Who could perfectly encapsulate what its like to grow up in the South Side of Chicago, ie Englewood, in the most poignant and palatable manner such as Deem Beamon aka CantBuyDeem? First of all, its lovely how this record paints pictures of poverty in a braggadocios and playful manner, not glorification and idolization but instead, a peer into the life of a young ambitious black man weathering the storm of racial politics growing up in Chicago.
Rather than break down the album song for song lets dive into the philosophy of how impactful CantBuyDeem’s story telling can be. He utilizes lines in his first song Alone like “Home alone, all the time momma got it on her own, only thing she couldn’t afford so I started moving shit, corner boy, corner stone of the city that got him enslaving a n***a, but I still do this shit!… and the grind was all I gained from the gangsters”. As well as “they had a n***a try to set me up for a couple petty hundreds…knowledge is pain, I’m a sponge I just soak up the game, so just in case it gone rain, we say be safe instead of see ya later”. A common phrase from Chicago folk implying that the city is inherently dangerous and random in its criminal activity, to take precaution when traversing the concrete jungle.
To continue on this same train of thought, here is more lines referencing the trials and tribulations of coming up in the disenfranchised neighborhoods in Chicago. In STO he quips “grandma used to send me to the store for her cigarettes, with a written note and they would go and really give me it.” In the song he references having to hide his new Jordans or else he would get in heap of trouble. In Saudi he notes “I used to sell weed to the deacon used to smoke bowls with the teacher“. Then he adds lines like “head leaning on the big booty like a beanbag say she cooking up the ramen I want 3 pack.” The way CantBuyDeem mixes punchlines with a storytelling narrative is honestly remarkable. It makes you vibe while thinking of the human experience. Its something un-quantifiable and quite reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar.
CantBuyDeem likes to pay homage to Chicago slang with track names such as Sto, Allcaps, Saudi, OT, IFU, etc. Another addition in painting the picture of Deem’s colorful upbringing. The title track of the album sits at the core of that picture. In Chili every line Deem spits is directly a reference to a Chicago homie or family member of his. If you really know CantBuyDeem then you might understand some of these phrases and similes he uses to compare those that surround him.
In Character, Deem philosophizes the idea of being steadfast to one’s beliefs as opposed to bending to another’s will. The idea of your character being in question if you were to act like, for lack of a better word, a bitch. In that song he still has an overall narrative he is keeping to except he is describing more general instances with goofy types – Or someone in Chicago that acts afraid and nervous all the time which infers that there must be a good reason why. Acting goofy or scary is a Huge indicator of how to progress forward with an individual. This type of archetype and circumstance has been normalized in Chicago.
CantBuyDeem employs a number of peers including Windy Indie, a violinist who has been making waves with her violin remixes of popular hip hop anthems. Chai Tulani, a Kenyan recording artist with a strong African fan base, unique style and rhythm. Illy Muse, Winnie Page, Sleepy Brotha, and SharmonJarmon, to name a few more! This record is as authentic as it gets to perceiving the harsh realities of Chicago living yet still sitting proud and shining through it all. CantBuyDeem makes his art and his craft come off effortlessly and with ease. Deem, Chicago’s playboy, intellectual and savant extraordinaire, following his single Tony Stark has released another record of potent homegrown intimacy and shocking memories. CantBuyDeem’s “Chili” is available everywhere.