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: RhymSter

Building his way to the living legend title, he is well known in many underground Chicago hip hop circles. RhymSter has been making a big name for himself in Chicago and it is due to his determination from a young age to be one of the best emcees. Having left his imprint on the 606 Chicago nights at Subterranean and open mics across the board with his freestyle talent, this young emcee quickly got connected with the right people and follows through.

Connecting with the right people plays a big role in an artists success and RhymSter can identify these people with ease! Knowing that, the Chicago emcee got himself to open for popular artists like Dave East and Curren$y, twice. Right now actually, he awaits to open up for the iconic Method Man and Redman this August at Joes in Rosemont. Through his network RhymSter also finds opportunities to collaborate with talented artists and promoters in and out of state.

Networking not only as an artist emcee, RhymSter also helps run a music studio and sets up events as one of the main partners under Ever Evolved. Through this platform he not only invites himself to work with other artists, promoters and venue owners, but he gets to help influence the scene. With over dozens of artists in his contact list through either recording, producing for or collaborating with, he easily puts together local artists, djs and hosts to express their talents on stage! Artists from Los Angeles, Omaha, St. Louis, New York and Michigan, to name a few, have worked with RhymSter and Ever Evolved in either Chicago or their own hometowns, giving one another opportunities for their talents to be seen and heard.

Taking that knowledge RhymSter uses it to perfect his own craft and promote himself efficiently. All the experiences and people he has met has turned growth into quality! Allowing him to release music videos, interviews, singles, EP’s and LPS, beats and so on. If there is any question as to who this artist is the answers are not hard to find. The best way to know him is through his music as he tells it how it is and what made him who he is, through his lyricism.

Between recording artists, producing music, planning events and connecting with promoters, visual artists, designers, studio collectives and businesses, RhymSter still finds time to speak his peace. With a handful of hit singles and music videos, an album and an EP, there is plenty of content for you to get familiar with. Get familiar with why many artists new and old in Chicago look up to and respect RhymSter. From his freestyle flow and writing, to his ideas and business savvy, it is all raw, authentic and unique.

Expressing quite a bit of activity this year from the studio, RhymSter has released music videos animated by Neorevivalist, his PURE NOON EP with Edmur Quinn and a remix of GHOST. Also being introduced to the EDM community, RhymSter collaborated with Chicago duo Ayoo on their hit single TIMELINE that was released under Artist Intelligence Agency record label last month in June. Most recently he released an original beat with Frekwenzy. As a distorted RhymSter verses his way though a sinister beat and Rodneys Dangerfield sound bites, he again takes on another creative direction with DANGERFIELD. Try and figure out this mans next move you cannot!

Rhymster | Twitter | Soundcloud | Facebook | Instagram

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Radcliff Music: Artist of the Week

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 Bunny Liiu. 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.

Radcliff | Soundcloud Facebook | Twitter

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