The New Chicago: 10 Next Generation Chi-Town Artists Speak
July 18, 2013 - 6:50 pm
Meet: Chance The Rapper
Raps just make him anxious and acid makes him crazy.
His Hood: Southside (Chatham)
Catch Him On: The Acid Rap mixtape (download at chanceraps.com), a nationwide tour alongside Mac Miller
Chano, Chatham’s own, is on the move. The 20-year-old dropped his highly anticipated sophomore mixtape Acid Rap in April to much acclaim—everyone from J. Cole to Jill Scott has given the Chi-Town native praise for what he’s doing. And he’s just getting started. With a nationwide tour alongside Mac Miller, a nationally televised MySpace commercial and record labels fighting for his partnership, Chance is on a high far greater than any acid trip could give him.
He met this girl when he was 10 years old:
"I'm a big R&B guy, a huge R. Kelly fan. That nigga's from Chicago and he went to high school with my momma, so I really fuck with him…I listened to a lot more R&B growing up, then when I was about 10 or 11, I started listening to Kanye…The first time I knew I wanted to rap, was probably after listening to College Dropout, the first time I recorded, I was like 12 or 13. I was ready, got all my shit together and recorded over two songs with Kanye beats and I instantly fell in love with it."
He told her in his heart is where she’ll always be:
"Chicago's got a super-rich culture. Musically, so many different genres come through Chicago... the blues movement, the origins of rock, house music and juke music, so getting a lot of that, a lot of it translates into my music. And Chicago beyond the music is just a very cultured city. I can't really describe it, but I'd definitely be a different person if I wasn't from there."
They wanna rap and make soul beats just like him, but they’re just not him:
"I have a different story to tell from any other nigga, but I think the reason a lot of people know more about Keef is because that movement was so blown up. I appreciate it because it brought light to Chicago in terms of the music scene, but beyond that, the gun violence efforts they're making in Chicago and the underfunded schools… I have a lot of shit to tell. If you listen to my music, I do like to spread a message of fun and love... Every song I want to have a certain amount of resonance and have people take it in and respect it. I can't necessarily tell you exactly what I want people to take from my music but I want people to listen to it. There are a million different things that they can take from it."
Photo Credit: respect-mag.com
Meet: BJ The Chicago Kid
He’s a Soul Man
His Hood: Southside
Catch him on: His debut album with Motown dropping later this year, his new single “Good Luv’n” available for download on iTunes, along with his Pineapple Now & Laters mixtape on bjthechicagokid.com
Once in awhile the music world is blessed with an artist who can withstand time, a voice that would be a standout whether in 1963 or 2013. BJ the Chicago is that artist. But for much of his career, he didn’t standout in the least. As a matter of fact, he did just the opposite, singing backup for a range of artists. The Motown signee is proving to be a soul crooner who, like his predecessors, belongs on the historical label. With his debut mixtape, Pineapple Now & Laters, and features with rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper, BJ is showing the world what he’s got, this time taking center stage.
Every interview he’s representing you, makin’ you proud:
"The rules growing up in Chicago has done so much as far as my life and music. They keep you from getting in some of the crazy situations just in life. Like keep your mouth closed and you still could remain the coolest guy in the room, the coolest guy ain’t always the one that’s talking to you. For example, if I’m somewhere with my manager handling business, then I’mma chill and I’mma kick it. I’m gonna be the artist to sell and let him do the talking…the rules that I’ve been raised by and grew up with, I’ve learned from Chicago."
Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong, I guess you never know what you got till it’s gone:
"There’s always more out the city, that’s why you’ve got artists like Chance The Rapper. That’s why you’ve got guys like me. That’s why you’ve got guys like Mikey [Sir Michael Rocks], GLC. You’ve got a lot of different artists and sounds, but each voice hasn’t been known by the world as a Chicago sound. There’s so much from Chicago that I feel like it’s only a matter of time before those that step out let ‘em know that this is another part of Chicago and you can’t think of Chicago without thinking of me and this."
Photo Credit: fakeshoredrive.com
Meet: Vic Mensa
Taking his solo career to new heights like he’s never "DiditB4"
His Hood: Southside (Hyde Park)
Catch Him On: His first solo mixtape, INNANETAPE, due this summer, “Diditb4” and “Orange Soda” videos on YouTube
Saying goodbye is usually a difficult thing—whether you’re leaving your long-term beau or going off to college, with mom and dad at home, it’s never an easy process. But when side A of the tape runs out, there’s joy in flipping it over to find what’s on side B. For Vic Mensa, the break of his indie-rap group, Kids These Days was bittersweet. After years of working side-by-side and countless performances together, the 20-year-old must now win the crowd over solo. He seems to be taking on the challenge like Mike Jordan in his prime. With his INNATAPE due later this summer and his highly talked about tracks “DiditB4” and “Orange Soda” as the tape’s frontrunner, Chance the Rapper seems spot-on when he describes his longtime friend and challenger as “next up.”
He told her in his heart is where she’ll always be:
"Chicago has influenced my subject matter, what I talk about and the way I talk about it, the way I view a lot of things in the world, since I first started writing and ever since I was a kid."
Talkin’ ‘bout what niggas tryna do just not new:
"I have a voice that says a lot more than a lot of people. I think that my songwriting is a lot more unorthodox, I mean, it’s myself. There’s also a lot of unique styles, a lot of people doing their own thing and I mess with everybody doing that. But, I definitely think I’m better than most. There’s a lot of good shit coming out, but I just think that I’m hotter than that shit."
Photo Credit: Facebook
Meet: Chella H
Call her Michella Obama, the first lady of real.
Her Hood: Southside (the Low-end)
Catch Her on: Her latest single “ Where da Niggas At” available for download along with her latest mixtape, The Realest Bitch In It at livemixtapes.com
When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade or you can take that bitter taste in your mouth and use it to spit ferocious verses. Chella H chose the latter. She grew up with what she describes is a typical life for anyone from the unforgiving Low-end on the city’s Southside. Her mother was a crackhead and daddy wasn’t around. Baby daddy was killed, leaving her to raise her son on her own. But the woman who says she’s the realest bitch in it, used her trials to learn the true meaning of what it is to grind. After three mixtapes, Michella Obama has taken the game by storm and she’s just getting started.
What they loved most, she had so much soul:
"I’m in the real bitch lane, as far as what I’m just telling you—saying things that others won’t say, talking about how I grew up. A lot of bitches grew up just like me—no father, baby young, momma on drugs, kidnapped, thrown in the trunk. That’s just real shit that I talk about and it hasn’t been touched really"
Knew they were gang affiliated, got on TV and told on them:
"The younger generation is turning up more on the gang side. I guess I’m kinda used to it. When we hear gunshots, it’s like 'oh, cut the radio up.' It’s just normal to us. I’m kind of immune to it. When Sosa came out, a lot of [kids] saw how he got on, so a lot of them [are] mimicking what he did. They feel like this is what we need to do and that creates a lot of extra. Even if they didn’t do [violent crimes], [they’re] making music about it. They feel like they need to follow [Sosa]. It’s just a lot of different gangs, right now in Chicago. There’s no leadership. Five to 10 years ago you had leaders over the gangs. It was more organized. Now, all the leaders are locked up or dead, so you just got a bunch of niggas. They ain’t respecting each other, [they’re] just raising themselves."
If you don’t know by now, they’re talkin’ bout Chi-town:
"I just think this is like the first time Chicago’s really been in the lead. Over the past years, cities like New York, you know, they've been doing that shit for a minute. You know Atlanta, stuff like that. It’s just good to know that my team is in the lead right now."
Photo Credit: sourceliferadio.com
Meet: Lil Bibby and Lil Herb
Started from the bottom, now they here
Catch them on: Lil Bibby drops his Free Crack tape on July 23, while Herb also has a mixtape in the works. Catch them together on their joint tape, Heir Apparents.
Their Hood: East side
They used to meet on the basketball court and spit freestyles on their phones. Now they have NBA superstars giving them praise. Kevin Durant tweeted, "Lil herb and Lil bibby....meeannnn," while they've gained notice from some of the industry heavyweights of equal caliber, from Danny Brown to Drake (who is rumored to be featured on the teens' "My Hood Remix" alongside Project Pat.) As they coast their ways to the top, the duo has probably won over the affection of your little sister and maybe even your girlfriend too. But they assure that this teenage heartthrob thing is nothing new. They started from the bottom of the Chi-Town streets and before they reach 20, I guarantee they'll be there at the top.
Knew he was gang-affiliated, got on TV and told on him:
Bibby: "I don't like that people in the industry tend to judge us. That's all that we see. I can only rap about what I live and what I see, how I feel on a day-to-day basis. If that's what's going on in Chicago, what do they want me to do, rap about a fake life?
Herb: I've seen a lot, been through a lot, experienced a lot. As an artist, it gives me the drive to just work harder, you know? 'Cause of all the shit that's going on and just the drama and all the negativity. Everything that could pull you down, just make you wanna go harder.
They wanna rap and make soul beats just like him, but they're just not him:
Bibby: I used to listen to a lot of music. I was a big music critic. A lot of the music I was hearing, I aint really like it. Sometimes I thought that I could do better. So when I started, I just felt people needed to hear my voice.
Herb: I show love to everybody that's out there doin' they thing, I ain't hatin', but I'm actually lyrically talented. Out of all the Chicago artists, there's only a select few that's actually talented. I don't really think I'mma run out of words to say or nothin' like that. I think I really know how to rap.
Meet: Sasha Go Hard
If you mad, cause she bad, then she glad, cause you sad
Catch her on: Her Round 3 mixtape available on sashagohard.com, her mixtape Nutty World available for download on iTunes Aug. 5
Her Hood: Southside (the Low-end)
When the money and the fame comes, so too do the haters, twice as hard. But it's no thing to Sasha. Her name says it all—she goes hard. Growing up in the Chi's notoriously unforgiving Low-end has helped her become who she is and given her the thick skin to look past the petty and look to the paper. As her career progresses, the tatted temptress continues to prove herself, working with artists like Diplo and Wiz Khalifa. She doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, so the haters can have a seat.
They like to act tough, she like to tow 'em off and make 'em straighten up they hat 'cause she know they soft
"To be honest, I don't really get a lot of feedback as an artist. It's a lot of hatin' going on in Chicago. Some people respect me and show love, but not a lot in Chicago. I don't really rock with a lot of people. A lot of people changed."
They wanna rap and make soul beats just like you
"Back in the day, I ain't really know how to get in the studio or what to do. That's when I had hit Chief Keef up and ask him was he recording. That's when I got introduced to DJ Ken and recorded and after that, I just started going back like every day and more people was rockin' with it. That's somethin' I really wanted to do."
Shoot for the stars, so if you fall you land on a cloud:
"I want people to see that most of the stuff that I rap about in my songs be real life situations, my situations that I been through or I'm goin' through and I really want people to relate to it and feel it and rock wit' it."
She's so used to going H.A.M, she don't really give a damn
Catch her on: Her Alter Ego and Winter's Diary are available for download on livemixtapes.com
Her Hood: Southside
A '90s baby who loves '90s music—anyone from SWV to TLC—Tink grew up with a love for singing. She sang in the church choir, her mother was a gospel singer. But it was her father who encouraged her to write. In high school, she really began to notice that she could rap and after being noted for her freestyle verse over a Chief Keef beat, she knew she was good. At only 18, the Southsider is well on her way, one drill beat at a time
They wanna rap and make soul beats just like her:
"As a person, Chicago has shaped me to be strong. I come from a city wit' a lot of haters, I'll be honest, so Chicago just make me strong, it keep my blood thick. As a artist, we got the drill movement goin' on. The drill movement is basically like a vibe that you get from Chicago artists. It's hardcore and the beat is normally raw. It's hard. It's real too at the same time."
But they just not her...
"Listening to my music, I would love for people to understand that I'm just tellin' real stories, I'm not a gimmick. When I write, it's real. I'm not puttin' on for anybody or tryna sound like anyone. It's just real, authentic. That's all."
Meet: King Louie
He's the man, little did you know
Catch him on: His mixtapes Drilluminati and March Madness and more recently on the Yeezus track, "Send it Up"
His Hood: Southside
He's the man and he's always been the man—King L has always believed that. So much so that he knew from the jump he wanted to rap. He started off making drill mixtape tracks alongside many a Chicago rappers, but he's proving once more why he is the man and apart from the rest. Having recently been featured on the Chi-Town rap god Kanye West's latest album, King L is being noticed by some of the best and he's just getting started. If you don't know, now you know.
Shoot for the stars, so if you fall, you land on a cloud:
"Real shit, I never really wanted a job. It was never in my head that I was gon' get a 9 to 5. I tried to fool myself into believing that I wanted a job. I always felt like when everything else failed, I would get a job, but I never worked a real actual job in my life. Then I started taking the rap shit serious."
They wanna rap and make soul beats just like him:
"Working with Kanye was a great learning experience, it was just good for my craft. It was a big motivational experience, definitely."
Knew they were gang-affiliated, got on TV and told on 'em:
"I just look at it like, the stuff we rappin' about it's not fact. Like when actors prepare for a role, people give those guys stuff like Oscars and things of that nature and they get awards for doing such great acting. So what we doing is basically painting a picture of our life for the songs and it's like due to the fact that we young and we talking about violence, people take it the wrong way."
Meet: Assata Jones
Who's to blame when they're lying here in the murder city?
Catch her on: Her singles, "Blame Game," "Dance on Me" and "I Can Love you Better," her project dropping later this summer and the Rockie Fresh single "Kush Do" featuring Wiz Khalifa
Her Hood: Southside
She may be just getting started, but Assata Jones is well on her way. The 20-year-old who refers to herself as an "old soul" opened up for Brandy in her first performance and has worked with Wiz Khalifa and Rockie Fresh while lending much of her time to her first project due this summer. One of very few singers coming out of the Chi, Assata is proving herself to be a force to be reckoned with. And she only plans to keep on rising. She hopes to one day be a Grammy-winning performer, model and actress who, "uses her abundance and creativity to develop a foundation for youth."
I told her in my heart is where she'll always be:
"Chicago is not the easiest city to be raised in. You come out the womb immediately having to have tough skin. I wouldn't want to be from anywhere else. Despite how much Chicagoans have a hard time supporting one another, the love is genuine deep down inside. If you travel anywhere outside of Chicago and find someone from the GO, you gravitate and stick together. That's love."
Knew they were gang-affiliated, got on TV and told on 'em:
"In some parts of Chicago, killing and posing with guns all over social networks have become popular and put on a pedestal. Everyone wants to strive to be a savage, which is completely barbaric to me. I've experienced it firsthand when I was a senior in high school at Kenwood Academy. I was picked up from school by a friend and our car was purposely blocked in and shot up. I was able to walk away from the situation, but I never was able to leave the memory at the crime scene. I tattooed a vintage revolver on the inside of my left hand. It stands for a reminder, self empowerment and a reason to keep pushing, because I would not be responding to these questions had it have gone differently. We will never be able to control each individual with the way they handle violence. All we can do is put more effort into anti violence movements. If more artists promoted anti violence within the music, maybe that could help with our young ones."
If you don't know by now, she talkin' 'bout Chitown:
"Chicago hasn't had this shine since Blues. I just want my city to be represented well. It's never fun to be out of town and when you say that you're from Chicago, people look at you as if you're living in a war zone and then on comes the questions! It's Chicago's time to win, but we're losing so many lives along the way."