YOUNG XAV Strives to Overcome His Demons on After Dark

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.

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Shu-kei Yu | Instagram

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Being All In and About That Action: I’m All In from I.Deal’s GAINZ

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. 

IDealRaps | BandcampMic Logik | Bandcamp
ThrowEmc | Instagram

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Vic Spencer Goes Stupid at Uncommon Ground

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.

Vic Spencer | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

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New Ezy Era Harvests Heavy Hits

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.

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Living Up To the Name Blacking Out: Savant is a True Pupil of Hip Hop.

SXVXNT, pronounced Savant, was interesting right away with his articulate expression and knowledge of instrumental production. He is quite a learned trumpet player as well as a pianist. His composing style is lush and bright melodies with harmonies that are flushed out, giving him a sound that resembles Pharrell or Dr. Dre‘s piano beats from the golden age. SXVXNT grew up in Chicago but has been based out of Los Angeles the last few years so his sound is definitely west coast influenced to a degree. This is especially true of his latest stand alone single Blackout.

Blackout is a fast paced uptempo anthem of getting back into music making and for lack of a better term, blacking out or going crazy. SXVXNT raps quite fast you will have to replay this record multiple times just to try and fully comprehend every bar. The replay value of the record is high because it sounds good, flows well and then by the end you wonder, what the hell did just he say? Lines to point out are “…Don’t erode from the lessons you were shown in your essence for these cold soul, no holds, overgrown jesters who hope to be only known by the droves of decrepits… I chose and selected the rode of less trekkers…” to “…Signing off with text beyond measure with a picture perfect, illicit, versatile, lit, pristine flow…“. “Light as the flight of the highest seen peregrine flow…” and lastly “…down Pico driving, ‘Naima’ bleeding through the speakers// the speed shows 90 which means the beast gon’ try me so let me creep slow, lightly so deez don’t leave me next to Ezell…“.

Self produced with production help from Bobby Midas, Blackout is but a glance at the genius level potential for SXVXNT as a recording artist. SXVXNT currently has a  project in the works slated to be released in Speing of 2019. With that on his docket he is preparing for a big push in his career. As a master of his craft, it’s time for him to Blackout.

SXVXNT | Soundcloud | Twitter | Youtube | Instagram

Bobby Midas | Instagram

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Chicago Creative Spotlight: Serenity Marie and Her Brand Nitty’s Knocker

Every artist in the Chicago music scene should be familiar with Serenity Marie if they have not already had the pleasure of working with her and experiencing her business acumen. Her connections can get artists into countless events, showcases, open mics, fashion shows, music festivals. She can secure placements for music, get records spun on the radio and offer counsel time. In every sense of the word she is a curator; one who believes in the artist as well as the art and does everything they can to see successful presentation and representation.

Serenity has a weekly radio show, Nitty’s Knocker, Tuesday nights from 6pm to 8pm on Que4.org which is also AM 1680. There she hosts guest artists and discusses everything from the latest pop culture to politics, artists’ brand and projects to philosophy and the always hilarious mentioning of unicorns. She has hosted industry names such as Quentin Miller, Matthew Knowles, Hott Headzz, Van and Dani Jay of Black Ink Chicago, Milk N Cooks and she has even interviewed Angela Yee of the Breakfast Club. Over the last two years Serenity has grown Nitty’s Knocker into a platform that every artist in the city wants to hop on for an in depth interview and solid media content. Serenity has also produced many events with proceeds going to a charity of choice, highlighting a glance at her selflessness. She hosts and curates a lot of women-centric events as well because she supports and empowers her contemporaries.

When you bring artists together you can only imagine the boundaries to be pushed by their collaborations. Serenity Marie is probably vicariously responsible for a lot of art that gets created within Chicago-land area. Armed with an uncanny networking ability, Serenity and her creative brands will find longevity in the arts and entertainment industries because she possesses a sharp mind and a helping hand. In the end art seeks out the kindest of merchants. Follow her content linked below.

Nitty’s Knocker | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Live Like Gold

Living the Gold Life means to be the realest you can be everyday. Uncover that Gold buried within you. You can hear it in his lyrics, he walks how he speaks it. “Dont got shit to prove but don’t act like I aint been doin this” He exclaims, Fuck the lies its the truth I spit“, in his recent release with Bz the Rebel. Coming out of Chicago at just twenty years old Gold sounds like he has stories to tell and lyricism that is one of a kind.

His style is straight to the point, rough and rude You know where he stands and he knows where he is at, you can see and hear it in his demeanor. Rightly so he has a good history to claim coming off an 6 track LP release late summer called Belly Of The Beast. He comes back quick with Vendetta and Yuck. Rightly named with a nasty beat as he spits rapid fire verses, it is like he has an endless vocabulary. Like it is second nature you might get inspired so give it a listen!

Gold | Soundcloud  | Facebook

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Whethan Livin The Life Of A Wallflower

Many if not all artists have two sides to them and Whethan bounces between the two effortlessly. You can get either the romantic, or the savage. Through some of his recent releases you can hear amorous music expressed through euphoric synths and harmonious melodies and vocals. Then like Sicko Mode he can flip it on a beat. Coming from Chicago though it is not surprise, we are sweet or sour depending on our surroundings.

To start off the cold seasons Whethan warms you up with some sensual electronic audio. By next summer you will be blasting each song to match those sunny vibes. His EP Life of a Wallflower Vol. 1 is flawless piece by piece from the production to the featured talent to the atmosphere. With acts like HONNE, Bipolar Sunshine, Mascolo, Oh Wonder and Broods you are getting Top Shelf music that will make some Good Nights. Then suddenly out of nowhere Whethan goes Sicko Mode and takes Skrillex‘s remix, that helped put Travis Scott‘s track on the map of Billboards top 100, and gives it a bit more attitude. But its no surprise what he can handle working with artists like Opia, Oliver Tree, Flux Pavilion and Louis the Child. 

Whethan | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Love Lost and Unlovable

Power metal and Hip Hop cross over? What?! Who would of thought a Chicago based Thrash/Power metal band would be influenced by hip hop? Well let me tell you! Love Lost, a new south side band formed by Bryan Anthony, Alex Corral, Kevin Gecan, Ed Messina, and Damen Lewis. They have a sound specifically targeted for Hip Hop, Hardcore, and Thrash listeners. The Hip Hop and Metal sound has been relatively outcasted due to its sub genre flex but been part of the best for three decades now, even if the resulting collision between the genres have not always been spectacular.

Only time can tell though the quick response Love Lost has been getting is crazy. Lead vocalist Bryan Anthony says “I feel like the when you cross Hip-Hop over to any music it makes it more interesting. Its something that you have to really dig into the culture to understand and feel apart from the music. You could always tell when someone knows their roots and been around it all their life. When it’s genuine it is one of the most powerful styles of music if not the most“. Anthony has also stated that his huge influences stem from Triple 6 Mafia, Method Man, Onyx, Dr. Dre and a lot of other heavy hitting rappers and emcees from back in the day.

Love Lost is a band about a heartbreak for the listeners to relate and connect to and stand for being yourself yet having a passion for the music. Respectively they generate a new wave of fans from all over because some of the members have had the privilege to tour all the US and other countries including Belgium, Germany, Austria, Denmark through former bands. Anthony says,”One of the most rewarding parts of touring the world have been seeing the culture of music in general. My favorite places were New York, Puerto Rico, California, London, and Germany. It was very influential and definitely key moments in my life as these places have such rooted hardcore and hip hop history”. Love Lost currently has no upcoming shows but they did release a music video that can be found on the HARDCORE WORLD WIDE on youtube and have an album titled Sleep Well set to release the first quarter of 2019.

Thursday 12pm Eastern time Unlovable(Sleep Well) ft Alex Of MALEVOLENCE on Worldwide Underground“Looking back you covered tracks I should have known better by nowYou held me back there’s nowhere to turn but downLove is deceit so please just let me be I hope you sleep wellWhile I’m coping and burning in hellBrain is straight anguish my feelings relentlessAlone by myself and god damn it’s depressingI never felt so disposable When I look at you I FEEL LIKE IM UNLOVEABLE”

Posted by Love Lost on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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Satisfied With Win & Woo

We may not all have felt it but when you do, you will know! Your heart drops at the sight of their name, your mood shifts in their presence, and the sound of their voice sends a rush down your spine that is enough to keep you Satisfied. A different vibe from their last original, Beam Me Up, that had a more care free reggae atmosphere but equally as joyful. And in their recent remixes for Favorite Color Is Blue and Better Me Better You, you can hear it too. Win & Woo have a talent for capturing a moment or a feeling fluently with their music whether it is of friendship, relaxation, joy and with this new beat, love. 

The Chicago duo translates that feeling of ecstasy in their recent single Satisfied through an up beat house track with an energetic bass line that flows with the lyrics describing what it means to be in love. “Better than I was cause you give me that, that kind of affection… I crave the attention, I do, I do I do. I’m feelin’ the tension“. Sounds all too familiar when you think about the first time you mingled with the perfect energy. Get in the right mood with this one or remind someone you appreciate them with this song!

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