I’ve never been afraid to admit that I rock with certain artists much more than others, on both a local and national level. This sentiment stretches across genres, from hip-h0p to electronica to anything that may or may not fall under a particular music category. Obviously, content and ability to execute throughout a song and project are two of the bigger factors, but every once in a while, you get a chance to learn more intimately about someone’s craft and their dedication to it, which in turn makes you a bigger fan of the artist. For example, D2G.
The Chicago hip-hop artist’s gritty, yet skilled lyricism and delivery were introduced to me on he and fellow Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Spencer’s Hard Bars, a collaborative effort produced by Chicago producer, DC. Solid throughout, D2G more than held his own with the established veteran, Spencer, and essentially created a lane for his personal style and approach. After the releases of solo projects, 2011’s The Blood Diamond Tape and 2012’s July 9th: A Cancer Story, D2G is back with a new flag to plant in Chicago’s hip-hop landscape: Short Summers Long Winters, a strong 12-track effort featuring Ashley LaSchelle, AM, C. Rich, and JDP, with production by D.C., Ray White, Reg Young, and more.
Without inquiring, I can tell you the title of this album is related to Chicago’s calendar year that is essentially a short summer, followed by long winter. I am not yet far enough removed from the Go to know that the summers seem to come and go before you can enjoy them and the winters never want to leave.
Short Summers Long Winters begins with “A Call To Summer,” an interlude/intro featuring LaRoyce Hawkins and Katrina Valene. With Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness” playing softly in the background, Hawkins spits about the real turn of seasons and Valene provides gentle vocals to close it out. This is one of two songs co-produced by D.C. and D2G. “Long Days” has a very smooth sound, and A.P. Remedy’s voice and flow provide a nice contrast to D2G’s raspier, deeper tone. The horns that begin “90’s Flow” are very reminiscent of something on a Ghostface track, and Reg Young’s production gives the track more of a 70’s feel, which is basically what Ghostface music is: Gully ass 90’s flow over 70’s-sounding production. JDP provides the assist. D2G calls an isolation play for himself on “The Quest,” a song in which he once again sets out to distinguish himself from others in his field.
D2G and D.C. team up again to produce “Hydroplanin’,” featuring Ashley LaSchelle and Isaiah Jones, who both give the song a backyard BBQ feel. If this production is any indication of D2G’s ability to beatsmith, I suggest he look into featuring more of his own sound on his next project, as “Hydroplanin'” has one of my favorite beats on SSLW. Things slow down quite considerably on “Fall Into,” featuring Mon Cheri Soul. Soul is crisp and sultry, even as she sings “short sets to jump suits.” D2G does not appear, but it does not take away at all from the quality of the track. Also, props for the Roy Ayers snippet at the end.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than summer in Chicago. Period. Nada. Zilch. This is obviously a short-sighted opinion as I’ve only had the privilege to enjoy a full summer in four cities, but my opinion will stand until the end of my time on this planet. D2G’s “Chi-City Summer” tells of the beauty and horror of the warmest season of the year in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, he tells it accurately, from the beginning tales of beautiful weather and enjoyment to the end, when D2G reminds us, “You can’t stop the violence and drill at the same damn time…” D.C.’s reggae tinge basically never fails, and this is certainly the case on “I Spy.” Breezy City teams up with D2G on “I Got It,” another Reg Young-produced track with a bouncier feel. “I Got It” didn’t miss the mark, but felt a little light in contrast to other D2G work. Reg Young produces the next track, “You Got It,” a love ode of sorts featuring the vocals of C. Rich. In my opinion, it’s extremely difficult for the majority of rap and hip-hop artists to switch from a more aggressive, male-driven sound to one that is conducive to a loving, sensual, sensitive environment. Fortunately, D2G didn’t attempt to sing and didn’t break out the auto-tune, although this could have been the one time that he ventured outside of his norm to try a different approach.
“Reflections,” featuring Isaiah Jones with production from The Flying Shoe, is an absolutely beautiful song, as D2G goes the introspective route while Jones questions, “When will it get better?” D2G is great at expressing disappointment with the state of the music industry and hip-hop in particular, as well as the plight of his neighbors in Chicago, but when he takes the time to diligently reflect (no pun intended), I believe that’s when he’s at his best. There is a sax playing at the beginning of “Winter’s Brew” that should probably just play all winter long in Chicago as people walk the streets, whether on Michigan Avenue with bags in hand, or on the south side braving the elements just to make it home after a long day of work. Spazzbot.exe and D2G end SSLW on a great note, switching from serene production on this track to one with an aggressive drum machine over piano keys…all while D2G takes us home lyrically. Abstrak Mind makes an appearance on the bonus track, “Never Left,” a definite gift that doesn’t disappoint.
Short Summers Long Winters is another strong effort from D2G, an artist who understands that while he is very talented, there is always room for improvement. You can name your price and buy SSLW (always my favorite option) on D2G’s Bandcamp page, something that should be on the agenda of everyone looking to support a dope, Chicago hip-hop artist still on the rise.