Most of us know Saba from “Everybody’s Something” off Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap but the Chicago emcee has been at it and making waves in the Windy City for a bit. This is definitely Saba’s biggest release since the long-term impact of Acid Rap and he folks have been anxiously awaiting Saba’s sophomore tape ComfortZone. The project brings in features from MC Tree, Legit, Eryn Allen Kane, Jamila from M&O and Ken Ross with production by Saba, Cam O’bi, Nascent, and NAiMA. The tape’s name immediately reflects the in the projects full sound, it’s been the perfect soundtrack to hustling around Chicago in the warm weather the past few days. Saba with his knack to switch up flows truly sounds comfortable on this tape, casually cruising over beats calm, cool and collected. The tape feels the type of Chicago that outsiders have come to appreciate delivered in the past by Kanye, Common, Lupe and more recently by the likes of Chance, Tree and Lucki Eck$. Definitely give ComfortZone a spin. I’m a sucker for so many beautiful beats with piano too!
I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I work over at Flywheel Sports. This is one of those songs I’ve been testing in the lobby and even had an instructor buddy try it out in one of his classes. I just had that gut feeling that it was a tune that would do well in that environment and so far so good!. It’s motivating, catchy and the vocals are bubble gum for the ears. Sheppard come by way of Australia and “Geronimo” (Spotify) is a smash hit down under. I feel like this might a bit of a late summer anthem (it dethroned Pharrell’s “Happy” at #1 in Australia) it makes its way Stateside in time. The band recently signed to powerhouse Decca Records which will only help! The band’s album Bombs Away dropped this week in Aus/NZ and will likely land in the US later this year. If this tune hits US radio heavy – it’s gonna click.
For fans of The Mowglis, American Authors, Bastille and Grouplove.
Vic’s group Kids These Days were one of the first bands I ever booked. Pretty crazy to see how much he’s blown up since but I’m not that surprised. He’s had a hard-working team behind him and he’s clearly been hard at work himself; crafting a space in the ever crowded hip-hop market for himself. Feeling like Vic is mighty close to landing on the Billboard Charts with songs like these. Vic’s single “Down On My Luck” earlier this summer is a Top 10 for me so far in 2014 and it’s nod to Chicago house is the icing on the cake. In comes “Feel That” (Prod. By Smoko Ono) – one of those joints that gives you the future nostalgia of an unpredictable night out in the big city. I appreciated an honest post about the tune from Vic Mensa on in his Instagram too. Definitely feel that.
A few months back I was really inspired by one of hero’s Dave Grohl (lead singer of Foo Fighters, drummer for Nirvana) who was featured on one of my favorite regular podcasts – The Nerdist. Grohl touched on “guilty pleasures” and his distaste for the term. I couldn’t help but find myself agreeing. Take a listen via this YouTube clip. I wake up everyday looking to learn about music as much as possible and love searching out my own guilty pleasures. I’ll be honest, I know very little about country music but I can appreciate success stories and artists in early development. All of this combined, I was inspired and took a challenge to find a promising artist I could write about….knowing very little about the genre.
In come Maddie and Tae, coached in Nashville but come by of Texas and Oklahoma respectively. Writing about them so early in their process seems pre-mature but their promising path ahead is worth telling. The sisterly pals met during songwriting sessions in their mid-teens and are set on shaking up the industry together at 18-years old. The duo’s first single “Girl in a Country Song” is barely out and their already sending shock waves through the country circuit. The song lyrically focuses (lyrics found here) on the silencing of the female voice in country music, machismo attitude and the abundance of “bro-country” dominating the charts. It appears to be a fresh and welcomed perspective for country music and it’s got a lot of country fans, artists and critics talking - perhaps most for the smart business.
This is where things get interesting. In March 2014, Big Machine Label Group President/CEO Scott Borchetta and Republic Records CEO Monte Lipman announced a new joint venture. The two industry heavyweights have revived the historic Dot Records, active in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Borchetta discovered Taylor Swift and his Big Machine label is home to Rascall Flatts, Tim McGraw and Swift herself. Freshly dusted Dot Records will be under the leadership of veteran Chris Stacey as general manager of the label. Stacey has worked with artists like Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Counting Crows, John Mayer, Joss Stone, Shania Twain, Blake Shelton, Hunter Hayes and Willie Nelson just to name a few.
Well who do you think the new Dot Records signed first? Yup – Maddie & Tae. With all this industry horsepower behind them, it’s looking like these two are a force to be reckoned with. Still not convinced? Check out this compilation of interviews and back story featuring seasoned industry veterans drowning @MaddieAndTae in compliments about their work ethic and genuine songwriting ability.
Wow – this line-up is RIDICULOUS. My homies over at Fake Shore Drive have partnered up with Brisk Ice Tea and Noisey for an evening of incredible hip-hop. The new wave of the West Coast sound DJ Mustard will be behind the DJ kit. This man is the production behind some of this summers biggest hits like YG’s “My Hitta” and “Who Do You Love”, TI and Iggy’s “Medicore”, Trey Songz “Na Na” and party jams like Tyga’s “Rack City” and 2 Chainz “I’m Different.” Finally, he’s behind one of my go-to jams this summer – Chicago’s own Jeremih with “Don’t Tell ‘Em” featuring YG. You’ve got to assume Mustard will surely have a few of his Chicago friends on hand to turn things up.
That’s just the beginning. The headline here is a live show from legendary Chicago trio Do or Die. As Fake Shore pointed out, these guys haven’t done a show here in a long long time. We all know “Po Pimp” with Twista and Johnny P right? As if things couldn’t get bigger, soul trapper Tree will represent on stage ushering in a breath of Chicago’s new era.
All this is going down at the Double Door this Saturday, July 12th from 10PM on! RSVP here (21+) for FREE ENTRY and COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS.
Jess Glynne‘s voice has already been heard by millions. She’s the featured vocalist on Clean Bandit’s inescapable global supersmash hit “Rather Be.” Jess is back with a tune of her own and this incredibly dancey tune is fucking summer ready! This beautifully mindless jam is about ready to blow. A burrowing sub-bass, perky horns and nostalgic 90s dance influence will easily translate to any dance floor. Try to not bob your head and bend your knees along to this one. For fans of Disclosure, Sam Smith, Kiesza and John Newman.
PS: Jess has another single titled “Home” that dropped back in February that’s easily worth checking out too.
Fresh up in the #PairedUp series comes lots of creative work out of Chicago. First up is the gear! Chicago clothing upstart dope.boy.magic has already been worn by many of your favorite hip-hop artists, Google doesn’t lie. This time around, founders Joe Freshgoods and Vic Lloyd went with an underground street racing look and debuted the line with an unbelievably guerilla-style fashion show to debut the line that surely had the police scanners buzzin’. Check out the footage at the end of the post. The Spring line (on-sale now) is tastefully flashy, fully of torque fueled designs….and they got it all shirts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, bucket hats, goggles and more.
So what’s the right Chicago joint to go with the threads? I immediately went to a new collaborative banger from Bandman Kevo and King Louie that is windows down, seat low ready. This tune perfectly complements DBM’s new line of need for speed atheistic. I always appreciate when auto-tune is done right and these two spitters are never one to doubt. This one will land on Bandman Kevo’s project Fast Life due out this Summer.
I’m not quite sure what I think of this but it’s starting to surface quite a bit and it’s already made its way to the Shazam charts. There “we’re really DIY, believe us” branding turns me off a little bit (see their Facebook about page). This video leaves an awkward taste in my mouth. Creating a music video about going viral? Do I sound like an old man? Although, they did tastefully cap off the video at the end. Regardless, these three brothers from NYC have managed to create a sugary pop song infusing the right ingredients (falsetto, catchy group vocals, non-threatening EDM drop) for a chart topping hit all into one. Good luck fellas! So far, so good….except for the bad name but who really cares. For fans of fun., Imagine Dragons, One Republic and Maroon 5.
The band is currently on tour supporting viral superstar dubstep violinist Lindsay Stirling.
I’m not going to say I felt the same thing the first time I heard Chance The Rapper when I heard “Dreams” from Cozz - but I definitely thought it. I found it relatable – “on that 9-5 job shit / FUCK THAT” the South Central rapper bursts in the first verse. Dancing over the beat, creatively playing with it, approaching it unconventionally – Cozz treats this beat gracefully but as if it’s a punching bag from line one – “Always had dreams of being rich, huh/Mama never thought I’d make it this way.” This is a single that would soon foreshadow his future. Lyrical rhyme slayer J. Cole has signed the rapper to his Dreamville/Interscope label and family. “Dreams” production coming from Meez, who stirs up a beat reminiscent of Mobb Deep and Nas. There isn’t much else out there from Cozz right now but this one on repeat should be on enough.
Emily Nichols is one of my favorite singers here in Chicago. I first heard her voice in the extremely promising new Funk outfit Woo Park (whom I’m hotly anticipating material from in 2014!) and she’s also a vocalist in pop/rock group Upsin Hounds. Emily recorded the ‘Another Day’ EP with a band of musicians while studying abroad in Mannheim, Germany – check out some “making of” footage they also released. Emily’s vocals are the focal point here, positioned perfectly over buttery guitar. In Woo Park her vocals can are more comparable to the unbelievable Nai Palm of Hiatious Kaiyote - more adventurous scat singing. That’s kind of what makes Another Day more exciting, it just shows Emily Nichols has plenty of vocal tricks up her sleeve. The EP’s title track “Another Day” is a clear stand out, lyrically and vocally it feels like it could be a the feature song in a tripped out James Bond film somewhere in the futuristic past. The 4-song EP is full of clear, soaring vocals and MAN – this is one hell of a band behind her too. Check out the full credits below.