Seemingly an endless flow of creative effort, Queen Mars is back again with more music and videos to accompany. Consistency is the name of the game, and this girl is a boss player. Not letting anything stop her, she has been on the move since quarantine, when most people stagnated with the times, the queen has been releasing content after content. Taking off with the B!TCH quarantine promo video, she followed up with an official music video, visual concept art for LET ME LOVE YOU, MISS AMERICA, QUEEN OF HEARTS, and multiple video performances for Art After Dark.
Wasting no time with the new year, Queen Mars is back again with BOYS LIKE YOU. Starting out the video with a fierce gaze, as if she sees into your soul, before the beat drops, you know she is not playing any funny games! Lyrically laying out her distaste in the key word of boys, who have no intention for genuine love, but promiscuity instead. In accordence with her previous music video releases, Queen Mars creates concept, design and art to make an entertaining video, aside from her flawless singing and smokin hot wardrobe!
ChanSe NFO recently dropped a single with an intense music video along with it called KAREN. ChanSe’s flow breaks through with a biting speed. The slight distortion on his voice makes for a signature sound and style that is been enjoyed in his previous records. The editing of the visual sticks out because ChanSe does not make the typical choices that a lot of hip hop artists make. The black and white color scheme, strobe lights and lyrics smashing into the frame make for a ride of an experience.
“I keep a 40 on me just to gargle when my breath stinks,” is the first line that smacks almost immediately, and it is quite humorous to imagine. ChanSe then follows up later with, “Then go and run his mouth about the shit you did, WEIRD, lets be CLEAR, you ain’t about the mission then you rear view MIRRORED.” This line refers to guys that act tough, fake being hard and boast about their fighting skills, or embellished exploits that obviously never happened. The rear view mirror reference has to do with the one in the car that is too scared to go through, with whatever mayhem is about to occur. So they are looking in the mirror, wishing they did not decide to ride with the real ones that day. It is a strong visual line.
Chanse NFO ends the song abruptly after one more string of rhymes. The track is 1:30 in length and guaranteed to have you replaying it right away! The instrumental is produced by Theisy, and the visual was shot by Theisy as well, then edited by Jnicoo Productions.
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.”
Saladin is on fire with not 2 but 4 releases just in a month, but to no surprise, his output is consistent! Always keeping it fresh, Saladin easily wins a #1 spot on Beatports bass house charts mid November, and his answer to that was more music! The song of notoriety aforementioned was dubbed ANTHEM and got you moving to a bass house vibe, was supported by prominemt names like Don Diablo, Hardwell, Showtek & more! Following up would be two collaborations with DeLain and another hot original single!
When Saladin and DeLain get connected they create some G House and Tech beats. Shortly after ANTHEM, the two release KEEP UM, a personal favorite just for its hypnotizing sound, and most recently YA KNOW, which is on a whole different spectrum of energy. Mixing G House, Bass House with a heavy Hip Hop influence, YA KNOW can get anyone moving. Finally we have NEVER STOP, which was released in between the DeLain collabs, Saladin kept it straight bass all the way through. Solid additions to an end of the year party playlist
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.
Chicago recording artist and emcee SaruS releases YOUNG, a single from his upcoming EP, ON MY OWN TIME. The visual features Sarus in different parts of the city, downtown, on a swing-set, in Millennium park and in a high rise apartment. The hook is catchy, and Sarus has a strong unique voice whose specific sound reminds one of a mixture of Minneapolis rap, and west coast pop records. “We too young, we too young now, we too grown, we too grown wow. And I’m just trying to find my place now, but I’m still chilling in my playground.” A great line that philosophizes the idea of remaining true to one’s original self a in relationship before the world changes you.
Lines from SaruS that also stood out are, “Blessed for everyday, but steady counting my sins, I swear if Heaven got cover, I don’t think I’ll get in.” This line is great for comparing heaven’s pearly gates to that of having to pay an expensive cover charge in order to get into a fancy club. Thinking deeper into the line it also evokes such thoughts as not having enough good karma in this lifetime to afford an afterlife. As catchy as the record is, it is also quite esoteric in meaning. A great song to sing along too, but also a fantastic record for sparking self reflection. On My Own Time is arriving soon but until then get familiar with YOUNG.
Coming across another Chicago artist that takes lyrical content and flow to the next level. Blac Samurai, focuses greatly on lyrical content more so than he does the production on his tracks, however the beat is equal in quality; it just caters to, or emphasizes the words. Armed with a few singles and an EP, Blac Samurai also recently released a full length album called COMPENDIUM. Now with that title, you can tell this artist owns a dictionary, and does not mess around with his words.
Once the beat drops you instantly get that old school, boom bap vibe on the first opening track PLAY ME CLOSE. Blac Samurai was looking for an old school and alternative sound and he nails it, with the balance between old and contemporary styles throughout COMPENDIUM. His next track, U WANT, sounds more modernized, with trap influenced beats, bass and hi hats, snares, but still heavy on a lo-fi ambient energy. This will be the consistent theme throughout the LP, you can comfortably play it out without disrupting its own flow.
Samurai notes that this COMPENDIUM is an album that has taught him patience, evidently from his lyrics in MASK. “Why do you continue to hide these emotions, how can you understand someone else when you never understood yourself, have you ever asked for help?… How do you really feel? Just take off the MASK…” Followed by a beautifully sung verse within the same idea, and a commentary that goes even deeper within the lines of self understanding. KELLY ROWLAND really captures the Notorious BIG 90’s R&B essence, and some Pusha T within DNA and HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW INTERLUDE, with some A$AP Rocky inspiring tracks like KNOW THAT and BRAND NEW on some acid rap. As those artist come to inspire Blac Samurai, he establishes his own flow, style and energy with COMPENDIUM, the full 12 track album is a good one to put on repeat; and he really saves the best one for last, with the smooth jazz hip hop vibes, rightly named WILL BE CROWNED.
Putting in work on the come up this year, Marko Stat$ 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!