NEW MUSIC – “Gracious” by: Curt Cohiba featuring MFn Melo

Curt Cohiba is a Chicago MC looking to make a name for himself but he doesn’t possess the typical mindset of a hip-hop artist. Cohiba founded L.O.T.T.O. Entertainment (Learning Only To Teach Others) in 2010 as an undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago. His goals with the L.O.T.T.O. brand is to build platforms for people (like himself) coming from low-income communities to pursue their dreams and teach one another as they strive to turn their dreams into their reality.

curtcohibaCohiba has the mindset of a CEO but the hunger of an underground rapper. That hunger matched with his clever punchlines and smooth delivery is good enough to get Cohiba some attention but that CEO mindset is going to assure him that attention he seeks and more. His degree in Communications helps him with marketing himself although he already has some pretty strong connections in the prospering Chicago rap scene.

One of those connections is MFn Melo, of the hip-hop collective Pivot Gang. MFn Melo starts “Gracious” with the same rhyme scheme that Curt Cohiba ends the song with, both MCs unleash an abundance of quick-witted punchlines upon the listeners as they gracefully flow over this keyboard-centric instrumental.

MFn Melo is expected to drop his debut solo project — Melodramatics sometime in 2016 and there is no news on when Curt Cohiba might be releasing his debut solo project but until those projects drop, both MCs have a plethora of tracks on their Soundcloud accounts to check out.

 

#GetUnderTheUmbrella

NEW MUSIC VIDEO – “Angels” by: Chance The Rapper featuring Saba

As the anticipation for Chance The Rapper’s third solo project release grows, he has continued to make noise. Whether it be from late-night talk shows, Saturday Night Live, beefing with Spike Lee, collaborating with Kanye West, or working with the Chicago White Sox — Chance is definitely making noise.

In what has the makings of an anthem-like song for the city of Chicago, Chance makes the city the focal point of the “Angels” music video. The video depicts Chance as a superhero fresh-out-of-the-comics as he flew onto a Chicago ‘L’ train car. As Chance surfed the CTA train car, Saba (featured on the hook) and others had fun of their own inside the train.

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The video has a powerful ending as a halo appears over the head of the little boy who stars in the video. “Angels” is song much about cleaning up the streets of Chicago and reminiscing on all of those who have lost their lives in the city. Showing Chance (a Chicago-native who continues to work to help the young people in the city) as a superhero but still showing this little boy with a halo is a powerful message. It takes more than one person to right the wrongs in Chicago.

Chance continues to go against the grain in hip-hop with his music, performances, visuals, and business ventures. To be a 22-year old independent rapper without a commercial album and to be making the moves he’s made, it is hard not to be impressed by Chance The Rapper.

NEW MUSIC – “S.W.S. MFnUntitled” by: MFn Melo

Not-so-lucky Libra. Clumsy dreamer, but won’t fall asleep.

The wait is almost over!

MFn Melo has done just enough in his young career to build an inquiring-type of buzz. A few loose tracks here-and-there, plus Pivot Gang’s Jimmy mixtape has put the Chicago MC in a position where whenever he drops music the hip-hop blogs will post it. When an artist in such a position, it is easy to become complacent with getting blog posts and a few shows a month but MFn doesn’t appear comfortable with complacency.

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Chicago currently has a huge hip-hop scene that continues to grow with a wide-variety of acts, so it is important for artists like MFn Melo — on the brink of greater recognition — to flood the streets with quality content.

“S.W.S. MFnUntitled” is MFn Melo’s first track release of 2016 and it’s definitely an attention-getter, as he raps over Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled 05 | 09.21.2014.” MFn made sure the listeners didn’t forget what to expect from him — lyrics, flows, and aggression.

Hopefully we get Melodramatics sooner-than-later but I think it would be smart for MFn to drop his debut project in the summer and just feed the listeners a bunch of loosies in the meantime.

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“Word to Smooda!”

Phife Dawg, legendary A Tribe Called Quest MC, dead at 45

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Microphone check, one-two, what is this? The five-foot assassin with the roughneck business – Phife Dawg (“Buggin’ Out”)

Phife Dawg co-founded the legendary hip-hop group — A Tribe Called Quest alongside Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi. After a few classics, the legendary group completely broke up. Tension flared between Phife and Q-Tip but all of that seemed to be resolved last year when the group reunited on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon‘s stage. The group even spoke about a potential reunion album while promoting the 25th-anniversary release of People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

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Phife Dawg has been battling with diabetes since 1990. Phife even gave himself the title “funky diabetic” on the Tribe song “Oh My God,” off of the classic Midnight Marauders album. He received a kidney transplant in 2008 after being on the wait-list for two years.

Phife’s death was confirmed by Statik Selektah on Twitter but no cause of death as yet been announced.

Hip-Hop lost an all-time great. A pioneer.12321209_10153996801619192_3620258956156778833_n

Lollapalooza’s 2016 lineup has been announced; Hip-Hop will be well-represented

Rumors were spreading about J. Cole, LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Radiohead being at the 25th anniversary of Lollapalooza. Just seeing those names confirmed was enough motivation to get anyone to come to the Chicago festival but this lineup is completely stacked from top to bottom!

I cannot remember being this excited for Lollapalooza — as a hip-hop fan. Look at some of the great hip-hop acts Lollapalooza has lined up: J. Cole, Future, Bryson Tiller, Vic Mensa, Mac Miller, Vince Staples, ASAP Ferg, Dreamville (Bas, Cozz, and Omen), Jazz Cartier, Saba, Smino, and Towkio.

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Day two is a must-go for me — Radiohead, ASAP Ferg, Mac Miller, and Saba. Day one is J. Cole, Bas, Cozz, Omen, Danny Brown, and Jazz Cartier.

Who am I kidding? All three days are going to be eventful and that’s where the negative comes in, Lollpalooza is very expensive — $120 for a one-day ticket. Tickets are on sale this morning (March 23, 2016) at 10am.

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Nardwuar vs. DJ Khaled

“You know a lot!” – DJ Khaled

If you are unfamiliar with Nardwuar the Human Serviette, this is a great way to be introduced to him. Nardwuar is a different breed of interviewer, hailing from Vancouver.

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“Catalog Alert” – DJ Khaled

Nardwuar’s research-game is crazy! He dives deep into his interviewee’s history to ask about things that are usually overlooked and ties them to the music. DJ Khaled wasn’t an exception.

Many people don’t take DJ Khaled seriously and/or question exactly what he does but he has definitely left his mark in hip-hop and he wasn’t an overnight success. Nardwuar dug deep into Khaled’s past showing how long of a grind and how much hard-work it took for Khaled to get where he is now. From sneaking mixtapes into customers’ shoeboxes when he worked at Champs to performing at SXSW alongside Nas.

“Biggest interview you ever did! Congrats, your price weNt up!” – DJ Khaled

NEW MUSIC – “Buddha” by: Phoelix (featuring Saba)

Phoelix was first introduced as the producer of Saba’s last track release, “Soap Box”. Phoelix re-introduces himself on his first single — “Buddha” — through his songwriting ability with his own vocals.

  • The biggest question going into listening to “Buddha: what kind of music should we expect from Phoelix?            
  • The biggest question after listening to “Buddha: did Saba breathe during his verse?

Saba’s verse was very dope — crazy flow and many great quotables. But as dope as Sab was, he didn’t necessarily outshine Phoelix — which says a lot about Phoelix’s impact on the song. I have never been a fan of synthesized vocals but once I got past that and listened to the lyrics, I was very impressed by Phoelix’s obvious talent.

I am definitely looking forward to what else Phoelix has in-store, as a producer and as a solo artist. More of the same? Or hopefully some variety?

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NEW MUSIC – “FN-2187 (100 Bars)” by: Joseph Chilliams

“Hardest nigga to come out of the Chi since Kevin Garnett”

As the wait for Joseph Chilliams’ full-length solo project continues, the westside representative proceeds to impress and heighten the anticipation for that full-length project with his release of loose tracks.

In case you don’t know, FN-2187 is “Finn” (also known as the black stormtrooper from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens). Chilliams was inspired by seeing a fellow-black man in space and decided to drop this tune consisting of 100 otherworldly bars!

“Any rebels listening? I destroy legends like Hayden Christensen”

WATCH: Kendrick Lamar showcases Compton for Grammys commercial

kdot2Seven Grammy nominations in 2014 was just the icing on the cake for all that Kendrick Lamar had accomplished with the release of his debut commercial album — good kid, m.A.A.d city. The accomplishment of being nominated for seven Grammys was tainted when popular opinion suggested that Kendrick was robbed of Best New Artist and Best Rap Album awards in favor of Macklemore.

Fast forward to 2016, Kendrick is nominated for 11 Grammys (second most nominations for a single night behind Michael Jackson’s 12 nominations in 1984).

I have argued that good kid, m.A.A.d city is better than To Pimp A Butterfly but I will acknowledge that To Pimp A Butterfly has a stronger message and can be considered a more important work of art.

To promote the 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony, Kendrick took the spotlight off of himself to showcase the “mad city” that molded him — Compton.

Kendrick should win at least five Grammys out of his 11 nominations. Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance, Best Music Video,  and Song of the Year for “Alright.” Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. To Pimp A Butterfly could very well be Album of the Year as well.

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WATCH: Adele joins James Corden in “carpool karaoke” on ‘The Late Late Show’

163dc378James Corden is in an unfortunate place in late-night television by coming on at 11:37pm CT (following The Late Show with Stephen Colbert). Between the horrible time slot and being a new face to American viewers, Corden has struggled to gain much attention with his show. But his “carpool karaoke” series has been a hit! Corden has driven globally-popular musicians around to sing in the car with him, such as: Justin Bieber (twice), Jennifer Hudson, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, and more.

What I enjoyed most about his “carpool karaoke” episode with Adele was, of course, Adele rapping Nicki Minaj’s best verse ever — Minaj’s guesr verse on Kanye West’s “Monster.” But I also loved how comfortable Corden made Adele feel. I haven’t seen many Adele interviews but the few I have seen, she wasn’t nearly this relaxed and personable.