Father Darko, who also is known as Mikal Bae for visual work and music videos, recently put out a 3 song, ambient, trippy, jazzy, dusty, boom-bap fusion, instrumental project. Father Darko has put out at least 9 records since April of 2019, and he deserves more recognition for his consistent output and additions to the culture and community. It is always fascinating to see more Father Darko tunes alongside slapping music videos from his visual brand, Mikal Bae.
It is Quite surprising in how fast this project can be consumed. You will unknowingly have it on repeat before you can process what you have heard. Track one, I DIED IN MY DREAMS AGAIN, features a range of complex composition culminating in a Travis Scott sample, that blends quite well with Father Darko’s drums, melodies and extraneous sounds. Track 2, WHEN IM AFRAID TO LOSE MY MIND, has a more sweeping luxurious, quasi melancholic sound and feel to it. Father Darko features Nelo Sahd on this song, who is assumed to be the screaming vocals towards the end of track.
The third and final song on the 3 track record is DROWNING, IT’S SOMETHING YOU’LL GET USED TO. The drums on this record sound like whips cracking, coinciding with these distorted, high pitched feminine sounds. It is an extremely interesting blend and feels highly futuristic or something right out of the video game, PORTAL. There is a depressed, ominous, robotic vibe that seems to glaze the entire 3 song project. A cohesive record of music that allows one to really ponder, and has one inside their own head for a time.
When every avenue is exhausted, music can be the language of resilience. It is music that unites us in unexpected moments and situations, especially in the events of 2020. KvreeM uses his recent music selection to convey a message to the universe and his followers: “Through it all we can prevail.” May KvreeM’s latest EP release, GAPERTURE, fill the holes that 2020 has undoubtedly left us with.
Starting out with a smooth jazz tune with BE READY, with a chorus introducing you to the South Suburban Chicago artist, “He’s coming back again.” Back after another big release earlier in the month, THE MAINSTREAM TAPE Vol. II. Bridging into his next track LONELY PT. 2 is some commentary regarding black identity. “Being black is being resilient, it’s being the root of pop culture… being black is being original.” The statement is backed up with the obvious, (if you have been paying attention) from music of any genre: Jazz, Rock N Roll with Little Richard, Hip Hop with DJ Kool Herc, and even fashion & culture. In fact being black can be seen as the root of all originality, as we are all born of Africa, as one species migrating and adapting throughout the whole world. This theme of empowering messaging continues with THE WOO BOSCO THEORY.
Getting into more hip hop influenced jazz as the EP continues, CONCRETE JUNGLE highlights KvreeMs uniqueness. “Don’t compare me to the rest I’m incomparable, don’t let them people tune into your frequency,” he raps in chorus with versus outlining the box that this CONCRETE JUNGLE tries to mold us into, tied in with a music video months back. GAPERTURE would be the most energetically boastful of the EP, and the latter actually makes you wanna connect with KvreeM, and match him on a bottle at a party, but you better be matching frequencies! Always time for a celebration of growth, before we get back down to earth with SYMPHONIES and THERAPY. Perhaps the most relatable tracks as KvreeM contemplates his hustle, his struggles and his personal health, environment and growth. All in all, GAPERTURE is a superb project that can either help you heal or just get through the day with some quality music.
YOUNG XAV is back with a new project for his fans. With the release of MANIA, the Chicago artist announces a new artistic direction to follow up on. Being known on the mic for his hip hop lyricism, YOUNG XAV decides MANIA to be his last project to be completely influenced by rap and hip hop. With that he also announces more new music for the new year, so it should be interesting to find out what his newer style will sound like. Judging from his interview with Greg McDonald, it sounds like he may be leaning towards a favored genre of his, rock music!
MANIA is short and sweet, containing just 3 tracks, one being a freestyle to start off the EP! “If I should die tonight best believe I lived my best one. Thought my last drop was fire, shit, wait til the next one. Everything I touch Murder it, we leave it REDRUM.” In his short 3 year career as an artist YOUNG XAV has so far released a handful of singles and projects, starting with his BESIDE THE DYING FIRE EP, to his debut LP AFTER DARK, followed up by a few loosies. MANIA shows a great growing confidence in XAVs character, a bridge to a more matured sound and expression, not diluting his presentation with the superficial, but acknowledging everything that makes him and what you heard in his debut AFTER DARK. This growing character is even more evident within the first lines of ROLLING STONE, getting us prepared for whats to come, “Addressing myself, all the issues in play. My problems, I pen em’, I stock em. Jay Gatsby by day, but at night I’m Bruce Wayne, The new face of Gotham.”
From planting the seed and nurturing the growth of your roots, branching out in many strengths, to eventually sprouting and taking off. In many ways HAYWARD can metaphorically connect with this process. From production, to rap vocals and videography & directing, he nurtured his growth and knowledge, and as a result creates unmatched master pieces, from his video styles to his music. Recently releasing an earful with a music video and a 3 track project BAMBOO, PT 1 following up BLUES IN RHYTHM. Teaming with long time associate Gino Rose to create video and audio dopeness.
Gino Rose and HAYWARD worked together on music for a long period of time, going back years. HAYWARD mentions on social media they have been sitting on these tunes for a while now, not rushing the result of the projects. In the end, the sound is of quality and visuals is TOO ON, as they would say in a latest music video release. Although separate from BAMBOO PT. 1, you can hear the similarities between projects through its energy, and how the two artists compliment each other lyrically. Filmed at Beat Box Entertainment Studio, where HAYWARD works with Gino and a whole group of talented creatives, the video is a good metaphor to how far he has come, and foreshadowing of the concept behind BAMBOO PT 1, released just a few days later on December 1st.
Produced by HAYWARD as well, BAMBOO PT. 1 is a short and sweet Hip Hop project with a hint of R&B energy in there. The first track instantly hits you with crisp bass beat work and smooth piano chords, while the chorus locks you into a vibe with its first tracks, first words, “Girl you are my, my ultimate high.” TIME brings it back to hip hop with some lo-fi energy and another catchy rhythm with, “I aint got time, to be f**kin with you. always hit me up like you got nothin to do” implying he has hit a level where you need to occupy time with something significant. Though it might sound cocky, Gino reinforces in the second verse, finishing out the track with a strong flow as he does with the final song. Ending the 3 track project in confidence with THINK, askin “Whatchu think ’bout that?” and we are thinking, we want to hear more of HAYWARD & Gino Rose collabs! Stay tuned for a music video release already cooking for BAMBOO, PT 1.
Putting in work on the come up this year, Marko Stat$ has been shining this summer heading into fall. Building up on releases and music videos, Marko Stat$ keeps his creative edge sharp with every piece of new work. Whether it be a freestyle or the conscious lyricism that got us hooked on Stat$, with projects like BEE 4 I FLY AWAY, he always keeps it fre$h and consistent. His effort and hustle is catching up as he gains strength in numbers!
In August, Marko Stat$ released two visuals with two very different energies, but performed in equal confidence. WHAT’S POPPIN‘ starts off enthusiastic off the bat, getting into his electrifying flow right away. Choppin’ it up in the streets of Downtown Chicago for the setting, while he spits bars with the attitude of his city on his back, boasting his freestyle talent. THINKING OUT LOUD gives off more of a relaxed vibe, however the content of his lyricism is tough. Contemplating racism and tradition, bringing awareness to the tension between authority and minorities. Posted up in front of Bahá’í House of Worship, a subtle symbolic gesture to the spiritual growth of the black man, Marko Stat$ aims to inspire with his creativity in all of his songs. “And they say Marko you don’t rap like this no more… I’m trying to show the the youth that black people can do anything, you think of yourself too low, you limit everything“
His latest release, GRAPHIC, bounces back into his experimental, creative expression. Not just spittin’ hip hop verses but vocalizing as well for a catchy chorus. This originality has been gaining him a lot of recognition, especially with this latest release, reaching views in the thousands in a such a short amount of time. Walking and rhyming with the confidence of a veteran, Marko Stat$ continues to level up on his creative effort both visually and sonically, turning more and more heads as he goes. He is bound to take the spotlight of bigger stages in the foreseeable future!
They call him Renaissance for his ability to blend an eclectic mix of styles including R&B, pop, trap, and soul. A singer and songwriter, John Renaissance has placements on NBC, worked on Empire, the Steve Harvey Show and he is a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians. A multi-talented phenom, his latest record MOSCATO, is a pop smash hit anticipating a long game break in the mainstream.
Eight months ago John Renaissance was featured on a song called, “BOTTLES IN THE AIR“, by an artist named DND. Upon viewing that, it was clear Renaissance could easily take that Usher, Donny Hathaway, Trey Songz, Jeremih and Chris Brown like sound, and push the craft even further. Now since dropping MOSCATO in late February, John Renaissance bodies the song and leaves listeners wanting a whole album of more!
To help break the record to a larger audience, John Renaissance started a “MOSCATOchallenge” on social medias. Type in hashtag #johnrenaissance or #moscatochallenge to find it. You can either do a dance routine, a freestyle, or find your own creative way of showing your support to John Renaissance, and his soon to be hit record to the industry.
To get on the phone with John Renaissance was a pleasure, he is a joy to talk to, and very knowledgeable about the music industry. He explained how the Chicago Federation of Musicians is essentially the Chicago union for working musicians and musical performers. Over the course of JR’s career, he has rejected seven record deals; One record deal he declined for the label taking too long to come up with the legal paperwork. Another deal he declined due to the A&R being unprofessional, and sexually harassing a singer he regularly collaborates with. These are certainly commendable decisions, and his intelligence and discernment is something to be applauded.
John Renaissance is a well traveled artist, from New York to LA to Atlanta and hanging out with Lil Boosie; he is full of great stories. He spent the better part of last year working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean as the nightly musical entertainment, performing covers and originals, getting paid to do what he loves to do and live while cruising the Earth’s seas. His perspective on the pandemic, the start of the racial tension, and the BLM protests was quite insightful and beautiful. He said that everyone on the ship was from every corner of the planet, and that there was nothing short of love and unity to experience in that cruise.
John is working on a single called NOAH’S ARK, about how the world is seemingly falling apart, and he is singing on a yacht. He is also working on two other singles, THOUGHTS FROM A PRIVATE JET and CATALINA, and a full project called LIFE IS A TRIP, a Drake influenced style of diary writing. JR will release a precursor EP to that project as well titled, WALK AWAY.
John Renaissance is inspired by Smokey Robinson. He wants to write the records, find the artists, build the empire. He is actually secured two SAG roles for artists of his, NDPNDNT and Aaron Mack, both with roles on EMPIRE. John Renaissance has a quote that will be used directly, it is a fantastic way to sum up his brand in one word when needed: “You can be a jack of all trades, master of none, but me? I’m a Renaissance Man.” JR is inferring that everything he does and touches, is at a masterful level. After listening to his music and hearing his stories, one would undoubtedly have to agree.
California born, Chicago based elite emcee, Orlando Coolridge took this latest single to his west coast roots with AK LIKE YOU KNO. A groovy bass rhythm and a clap on the one and the three. Coolridge croons a catchy hook with slight auto-tune to add some accent to the chorus. A member of SlumpGang777, and a regular contender on the No Coast rap battle circuit. When Coolridge is not lighting up his opposition in a battle, or touring with his collective, you can find him rocking some of the best shows in the Midwest, and dropping regular tunes with it.
AK LIKE U KNO brings out a funkier side of the rap battle extraordinaire, and the song still contains the classic Coolridge bar structure. Coolridge raps, “You can probably catch me on the I-5, chronic in the left hand, sliding by the skyline. It’s my time, to show off my divine mind, my style ages like fine wine, Malibus most wanted with the fine dine.” The exceptional way he strings together lines is definitely not void in his latest single, you get classic and contemporary Coolridge all in one record.
A real lover of hip hop music in Chicago, Rizzi Konway has been very active in the music community as early as 2009! He has created a vast network of seriously talented underground Chicago artists, due to the fact that his style and flow is authentic and unexaggerated. Being multi talented as well, he originally got his start in music producing with ProTools. Rizzi has been getting recognized in front of audiences at handful of venues, performing at spots like Refuge, Olympic Theater, the Abbey, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, even Daley Plaza for Chicago Sizzle Radio, and frequenting open mics at venues like Uncommon Ground and Innjoy. His efforts thus far has even gotten him an interview for Artist PR.
Since joining Tiny Chain Gang, he has seen more releases, like his projects BLKDMN & DIGITAL, and Rizzi is back with another one called MORNING/MOURNING. This release will feature many popular and underground artists, giving you the scope of his reach within the hip hop music community in Chicago. Names you should be familiar with like BaSkaveli, MOE CYRUS, Will Is Chillin’, Vantablac SOL, EELSIRCC, Rebel Legato and DJ Hool. The first lines of this whole project can summarize his mentality and effort with his music and life, “Workin, workin, workin, never sleepin’. A paper chase is wearing out my feet, can’t take a break cause rest is for the weak. If you cut my pay, decapitate a thief.”
Straight off the bat, MORNING/MOURNING hits you with awe, but to get more of an idea of his complete style and energy keep listening. The very next track, IT’S US, shines light on his more suave side, with an R&B beat, a catchy chorus, and 4+ artist on one song, you can catch a vibe easily, but wait till you hear BET IT ALL. From raw to smooth, he jumps into playfulness, positivity and motivation with enlightening lyricism on the following track, ELEVATE with EELSIRCC and Rebel Legato. “My n*gga we risin up, im living the life I love, so I’m reaching the skies above, we can get high enough.” The first half of MORNING/MOURNING sets you up nicely for the latter half, as he juggles retrospection, raw lyricism and lo-fi tracks that can soothe your soul.
There is a first for everything and for any artist it is always a big milestone. Coming out of Ever Evolved Studio, Jai the Artist has been hard at work to hit a very important milestone! Jai has been on such a journey to make it up to this milestone you would be surprised to find that her most recent release, Fluffy’s Playground, is the debut project. From her singles to events and travels, Jai put in real effort into making this project quality.
Upon hearing Jai skillful lyricism and composure on the mic you instantly recognize this woman is as seasoned as a veteran emcee. Although her debut project, she is no stranger to the mic. She may have done more in the making of this project than many people do in their dreams! Releasing singles to tease the project, only a couple actually making it onto the Playground. Jai also been hitting up venues left and right to get recognized from the West Coast Los Angeles to the East Coast, Florida.
All that experience can really put you in the right mindset to execute a debut project of this quality. Getting every detail right to the production value and collaborators. In Ever Evolved studios with RhymSter on production the whole way through, making every beat crisp and hard hitting. Also featuring artists like Bunny Liiu, Italo, Essse Guey, and Radcliff Music to add some raw lyrical credibility for those doubters! Fluffy’s Playground takes you onto a ride through hype, raw street bravado to beats to chill and smoke too. A trophy of a debut project, available to stream everywhere.
There are not much milestones like the first and for an artist they can be significant. This month DJ Heily B hits a big one as he debuts his first ep. Not out of no where however, Heily B has been working on single releases for the longer end of the year, practicing, getting better and more creative each time. More known as an electronic dance music DJ, spinning for events and venues around Chicago and event a couple of times for Ever Evolved events as well, Heily B has picked up producing along the way.
From his first release BREAD BOWL to ELECTRONIC DANCING MUSIC EP, there is quite a difference that can represent his growth as a producer, but the quality was present from the start. The EP itself is a quick 4 song package packed with energy reaching into diverse genres. Heily never seemed to stick with a single genre from the start and from beginning to end the EDM EP takes you on a audio trip. From the future bass track FORGET A DAY bearing feminine vocals, the hispanic lingo over a dubstep beat in DIVIDE, to the bass and riddim style ending out the EP. Heily B really puts Respect on his name with this release. If you missed his ep release party at The Auxillary Art Center, press play and live through it vicariously.