“You a cyborg. You should open up your eyes more, is this what you wanna die for, tell me what I gotta lie for?” Marko Stat$ shouts over a beat by Aced Spade. “What is your origin you probably a clone stuck on your phone”, he continues to berate the mindless as he takes aim at the age of information asking, what do we think about it? His latest release Never Be A Robot was in late November but it is infinitely relevant as he calls out social media obsessions while he avoids being apart of the matrix or a plot as much as he can focusing on his craft. Chicago takes notices too as he ends out the 2018 year with a headlining performance at Emporium in Wicker Park, marking the most live performances for him in a single year. Following an album, music video and a freestyle release, Stat$ definitely has our ears anticipating new work in this new year.
Coming back around following his last visual Maintainin’, RhymSter is doing just that with more releases and music videos. Working again with Lonnie Edwards, getting more and more creative with his animations matching RhymSters lyricism. A provocative introduction to start off as the lyrics slowly pick up to a beat drop, the whole project from the beat, lyrics and visuals keeps you fixed the whole way through. Henrik3000 from Germany always follows through with raw production that compliments RhymSters style.
Keeping it going he brings it back to the real world and inside the studio. This time working with videographer and hip hop emcee Mike Booth on the camera catchin’ RhymSter in his natural environment. Under the dim colorful lighting, in the booth and at center console he spits his freestyle; somethin he is well known for on the mic in the underground Chicago hip hop scene. As he shows off his skill and studio aesthetic at Ever Evolved, take this as an invite to work with and at the headquarters with this young emcee and the crew. Expect more projects like these to drop soon!
Witty lyricism, an atmospheric trap beat and a catchy hook. This is the recipe that Chicago Hip-Hop duo Bombay Boyz went for when they teamed up for their brand new single Pop Off which is the first single from their upcoming Jedi East project slated to drop this summer. The beat, which is produced by CT, has an airy and atmospheric vibe. Minimalistic and stripped back, CT does a brilliant job of setting the stage for the MC’s to drop lyrical bombs.
Harrison Maxwell handles the hook on this track and much like the instrumental, it is effective in its simplicity. Catchy and to-the-point, it helps make Pop Off a straight banger; meaning it is the perfect turn-up song to blow the house down at shows. While the beat and hook are effective in their simplicity, the verses are where everything gets turned up a notch. Maxwell and his counterpart Eric Wilhelm leave everything on the table. WRDS even drops by for a feature showing he is every bit as capable on the mic.
In spite of the modern trap feel of the instrumental the way these three MC’s try to one-up each other gives this song a bit of an old school feel. The lyrics here are braggadocios yet all parties involved have the lyrical mastery to back up their boasts. In its essence, this song gets back to what Hip-Hop is at its core; rappers simply throwing on a beat and putting their artistic lives on the line in the fight for lyrical supremacy. Pop Off shows that Bombay Boyz already possess a skill that most artists do not have; their able to craft a song that can rock the party while simultaneously winning over the respect of old heads and traditionalists with complex lyricism and double-time flows.
This duality has always been rare in Hip-Hop, however, Bombay Boyz make it look easy on this track. Not that this should surprise anybody but if Pop Off is any indication, expectations will definitely be high for their upcoming Jedi East project. This should not be a problem for Bombay Boyz due to how effortless they make it look on this new single.
“Pop Off” is now available on Soundcloud, and will be available on all platforms in the coming days.
Applying the name after Kill Bills’ main yellow leather jacketed protagonist, from Chicago Beatrix Kiddo is in the streets just killin’ beats with her latest visual release for her single Stogie, produced by BKR & Josh Petruccio. With lyrics like “Got big grams coming, gotta kick it with the hustle, I’m a big ass bitch I don’t need the fuckin muscle“, you already know she got a tongue as sharp as a swords blade! CVO Films behind the camera as Kiddo sits like a boss with some hitters at her side, always sportin some unique and obscure lens glaring back at you. Nothing off put or out of place this is her natural environment, “Lighting a stogie blunt… middle fingers up not giving a single F*ck”.
Connecting with Mohawk Johnson we got to talking about his music and his mission for a brief period of time. Getting into some history and details into his music intent and thought process. Painting a picture of human being going through his woes within his skin and his culture. Alleviating the pressure by fighting for noble causes and ideas through his music and empathetically connecting with listeners in mutual situations.
Within a short period of time from his starting point Mohawk gathered a collection of songs aimed to disseminate social and political constructs and to place awareness on ones mental state. Armed with an EP and music videos he does it again with the release of So Deep. With his words he mocks the typical hotep, breaking down and patronizing their behavior. Over a jazzy and vibrant hip hop beat produced by Shhh, Mohawk’s turns his heckling into a catchy, raw song calling out contradictory artists in his culture.
In our interview Mohawk Johnson breaks it down in a bit more detail with what he means with this song. We also go over his start in music and what motivated him into the industry and how that quickly grew into something different. You will get the idea that he is more ordinary than most artists claim to be, and he speaks it how it is. Connecting effortlessly with and giving voice to the unconnected and the voiceless. Whether it be through his music or social media Johnson fights for his mind and fights for better social conditions with his level and style of awareness.
When did you start rapping/handling the mic?
Do you write and/or freestyle?
I write. I can’t freestyle for shit.
What got you to start releasing music?
I wanted my ex girlfriend to notice me and take me back. It didn’t work.
But you have new songs coming in. Did you figure forget it keep goin, did the music grow on you? What were you thinking then?
After I dropped the first EP some people I knew came out and talked to me about being suicidal and that my music inspired them to get help. So I kept making music. There have been people who didn’t care what I had to say but when I say it in songs they hear me. I have a lot to say and music seems to be the only thing that allows people to hear me.
Your profile on bandcamp says you are black and traumatized and you want to put that on display to help other similar people. Would you say your new inspiration is mental health advocacy through your music?
That and other things
Other things like?
Ending racism, tackling poverty, fighting homophobia, etc…
Your newest release so deep takes on a different persona than your other earlier darker tracks.Any particular inspiration or what are u goin for?
I am critiquing hoteps who pretend to be problack but then engage in respectability politics.
Black men who pretend to be pro black but engage in respectability politics, homophobia, sexism, able-ism, etc… They don’t want freedom from white supremacy. They want the power to oppress black women.
Do you see alot of this in todays hip hop scene?
Yeah, it’s everywhere. Anytime someone critiques racism and then turns around and calls women hoes for having the same sex we been having
How would you say your music is helping combat this?
I attack it directly through satire. I embody the style like I did in so deep but then I rip their ideology apart.
Can we expect a more socially and politically motivated project similar to how your relapse EP is about the mind?
Alot of your work is produced by Shhh. How’d you two meet?
My roommate is friends with him. They came to my first show. Shhh volunteered to work with me after that.
Can we be expecting more funk and jazz influenced beats like So Deep as well?
Maybe a few, I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t do the genre justice.
I have to disagree! I really liked the new track and I think you flowed good in that genre with your style.
If you say so.
Tellin’ it how it is man appreciate you sharing the new music.
Essse Guey pops out to reinforce a previously released track from his Over the Daze LP picking out a popular track to add some visuals too. Neorevivalist on duty giving V.I.M.M. life with some animated visuals matching the atmosphere of the slow and ominous beat. With a style so smooth he is not afraid to get dark with hooks like “You get left behind, F*** up out my eye, ready to die, Don’t really have a choice, voices in my mind” and “Over mad or under oath only real ones slit they throat, …cross-face, swan dive, head first, there’s a million ways to make another suicide note” and make it work. A timeless track produced by Dead_Air worth giving a double take and a surreal music video following his last for Constellations.
“The pain lets me know I’m still alive.“
These are the words so beautifully belted out by singer Adam Martinez on the hook of Still Alive, the fourth track off of Chicago MC YOUNG XAV‘s upcoming album entitled After Dark. Although this project cannot be boiled down to just a few words, that lyric serves as a good blueprint for the emotional head space XAV finds himself in throughout the duration of this project. After Dark is a gloomy, lonely trip inside the mind of an individual who has fallen off a mountain of sanity. However the album’s progression marks the story of that same individual getting up, brushing the dust off their clothes, and clawing their way back up to the top.
The cinematic opening track, which is entitled Intro, pulls the listener in from the very beginning. This song sees XAV lose his sense of self identity laying the path for him to find himself all over again. The beat is heroic and empowering as light, feathery piano motifs are sprinkled over a loud, barreling brass section. Lyrically XAV seems to be succumbing to his inner demons on the first half of the album. On cuts such as After Dark and Still Alive XAV paints his struggles with alcoholism, using it as a coping mechanism to silence the demons in his head. The beats on these tracks are dark and moody, and they serve as the perfect complement to the on-the-edge-of-insanity tone of XAV’s lyrics.
The middle of the album is a bit more turnt up, as tracks such as Another Drink and Blaśe are straight up bangers. However the cloud of darkness present earlier in the album still looms close behind. These songs illustrate the dichotomy of drinking to partying while simultaneously not being able to control oneself and XAV does does a beautiful job of painting a vivid portrait of what that looks like.
The interlude track Dear You is another standout on this album and it is a beautiful spoken word piece; seemingly serving as an ode to a lover from years’ past. It transitions seamlessly into the next track Dancing in the Dark, which finds XAV pondering what him and this former flame could have been. For XAV heartbreak is something that consumes his entire being, and he is able to portray that pain in his music with ease.
The back end of this album serves as an indicator that XAV will not go down without a fight. On the song Chasing Dreams XAV speaks on his ambitions to get to the top. The closing track Road to Legend finds XAV reflecting on the people who have come in and out of his life, as well as the changes his life has undergone. As an album After Dark really shines due to the fact that YOUNG XAV is more in touch with his head space than most rappers. Whether he is speaking on his struggles with addiction, heartbreak or his hunger to succeed in music, XAV does a brilliant job of illustrating where he is at mentally.
XAV has not reached the top of the cliff yet, it seems as though he is still clawing his way towards happiness and contentment. His demons might still haunt him from time-to-time, but that does not mean that he is going to let them win. And that is a predicament that almost all of us will find ourselves in at one point or another.
After Dark will be released to all platforms on February 22nd.
Shu-kei Yu | Instagram
Chi Native Entertainment‘s own IdealRaps, Mic Logik and ThrowEmc come together on this hook heavy and verse rich song I’m All In, produced by the Windy City veteran producer Custom Made. This high production value track, which will be going on Idealraps’ upcoming album GAINZ, has a little bit of everything; two voices layered singing the hook, two verses, one slightly more uptempo than the other offering the song texture and vocal juxtaposition. Mic Logik and ThrowEmc are singing the refrain together. Idealraps is on the first verse and Mic Logik took the second with a clean midwest chopping flow.
“I know who I am and I know what I’m doing” is repeated before the main hook and bass drop comes in, building up to “I’m about that action…I ain’t for the talking”. This is the type of song to give one motivation in the gym, to bump in your car on a night out, or in your earbuds on the daily grind of traveling in Chicago. They capture that windy city sound authentically. Lines from the verses that stood out to me were “My hair long, my blunt loud, keep a spicy chicken like Kung Pao!” from Idealraps and “No division within my coalition, I go and get it while you hoping and wishing!” from Mic Logik.
Mic Logik and Idealraps will be performing at Rap Caviar III on February 16th in Renaldi’s Throne Room venue. Rap Caviar is Chicago’s cutting edge hip hop showcase series presented by Ever Evolved and Bombay Boyz. They will be performing this and more! Check out I’m All In and browse through Chi Native Entertainment and Idealraps records below.
Through the door by the end of the bar in a small eatery located on Clark and Grace in Chicago you enter Uncommon Ground, a seemingly private music room fit for a few dozen people. A intimate setting that can get an artist really connected with the crowd. One of two Uncommon food and music bar locations in the city. Tonight’s event brings Chicago’s first snowfall of the year and Vic Spencer to host a release party for his recent project STUPID with Na$im & Co Presents. Midday hours and the sun is still up, everyone has plenty energy for live new music.
Spencer brings a faction of talented underground Chicago Hip Hop DJ’s & lyricists to throw down & warm up the crowd. The one and only Slot-A does his thing on the decks to kick it off and then Unkle Slump brings in some of his signature grimy lyricism over raw beats, always bringing a bit of shock value with him. After Slump brings out a special guest Mura Reems then takes control of the mic and lays down some quick and heavy bars, leaving the audience in awe. Musa himself just released a 13 track project and really tells it how it is on the mic. As the host Ash Wednesday prepares the crowd for Spencer, music breathes and people rush to grab and drink and network.
Finally Vic walks his way to the front of the room to some claps and chants. He just released STUPID and he shares some of the singles for the eager crowd. Still fresh from some collaborations with Cutta, Chris Crack & Hus Kingpin but he keeps it exclusive and straight STUPID. With true stage presence he delivers it strong, short and sweet for the close crowd and at the last moment performs a free-style. Freestyle before Na$ims set and once he takes over on the ones and twos the people mingle with Spencer and the other artists; always keeping it real. If you want to catch any vibe similar to that set hear his full project with a purchase from his band-camp linked below with Dirty Porridge and Red 40 available to preview.
New Ezy Era sets himself up for a good year releasing an EP and a fresh single in time for New Year and late winter playlists, preparing him for live performances in January. Just on stage at Subterranean in Wicker Park, Chicago for Cold Front, going off with the crowd and his latest releases. Laced with dark beats and aggressive attitude New Ezy Era got the audience pumped with adrenaline and jumpin. Starting the night off with some good energy.
Loaded with an arsenal of new music Ezy Era released his Heavy Harvest EP late in the Autumn season. It may just be 4 tracks but these beats will get you moving, trying to catch his quick flow. Letting you know he is not that ordinary “vodka drinking, no lean sippin’… no backwoods no swishers” rapper. He is raw, like the papers he smokes. His most recent track Forgive Me Father, hits the speakers just as hard it sounds like Ezy Era wants to start some mosh pits. A different attitude from his previous George Lopez and Genesis Bars hits but just as versatile.