The juxtaposition of violence and hope is what we get from Tony Centrino's remake of Jay-Z's "SomewhereInAmerica". In this version we get Centrino painting a visual of the genesis of violence and hope being born somewhere in America through individuals that could be the next Zimmerman as well as the next Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. He also acknowledges that as quickly as we can have these promising figures it can easily be stripped away through death. Somewhere in America Centrino is still spittin' , may he continue to bless us with gems like this. For more info on Tony Centrino check out our Hip-Hop Taste of Chicago series.
This is the second installment to our Hip-Hop Taste of Chicago. For those that are not too familiar with the geography in the city of Chicago, there are different artists all over the city’s nine regions and all representing different community areas in Chicago. Gowhere Hip Hop is presenting the “Hip-Hop Taste of Chicago” in the attempt of exposing listeners to different rappers, producers, and even singers from various areas and as a result of this giving you readers a musical taste of what Chicago's Hip-Hop scene has to offer. It also serves purpose to educate on the different community areas (neighborhoods) in the city of Chicago as means of fostering a greater community as well as unity through the Chicagoland area.
The second edition installment of this Hip-Hop Taste of Chicago takes a look at what we have referred to the central region of the city of Chicago. It is composed by the Central and West Side of Chicago and will be showcasing artists and producers all over these regions. We also will be showcasing talent from the suburbs as a mean of getting out word on artists that aren’t directly from Chicago but have made their presence known through their work, hustle, and dedication. For those that haven’t read part one to Hip-Hop Taste of Chicago, click here.
Reps: Near North Side-Cabrini Green Projects
One of Chicago’s fastest rising emcees has been Tree. It’s only been nearly two months since he dropped his Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out mixtape and it has already garnered him buzz that only some of Chicago’s most prolific emcees have been able to attain. His preference of instrumentals is “Soul Trap”, a combination of trap styled instrumentals fused with soul music samplings. The great thing about Tree is that he’s a rapper and producer, which is not only rare in the Hip-Hop industry but as well as Chicago’s own music scene.
“Coppers told me I've been on and take your past with you, So in the future man you know you like the last n*gga”
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[Verdict] Devotion is a track that Tree co-produced alongside “Bink!”. It’s a track that illustrates his producer abilities but also embellishes his gritty rhyming capabilities behind a boom-bap and soul fused instrumental.
Originally from the state of Wisconsin, Lili K came to the city of Chicago to get an education as well as connect herself within the Chicago music scene. The songstress has joined forces with some of Chicago’s elite rappers and producers and has been able to strengthen her fan base through working with artists within the Hip-Hop community. She’s a very versatile artist that is influenced by Neo-Soul, Jazz, and Hip-Hop.
Track: Summertime Valentine
But don’t change one little, itty, bitty hair for me, no no no. Not if you care for me”
[Verdict] Trumpet, keys, and drums make the most crucial elements of Summertime Valentine. A track for big Jazz and Hip-Hop alike, this track does a great job displaying Lili K’s vocal capabilities as well as illustrating to the listeners the type of sound that her music represents. Even the ad-libbing and riffing is great, which to me has demonstrated what she has learned from the Hip-Hop community and one Chance the Rapper. Summer Valentine is a great track for those that are big fans of John Legend and The Root’s sound. Her EP- 5 Favorite Things is out now. Make sure to cop that if you already haven’t!
Nasim Williams [Producer]
Reps: West Town
At the forefront of up and coming Chicago Hip-Hop producers is Treated Crew soldier, Na$im Williams. He’s been keeping himself busy dropping mixtape after mixtape and producing for different artists in Chicago’s Hip-Hop community. What makes Na$im one of Chicago’s most promising newcomers is his production ability. In a time where artists have set styles and forms of music, Na$im continues to redefine and change his skills to suit different forms of music. His production capabilities are very impressive as he is able to create trap-styled instrumentals as greatly as he can produce boom-bam, R&B, soul, and juke driven instrumentals.
Track: 61 Lillies ft. Scheme, Sulaiman, and DOC
[Verdict] If there’s one track that has solidified Na$im Williams as one of the next great Chicago producers it has been 61 Lillies. The verses provided by Scheme, Sulaiman, and DOC complement the jazz and classical influences within the instrumental. This further helps illustrate to the listeners the type of Hip-Hop productions Na$im Williams can bring to the table. This is definitely a track the true Hip-Hop heads can hold on to as it is a big promise for what is in store for the next generation of Hip-Hop leaders in the city of Chicago.
One of Chicago’s most active Hip-Hop duos is theWhoevers. They’ve been keeping themselves busy working with various other artists from Chicago as well as playing at different venues and music festivals. This duo’s music in defined by the boom-bap and Golden Age Hip-Hop driven instrumentals that they rhyme over. They are currently gearing up to release their next project Ridin Waves and in the meantime they continue to release one track a week through their WHOwednesdays series.
Track: Time Out
“Chillin’ with a couple of my Phillipinos, brothers, sisters, black, white, Puerto Rican, yea we freakin’ act right”
[Verdict] Time Out is the first single off theWHOever’s next project Ridin Waves. The track gives you a good example of the boom-bap/ Golden era of Hip-Hop sound that is familiar with all their music. A track like this gives you a great reason to support their easy-going, laid back style of music.
Although Tere and Tony aren’t a Hip-Hop duo they are a Hip-Hop force in the Humboldt Park community as they’re both a part of the same family being brother and sister. Their culture and being a part of their community and giving back is very important to them.
Lah was former member of the Hip-Hop collaborative, Rebel Diaz. She is an activist and is very engaged in her community. She now lives in New York where alongside Rebel Diaz they helped open a community center in the Bronx community to give back, mentor and teach the youth of the community how to own their art and become artists in their community. She has also co-founded various other organizations all set out to showcase talented women of color within the Hip-Hop industry.
Tony has also been keeping himself busy becoming engaged in the Humboldt Park community and changing his focus of his music. After the loss of 360 to senseless gun violence, Centrino has refocused himself to spread a more positive message through his music. next chapter in his story, while promising, has yet to be written. Centrino is currently set to drop 3 projects by the end of 2013.
“A Puerto Rican born from the core of the streets, the poor and deceased, the addicts and the soldiers and chiefs”
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[Verdict] Terra demonstrates Lah’s lyrical prowess in being able to become a Terra (Terror) behind the mic. The “track” has double meaning. For one “Terra” means land or territory which is illustrated in Lah’s lyrics in association to her tough upbringing in the Humboldt Park community. It also represents her lyrical ability to destroy an instrumental.
Track: Loose Ends
“I hate the fact that all these rappers leaving loose ends, what happened to using the booth for improvement?”
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[Verdict] As someone that was born in the inner city of Chicago I agree with Tony on many of his views. Hip-Hop originally started out as a movement to empower areas and became something totally different that has now turned into a form of art that often glorifies the negative in society. Emcees like Tony are hard to find now a day… Not many artists continue to become engaged in their communities but also be able to capture the reflection process of working in different areas in the city of Chicago as well as Tony has done.
This newcomer has been making noise in the Chicago scene in the past two years. He released his Everything Again mixtape last year and has been on a roll working on his next project. A hungry, driven, artists ready to make an impact in Chicago’s Hip-Hop scene, T.Gaines has already become a formidable force for years to come.
Track: American Dream
"What's the American Dream? A Muthaf*ckin' nightmare"
[Verdict] American Dream is a great track juxtaposing the notion behind the “American Dream” and contrasting it with the harsh reality surrounding inner cities as well as our individual objectives to fulfill our own American Dream.
Saba [Rapper/Producer] & Jean Deaux [Singer/Rapper]
(Jean Deaux) Reps: Little Village/25th & Lawndale
(Saba) Reps: West Side
Saba is a part of the Pivot Hip-Hop crew and has been its most active member in working with various artists in the city of Chicago. He can also produce tracks which has been producing for himself and other Chicago emcees, one of the most notable, being Mick Jenkins. One of Chicago’s most promising emcees in forming part of Closed Session’s Tribute to Independence show as well as dropping his mixtape GetCOMFORTable, hailed as one of Chicago’s best mixtapes of the past year.
Jean Deaux is a songstress that also happens to be able to rap. The member of Chicago’s Hip-Hop collaborative The Village, alongside Kembe X and Alex Wiley, has been keeping busy singing hooks and working on her own material that is soon to drop. She’s been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Missy Elliot, which if you ask me is great to be compared to. The first lady of The Village is set to release her first solo project, Soular System, soon.
Track: EST. N19g4
“Showcasing talents for the street, like a charity, and all the proceeds to my n*ggas”
[Verdict] You knew that once drums entered the bass and piano fusion this song was going to be something special. One thing I appreciate about this track is the sampling of the interview in the beginning that slowly becomes the sinister recording that EST. N19g4 becomes with juxtaposition of the hook with the initial sample. This track has definitely become a staple of Chicago Hip-Hop within the past year as well as a hood anthem for Hip-Hop heads everywhere. The video itself is very impressive as it embellishes both Saba and Jean Deaux as militant prophets embracing a long lineage of black power that they embrace as being a stepping stone in forming their own respective histories.
Not many rappers in today’s current Hip-Hop game have a bachelors degree, let alone have gone to law school. S-Preme went to law school to educate himself more as well as set his own set of rules in today’s rap game. An interesting fact is that he’s also joined his forces with the pro wrestling conglomerate, WWE to lay down the law on another law school graduate’s theme song. That one person would be Jennifer Hudson’s husband, David Otunga. He’s also created a track for the son of legendary wrestler Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase Jr. The form of Hip-Hop he’s created is easy going, laid back, and inspiration music. He's released a few mixtapes, the most popular being Sicktape Vol 2.
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[Verdict] Popular is a track dedicated to any individual that has ever had a goal and never stopped until they attained it. It’s really laid back and chill to listen to.
The rapper/singer is one of Humboldt Park’s most prominent figures. Lil Lito has been releasing various mixtapes within the past two years. He’s been keeping busy making music and visiting different cities nationwide to expose his music to more listeners. He’s always been an individual that has always repped his Puerto Rican culture and neighborhood upbringings remind people that regardless of the buzz around he has always managed to “stay Humboldt” (stay humble).
Track: Bless It Up Top
“Bottoms up, Bless it up top…”
[Verdict] The visual behind this track illustrates Lito embracing the attention he’s been getting and acknowledges it as more positive things to come.
At 23 years of age Phero has toured internationally, taught workshops, and headlined music festivals. The Pilsen native isn’t afraid to switch his style up and as a result has been able to expand his fan base by appealing to different audiences. His current single project is “The Five Columns” and is expected to release an album this year, which he believes is an introduction to a new breed of lyricism for Chicago Hip-Hop.
Track: Lords Ft. St Millie & Vince Nantes
“The resurrection of the conscious, I’m all about time like the clock up in my watches…”
[Verdict] This song is a head for the true Hip-Hop enthusiasts. It only takes one listen to get hooked to this track. When I first heard “Lords” it reminded me a lot about Kanye’s New God Flow as a result of the great epic boom-bap instrumental by !llmind. Enlisting St Mille and Vince Nantes was also another great move in this track that adds to the richness behind Lords. Phero is well on his way to help resurrect the conscious with bangers like this.
Chandler London makes fun, uplifting and insightful music that paints a canvas of the things that influence and inspire him. He’s been highly influenced by his community and has dropped bars about his favorite things in his community as well as showcases his favorite spots as well as the pride he takes in his Mexican culture through his videos. There’s a reason why his music caught the eyes of Kid Cudi and it has been as a result of the passion he brings to the projects he creates. One interesting fact about him is that he doesn’t write his raps down, nor types them. He simply memorizes and revises them in his mind, which is an impressive thing in an era where rappers right all their material in their phones. His mixtape Science of Sleep, is based off a movie with the same name and is entirely produced by Stefan Spinse. Science of Sleep is a mixtape filled with different musical influences and has more than enough reasons to illustrate why he’s one of the best Chicago up and coming artists. He is currently working on his next project Requiem For A Dream. Make sure to cop Science of Sleep if you already haven’t!
“And I’m just walking up 18th, and let me tell you what I see, let me paint the scene”
[Verdict] Disasterology is the epitome of the juxtaposition between reality and imagination. In this narrative Chandler London paints the harsh reality plaguing his community such as gentrification, drugs and gang violence. A deep track that gives you the current story of Pilsen and the issues the youth of the community deal with on a daily basis. He also plays homage to J-Def a rapper and member of the community that was slain in gang crossfire. It does an excellent illustrating the misconceptions behind gang culture to people who are oblivious to it and illustrates the innocent people affected by it.
Retrospect & ShowYouSuck
Retrospect is a Hip-Hop collective consisting of artists, Quotes and Def Poet. They’ve been have been featured on various media platforms such as WGCI’s Go Ill Radio, Soul Call Radio in Spain, IMF Magazine, Fake Shore Drive, Ruby Hornet and the Pursuit of Dopeness. Retrospect’s primary objective is to create a “new soul”. Taking full advantage of melody, they compose exciting introspective music; beautifying the truth by summoning the power of the imagination. They’ve kept themselves busy dropping several mixtapes and working on a project titled The Breakout, which they will be releasing soon.
ShowYouSuck is a Treated Crew soldier that’s a different breed in the Hip-Hop scene. Dabbing into fusions of punk, based, trill, and different forms of alternative rock that he was brought up on at a young age. ShowYouSuck is a throwback to the late 80’s/early 90’s in not only being able to adorn himself in the traditional black leather jacket that is recognizable with punk rock followers. He also possesses a demeanor and swagger that is associated with rappers in the early 90’s as he strives to reach the heights experienced within the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.
Track: Can I ft. Chandler London, theWHOevers, and ShowYouSuck
“I see more dudes be coming from Chi too but to me that’s old news. Sof*ckin hungry I can eat your whole crew…”-Def Poet
“Trap and a Punk, wheres the balance? I’m the only one Macho, where’s the challenge?”-ShowYouSuck
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[Verdict] Some strange reason this track as well as the video reminded me of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter because every single rapper steps up, throws jabs, and kills with a finisher. This track is the current generation of Chicago emcees cypher. All embracing one another and all willing to step up and take the torch if they’re given the opportunity. It pays homage to the Golden Age of Hip-Hop with the various early 90’s references, the most important being Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”. If there’s one thing about the collective of performers as that they’re doing the right thing in the Chicago Hip-Hop game and elevating the game for the rest of the city to match. Tracks like this are a great example of why Chicago’s Hip-Hop scene has been on fire and through music and sounds like this will continue to gain momentum.
You already know this Hip-Hop collective but not directly. You ever hear A$AP Ferg’s “Work”? They produced that track. They’ve been making music for years dating back to when this Hip-Hop crew was in high school. There’s two rappers and two producers to Chinza//Fly. Jofred Estilo, one of its emcees is currently working on his solo Mixtape while the group is still working on new music. They released their Blend No. 27 mixtape last summer. It’s a mixtape full of gritty, laidback, and chill music. Make sure to download it and give them a listen. Not everything that comes out of the suburb gets noticed because it doesn’t represent a big city to support it. I support great music regardless of where it comes from and these guys have been making great music for the past few years and will continue to make timeless music for years to come.
Track: Maldive Piff
“A little more kush in my bowl, another bad b*tch wanna roll, but I don’t have time to waste, got moves to make with my West Coast flow and my Midwest soul…”
“Told me that I could kick it, I’m looking for proper footing, walk a mile in my chucks and know that you prolly couldn’t”
[Verdict] Here’s two Chinza tracks Maldiff Piff that has a real soulful and laid back instrumental and Warriors with a heavy a boom bap instrumental for the Hip-Hop heads
Bringing elegance, wit, and professionalism to the rap game has been Real T@lk. He’s been releasing mixtape after mixtape and has also been performing his poetry at various events. In an era where rappers perform in baggy clothes and gold chains, Real T@lk has reverted to bringing class to Hip-Hop in performing in suits and his esteemed bow-ties. He’s opened up for various rappers, the most prominent being Big Boi and Killer Mike. His most recent release is his The Talented Tenth 8.0 mixtape, a display of why he’s currently one of the wittiest emcees in Hip-Hop.
“I got no money and now I’m on dirt with an empty stomach, and this economy there aint no work, I go to apply and the be like no sir”
[Verdict] Jealousy is an illustration of what terrible decisions as a result of jealousy in spotlighting two different scenarios dealing with violence and infidelity.
This former member of Odd Future has been keeping busy dropping mixtapes and producing. He’s produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy, Hodgy Beats, Curren$y, Cassie Veggies, Sir Michael Rocks, Danny Brown, Mac Miller, Pro Era, and Chance the Rapper. Don’t sleep on his music, he’s definitely been on the come up!
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[Verdict] I chose to display two tracks. One displays Brandun’s lyrical capabilities and the other one displays the production he’s done. This one is off Chance’s Acid Rap, a track titled NaNa.
Kembe X has been one of the most recognizable upstarts in the Chicago Hip-Hop scene. He’s been able to make a buzz and garner followers all since his release of his Self Rule mixtape, which gave him national attention. By national attention we mean he’s caught the eye of various major labels including Kanye West’s GOOD Music label. A conscious rapper that can rhyme over any instrumental he’s come to be a fixture in our city’s Hip-Hop scene along with the rest of his Village crew. He’s released a few mixtapes leading up to the release of his anticipated next project, Self Rule vol. 2, which he’s working on.
“Your arm’s too short to box my conscience, too wise in the booth, n*ggas droppin’ knowledge”
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[Verdict] Visions is Chicago’s version to Nas’ “If I Ruled The World”. It demonstrates how conscious he is as a young rapper and even invites you to become a part of the perfect world he envisions. He does this while pointing out the flaws he sees in the current society he lives in and paint a picture of the utopia he envisions. The beauty behind this track to me came as I rode the EL Blue Line from the South Side and just sat there, took the lyrics in, and envisioned the Chicago that Kembe and many other people in Chicago wait to see. As a college student that is going to graduate this upcoming year, this song only illustrates the hunger and ambition that young adults have inside us in getting out in the real world and making a different in our communities.