opportunity to teach through his music, hence being called the professor. If you listen closely, many lines in FIREMAN have to do with specific financial situations; “Had to knuckle up on my sonic shit, get a couple rings just for acknowledgement.”
Ever Evolved is gearing up for more hot bars, videos, and firestorms from FESSA of WeWiNNiN.