At first glance, just as anyone, you may not know what it is to K3nsway aside from the fact that he dresses well. Far from just well dressed he is a talented Hip Hop artist, not just any ordinary either. More of a conceptual artist as his songs take you through the motions. Many of the ideas sit in the titles of his track like TORTURED MAN and HERE COMES THE TRUTH and NIGHTMARE. Recently he released two more tracks follow more of his personal story through music.
As stated, his titles play on the song idea and these two are no different! His most recent X FILES is most definitely not about some ghosts. Equally as scary though, he runs through his thoughts of ex lovers. DEEP MASON may be more metaphorical as a Mason is either a about stone or Freemasonry. Maybe he just goes as hard as both? Either way its a track packed with raw bravado that will get your head boppin.
Her status reads, “As I prepare for the release of this dope ass content, I hope all my friends and fans understand my distance. I’ve been working non stop on making my dreams come true.” Following Freddie Old Soul can inspire, given her unapologetic freedom of self and her spiritual perspectives. Too imperfect to be called a conscious rapper however her ideologies seep into her rhymes driven by street smart bravado. Simply put, she is as real as they come!
Old Soul been on hiatus but don’t you worry because she got everything that you need in this mother f**ker. She comes back strong after leaving everyone with a taste of HONEY with a music video. In her silence she has been putting together her SOUL WORK, while managing her life and motherhood. She is easily a strong figure and influence for women in hip hop and music in general, just by being herself. Old Soul has put together a listening party for her upcoming project SOUL WORK, along with a documentary of her writing and experiences as an artist in Chicago with SurrealChi at 3101 N Sheffield this November 24th at 8pm.
As far as influential women go, there is one that deserves the most praise and recognition! The one third emcee, photographer and film maker, Jovan Landry, has had a seriously busy year connecting with different collectives, producing music and working the camera. Humbly yet passionately challenging male dominated roles and uplifting women in her industry. She has created quite a rank for herself, an international interdisciplinary artist.
Over the last year alone she has lead a workshop centered around female music producers at A3C Festival and Conference in ATL. She was also involved in a project for Green House Artist Showcase with Dorchester Housing and Art Collective, demonstrating the historical employment of the black female body as a tool for manual labor with Keyierra Collins. Also helped the film Red Clay Dance Company and even was apart of a strength challenge with TBFit. Just to point out a few achievements, because her list of skills go on for ever!
That is all just within the year, her discography and skill set goes much deeper. Recently Jovan has released an album with SynergyChi, a collective of her own creation, made up entirely of creative women with talents in vocals, engineering, graphic design, photography, the works. Supported by WeWork Creator Awards, they have also been featured in Chicago Tribune, Vocalo Radio, NPR and on ABC7 for a television debut. SynergyChi also was chosen to speak in St. Louis University for Women in Hip Hop Conference and in Berlin for WeWork Creator Awards.
Jovan is force of influence, not stopping at the camera, production and building collectives either. She also influences growing artists too, through her video blogging tutorials and guiding tools on her Youtube channel. Yet some of her best work comes from her soul and her music. You can see it when she performs live at events like Jeff Fest, Wicker Park Fest, Hoist Fest or at smaller venues like Emporium or Silver Room. Her music and her lyricism is of consciousness and quality after a short busy hiatus she has released her single Made It Thru following her Synergy LP release.
No two men are one in the same and that especially rings true for Radcliff Music! Where many would faulter, Radcfliff thrives. Could be his raw mindset etched in lyrics like, “I’m going to keep on dropping music bitch, I’m good on the fame“. This mentality allows him to rise above, no matter what the situation, because his dedication to his authenticity. Influenced by no man but himself, he spits his words in raw form in a spree of releases this month.
In a music scene as bustling as Chicago’s there is an artist who is deserving of more attention seemingly everywhere you go. Lucky enough to discover one of those artists playing an amazing set at the Pilsen Art House. His name is M.E.R.C and his new single LATELY shows that his name deserves to be brought up as one of Chicago’s true rising stars. He is still a relatively unknown around the scene, but given his confidence and lyrical ability that should not be the case for much longer. M.E.R.C is definitely somebody you will want to keep on your radar.
The instrumental is moody and fairly stripped back. The trap drums tend to push things forward, adding a lot of color to the jazz piano sample and staccato bass line that fit snug beneath the percussion. Lyrically M.E.R.C leaves everything on the table here, he demonstrates the full arsenal of flows and deliveries that he has at his disposal. He sounds hungry and invigorated as his words paint the picture of a man who is confident. As someone will stop at nothing in the pursuance of their dreams.
Few artists on Chicago’s scene bring as much heat as DeadstockV1 does. His brand new single GEEK is just another example of that. The instrumental on this joint consists of a pleasant mix of jazz and trap elements. The synth chords sound as if they are breathing and the jazzy piano chords stick out beautifully in more subtle moments. Despite its lo-fi elements the bass and trap percussion hit hard, making this track an absolute banger.
This goes without saying but DeadstockV1 rips this track to pieces. His lines are clever, sarcastic and funny as hell. His cadence is lively and full of spirit, his voice absolutely oozing with confidence. How comfortable he sounds tearing a beat to shreds vouches more for his art than any fan or blogger ever could.
If there is one word that sums up DeadstockV1’s performance on this new track, it would be charismatic. You know he is going to bring the lyrical heat every time he steps to the mic, but it is amazing how much his confidence and personality grow with each new release. He mentioned on his Instagram that this song is the “second step in a much bigger picture,” so this dude is definitely someone you are going to want to keep on your radar.
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.
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.
“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.
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.