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.
Another up and coming artist in Chicago is breaking grounds with a significant achievement in her music career. Yajaira is making some noise with her debut EP, REALISY. The singer, dancer and model is inclined towards soulful genres like R&B, Pop, Neo-Soul and even Gospel, having experience singing in Church and summer camp talent competitions. Her debut EP even dips into more cultural genres like reggae, and reggaeton creating a diverse portfolio from the start.
Starting REALISY off strong with a MAKE IT, a collaboration featuring K Breeze, and J. Trav. Walking the line of confidence and ambition with a hook like, “My future I can see it. When my eyes close, I can dream it. Can’t let no one come between, all my life I swear I mean it.” Following up would be WHAT YOU DO TO ME, a reggae influenced track adding diversity to the EP, singing about the dance of a temporary and fleeting seduction. Pondering about attraction in TO BE IN LOVE, she sings beautifully as she unravels her thoughts. Yajaira innocently lets her fans know the project is about her own perspectives, embracing her point of view and being able to visually create the world she sees. Her vocals paint a colorful picture of her mind and her range is a refreshing addition to the music community in Chicago, particularly R&B.
Real lowkey artist with a soulful voice, Me’chelle presents her fans with WHIRLWIND. Since performing at an Ever Evolved Empower Herstory event a few years back, her sound and energy could not escape the mind. Patience is well deserved as WHIRLWIND brings a sound of peaceful composure. Speaking like a goddess and a guardian, “but when we let that hurt go look how great we can be, two god like beings, with a billion destiny, I dont need you to rescue me, and with out you I’m complete.” Though the chorus would imply personal relationships, the simple yet powerful lyrics echoes independence and security. The R&B and Soulful energy brought by the drum pattern, bass line and ambient sounds compliment Me’Chelles vocals, creating a disarming yet relaxing vibe when you need it.
Patiently waiting for new Brittany Nacole tunes, and our ears are finally rewarded with the glorious sound of her voice! Back with a new record after a long hiatus, time has certainly polished her talent like water in nature. Of course an artist works at their own pace, and perfection cannot be rushed! For Brittany does not create music for the moment but timeless sounds to be played repeatedly. Still buzzing in our head is the melodies of her EARF GURL LP, released just 3 years ago, followed up with NOCAINE & RIOT singles, just a year apart from one another, giving you an idea of her musics timelessness.
The energy Brittany emits through her music is quite calming and savory, giving you a sense of comfort and relaxation. Not something to lounge to, but to stroll and dance to confidently in your own energy, influenced by her sound. This still holds true with her new track HAVE YOUR WAY. The chorus itself can take you away on a cloud, “Would you like it, if I let you have your way. Don’t you fight it, baby have your way. Been a while now, since I saw your face. Been a minute, we’ve been on the chase.” This R&B track is instantly timeless, and we can go for another while cruising on this tune happily, but let us hope we hear some more Brittany Nacole sooner rather than later!
Lassai has got IT goin on in his latest music video, and as a reminder, so do you. Whatever IT may be; energy, attitude, message, perspective or hustle, this music video is a reminder to feel IT within yourself, and to be proud of IT. From the South Side of Chicago, Lassai aims to invoke confidence in your authenticity as a human being, directing your awareness inward through his verses, “Are you feeling it, Take control of it… If you want it come get it, Do you want it?” Doubling up with the visuals, dancers passionately moving to and fro, with urban settings as their stage, it paints a metaphor that you can flourish in any environment, any circumstance. A calming song to reflect upon personally, on top of being moved by the rhythm physically.
Chicago recording artist Travie Austin links with Brad Kemp to drop an eight track record, in collaboration with a number of other artists and musicians. COME-BACK by Travie Austin and Brad Kemp, out September 18th, is an upbeat neo-gospel-soul pop record. Every track features complex melodies and harmonies laid down by Travie himself. Each song is produced and engineered by Brad Kemp, with five of the tracks featuring TomCat Trumpet, Davyd Reddyk, Anthony M. Rodriguez and Tim Burke.
The themes of empowerment, self confidence, moving on and getting through heartbreak are prevalent throughout the album. Travie Austin seems to channel Sisqo as well as soulful singers of decades further, archaic in its sound and tonality, but contemporary in his flows and melodies; his style is unique and refreshing! Track 3, MAKE A MOVE featuring Anthony M. Rodriguez, is a feel good, jazzy club record you can easily dance to, about making that first sensually strong move, falling in love, living in the moment and letting go. “If you don’t want me to leave you better make your move,” Travie sings, reminding his love interest not to waste any time. In LET GO Travie belts, “I know that it’s right for me, I’m not gonna call you back, cause you got a plane to catch,” further illustrating the theme of moving past a relationship and hoping for a better dynamic in a future partner. The feelings portrayed in each song are quite universal in their appeal.
“I don’t want to be that man anymore!” Travie croons in track eight, SAY GOODBYE, and the song sounds like he has a chorus backing him when the hook comes in. “Say goodbye to the ones who ain’t on your side, trying to tear your heart in two. And say goodbye to the ones trying to dim your light, they don’t shine as bright as you, cause you are so worthy, you are so special. Don’t let them see you fall, just keep your head up high, and say good bye!” This hook was quite powerful and exemplifies that theme of self confidence and moving on! A really inspiring song that will make you want to sing along as if you were in a huge choir.
It is exciting to hear some new music from Jamila Woods. A powerful and wisdomatic voice and advocate for black communities, women in music and in general. With numerous songs highlighting the power of Black Girl Magic, she is an inspiring voice for youth artists, who she helps support through charities like Chance the Rappers SocialWorks, and teaching them herself as an art director at Wordplay Youth Chicago Artists. Advocating for justice from police brutality, and missing black women, highlighting #SayHerName movement in her videos, is it always a delight to hear her speak her mind through her music.
Wisdomatic is no exaggeration when it comes to her lyricism. With her recent live release of ZORA on soundcloud (Which can be best experience with the live video) from her most recent LP LEGACY! LEGACY!, you can hear it in her chorus simply put, “I will never know everything, everything. You will never know everything, everything, and you don’t know me, couldn’t possibly.” From individual wisdom to self love, her most recent release SULA expresses personal independence. “I’m not sorry that I cut you out, I’m not sorry. What’s done is done,” her closing chorus emboldened by her earlier verse, “Promiscuous holiness, slope is slippery I got all this time to kill, Somethin’ like a prayer to kneel to.” Jamila always speaks to the power within you with her music, and the ambiance of it is something else entirely to get lost into.
Bringing some soul to Chicago, Adam Houston, all the way from Houston, TX, joins other Chicago jazz inspired artists like Lili K and Livia Gazzolo, as he debuts his solo work. Formerly lead singer of Hot Planet, Adam Houston continues strong with his first solo single, LOW. Accompanied with a music video directed & edited by Kaden Acosta, giving off a very 90’s urban vibe, showing off Chicago’s skyline, street corners and art, while horns, bass guitar and guitar riff away smoothly in the back. Adam really catches you in a groove right off the bat with this song, flawlessly diving into the next chapter of his career.
An artist to add wonderful diversity to your Chicago playlist, the style and vocals of Lili K will leave you stunned! Originally from Milkwaukee, this Midwest artist bases herself in Chicago. Blending in easily with the vibrant music culture, she gained exposure working with artists like Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. Learning to perform at an early age in church and school choirs, and being trained in classical, jazz and opera, you can hear the experience in the control of her voice! Along with her talent and love for music, she also expresses a bit of altruism, donating to important social causes.
Within recent events Lili K has been advocating to match her donations for Love and Land Foundation efforts for Black women and girls to reach therapy. In another case she donated to help free BLM protesters in downtown Chicago arrests; with a great voice comes a great heart it seems, in this case! Her vocal talent and style fits the burlesque culture and jazz lounges, and with frequent performances at spaces like Untitled Supper Club and Soho House, her name is becoming quite known in Chicago among lovers of jazz and soul. Recently releasing the song BLUFF, calling out the weak intentions of a significant other and leaning towards independence, Lili sings beautifully over bass and string instruments, sax and vocal harmonies, with the help of Jeremy Jones.
Released on the last day of Black History Month, Left Jones created an ode to melanin. This very talented and large group of musicians got together in celebration of their Black identities, unapologetically. With the Help of Beau and Oliv Blu, they create GLOWIN’ BLACK, chanting “Safe to say I’m going black,” noting a return to their roots. Following up to their song MAKE YOUR WAY, a soulful jazz tune LeftJones continues with a message of powerful self awareness and love in their music.