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.
Neha Chawla speaks softly in conversation, yet her creations are viscerally expressive. Despite her slight frame she looks tough, adorned in her trademark gothic face paint and a neck full of chains, swimming in a large black hoodie. Bleach spots draw the eye to her low-top Vans, sleeves and hair, all of which bear her fledgling fashion brand 2000zero’s distorted aesthetic. A lifelong painter with a keen sense of hustle, Chawla began customizing clothes for friends and acquaintances to fund the materials for the brand’s initial wave of releases not long ago. Though she will still take commissions personally (act fast, the price is only going up), she keeps the brand separate from her other endeavors, maintaining its lean, organized chaos, stylistic identity.
We meet on DePaul’s campus where Chawla studies psychology, which makes increasing sense as we talk; her mind is as analytical as it is creative.Along with her business partnerLupe, with whom she splits executive responsibility for2000zero, Chawla has built the brand from a nostalgia-evoking concept. Curating a collection of unique, hand-treated garments, that are sold more like art pieces than like typical apparel. In addition to creating 2000zero pieces, Chawla handles social media for the company and sources models for visual campaigns.She is often appearing in them as well. The first two drops so far have featured a limited selection of one-off t-shirts, each designed using bleach as a primary medium. Through a proprietary and somewhat impulsive creative process, about which Chawla is careful not to say too much, every shirt has a completely irreplicable look. With distinct lines, shapes, shades and splatters they create a variety of striking visual effects.
Mastery of technique allows different styles to emerge with logically-assigned titles like THE GRID; criss-crossed by thick, industrial lines and washed out in the middle, resembling a decaying chain link fence. Somewhere between patterned and fully abstract, all the shirts in 2000zero’s current collection offer free-form explorations of texture grounded in (roughly) symmetry-minded sensibility. From the psychedelic, tie dye-inspired rifts of THE SUNSET to the bold pools and streaks of THE BLEEDER. The longer you look at one, the more detail you inevitably find yourself appreciating, not unlike staring at clouds.
Chawla believes the openness of her art to interpretation directly contributes to its impact, since more people can identify with less specificity. Intrigued by 2000zero’s product line and Chawla’s own artwork, I wanted to learn more straight from the triple threat artist, model and COO herself. This interview has been edited for style and clarity.
“How did you get involved in art and fashion design?”“I’ve been doing art all my life but I just started this designing shit like five months ago. I’m from Maryland and no one really has their own style there They’re all kind of wearing the same things. Then I moved to Chicago and all of a sudden everyone is dressing different, so I was influenced by all the streetwear here. Growing up in the suburbs it’s hard to see a lot of individuality there. It’s easier in the city to stand out and be unique, especially when you know how to dress yourself.”“Describe your personal style.”“I try to have everything color-coordinated but not like I’m trying too hard, does that make sense? It really depends on how I’m feeling, but most of the time it’s pretty gothic; I like heavy chains, I like wearing black. I don’t necessarily want to label myself but I would say my style is mostly dark. Art is an expression of an emotion, so the way I dress and the way I make my art are the same.”“Is there a different process to produce each design?”“There is, but I can’t talk about it too much (laughs). My business partner and I both come up with ideas, but sometimes he’ll just throw the bleach and see what happens while I kind of have a little more planning to it. I really value having unique pieces because when something’s handmade and you can get it from the creators, themselves, it’s very personal. Like ‘here’s your pink shirt, you’re not gonna get that ever again,’ you know? We’re really all about being one-on-one.”“So it’s not only a totally individual piece someone gets to own but also an individual connection to you guys as people, that’s awesome. Going back to the beginning, where did the 2000zero brand identity come from?”“My business partner and I wanted to re-imagine the shitty style sense of the early 2000s by making clothes that would have been really cool back then. The early 2000s were such a mess bro, oh my God.”“What does the immediate future of the brand look like?”“We’re not gonna be bleaching anymore after the third drop. It’s gonna be completely different; A lot more eccentric, a lot of bright colors. You can expect that around December most likely. I eventually want to expand out of Chicago and grow national, still have each style be unique but have them in multiple sizes instead of literally just the one.”“What else are you working on artistically right now?”A lot of abstract painting, a lot of ink drawings and tattoo designs for people. I’m also doing some merch for an artist friend of mine. Lately it’s been explosions of emotion, a little bit all-over-the-place. I use different colors based on how I’m feeling and hopefully people will be able to see and feel those differences. I never have a plan for when I’m painting but when I do ink drawings, sometimes those are figures I see in my head. For example I did one drawing of a woman fading away and kind of unravelling into thread. I feel like a lot of my inspirations come from dreams.“Thanks so much for your time, Neha.”
What is a party without the DJ? Even the live performing artist needs their go to DJ in between setups and songs to keep an audience amused. The radio DJ can make or break an artist. The best of them can traverse genres, no matter who is listening and make their body move. Some can even influence music cultures with their sound and style.
Many times in our publications we recognize the vocal or spotlight artist. Tonight however we highlight the DJ’s role in music through DJ Squadooble. Albeit a young artist she made her way into the nightlife industry with ease. To personal friends and acquaintances she is the life of the party, to her associates in music she is the controller of the party.
Introduced into house parties, she quickly becomes popular with local promoters. Her diverse genre base welcomed her to spin at popular local clubs and lounges such as Debonair, Lokal, Simones, Harbees and even made her way to local neighborhood festivals over a short period of time. With a variety of genres from latin influences to hip hop and dance music, if you are in the vicinity of her sound she will make your body move! Making a return to Simones in Pilsen this third weekend of September she will be a judge for a twerk contest under the Ever Evolved banner spinning alongside DJ Hunt, rocking the crowd and backing up features artists like ESSSE, T.Z. Duhh, I C Y and more.
The mix below is old news but the magic is in the present. Follow her pages below and get in tune with DJ Squadooble and catcher her spinnin live.
In an industry of hyper sexualized and misogynistic music coming from both men and women, as read from her bio, Fury represents raw and unfiltered hip hop. Through passionate lyrics about life, relationships and perspectives, Fury does more to preserve authenticity in hip hop than the mainstream does as a whole. A powerful voice with an old school flow her lyricism is unmatched and inspiring, giving voice to many women who aspire to be music artists. As more and more women filter into Chicago’s music industry we recognize Fury’s fearless influence.
When Fury started releasing music almost 6 years she would be entering a scene mostly dominated by male artists. She would have to do more to get noticed, but that did not bother her because she would bring something different to the table. With street wise lyricism and flow comparable to Tupac and Lauryn Hill, coupled with her ambition, she would set it off. Nothing would stop her once she got connected to the right people and started performing live and collaborating with other artists.
Introduced to Fury at an Ever Evolved Empower Herstory event at AMFM Gallery, she takes the stage and the audience with ease. Her ability on the mic is undeniable and her stage presence is unforgettable. At the time having few LPs and a handful of singles in her back pocket. Today she performs live with a band with her latest LP BLACK MAGIC, fusing hip hop and rock music genres and finishing off a tour to work on new music for 2020. From her first releases like FEAR all the way to BLACK MAGIC, she holds the same fire in her soul and she really lets you know; I would recommend you going to a show, see below.
Whether you are looking for the ONE romantically, want to feel ONE with yourself spiritually, need to take that ONE step towards ONE project. The loneliest number can hold much significance, in many ways! J. Solaye knows this very well as she hits a milestone releasing her first EP entitled ONE. This soulful artist, singer and songwriter has been on the rise in Chicago and she has been making her name mainly with single releases up until now, with her first about 3 years ago.
Introduced to music at a young age through her parents, as many of us have, she was lucky enough to be brought up around good music taste. With enough Hip Hop, R&B and Chicago House to influence her she decided become one with the music. At just the age of six, she starts practicing singing and songwriting seriously. Piano and choir practice in grade school will lead her to perfect her craft till High School, where she starts performing confidently. Fast forward to today and J. Solaye has grown into a seasoned artist, with countless performances in various venues around Chicago.
With the release of ONE, J. Solaye notes to her fans that it was a proud piece representing herself as one whole human being spiritually. Confident in her music journey as inseparable from her identity, she has the freedom to express herself without hesitation. ONE is certainly a project for the lovers, with her personal inspirations being artists like Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey, she does not drift far from her influences as her sensual voice stands up to match up with legendary artists. In the 6 track EP, from Light Me Up to Cold World, we get a idea of the the very personal experiences of J. Solaye’s mind. Experience her romantic world vicariously with ONE.
L11 is hard to miss whether it is conquering open mics, holding her own in beefy local lineups or serving a cake shake that would put Portillo’s out of business in CantBuyDeem’s Thumb music video. The hip-hop and R&B artist has carved out a defined role for herself in Chicago’s musical community. With a seamless blend of social consciousness and uncompromising agency, L11 owns her sexuality proudly in the face of objectification. “You gotta wait, wait, wait, til I say go/ you gotta understand me if I say no”, she raps on the track Consent, a sultry bop with crisp, decidedly NSFW visuals by Rena Naltsas. According to the video’s description on YouTube, the song was created in partnership with the Chicago VotesGive a Shit collective to address the necessity of consent, as it builds trust and makes fantasies a reality.
Since her 2015 debut project Nefertiti, L11’s artistry has been honed to a razor’s edge. Encompassing soulful melodies like those that fill the island vibe-tinged Spring (Self Love) as well as scathing bars to remind listeners she is not to be mesesd with. On the twerk-inducing W.A.N she delivers a cold dose of reality to leagues of fake thugs and other would-be suitors. “You ain’t even got no goals, lil n****, I fuck around and snatch you right up out your soul, lil n****”, raps L11 over tumbling percussion. A true master of her brand, she is designed a line of Good Pussy Energy merch to rep the self-produced anthem of the same title. She handles her business and expects anyone she lets herself get involved with to do the same, declaring “energy so pure I swear my demons steady duckin’”.
Recently L11’s latest single B has been racking up plays, as one could expect with a beat from a union of the artists signature assertiveness and powerhouse producer DJ Skoli. In a dynamic script-flip of rap’s favorite and most controversial term for a woman, she wastes no time letting the people know; “B is for bitch, say it loud…When you see me, I be killing this shit.” At this stage in the game, L11 has shown not only potential but real progress while maintaining an entirely authentic voice that rings relatable for strong women and those who admire them. Whether putting it down on stage or in another artfully-directed video, we cannot wait to see what is next for this promising femme fatale.
When it comes to comes to confidence this artist shines like her stage presence and her mic handling. Coming into the scene quite recently she has already made a big name for herself in a short period of time. Introduced to Ever Evolved she quickly rose to her role with no hesitation. With a seemingly natural ability on the mic, Jai the Artist easily takes the studio and the stage, opening up for established figure heads!
Jai the Artist gets on the mic and grabs your attention. Coming off strong debuting with ZEN, she quickly racked up her playlist and followed up with OJ, BOUNCE and GAWD. With this set she rocks crowds, recently opening up for Wu Tang‘s Method Man and Redman. Jai also had the opportunity to open of for Chicago’s Tink.
While Jai bounces around the the states performing in places like Florida, Indiana, Los Angeles to name a few, she is perfecting more songs. With her attitude and confidence on the mic, stage and the studio, she seems hungry for more and with her short but significant resume it looks like she is going far! You can catch her next performance at Safari Lounge in Chicago’s Rogers Park area on the 25th of August.
Detroit and Chicago have a lot in common when it comes to music, most significantly through techno and house music origins. Today we recognize our connection through the talents of an ambitious blues player residing in Chicago. Coming from our neighbors across Lake Michigan, Nicole Amine establishes her sound in Chicago after growing up on the sounds of Motown, Soul and Rock and Roll music. Originally studying at Columbia College to earn a degree in vocal performance, like the Rolling Stones, she began to explore her love for Chicago Blues music, which turns out to become a heavy influence in her own.
Starting out releasing cover tracks from artists like the Temptations and Amy Winehouse especially, giving justice to a very talented voice; Nicole’s voice is just as strong. Following up with a couple of demos, shortly after as she gets more comfortable as an artist. Working her way through solo performances Nicole organizes a band and really gets the fire starting, performing in random venues in Chicago. In a short period of time this student & listener of music establishes a foundation and presence in Chicago’s local music scene.
After finding her band and perfecting her sound she debuts with her single WINE SONG, giving us a real glimpse of Nicole’s creativity. Following WING SONG she comes up with NEED THAT SOUND and TRAPPED, both can stand on their own as well. Reaching further Nicole pursues bigger spotlights from the stage and enters in NPR Tiny Desk contest and had a performance on Sofar Chicago. Her ambition to be her best self through vocal education, challenging herself onto bigger stages with original singing, songwriting and guitar playing lands her at this weeks spotlight for Woman Crush Wednesday. You can expect more new music from her in 2020 so follow her progress in the links below!
Who has been putting in the work other than Emily Ramirez aka BeatrixKiddo, the fierce hard spitting fatale with a style reminiscent of early Eminem or Da Brat! She has dropped three visuals this year already, two of her own records, shot by CVO Films. She dropped STOGIE in mid January and she released BITCHES BE MAD in May. STOGIE is a well paced lyrical turn up track about how she gets down with the cannabis culture, while BITCHES BE MAD is about well, certain people being quite mad.
Both of these projects are a great display of her vocal prowess and edge she has over an instrumental. She is completely unique while leaving the listener in a position to desire more; her music, sound and style demands an increase in content. She also was featured on the Bombay Boyz record AFTER YOU, produced by Rhymster and Frekwenzy, which dropped in the middle of March. Her verse on that record hits hard but was still delivered with a smooth tone giving the track’s mix a lush blend. Its refreshing and inspiring to see more and more women being consistent in the Chicago scene with producing music.
Most recently BeatrixKiddo dropped her single Titled BACK AT IT. She goes bar for bar letting you know what she is capable of while detailing some of the admirable attributes of the Ever Evolved cohorts and affiliates. You can find this new single of hers on Spotify and Apple Music. As we continue to highlight and shine attention upon women in the scene that are simply put, killing it let us remember emcees like BeatrixKiddo. Emcees that are unafraid to portray a sort of feminine heroism that the hip hop industry largely ignores.
Consisting of T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah Knox, this duo rising out of Chicago are a force on a mission. Mother Nature aims to inspire fearlessness through peace and love and help raise the frequencies of our collective conscious through thought provoking Hip Hop lyricism. Lending a powerful voice for Black Women, not only in music but politically as they raise awareness on social issues. With their attitude and style they got just enough flare to direct their message effectively.
The two pop into Chicago a few years back with their self titled debut album around 2015. Tracks like SAY HER NAME from that album screams out the oppressive nature toward women of color. Even tracks like MOTHER NATURE and TAKE IT FURTHER note the urgency to help society and earth itself from destruction. T.R.U.T.H. and Klavah Knox somehow place these ideas into party anthems, attractively disguising activism.
Fresh off a more recent release, Mother Nature is riding off the energy from their PRESSURE EP. Promoting the project strong pre release with a music video for SIMPLE, they are back again with more visuals. For the cover title track PRESSURE, they personify the weight of everyday hardships in life and how they push right back in their latest music video. Placing awareness onto law of attraction, relativity, cause and effect, ego, energy and more ideas, Mother Nature continues with their revolutionary ideas and lyricism over raw beats with this project. Follow these minds and be inspired!