WCW: Amare Symoné Bares Her Soul With Insecure

This is the first time that Amare Symoné’s music has come through submissions and her new single INSECURE certainly does not disappoint. The instrumental is absolutely heavenly. The synths are stunningly melodic and are ethereal to the point where they had you in a daze upon first listen. The percussion and harmonies floating in the background give the beat a kaleidoscopic feel and it is very easy to get lost in everything that is going on.

Symoné’s vocals float over the top of the instrumentation perfectly. She croons about love and trust issues with the passion of someone experiencing true heartache. The melancholy tone of her voice really drives that home. With INSECURE, Amare Symoné has pulled together a track that is dreamy in tone and emotive in poetics. She bares her soul in every lyric she sings and for her, connecting to the listener takes minimal effort.

INSECURE is now available on all platforms.

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Artist Of The Week: DeadstockV1 Comes Off As Charismatic As Ever On GEEK

Few artists on Chicago’s scene bring as much heat as DeadstockV1 does. His brand new single GEEK is just another example of that. The instrumental on this joint consists of a pleasant mix of jazz and trap elements. The synth chords sound as if they are breathing and the jazzy piano chords stick out beautifully in more subtle moments. Despite its lo-fi elements the bass and trap percussion hit hard, making this track an absolute banger.

This goes without saying but DeadstockV1 rips this track to pieces. His lines are clever, sarcastic and funny as hell. His cadence is lively and full of spirit, his voice absolutely oozing with confidence. How comfortable he sounds tearing a beat to shreds vouches more for his art than any fan or blogger ever could.

If there is one word that sums up DeadstockV1’s performance on this new track, it would be charismatic. You know he is going to bring the lyrical heat every time he steps to the mic, but it is amazing how much his confidence and personality grow with each new release. He mentioned on his Instagram that this song is the “second step in a much bigger picture,” so this dude is definitely someone you are going to want to keep on your radar.

DeadstockV1 | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Artist Of The Week: Punting Baxter Keeps It Groovy On “Wednesday”

Punting Baxter is making their Ever Evolved debut with their new single, WEDNESDAY and this song is GROOVY. The rhythm section is incredibly at ease throughout this one. The drums are steady and consistent in their pacing, holding down the fort incredibly well. The bass and guitar riffs are bluesy and rhythmically poignant, simmering like a midsummer barbecue. There is a certain heaviness to these riffs, yet the laid back aesthetic presented here should remind the listener not to take life too seriously.

The vocal performance here feels dreamy and animated. The lyrics are full of colorful imagery while the vocals sound heavenly in their faded tone. The way they punch through the weighty tone of the rhythm section creates a really nice blend. With WEDNESDAY Punting Baxter has yet another gem of a single on their hands. They have been busy lately between doing shows and dropping multiple singles but WEDNESDAY is a sheer indication that they are enjoying the ride.

Now available on all platforms.

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Throwback Thursday: The Opening Of Wrigley Field

It is well known that Wrigley Field is one of the oldest stadiums in all of a American sports. However what is probably a little less known is that Wrigley Field was not originally intended for the Cubs. Wrigley Field first opened its doors in 1914 when it was called Weeghman Park.

The area occupied by the stadium was originally settled by the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary. Surrounding it was Eliza Hall, the presidents house, St. Marks Church and other buildings. Early as 1905 rumors of the minor league American Association planned to franchise in Chicago. With the Sox on the south side and the Cubs in the west at West Side Park, the Northside was ideal. After construction of the first elevated train lines leading to thr northside, the Lutheran seminary abandonned their expansion projects seeking quieter environments and sold their property to AA owners.

The presidents house (right) is near location to to the present day Wrigley Scoreboard and centerfield bleachers. Eliza Hall (center) locates todays left field bleachers.

As the AA owners failed to capitlize on their efforts to franchise, Charles Weeghman aquired a 90 year lease on the land. He built Weegham Park soon after for the Chicago Whales, the baseball team he owned. However the Federal Baseball League folded at the end of the 1915 season as well. The Chicago Cubs started playing at the stadium the very next season.

In 1920 the stadium was renamed to Cubs Park. A year later in 1921 William Wrigley Jr. took complete control of ownership of the Cubs. Soon after he would rename the field to its current namesake, Wrigley Field, in 1927.

During the stadium’s first season under the rebranding over 1 million fans flocked to Wrigley to watch the Cubs play. The franchise became the first National League team to ever achieve that feat. Making this fest all the more impressive was the fact that the upper deck was not even finished at that point. In 1929, the Cubs put together one of the best batting lineups in baseball history and attendance rose to over 1.5 million as a result. For the next 17 seasons, that stood as a record.

Many years and many renovations later Wrigley Field still stands loud and proud as the home of Chicago Cubs baseball. Though it does not have quite the same look as it did in the 20’s and 30’s, it indeed has never lost its charm as one of America’s most iconic sports venues. That it shall remain for many years to come.

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Kennyflowers Shows Loads of Versatility on JOAT

From the moment you first press play on Kennyflowers’ new project JOAT you know instantly that you are in for an infectious and fantastic listen. Standing at just 9 tracks and 24 minutes in length, Kennyflowers leaves himself with no margin for error. However between the dreamy, jazzed-out soundscapes, Flowers’ versatile, introspective songwriting and his penchant for catchiness has come through with flying colors. He makes every second count on this short and to-the-point LP.

The vibe on this project stays pretty uniform throughout. The instrumentals are constantly laidback and playful, reeking of jazz and R&B influence. There are moments of pure beauty here as well as tinkling, fluttering pianos and groovy melodic synth progressions can be heard all throughout this project. Kennyflowers’ vocal performances also fits the mood of the production to a T.

He has a tendency to use his voice as an instrument all its own, often adding another layer over the already dense production. He is using his inside voice all throughout this project. As a listener it is easy to feel like you are in a 1-on-1 conversation with flowers as he dissects all different aspects of his life right before your eyes. However despite the wide range of tone and emotion Kennyflowers presents here, there is a single common thread that weaves this entire project together.

It is one 24-minute long ear worm. Each and every song here has loads of replay value on its own. Every hook and every verse has the potential to get stuck in your head. Flowers shows that he is more than capable of crafting music that is as catchy as it is creative. When it comes to songwriting, Kennyflowers shows loads of versatility on Joat.

On the albums’ first two tracks, YELLOW LINES and FAVORITE JACKET, he is adventurous and carefree; embracing a free-spirited way of life. However on LONELINESS, which appears much later on the track list, Flowers comes off as vulnerable and stunningly self-deprecating. A duality is created here, as his somber moments come off just as well as his humorous, nonchalant moments.

This album is one that is pretty easy to really enjoy. On the surface, it is easygoing and care-free; meaning one can certainly fall in love with it without paying too much attention. When one digs deeper into this album, there is much more to admire as well. The jazzy instrumentation is a testament that Kenny Flowers takes after some of the greatest musicians to ever do it. The versatility of his songwriting shows he is developing a style all his own. If JOAT is just the start, then there are three things that are certain in life: Death, taxes and the inevitable fact that Kenny Flowers’ music career will stand the test of time.

JOAT is now available on all platforms.

Kenny Flowers | Twitter | Instagram

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Becomes Incorporated

Considering the fact that Chicago boasts a present day population of over 2.7 million people, it is hard to believe that there was a time where it was nothing more than a tiny village. However such a time does exist on the historical record. On August 12, 1833, Chicago became incorporated for the first time as a Town. Sporting a population of just 350 people back then, the Windy City covered less than half of a square mile confined by Kinzie Street, Des Plaines Street, Madison Street and State Street.

Rare view looking west on South Water Street possibly in the 1830s. Hogan’s store was at South Water and Market Streets, while Wolf Point Tavern can be seen in the distance.
From a painting owned by the Chicago History Museum

It was during the years after its incorporation where Chicago’s population truly started to blossom. By 1837, Chicago’s population had exploded to over 4,000 people. It was the 92nd-largest city in the United States and it was only getting bigger as schools, churches and businesses were popping up everywhere. One of the other reasons Chicago’s population expanded at such a fast rate is its newfound prominence as a transportation hub. The Illinois and Michigan Canal came to fruition in 1848, making it possible for ships carrying consumer goods to pass through Chicago from the Great Lakes en route to the Mississippi River.

Despite the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago only kept growing. By 1890 it was the second largest city in the country, following New York, even after most of the city had to be rebuilt because of the fire. Coming from such humble beginnings, Chicago has always been known for its grit and resilience. It does not hold the flashiness of say New York or LA — but it has a certain edge to it in the sense that it can face anything that stands in its way, and will always come out on top. I would not count on that changing anytime soon.

Chicago Traffic 1833, Wolf Point
Wolf Point Tavern (Left) Millers Tavern (Right)

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Artist Of The Week: Rel McCoy Reaches For Contentment With Peace

Rel McCoy is back with a new single entitled PEACE and the self-awareness he shows on this tranquil jam lands him on him Ever Evolved’s Artist of the Week. The instrumental on this joint is wavy and soulful. The synths croon softly in the background while the percussion keeps a laid-back yet steady pace. The inward vibe this instrumental gives off is perfect for McCoy’s introspective lyricism.

Speaking of McCoy, he proves that slow and steady wins the race on this one. He is not out to flex his lyrical chops or spit at a frenetic pace. His flow and delivery is every bit as patient as the instrumental is. He patiently drops lyrical bombs bar after bar musing on themes of nostalgia, family and his continuous path of life.

Eternia shows up for a feature on the song’s second half and she fits right in. She spits with a little bit more intensity but she keeps the same sense of self-awareness that McCoy shows on the first verse. Rel McCoy is a hip-hop traditionalist. Between his jazzy, soulful beats and super-conscious lyrics, nobody does it better than he does when it comes to keeping the conscious side of hip-hop alive and thriving. PEACE is just another example of that.

PEACE is now available on all platforms. Also Stream McCoy’s new album, A DIFFERENT CROWN which is also streaming everywhere.

Rel McCoy | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Artist Of The Week: Blaqrock Reigns In A New Era With Their New Single Mass Appeal

Ever since releasing their hit EP NO LOVE FOR BLAQKID back in 2018, Chicago rap-rock band Blaqrock have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the local scene. Having performed at some of the biggest indie venues in the city, Metro and Cubby Bear just to name a couple, this band has garnered as much clout as anyone. And what is even more impressive is how they have done it in such a short time span.

Back on August 2 Blaqrock closed the door on the NO LOVE FOR BLAQKID era with the release of their new single MASS APPEAL. This gem of a track possesses the same passion and energy as the material on their debut EP, except here everything is turned up a notch. In between the explosive cohesiveness of the rhythm section and lead singer, Gardner McFadden‘s feverishly intense vocal performance, Blaqrock has shown a great deal of growth and progression.

The passion and energy I spoke on before translated into an unbelievable live set at the MASS APPEAL single release party back on August 1 at HVAC Pub. Though it was a Thursday night and they did not go on until almost midnight, the venue was packed full of Blaqrock enthusiasts anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new single. There was a certain energy in the air and they tapped into it from the very beginning of their set.

Right around midnight with the crowd standing shoulder to shoulder in eager anticipation, drummer Danny Delgado let it rip on the opening drum hits to MASS APPEAL. What took place over the next four-plus minutes can only be described as magical. Every drum hit from Danny Delgado‘s kit was jaw-crushing. Every note from Myles Bacon‘s guitar was a searing streak of light penetrating your soul. Austen Goebel‘s poignant bass playing was a gentle staccato hum you can feel at the bottom of your feet. And of course, Gardner McFadden’s frenetic vocals strike you to the core to the point of numbness.

Between the intensity of Blaqrock’s performance and how the crowd reacted, the noise levels at HVAC bordered on deafening. There are not too many artists who can accomplish that on a random after hours show on a hot, muggy August night but Blaqrock showed that they are more than capable. For this reason, if you follow the Chicago scene, then I can guarantee you that Blaqrock is an artist you most certainly will not want to sleep on.

“Mass Appeal” is now available on all platforms.

Blaqrock | Youtube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Artist Of The Week: Ajani Jones Embodies Growth On His Debut Album Dragonfly

The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

According to dragonfly-site.com, the Dragonfly serves as a metaphor for change and self-realization.

Bring in south-side MC Ajani Jones, whose debut album of the same name embodies these sentiments to a T. Released on July 16, DRAGONFLY is a 13-track, 47-minute essay on growth, adaptation and personal evolution. The final product is the journey that encompasses those three aforementioned, which result in Jones coming to a full actualization of who he is as an artist and human.

The opening track, JANI’S INTRO, kicks off with Ajani Jones conversing with his 11-year-old self, asking what this younger version of himself likes to do for fun. Jones looks back on a delicate time in his life which consisted of playing with roadblocks and hanging out with his cousins. There is a sense of innocence that little Ajani brings in this skit — a sense of purity that is yet to be tainted by the harsh realities of the outside world. As the conceptual arc of Dragonfly develops further, the innocence portrayed in the opening skit is threatened more and more.

Where Ajani Jones shines most on this album is how he grows from the obstacles that stand in his way. On DRAGONS he confronts the terrifying notion of his cousin being recruited by a gang. His flow and delivery hold the sense of urgency that comes with someone being under siege for the first time, often not knowing how to react. However Jones does not fold here; he fends off the temptation associated with his surroundings, keeping his head afloat and his feet planted firmly on the right path.

On LUCID, which pops up in the middle of the track list, Jones goes into detail about a call he received from his mother late one night while he was at the studio. After checking his bank account she was left wondering how Jones would pull through while lacking funds. Jones however appears calm and collected despite the dire circumstances, confident he will pull through once again. As the second leg of the album progresses, the obstacles only continue to pile up.

PLUTO sees Jones and his mother dealing with their house being foreclosed on, as well as loved ones he has lost due to Chicago’s gun violence. On the closing track TIME FLIES, Jones confronts how lost he felt as a kid searching for a god to believe. He also touches on the fractured relationship between the police and the black community. Despite closing out on a somewhat somber note, the underlying notion that Jones has made becomes abundantly clear. He has refused to succumb to all of the obstacles that have stood before him, instead using them as periods of intense personal growth.

Aside from the well fleshed-out, conceptual arc of the album, the beats and lyrics are noteworthy by themselves. Lyrically Jones displays loads of technical skill on every song here. His wordplay is sharp and the pictures he paints holds a quality of vividness that so few MC’s have. His flow and delivery are equally as gripping as he delivers his verses with a robust sense of urgency. The instrumentals shine as well, ranging from bleak and dreary sounding to jazzy and laid-back. Jones did a great job of picking beats that fit the mood he was in on a given track.

On the beginning of DRAGONFLY, Ajani Jones is an 11-year-old kid unaware of the cold, harsh truths that have yet to invite themselves into his life. What comes after is the battle to either grow within himself, or fall victim to the obstacles that are constantly standing in his way. Jones not only chose to grow, he chose to grow triumphantly. How he conceptually realizes that over the course of an album is a true testament to that. That sentiment in combination with the moody production and lyrical dexterity from Jones himself makes for a great album. That is why Ajani Jones is this week’s Artist Of The Week.

Ajani Jones | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Artist Of The Week: Wilhelm Duke Plays To His Strengths On His New Single “Want Smoke”

One of the things I love most about Ever Evolved is the diversity between all of the artists in the collective. This week’s Artist Of The Week goes to a musician who brings a whole new element to the collective and that would be rapper Wilhelm Duke. A wordsmith with loads of technical skill, Duke peppers his verses with all types of different flow patterns and unique deliveries. He is an artist who brings something new to every track he lands on, always keeping the listener on their toes. He exudes a sly sense of confidence in his voice as he demonstrates a high level of command on the microphone.

All of these strengths come through on his new single WANT SMOKE. Produced by Joey Bandino, the instrumental is bleak and menacing. The bass here is grumbling and authoritative while the percussion is offbeat and hard-hitting. Though minimalistic in scope, Bandino does a wonderful job of creating a dark atmosphere. Duke’s lyricism fits the mood of the instrumental to a T. He explores themes of depression and loss of hope. He also shows a rich sense of variety in his wordplay as his lines range from being animated and funny to witty and braggadocios.

His vocal performance also stands out. Though just 26, Duke has the confidence of a seasoned veteran as he sounds like someone 15 years his senior. His delivery is weighty yet easy-going as he weaves together a myriad of flows and lyrical concepts throughout the track’s duration. There is a lot going on here but Duke makes it look effortless.

At just 1:50 in length, WANT SMOKE is a grimy, lyrical trap banger. This track would work really well either as a stand alone single or as part of a project. To me this track captures the essence of who Wilhelm Duke is as an artist and MC, as he shows a great deal of technical skill, easygoing charisma and rich imagery on this track.

Wilhelm Duke | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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