Artist of the Week: J-Bose Debut LP Snowflake Tackles Phobias, Anxieties, and Societal Ills.

J-Bose is one talented individual. He raps something like a Busta Rhymes or Busdriver and sings with a unique timber unheard of before. He crafts lyrical messages using technical styles of hip hop, fusing that with pop songwriting methodologies. The overall socio-economic political message of J-Bose’s debut album stood out in particular.

He seems to be able to create this realistic hero complex of himself. Utilizing the honesty of his own experiences and coupling that with a filter of his interpretations of the outside world. The majority of these being quite socially progressive in nature. J-Bose’s mature reflections of these stereotypical occurrences might come off to some as, you guessed it, a SNOWFLAKE.

What is a Snowflake? One of the most beautiful and temporary examples of sacred geometry that comes with the absence of heat, or cold. Thinking about that makes you delve deeper into the term we use to coin so many moderate liberal millennials as Snowflakes. Are we really so sensitive that all logical debate has now been eroded? Or is it perhaps we are fed up with the supposed universal rules of society we find ourselves with. Just maybe this generation is going to completely alter the path of history? After listening to Snowflake, the latter of those ideas seem possible.

The first track to delve into is Feel Me featuring Kara Dawn. J-Bose layers much meaning, feeling and questions of morality in his writing. He begins with, “I done seen a lotta people with the biggest egos and the smallest bank accounts. Walkin’ round like they a giant, thinkin’ they Goliath, everyone else David now!”. The idea that there is a lot of fakes with inflated personalities but very little to offer, would seemingly be the person opposite of a snowflake. J-Bose continues with, “Could be inside that they’re hurting, thinkin’ this’ll be the safer route“. It could be these same fakes are actually just lost inside and the best defense mechanism is an outwardly egotistical aggression.

To be a snowflake in our current culture’s context is to admit to feelings you have towards things within society that upset you, not to be emotionless brash. In his second verse he makes this point, “See, we gotta learn how to empathize, we don’t know everyone’s situation. Take the judgement, the bigotry and the lies and remove it all from the equation. And treat everyone as an equal, all the time, not just in some occasions. Cuz we are an imperfect people and it’s time we built perfect relations“. These types of inherently idealistic yet purely loving concepts are unfortunately labeled as snowflake behavior, providing others an excuse to not mentally confront the issues at hand.

J-Bose does not tear down those bigoted, fearful, close minded people whom ignorantly project their baseless vitriol. He sees himself in them, sees their humanity and because of that can only judge so harshly. FEEL ME is a melancholic song that forces a listener to wrestle with their personal morality and sense of empathy. It will have you questioning why you judge and think in the manner that you do. 

ONE CHANCE is another appealing tune because the hook is uptempo with a catchy uplifting melody! The song has to do with personal growth and change. These two things are definitely part of the mythos or ethos of what makes a snowflake. “Whether you’re fat, annoying or boring or selfish or lazy, you can identify and make a change and start anew and you can see yourself the way that I see you“. Its the idea of being able to see the light in everyone regardless of the veneer. “But stay humble and if you’re wrong sometimes, and when you are then that’s ok change your state of mind, be honest with your problems and we’ll get along fine, and rejoice we get to share this world and make it cloud 9.

Some people simply can’t hear out a victim’s or an oppressed group’s opinion because they deem it offensive to themselves personally. Today someone could express their feelings of oppression and have those concepts fall on deaf ears because the receiver thinks they are being personally attacked or torn down. Happen all the time on social media! Some people just cannot separate themselves from the demographic they are apart of. But to be honest, you cannot expect too much out of ignorant people or those unwilling to empathize.

Snowflake by J-Bose gets your gears whizzing. There are many questions to ponder and things to think about when going through this record. Off two songs alone you can extrapolate an insane amount of ideas being conveyed. J-Bose really created an inwardly personal yet outwardly political record with extreme relevance to our current American socio-economic political climate. Questions of sexuality, anxiety, societal ills, oppression, self doubt, crippling fear — its all there.

J-Bose then takes all that and is still able to portray a silver lining. He does so exceedingly well in songs like ONCE CHANCE, ROY DEE THE GIFT, and DOUBLE LOVE.  The record is emotional, visceral, piercing, honest, brutal, and eye opening. Snowflake by J-Bose is as pretty as it is structurally sound, but unlike a snowflake, this record isn’t temporary, its here to stay. 

J.Bose | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: J. Solaye

Whether you are looking for the ONE romantically, want to feel ONE with yourself spiritually, need to take that ONE step towards ONE project. The loneliest number can hold much significance, in many ways! J. Solaye knows this very well as she hits a milestone releasing her first EP entitled ONE. This soulful artist, singer and songwriter has been on the rise in Chicago and she has been making her name mainly with single releases up until now, with her first about 3 years ago.

Introduced to music at a young age through her parents, as many of us have, she was lucky enough to be brought up around good music taste. With enough Hip Hop, R&B and Chicago House to influence her she decided become one with the music. At just the age of six, she starts practicing singing and songwriting seriously. Piano and choir practice in grade school will lead her to perfect her craft till High School, where she starts performing confidently. Fast forward to today and J. Solaye has grown into a seasoned artist, with countless performances in various venues around Chicago.

With the release of ONE, J. Solaye notes to her fans that it was a proud piece representing herself as one whole human being spiritually. Confident in her music journey as inseparable from her identity, she has the freedom to express herself without hesitation. ONE is certainly a project for the lovers, with her personal inspirations being artists like Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey, she does not drift far from her influences as her sensual voice stands up to match up with legendary artists. In the 6 track EP, from Light Me Up to Cold World, we get a idea of the the very personal experiences of J. Solaye’s mind. Experience her romantic world vicariously with ONE.

J. Solaye | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Becomes Incorporated

Considering the fact that Chicago boasts a present day population of over 2.7 million people, it is hard to believe that there was a time where it was nothing more than a tiny village. However such a time does exist on the historical record. On August 12, 1833, Chicago became incorporated for the first time as a Town. Sporting a population of just 350 people back then, the Windy City covered less than half of a square mile confined by Kinzie Street, Des Plaines Street, Madison Street and State Street.

Rare view looking west on South Water Street possibly in the 1830s. Hogan’s store was at South Water and Market Streets, while Wolf Point Tavern can be seen in the distance.
From a painting owned by the Chicago History Museum

It was during the years after its incorporation where Chicago’s population truly started to blossom. By 1837, Chicago’s population had exploded to over 4,000 people. It was the 92nd-largest city in the United States and it was only getting bigger as schools, churches and businesses were popping up everywhere. One of the other reasons Chicago’s population expanded at such a fast rate is its newfound prominence as a transportation hub. The Illinois and Michigan Canal came to fruition in 1848, making it possible for ships carrying consumer goods to pass through Chicago from the Great Lakes en route to the Mississippi River.

Despite the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago only kept growing. By 1890 it was the second largest city in the country, following New York, even after most of the city had to be rebuilt because of the fire. Coming from such humble beginnings, Chicago has always been known for its grit and resilience. It does not hold the flashiness of say New York or LA — but it has a certain edge to it in the sense that it can face anything that stands in its way, and will always come out on top. I would not count on that changing anytime soon.

Chicago Traffic 1833, Wolf Point
Wolf Point Tavern (Left) Millers Tavern (Right)

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Surf Or Drown With CMONEYWAVE

Comin’ from the city where they yell Bear Down, CMONEYWAVE has been killing the sound. Poppin’ into the Chicago music scene a few years ago with his MONEY WAVE LP, a legend was born! Lyrically authentic, CMONEY keeps everything on the surface, transparent, as he spits poetry about life and growth. Unafraid to walk down the dark corners of the mind he brings you hip hop that is true to self. Emanating confidence and wisdom, in his latest release SURF OR DROWN, you will be too by the end of the album

Looking at the name, SURF OR DROWN seems to be a metaphor for success; you either rise to the top or you sink to the bottom. Listening to the lyrics you will find he means it both physically and mentally. In the opening title track CMONEY goes through thoughts of jealousy of his partners and being unmotivated with his music, but realizing “thats the devil at work and he was tryin to employ me, if I let him he’d have no problem to destroy me“. It is another level of confidence and awareness to catch yourself slippin’ like that, because you know you are better.

The next tracks you see him back on his right path in his right mind with his people on his side, which includes Tone Jonez, Apache Gross, Nu Jack, Mama Wave and Ka’ron Burgandy. Reflecting and ready to move in READY OR NOT with Joselyn Marie, the 2nd track gets you prepared for the wave. CMONEY really gets into his zone in the body of the LP, where you can really hear the rawness of his perspectives, from the ambitious to the sensual. “You still lackin ambition, how you plan to succeed, if you can’t pass the emissons, how you plan to compete.” In fact from start to finish, his lyrical ability is effortlessly bona fide, with no mercy he really shows what hip hop is about.

The LP is full of lines to keep your head on straight and sober you up. Artists like CMONEY understand the importance of the different aspects of life and the trials we go through. In tracks like AUTUMN you can see where he places his values and DROWNING you come to realize even the the strongest minds go through strong doubts on the road to success. SURF OR DROWN is a real true to self conceptual project with an authentic human touch. You can either turn up to this or reflect with it, but there is a song in here for everyone.

CMONEYWAVE | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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New Win & Woo Speaks Passion

It is not untrue, Love does often have us running around in circles; what is uncertain is the outcome. With a new release Win & Woo go over these woes in HERE U R. “This is not the way that loves supposed to be, a broken record on repeat“, sings Sara Skinner about hopeful feelings in a doubtful situation. Really about going through the emotions in that kind of scenario, the Chicago producers add an uplifting deep house bass line to keep you dancing away from any of those kinds of doubts and negativity. Following the even more uplifting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, TEA TIME and a couple of impressive remixes, HERE U R is a wonderful addition to their playlist and yours.

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Cover Photo: Andrew Glatt

Whethan Adds Heat To The Summer

Summer is still vibin strong and Whethan is back with a new releases to keep the party goin. You know he can rock a hit summer single too working with artist like, Louis the Child and Flux Pavilion. With key remixes succeeding his network, this Chicago natives reputation opens the doors for himself to work with just about anybody at this point. Staying busy following the release of his Life of a Wallflower LP, Whethan has been releasing singles collabs and remixes to our pleasure.

Looks like his flip of SickoMode by Travis Scott and Skrillex got the right attention as Whethan comes back around with an original piece with Travis and Metro Boomin called Overdue. We know he has remixes on Post Malone and Justin Bieber, Lorde and Elohim that would make for interesting artist combinations. This follows collabs with Jeremih and Bearson with Saok and an original piece titled Going Up. Each stand alone works of art, only strengthening his playlist for whats to come!

Back again is frequent collaborator and friend Oliver Tree with the track Do You Feel Me. The two experiment on with thos one giving off a Killers laced Justice vibe. Not long after Whethan releases Summer Luv with the Knocks and thr Crystal Fighters. Two big names to collab wit, Whethan reach is stretching farther than ever before! Exciting to see what he comes up with next.

Whethan | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Throwback Thursday: Chicago Is Planned & Recognized

August 4th, 1830 is a day regarded by Historians in Illinois as the day Chicago was recognized. Given Chicago’s location by the Great Lakes, financiers looked at the land as an opportunity for a transportation hub. The Illinois legislature appointed James Thompson to survey and plat the town which had a population of about 100 people. He laid out the town for Canal Commissioners in preparation for the sale of lots to finance a proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal; its first sales on Sept. 4, 1830. The filing of the plans marked the first recognition of the municipality of Chicago.

James Thompson plat of Chicago

Originally the area was inhabited by native Algonquian people including the Mascouten and Miami. The name Chicago came from a French version of the native word Shikaakwa, or Stinky Onion, due to wild garlic growing abundandlty in the area. The first known reference of the area of Chicago came in a memoir from 1679 by Robert De LaSalle, noting the abundance of Chicagoua. Chicago’s first permanent, non-native settler is a black man that goes by the name of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable and regarded as the founder of Chicago. The farm he built at the mouth of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan is now a national historical landmark at what is now 401 N Michigan Ave, Pioneer Court.

On August 12th, 1833 the Town of Chicago was established with a population of 350. One year later the first Schooner named the Illinois from New York enters the harbor, marking Great Lakes trade relationship between the two booming cities. Rich farmlands attracted many Yankee settlers that overnight created a city through real estate and trade. The city quickly grew demanding warehouse, rails and dock yards to be built for transportation and trade. By 1850’s over 30 rail lines entered the city making Chicago the transportation hub of the United States. Chicago was granted a city charter by the state of Illinois on March 4, 1837 and the city of Chicago was born with over 4,000 to its population.

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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: Wilhelm Duke Plays To His Strengths On His New Single “Want Smoke”

One of the things I love most about Ever Evolved is the diversity between all of the artists in the collective. This week’s Artist Of The Week goes to a musician who brings a whole new element to the collective and that would be rapper Wilhelm Duke. A wordsmith with loads of technical skill, Duke peppers his verses with all types of different flow patterns and unique deliveries. He is an artist who brings something new to every track he lands on, always keeping the listener on their toes. He exudes a sly sense of confidence in his voice as he demonstrates a high level of command on the microphone.

All of these strengths come through on his new single WANT SMOKE. Produced by Joey Bandino, the instrumental is bleak and menacing. The bass here is grumbling and authoritative while the percussion is offbeat and hard-hitting. Though minimalistic in scope, Bandino does a wonderful job of creating a dark atmosphere. Duke’s lyricism fits the mood of the instrumental to a T. He explores themes of depression and loss of hope. He also shows a rich sense of variety in his wordplay as his lines range from being animated and funny to witty and braggadocios.

His vocal performance also stands out. Though just 26, Duke has the confidence of a seasoned veteran as he sounds like someone 15 years his senior. His delivery is weighty yet easy-going as he weaves together a myriad of flows and lyrical concepts throughout the track’s duration. There is a lot going on here but Duke makes it look effortless.

At just 1:50 in length, WANT SMOKE is a grimy, lyrical trap banger. This track would work really well either as a stand alone single or as part of a project. To me this track captures the essence of who Wilhelm Duke is as an artist and MC, as he shows a great deal of technical skill, easygoing charisma and rich imagery on this track.

Wilhelm Duke | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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BeatrixKiddo: Woman Crush Wednesday

Who has been putting in the work other than Emily Ramirez aka BeatrixKiddo, the fierce hard spitting fatale with a style reminiscent of early Eminem or Da Brat! She has dropped three visuals this year already, two of her own records, shot by CVO Films. She dropped STOGIE in mid January and she released BITCHES BE MAD in May. STOGIE is a well paced lyrical turn up track about how she gets down with the cannabis culture, while BITCHES BE MAD is about well, certain people being quite mad.

Both of these projects are a great display of her vocal prowess and edge she has over an instrumental. She is completely unique while leaving the listener in a position to desire more; her music, sound and style demands an increase in content. She also was featured on the Bombay Boyz record AFTER YOU, produced by Rhymster and Frekwenzy, which dropped in the middle of March. Her verse on that record hits hard but was still delivered with a smooth tone giving the track’s mix a lush blend. Its refreshing and inspiring to see more and more women being consistent in the Chicago scene with producing music.

Most recently BeatrixKiddo dropped her single Titled BACK AT IT. She goes bar for bar letting you know what she is capable of while detailing some of the admirable attributes of the Ever Evolved cohorts and affiliates. You can find this new single of hers on Spotify and Apple Music. As we continue to highlight and shine attention upon women in the scene that are simply put, killing it let us remember emcees like BeatrixKiddo. Emcees that are unafraid to portray a sort of feminine heroism that the hip hop industry largely ignores.

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