There is always room for fresh artists to be recognized and Chicago is flourishing. Seeing an influx of soulful and R&B singers, we are introduced to yet another talented voice. Charmaine Makeda steps up to the mic with a debut self titled EP Project, after releasing a few singles. Adding to the already diverse plate of creatives in Chicago, she notes to social media there is only more to come.
Seven songs deep, the EP starts out with SEE YOU AGAIN, a passionate song of romance, with a chorus that will have you singing along by the second go. LONELY gets more sensual, with a touch of saxophone, slow deep bass and a catchy piano loop, keeping the vocals to a seductive whisper. As her EP continues Charmaine gets deeper into her mind and her thoughts, a deep thinking romantic, embracing her humanity. ANXIETY INTERLUDE and NOTE 2 MYSELF, is the back and forth in our head, the lows and highs, that happens to the best of us. Charmaine Makeda so eloquently, fluently and fearlessly expresses her mind, from beginning to end, resulting in a beautiful project.
With Fight Club vibes in this music video for OPEN THE GATES, the heaviest hitters of Chicago hip hop make their presence known. MOECYRUS and Novatore of Azthmatix, connect with A.M. Early Morning to create a lyrically raw and gritty hip hop beat. Challenging in their words as they open with their chorus, chanting, “We love to talk shit, this is what we do. Know there’s a big gap that’s in between us and you. We came with AM to slay and bring mayhem.” Each artist spits their lines of braggadocios bars, over an ominous slow beat with a piano progression, and the atmosphere is perfected under dark skies in a graffiti laced alley, on an urban corner in the streets of Chicago, with Yung City Slicka Films editing to emphasize energy. To step up to these fearless three on the mic would be menacing, to say the least!
Regular colleagues in hip hop, Kastaway and Krikit Boi, put out a record in late 2020 that addresses social and racial issues, while celebrating the union between African American and Latino culture. Kastaway peppers this 14 track record, EL PILON with strong and notable features, while also bringing nothing less than excellence himself to the song writing table. CULTURAL COALITION is the first song where his strings of rhymes smack you in the brain with overwhelming thought. “Sink or swim, no you better think again, pretend it’s a grenade before you pull the pin,” or, “This is no gimmick this is soul spirit mixed with prolific pro spitting.“
In track 4 of EL PILON, Kastaway brings on Chicago heavyweight, WRDS for his song, KINGS. “Knowing that the black out is part of my youth, melanin is menacing ,they taught ya in school,” raps Kastaway in the first verse of the song, in a fast and uptempo manner. Later following with, “Yeah, it’s true. I was raised on the hot blocks, where my father left me for the hot rocks.” Every track is filled with racial and political points, woven into the lyricism. Every song on the record has purpose, and does not waste time to be honest and truthful, in regard to the opinions of African and Latin Americans, and the struggles they face collectively.
The next song on the record, LIVE YOUR LIFE, is a brilliant and gutsy song. Skirting the lines of whats acceptable in the new normal world we find ourselves in. This song features vocals from Lester Jay. Track 6, MY FRIEND is a lyrical and melodic ode to an old friend that Kastaway had a falling out with. The song serves as a way of healing and forgiveness to this individual. The hook is super catchy, and the verses make you think about past friendships. The song features Stig Van Eijk.
Track 10, THE FEEL features a familiar cohort in Mic Logik! Altogether Kastaway features at least 12 listed artists on the 14 track record, and that is impressive to be able to organize a track listing of that density. EL PILON is a lengthy, lyrically dense, thought provoking, feature heavy and politically charged record, that deserves any hip hop head’s ears for a listen! The union between African American and Latin American culture as being part of the concept to the album is a poignant statement of self discovery and community building. Bravo, and kudos to Kastaway and the producer Krikit Boi!
Christmas is typically full of traditions, and CantBuyDeem has one of his own. As he mentions on social media, it is a tradition to gift his fans every year during the holidays, after reigniting his holiday spirit following unfortunate events. This year CantBuyDeem gifts us all with an order of POPEYES, a two piece combo, a single with a side of music video. With a cool demeanor, and even cooler visuals, CantBuyDeem spits game over the smoothest, Curren$y type, hip hop beat, with real ambient lo-fi sounds that will get you in the clouds before the weed hits you like ah-ha.
There is nothing more that would make you want to be in CantBuyDeems shoes than a beautiful, sexy woman, dancing around your money, while eating popeyes, wearing so much drip. But “You can’t follow in nobody tracks exactly, look n***a keep movin.” CantBuyDeem leaves quite a few insights that entertains uniqueness, he does not “live his life by movie one liners, that sh*t corny,” as he would say. Filmed by TevDesh Productions, the tight angles, slow pace and evening colors, with a hint of lustful seduction, really puts a mystifying feel to the video. Following up on the NUMB EP, CantBuyDeem looks to have found a comfortable position with his sound and presentation.
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.
“Still an addict even though I don’t sniff coke. In love with rap, I’m buying beats until I’m sick, broke.” Novatore hopelessly deep into his art, is literally turning into a portrait in his latest music video for I’M AN ADDICT. Confessing his love for music, specifically hip hop and rap, Novatore expresses his passion over a dramatic hip hop influenced violin progression. The violin adds dramatic effect and a classical renaissance atmosphere, emphasizing passion for the art of music, as strongly as classical artists once were as they studied deeply and transformed music in their time.
With modern and some what flagrant language, Novatore’s unadulterated words expresses in his lyrics what histories greatest musicians expressed with their sounds. “When it comes to this music I’m like a crackhead, I know I’ll rock whether or not I’m making back bread.” The music video itself perfectly illustrates the energy of the renaissance period as Novatore dresses in their historic fashion, in traditional settings like an old dark church and rooms, sitting around candle light, or even inside a portrait with traditional frames, giving the hip hop track a timeless energy. Following up on music video releases of BLOODSPORT, UNDERRATED and an AZTHATIX ANTHEM with MOECYRUS, Novatore is looking to be imbedded in music history!
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.”
Greediphresh is back with another music video for TENCHI MUYO, a song named after an anime of the same name! The track released earlier in May with an anime lyric video, gets an update with real life themes. Following up on his project SATURDAY NIGHTS ON ADULT SWIM, that featured the single, the video features talented artists Briana Kapone, Andrelenna Grant, and Juani Sama in the midst of a kidnapping, pending to face the wrath of a passionate and skillful lover. The video follows an anime theme in contemporary settings with introductions to each character using foreign letters on screen and dramatic encounters. Furthermore it emphasizes Greediphresh’s love for anime, by destroying comic books to torture him in a comedic twist.
A teacher and a producer of music, Professor Fox would undoubtedly have a diverse playlist. From working solo to within the duo Vesper, to producing with big name artists like the late Mac Miller, Curren$y, Ab Soul, and popular Chicago artists Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa and Sidewalk Chalk to name a few, Professor Fox has more than enough experience to spread knowledge. From his vast network you would assume P. Fox has an inclination toward more hip hop beat work, R&B and the likes, but this man sits in no box! His latest upload onto his soundcloud account hits closer to the dubstep and bass community with dark and nasty bass lines. Named BASS FACE, for the obvious reaction you would get when you hear that low end rumble.
It is no question the social and political atmosphere in America is in question, and tensions between the elite & political classes and the working class is at an all time high. AzMattic expresses his thoughts on the situation laying down some bars on a paced hip hop beat. DIVIDED comes out as a music video, taking place in what looks like a political office and scenes from a news program, as AzMattic takes on the disguise of a career politician with the gray hair, mustache, suit & tie, doing the only thing politicians can do correctly; practicing golf and wasting time. This will be a follow up to his EP Project THE JAZZ CIGARETTE with RhymSter.
A political tune may not the sexiest music idea, but AzMattic lays it down smoothly with cool flow and compassion, remaining as neutral as Switzerland. Following a soundbite of known political crook Richard Nixon, AzMattic says out loud what we are all thinking quietly, “It’s pitiful that they can be this criminal, and we just have to take it like some vacant individuals. This ain’t forgivable, it’s time to make another option, I’m talking starting fresh and eliminating all corruption.” But he also lays out more than just a solution, but a blueprint, “Search your local shop keeper when you seek consumption, if you want to hurt them, then you got to hit their pockets; they wont notice change until they notice that there’s loss of profits.” But until we stand up and take charge and responsibility of America ourselves as individuals, might as well turn up the volume on this AzMattic music video; it is just as much political theater as what you see on your television, but with more knowledge and effectiveness.