NEW MUSIC VIDEO – “Girls @” by: Joey Purp featuring Chance the Rapper

“Are you trying to wear that black dress to my address? I got a bed, no frame, just a mattress.”

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Joey Purp is a Chicago rapper from the Savemoney crew (which includes Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Towkio, and a host of other artists). Purp released his breakout project, iiiDrops, in May of 2016 and received much acclaim for the project.

“Girls @” is the first single off iiiDrops, it is a feel-good song —  different sound from everything else on iiiDrops — and the video matches the vibe of the track. Joey, Chance, and friends seem to have had a great time shooting this video. I guess when Joey and Chance were asking “where the girls at?”, the question got answered because they have a large/diverse group of women in this video.

If you aren’t familiar with Joey Purp, I wouldn’t judge him off of this track.Even though I enjoy “Girls @”, it doesn’t showcase Purp’s talent. I believe Purp is the most lyrical rapper in the Savemoney crew, and that will become apparent if you listen to iiiDrops.

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NEW MUSIC VIDEO – “Numbers” by: Jae Haze

Jae Haze shows off his game-face in this visual for his single “Numbers” off of his upcoming project; No Idea. This track is packed full of punchlines and metaphors as Haze talks about how his hustle and hunger separates him from the competition.

Haze offers several clever basketball references on “Numbers” and as a visual aid to those references, Haze is shown rocking an impressive collection basketball jerseys in this video.

Those jerseys include: Fredro Starr’s jersey from Sunset Park, Will Smith’s high school jersey from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Jesus Shuttlesworth’s Lincoln High School jersey from He Got Game.

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One of the many standout lines on the track is the opener: “I’m 23 in that Boston Garden, they can’t guard me”, so it was only right for Haze to pay homage to Jordan in this video. There is an autographed Michael Jordan Bulls jersey displayed as Haze raps the opening line and Haze can be seen wearing a 2003 Michael Jordan All-Star jersey.

Stay on the lookout for Jae Haze’s upcoming project; No Idea, set to drop in the fall of 2016.

NEW MUSIC – “Numbers” by: Jae Haze

“I’m 100 like Wilt, I do 100 on 290 just to see how it’ll feel.”

14199763_1244411975583495_6525761162220189479_nSomething must be in the water in Chicago because there is an unbelievably large variety of great music coming out of the city.

R.A.N. Nation artist, Jae Haze is another example of the quality of hip-hop being made in Chicago. Haze is set to drop his project, No Idea, in the fall of 2016 and until the project releases he has been feeding the streets with a healthy serving of his music — giving listeners a better understanding of what to expect from him.

R.A.N. Nation has already made noise in 2016 with the release of Weasel Sims’ Prey 4 Paris, which Jae Haze was featured on.

“Numbers” is Haze’s latest track release, the track is full of energy. You can’t listen to the track without mean-mugging. Haze 13680949_1214245758600117_553473725093151561_nis rapping with so much hunger in his voice and each verse is packed with hard-hitting punchlines.

The biggest standout from this track is the concept of how he’s “doing numbers” and starting both verses off with an attention-grabbing basketball metaphor. To start the first verse Haze compares himself to Michael Jordan dropping 63 on the Celtics: “I’m 23 in that Boston Garden, they can’t guard me.” The second verse kicks of referencing Kobe Bryant’s historic 81-point game against the Raptors: “I’m 24 in ’06 right on Toronto’s floor.” That Kobe reference was particularly hard in my opinion because he revisited Toronto a few bars later: “My whole squad A1, sophisticated gangsters. I aint no Drake but I’m raising the stakes, just thank me later.” 

I’m anxious to hear the full-length project from Jae Haze, he’s reminiscent of when gangster-rap had lyrics.

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NEW MUSIC – “No Service” by: L.A. VanGogh

Screenshot (32)“Alton Sterling’s on my conscious, need a moment of silence.”

L.A. VanGogh is definitely hard at work this year. He dropped a project in early 2016 in collaboration with DJ/music producer Ambi Lyrics. The duo joined forces as “safeNsound” to release safeNsound presents: L.A. VanGogh — a well crafted seven-track project. VanGogh seems to be doing a great job at gaining recognition despite being just one of many up-and-coming hip-hop artists from Chicago.

VanGogh even referenced the large Chicago hip-hop scene in one of my favorite lyrics from “No Service”: “I was listening to Bella Bahhs in a Chevy car, going hella hard, with some Lil Bibby and some G-Herb. Smoking Reptar, that’s a green monster. I got Wal-Marts in my repertoire. What’s that mean? That means I got a whole lot in store.” 

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With his aggressive delivery, playful flows, and clever metaphors, VanGogh is truly a joy to listen to. In his young career, VanGogh has shown that he is capable to flow over any instrumental and stay true to himself.

This latest track release from VanGogh shows his ability to be creative with his flows and clever with his metaphors while having fun with it. “No Service” is a fun listen. The beat bounces, the hook is catchy, and VanGogh adds to the energy of the song with his verses despite the mostly aggressively competitive (somewhat cocky) content.

Rappers with similar abilities as L.A. VanGogh tend to box themselves in but L.A. VanGogh lives up to his “shpeshftr (shape-shifter)” identity by not allowing himself to be boxed in. He’s always aggressive, either with his content or with his delivery but so far in his career he has been able to seamlessly fit onto any instrumental he raps over and makes that sound his own.

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Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg interviews Smino

If you are unfamiliar with Smino, I suggest you get your life in order. Besides his own projects (SICK SICK SICK EP and blkjuptr), Smino has really impressed with his guest appearances on his peers’ work. Smino’s most notable guest appearances were on Saba’s “World In My Hands” and Noname’s “Shadow Man”.

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While being interviewed by Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97, Smino mentioned his verse on Noname’s “Shadow Man” is his favorite verse to-date because of the subject matter of the song. Smino went on to quote a line from his “Shadow Man” verse — coincidentally my favorite line from that verse: “Tippy toe on a tightrope. Leaning on green and it’s going to be a dice roll. I’m fiending for a feline who mindset’s like Afeni, I got Tupac’s for us. Gold on my gum-line, done got rich off my tongue.” That line is a perfect example of what Smino was referencing during the interview about him being just as much “ratchet” as he is “conscious”.

In the interview, Smino talked about social media (Twitter being his preference), his love for Chicago, and his musical influences (including music acts like: Dungeon Family, Ludacris, Nelly, and Kanye West.)

NEW MUSIC – “Symmetry” by: Saba (produced by Ken Ross and Phoelix)

“I promise, I’m going to be here for awhile. Only if you let me and I’m lucky. From up here we can see over the clouds. Baby, what’s your preference? Do you love me?”
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Saba just dropped “Symmetry,” his latest song off of his upcoming project — The Bucket List — on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music/Beats 1 Radio Show.

Saba has shown his songwriting versatility in the past — especially on “Whip (Areyoudown?)” off his 2014 project, Comfort Zone — but “Symmetry” is different, it’s a full-blown love ballad.

When I listen to songs like “Whip (Areyoudown?)” and “Symmetry” by Saba, I think about how much of an impact melody has on hip-hop today. But then I think about just how differently Saba approaches melody than other artists. Being a son of an R&B singer and a young fan of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony might be what makes Saba’s sound so unique. Saba doesn’t “harmonize” as much as most rappers today, it’s more like he’s simply rapping with a melody. And he’s doing it well.

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I believe Saba is at his best being aggressive on the microphone with his ferocious flows but “Symmetry” is an example of how wide his range of artistry has grown since Comfort Zone. He refuses to be boxed in as an artist. And what’s scary is that he’s very much so still growing as an artist. The Bucket List is highly-anticipated with great expectations and I still would be surprised to be unimpressed with the project, whenever he chooses to release it.

Saba will be performing live at Lollapalooza on Friday, July 29th in Chicago.

 

Buy “Symmetry” on iTunes now!

REVIEW – “The Rabbit Hole” by: Deshawn Flaire

"No cosigns, just dope rhymes"

If you are still sleeping on the quality of hip-hop being made in Chicago, it’s time to wake up!

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Deshawn Flaire is yet another promising talent hailing from Chicago. The Rabbit Hole is Flaire’s follow-up project to his 2013 EP, Hope Is Dope.

10415644_665959103452731_7517175455432198643_nMany mentions of reality and dreams throughout this project, Flaire is working hard to turn his dreams into a reality and he took time on this project to chronicle his progress as a man and an artist as he works towards his goal.

“So Far…(Intro)” is one hell of a way to kick off a project. This songs gives listeners a true understanding of what they have to look forward to for the remainder of this project. In “So Far,” Flaire acknowledges his growth but takes time to point out the many areas in life where he hasn’t grown or changed (for better or worse). This song is probably my favorite on The Rabbit Hole because Flaire just sounds so hungry on the track and the concept is very relatable — with references of constantly reminiscing on old girlfriends to lines like: “never been a believer but I hear you preaching.

966747_513917451990231_1111559928_oTransitioning from “So Far,” Flaire immediately shows his versatility with a chopped-and-screwed Houston vibe on the tracks, “RS/P (Real Shit Pimpin’)” and “Happy Hour”.

“RS/P” is my favorite of those two songs because while using that chopped-and-screwed sound, Flaire stayed true to himself with lines like: “started from the bottom, now we’re climbing, that’s what I call real progress“. Also, Ricky Nattiel was a great addition to “RS/P” because while he’s too from Chicago, he somehow amplified that Houston chopped-and-screwed vibe with his contribution.

I would highly recommend this project for anyone to check out. It’s an easy listen — just nine songs — but Flaire does a great job at pairing his lyricism, wit, and transparency with some complimentary (yet versatile) production. As much as I enjoyed this project, the songs that resonated with me most were definitely the intro, “So Far,” and the outro, “The Feels,” because I found myself wanted more of that from Flaire. Those tracks were so introspective and real (for lack-of-a-better-word).

Listening to “The Feels” made me a fan of Deshawn Flaire because I understood him as an artist after hearing that song. “So Far” was a great attention-getter with a strong concept and an immediate display of Flaire’s lyrical ability — I love the rhyme-scheme on that track. Tracks like “RS/P” and “Really Real” are very enjoyable but those tracks were the potatoes of this project. “So Far” and “The Feels” are the meat, after listening to this project, those tracks will stick with you the longest.

On “The Feels,” Flaire tells us he doesn’t care about the fame or acclaim, he just loves his craft. That kind of dedication, mixed with his talent is an impressive combination. My favorite rhymes on “The Feels” (and probably my favorite rhymes on The Rabbit Hole as a whole) are:”This album was carefully planned and cleverly thought. Every beat was hustled for and eagerly bought. Every feature that you hear was particularly sought for, my only wish was that I brought more.” I felt as if those are the rhymes Deshawn Flaire would want to be defined by as an artist, he has a vision and he’s determined to bring it to fruition.

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REVIEW – ‘Yell Pretty EP’ by: Benjamin Earl Turner


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Benjamin Earl Turner is a hip-hop artist from Antioch, CA. but after spending time in Chicago with Young Chicago Authors, he was able to grow as an artist and do some networking. Young Chicago Authors has developed a strong reputation through music acts like Chance The Rapper, Saba, Jamila Woods, and many more. After listening to Yell Pretty, Benjamin Earl Turner might deserve to be added to that impressive list of music acts affiliated with YCA.

Benjamin Earl Turner has definitely proven his caliber of artistry in his past work like his standout verse on “Westside Bound” from Saba’s breakout mixtape — ComfortZone. Turner also joined forces with Chicago MC, Defcee last year as “Grand Total” and the duo dropped the Case Studies (A Novella) EP.

Despite those past works, Turner doesn’t approach Yell Pretty as an artist looking to prove himself. Yell Pretty is an introduction because despite it only being seven-tracks-long, listeners should feel like they know Turner after listening to this project. But Turner seems to approach this project as if the listeners already know him personally. The personal and introspective nature of this project is what maybe the most interesting. Turner has no shame in baring all of his darkest thoughts, insecurities, and, like on the track “Mediterranean”, even personal voice-memos for producers.

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The project opens up with “6 Flags” featuring MFn Melo. The Ginuwine sample on this joint got my attention immediately — so much nostalgia. The first words of this project, Turner is just talking to the listeners about how he might be putting his job in danger by pursuing his music career, that monologue transitions to his first bar: “Can we all eat off rap?”. The track is about the roller coaster of life, which is a nice set-up for the overall feel/subject matter on Yell Pretty.

Before listening to this project, I read the description Turner wrote on his Soundcloud account, in the description he basically said how draining the creative process can be and that he may never make music again. He is about to enter graduate school, he wants to travel, life happens and he doesn’t want to force the creative process just to make music for the sake of making music.

Also in the description, Turner explains the title of the project — Yell Pretty — in today’s world of hip-hop a lot of artists are showing the capability to be melodic with their delivery, even if they aren’t necessarily good singers. Hip-hop artists like J. Cole, Chance The Rapper, Saba, and more come to mind. These artists aren’t going the Drake-route of actually trying to sing or using synthesizers like Kanye and Future, they are basically just harmonizing but Turner calls it “yelling pretty”. I like that.

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“PHX” (phoenix) hit me like a ton of bricks, that song is packed full of emotion. Turner is painting the picture of someone who just wants to hit the reset button. In the last verse, Turner seems to be contemplating suicide — he opens the verse with a chilling rhyme connecting Heath Ledger and Robin Williams. After reading Turner’s thoughts on the release of this project, I interpreted the last verse to be Turner contemplating the death of his rap career — not his life. Turner evoked raw passion in that verse with lines like: “To all my listeners, thank you for being patient. I know you’re used to instant gratification. To write a bar is like writing a bible verse. I’m trying to give you a record of my creation, a record of when I died, and a record of rebirth.”

My only true complaint about this project is that “PHX” isn’t the final track. The “Sway in the Morning” track is cool and shows Turner’s hunger/appreciation for hip-hop but it’s placement on the tracklist made it feel like a filler.

I highly recommend this project. For a small sample size, it has a wide-variety of content.

NEW MUSIC – “Illuminate” by: Curt Cohiba

“Hands up, I can’t breathe. When the Million Man March becomes a stampede, enlighten and let the lamp lead.”

Grab your umbrellas because Curt Cohiba is steadily dropping music has he gears up to release his debut project — The Loophole.

On this latest track — “Illuminate” — Cohiba spews confidence in his flow and with his witty punchlines but this song at it’s core has a very powerful message. Cohiba does a great job at allowing this song to be all about punchlines at face-value but when you delve into those clever punchlines, you can visualize the picture that is being painted.

The black community has been America’s punching bag for centuries and Cohiba addresses that sad truth in this track (which he released just after the police murdered Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.)

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The build up of the song is what is truly impressive, it is almost like Cohiba is telling a story as the message progresses throughout the song, from talking about struggles then concluding with the confidence to “stand back and just illuminate”.

Cohiba is a very strategic artist, he knows how to market himself and once he gains more notoriety, I cannot see him becoming irrelevant, simply because of smart decisions like releasing this track when he did. Timing is everything in the music business and being talented is one hell of a plus.

[www.getundertheumbrella.com]

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