In a music scene as bustling as Chicago’s there is an artist who is deserving of more attention seemingly everywhere you go. Lucky enough to discover one of those artists playing an amazing set at the Pilsen Art House. His name is M.E.R.C and his new single LATELY shows that his name deserves to be brought up as one of Chicago’s true rising stars. He is still a relatively unknown around the scene, but given his confidence and lyrical ability that should not be the case for much longer. M.E.R.C is definitely somebody you will want to keep on your radar.
The instrumental is moody and fairly stripped back. The trap drums tend to push things forward, adding a lot of color to the jazz piano sample and staccato bass line that fit snug beneath the percussion. Lyrically M.E.R.C leaves everything on the table here, he demonstrates the full arsenal of flows and deliveries that he has at his disposal. He sounds hungry and invigorated as his words paint the picture of a man who is confident. As someone will stop at nothing in the pursuance of their dreams.
A few weeks ago many artists in the Chicago hip hop scene sent Chore Boy off in style onto new career horizons as he goes city hopping for the better half of a year. While we are sad to see him go, we are also quite excited to see what he will do with his time outside Chicago. Danny Rahrig aka Chore Boy is artist of the week due to his outstanding productivity and output of music. We recognize his drive, vision and consistency as staple qualities of the kind of artist we like to push!
Earlier this year In January, Chore Boy dropped the LP EXORDIUM, fully produced by Brad Kemp, featuring Fashawn, Vagabond Maurice, MoeCyrusformerly known as Unkle Slump,M.Whise The Shogun, OG Denzo and more. He then dropped a single in February, another Brad Kemp production featuring Elly Tier of White Ppl and Beloved Gang’s Matthew Payne. In May he released a remix of one of his EXORDIUM tracks featuring Orlando Coolridge and MfnMelo. Then in June, Chore Boy he had releasedSTORIES YOU CAN TELL YOURSELF, fully produced by Brad Kemp featuring CantBuyDeem, Femdot, Zombie Manana, TomCat Trumpet and other Chicago standouts!
Last week Chore Boy released STILL LOCAL featuring Kasean and OG Denzo. This week he dropped NERO an EP produced by Rice Master Yen, a german born boom bap producer, featuring Orlando Coolridge on two joints. We also have undisclosed word of another Chore Boy and Brad Kemp album as well as a second Rice Master Yen EP coming out before 2019 is over. Besides his own output he was featured on Super King Reza’s album MOSEY, Handsome Naked’s album “DOORS“, and CantBuyDeem’s single FAKE, featuring Cado San. That is an insanely high level of productivity, more than well deserving of an artist of the week slot on Ever Evolved.
His most recent recorded project NERO is four track ep with two of the records toting verses from Orlando Coolridge on “TUCK EVERLASTING” and “PEPITAS“. “Thats just how it be sometimes” rings true on the second record over an eerie alien like instrumental having to do with seeing ghosts and battling demons. Possibly sleep paralysis too! “PEPITAS” is a sarcastic and witty boom bap rap track with a beautiful harp melody in the instrumental. Coolridge drops his second verse ending the whole song with “You come at me with the work well I’ll be laying you off, gone!” Chore Boy wraps up the extended playlist with “ACTRESS” where he plays with the word ‘act‘ in a string of rhymes having to do with a strained relationship. This leads into a short hook “Its far from over”…ending the ep with on an ere of wanting more raps, cuts, chops, and thick features from one of the hardest working and most productive emcees in the game, Chore Boy.
Rest assured, this will not be the last you hear about Chore Boy in 2019, and 2020 is shaping up to look like another explosive year for him.
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.
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.
J-Bose is one talented individual. He raps something like a Busta Rhymes or Busdriver and sings with a unique timber unheard of before. He crafts lyrical messages using technical styles of hip hop, fusing that with pop songwriting methodologies. The overall socio-economic political message of J-Bose’s debut album stood out in particular.
He seems to be able to create this realistic hero complex of himself. Utilizing the honesty of his own experiences and coupling that with a filter of his interpretations of the outside world. The majority of these being quite socially progressive in nature. J-Bose’s mature reflections of these stereotypical occurrences might come off to some as, you guessed it, a SNOWFLAKE.
What is a Snowflake? One of the most beautiful and temporary examples of sacred geometry that comes with the absence of heat, or cold. Thinking about that makes you delve deeper into the term we use to coin so many moderate liberal millennials as Snowflakes. Are we really so sensitive that all logical debate has now been eroded? Or is it perhaps we are fed up with the supposed universal rules of society we find ourselves with. Just maybe this generation is going to completely alter the path of history? After listening to Snowflake, the latter of those ideas seem possible.
The first track to delve into is Feel Me featuring Kara Dawn. J-Bose layers much meaning, feeling and questions of morality in his writing. He begins with, “I done seen a lotta people with the biggest egos and the smallest bank accounts. Walkin’ round like they a giant, thinkin’ they Goliath, everyone else David now!”. The idea that there is a lot of fakes with inflated personalities but very little to offer, would seemingly be the person opposite of a snowflake. J-Bose continues with, “Could be inside that they’re hurting, thinkin’ this’ll be the safer route“. It could be these same fakes are actually just lost inside and the best defense mechanism is an outwardly egotistical aggression.
To be a snowflake in our current culture’s context is to admit to feelings you have towards things within society that upset you, not to be emotionless brash. In his second verse he makes this point, “See, we gotta learn how to empathize, we don’t know everyone’s situation. Take the judgement, the bigotry and the lies and remove it all from the equation. And treat everyone as an equal, all the time, not just in some occasions. Cuz we are an imperfect people and it’s time we built perfect relations“. These types of inherently idealistic yet purely loving concepts are unfortunately labeled as snowflake behavior, providing others an excuse to not mentally confront the issues at hand.
J-Bose does not tear down those bigoted, fearful, close minded people whom ignorantly project their baseless vitriol. He sees himself in them, sees their humanity and because of that can only judge so harshly. FEEL ME is a melancholic song that forces a listener to wrestle with their personal morality and sense of empathy. It will have you questioning why you judge and think in the manner that you do.
ONE CHANCE is another appealing tune because the hook is uptempo with a catchy uplifting melody! The song has to do with personal growth and change. These two things are definitely part of the mythos or ethos of what makes a snowflake. “Whether you’re fat, annoying or boring or selfish or lazy, you can identify and make a change and start anew and you can see yourself the way that I see you“. Its the idea of being able to see the light in everyone regardless of the veneer. “But stay humble and if you’re wrong sometimes, and when you are then that’s ok change your state of mind, be honest with your problems and we’ll get along fine, and rejoice we get to share this world and make it cloud 9.“
Some people simply can’t hear out a victim’s or an oppressed group’s opinion because they deem it offensive to themselves personally. Today someone could express their feelings of oppression and have those concepts fall on deaf ears because the receiver thinks they are being personally attacked or torn down. Happen all the time on social media! Some people just cannot separate themselves from the demographic they are apart of. But to be honest, you cannot expect too much out of ignorant people or those unwilling to empathize.
Snowflake by J-Bose gets your gears whizzing. There are many questions to ponder and things to think about when going through this record. Off two songs alone you can extrapolate an insane amount of ideas being conveyed. J-Bose really created an inwardly personal yet outwardly political record with extreme relevance to our current American socio-economic political climate. Questions of sexuality, anxiety, societal ills, oppression, self doubt, crippling fear — its all there.
J-Bose then takes all that and is still able to portray a silver lining. He does so exceedingly well in songs like ONCE CHANCE, ROY DEE THE GIFT, and DOUBLE LOVE. The record is emotional, visceral, piercing, honest, brutal, and eye opening. Snowflake by J-Bose is as pretty as it is structurally sound, but unlike a snowflake, this record isn’t temporary, its here to stay.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Consistency, hard work, perseverance and an eagerness to learn to be one of the best! Anthony Radcliff aka Radcliff Music is in a league all in his own making. He raps, produces, engineers himself and he freestyles his ass off, just ask 606. And above all he actually drops records regularly and is in the process of building a catalog and legacy that will cement him as a hip hop legend.
Radcliff has been making literal moves, he recently got back from a show in Omaha Nebraska, and is now in LA doing a show with the majority of the Ever Evolved team. He is opening up for Method Man and Red Man mid August opened up for Cam’Ron earlier this year and Curren$y, twice. He has been dropping self produced tapes and singles this throughout 2019 and we are only halfway done with the year. Also dropping a remix and music video to Big L’s Flamboyant track a few weeks ago into June. I don noy know what else to call that besides real, hard work.
Radcliff Music is the truth and not the gimmick, in reference to his song, because he actually lives off of music and hip hop. He can freestyle or write, he can compose a beat, he does not need backing vocals, he is nice with the hooks, and he is nice with the lyrics and the flow. With a catalog of already over 50 songs released Ever Evolve recognizes Radcliff Music for his dedication to the craft of music and record making. Some of his popular tracks include WATCH ME off of his POP QUIZ project, his single Fall N Off, and his new single STEELERS!
Radcliff is gearing up to take the stage with Essse, CMac, JaiTheArtist, UNDFTD of the North, and William Bolanos in Los Angeles, California in collaboration with ScoBrazy, Octo5quid, Keyblayd and BunnyLiiu. He is about to put on and represent for the city of Chicago and show the West Coast how real, off the cuff spitters perform and express the culture of hip hop. Salute to Radcliff Music.