Photos by: Dartise (Additional photos: GWHH's Chris Shields & Scott Shniderman at New Era)
Last week, we threw our first of more events to come at the New Era Chicago flagship store downtown - a FREE show, nay! Experience.
Gemstones headlined "Elephant In The Room LIVE!" - the first time he performed tracks from his new mixtape (a must-DL), which included remixes of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" and Fun's "We Are Young". Additionally, Gem performed many verses a capella style, to really drive home his eye-opening messages of building a relationship with God as well as the ills of society and the music industry. It's quite frankly the first, and only hip hip show we've all been to, that began with a blessing and ended with everyone joining hands in prayer. Yup, literally everyone. It was a powerful series of moments to say the least.
Adding to the experience was the live art during Gemstones' performance from Janeen. You can see her creation in the photos - a painting entitled "Gemstones" that was inspired by the words he was intensely delivering to the packed store. We'll have our own, in-depth video covering it all coming soon, but for now, get a glimpse of what went down with the amazing photos above and a bonus guerilla-style video of Gemstones performing "Crazy" below.
Last week, T.I. stopped off in Chicago as part of his nationwide promo tour for Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, and above is our informative and highly entertaining new sit-down with Julian On Da Radio!
Informative? Because T.I. reveals a couple of interesting anecdotes in relation to the album, including the one artist he had not really known before collaborating for the album. And which were some of the toughest tracks and collabs of the 127 (!) that he recorded for the album, that didn't make the final tracklist. (SPOILER: One is "Trap N****" f/ Pharrell).
Highly entertaining? Because Julian premieres a new segment called "60 Second Quickies", where he asks rapid-fire questions to Tip in 60 seconds, where he has to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Watch and see an unfiltered T.I. be caught off guard, or have the exact answer that will make you laugh out loud.
"60 Second Quickie" Examples:
What's the largest sum of money you've ever deposited in your bank account?
Who is someone, living or dead, you would have dinner with?
What is something perfect to have on a date?
Furthermore, check out the story behind the interview that I posted last week when, literally at the conclusion of our interview, T.I. bumped into Marlon Wayans at the elevator. Crazy! It warrants mentioning that, even though T.I. was on a time crunch, he was real genuine and grateful to us and we'd like to reciprocate the same to T.I. for his time and positive energy. Gowhere You Love!
And lastly, the video also contains some footage from the Trouble Man listening party we attended later that night, and I'd be remiss not to drop some thoughts on one of my favorite artists' new album.
- Of the singles that were previewed prior to today, "Sorry" f/ Andre 3000 and "Trap Back Jumpin'" are heavy in my rotation.
- "Can You Learn" featuring R. Kelly features a strong chorus from the latter and is a track with substance that I was expecting from Kellz' other high-profile rap collab earlier this year.
- "Guns And Roses" featuring Pink will be that Billboard single that charts the highest off this album. And it's a legit one with a relatable concept (how you can't stand someone not being with you, but can't stand them when they are), some dope rhymes from Tip, and sultry vocals from Pink. Another *Tibs Fav.
- "Wonderful Life" featuring Akon is my favorite concept from T.I. on the album. In a couple of verses, he speaks to himself from the perspective of his dad, and late friend Philant Johnson. An all-caps *TIBS FAV. off that alone (and Akon does his thing as well).
- "Hallelujah" is perhaps the most left-field of records you'd expect from T.I., but when you think harder about it, it's really not. Tip channels a gospel style singer for the chorus and an appreciation to the one above! The type of feel-good record I've been vibing with the most these past few months, and a fitting conclusion to the album.
- Everyone went bananas for "Memories Back Then" featuring B.o.B & Kendrick Lamar - a track that unfortunately won't make the album with the sample that's intended (as described in my post of the download for it earlier today)
- Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head is a strong album from beginning to end, and continuing to grow on me. I hesitate to put it on the tier of Paper Trail and King, however, but as a T.I. fan since the beginning, I'm not disappointed in the album. A must-grab come tomorrow, December 18th.
T.I. talking with Julian On Da Radio (left) and all smiles with Srirachana (right)
Talk about a great day... yesterday, we arrived at the classy Waldorf Astoria Hotel in downtown Chicago, expecting to interview T.I.. In came the King Of The South to a 16th floor hotel room where we, and the good people at Consequence of Sound, were set up to conduct an interview surrounding the upcoming release of Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head.
Julian On Da Radio got some great answers from Tip that we can't wait to share later today (including an entertaining new segment) so more on that later. After the interview, T.I. had to rush to his next obligation on his promo run here in Chicago, but graciously said thank you and goodbye to each and every one of us on the way out (he was really appreciative with us throughout).
Just outside the hotel room, T.I. is about to enter the elevator and as the doors open... out comes Marlon Wayans. Wait... what? Random.
Both stars were surprised to see each other, asked what they were doing in Chicago, and T.I. invited Marlon to come through to his listening party later that night. Marlon was just wrapping up some interviews of his own literally down the hall for his upcoming movie A Haunted House (which looks like it'll be hilarious), but unfortunately for Tip, was headed straight to the airport. They connected though for the future and after one classic T.I. salute to everyone, he was on his way out.
In the same hallway a short time later, we introduced ourselves to Marlon, made some small talk (for example: me telling him how The 6th Man was my sh*t back in the day... and by back in the day I really meant, everyday... to which a surprised Marlon was thankful for) and took a series of cool photos seen below. For those who are unaware of the awesomeness of quite possibly the greatest basketball movie ever made, you're welcome. A&K all the way!
Julian On Da Radio, Srirachana, Marlon Wayans, Sgt. Tibs, & Chris Shields
Julian On Da Radio, Srirachana, Marlon Wayans, Sgt. Tibs, & Stan Perry
As you can now see, Srirachana has a couple of adorable couple photos with two universally known entertainers in a matter of minutes. And really, the whole experience was a trip for all of us, with Marlon coming up to our floor out of nowhere, right after having the type of 1-on-1 access we just had with Tip.
After we gathered ourselves and transferred our focus toward food, we made our way back to the office to do some work before venturing over to CRC Studios for the private listening party for T.I.'s Trouble Man album. I'll have more specific commentary on the album when we post the interview, but in brief, Tip is not messin' around with this one. Really lookin' forward to sitting down with the album next Tuesday. And speaking of Really, Really Doe was one of the many familiar faces we caught up with at the party, and it's exciting to hear what he and some others in the building have coming up next.
Listening to @Tip's new album with @ReallyDoeChi - #TroubleMan sounding real good... 12.18
Chris Shields, FaShoDoe, Really Doe, & Sgt. Tibs
So to conclude, I straight up love 'small world' stories and this one is one of my all-time *TIBS FAVS. It's a nice validation that nothing is coincedence. And to think of the day from a bird's eye perspective, it's truly an experience in itself to view all of the experiences that unfolded.
This wasn't our picture. Just Marlon Wayans tweeting when he got to the airport, "Gettin my Pacquiao on at the airport... Look at the white folks reactions though... Ha".
One of the jam-packed shows we sponsored Thanksgiving week here in Chicago was "Holly Go" - a showcase of up and coming talent taking place at one of the city's most iconic underground hip hop venues, Sub-T.
The name "Holly Go" is derived from Chicago electro/hip hop artist E-Train, who is originally from here, now resides in L.A., and came back for a homecoming show for the holidays. He was joined by two of my personal favorites comin' up in the hometown - Young General and The Boy Illinois - along with an opening set from Rich Jones & SCC.
We documented highlights of each of the artists' set as E-Train performed his current single "Glow So Hard", Young General impressively spit a flurry of bars over a chopped up version of "Gangnam Style" (intrigued?), The Boy Illinois performed one of his unique bangers that translated well live off the GWHH-sponsored, MOGG, that you should download now, and Rich Jones & SCC got the crowd going to kick things off with their high-energy on stage, seen at the end.
Stay tuned through to the end for a candid look backstage with all of the artists, as we appreciate the love back fellas! Watch above and stay tuned for another homecoming show from E-Train this Holiday season...
Last week at New Era's downtown flagship store in Chicago, we sat down with Big Boijust before getting an exclusive listen to his upcoming album, 'Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors'!
In a collaborative video with our friends at Rap Genius, GY312 talks to Big Boi about how personal the album is to him - find out how the title is derived from the ATL emcee's grandma. We also get a genuine reaction from Big Boi about the creative GIF-style artwork for the album, the fun behind his bowling name (yup, Big Boi bowls in a league every Wednesday with his studio mates), and last but not least, a lyric from "In The A" is officially verified for Rap Genius. Catch the line in a slick graphic in the video and then hear the song for yourself here.
Lastly, catch a glimpse of the listening party itself with footage of the happenings at New Era, including a sneak peak at how the album monumentally starts off at the very end of the video. Other tracks to look out for: the fast-paced flows on the B.o.B collab "Shoes For Running", another Sleepy Brown feature that connects in "The Thickets", and (released earlier today) "She Hates Me" featuring Kid Cudi. The album has an impressive variety of sounds and I can't wait to sit down with it myself on December 11th.
One last shoutout to Rap Genius and GY312 as the groove maker just moved to NYC this weekend to build with RG. Follow 'em both closely for more major moves to come. Groove!