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?”

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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.

Screenshot (30)

“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.)


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


“Word to Smooda!”

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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