D2G’s ‘Short Summers Long Winters’ wraps up the season


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.


“24K Visuals (Pts. 1 & 2),” Vic Spencer

The last time GoILLian rapping bastard Vic Spencer was here, I reviewed his latest EP, Vision Pipes, produced by TDE beatsmith, Rocket. A fan of that release, I noted at the end of my post that I felt Spencer was picking up steam as he began to further branch out in terms of his musical ventures. Since, Spencer has announced an upcoming EP with fellow GoILLian rapper, MC Tree, and, while mixing the anticipated Women’s Bathroom project, dropped this piece of dopeness. Of course, there was also this, this, and of course, hard bars as a featured artist on this.

While I am disappointed to have recently learned that Spencer and Tree’s VicTree collaboration will be delayed, I can certainly take a bit of solace in Spencer’s latest journey, “24K Visuals,” split into two parts. Part one was released October 1 and part 2, this past Thursday. Even though picking a favorite between the two isn’t quite akin to what poor Meryl Streep had to do in Sophie’s Choice, it’s still not easy to choose. If I were forced to, however, I’d side with part one, as it takes listeners back to vintage-Spencer-over-fucking-awesome-ass-loops, constructed by Chicagoan producer and jack-of-all-trades, DC. Part two is obviously no slouch, and Vic’s “More cardigans than Mr. Rogers” line can be put into the “Vic quotables” category. It’s generally somewhat difficult to tell what will be next for an artist like Spencer, but it’s safe to say something new will be coming soon, and directly. Enjoy the goods below.

“I Spy,” D2G; JLR drops more lifestyle rap on a Saturday night


Without reservation, I believe D2G is one of the dopest lyricists in the city of Chicago and I’m sure you could expand that claim to include the entire Midwest. I’ve written before on this blog how I am a fan of not only his work, but his ethic and approach. Seemingly hungry on every track, D2G almost attacks his listeners, even when a track doesn’t sound entirely cohesive or a bar feels out of place.

“I Spy,” produced by GoILLian beatsmith DC, will be the first single from D2G’s upcoming album, Short Summers, Long Winters. There’s a reggae tinge to the song (sort of a DC trademark, if you’re unaware) and the bassline is hard, but smooth and not overpowering. A release date for the album is unknown at the moment, but you can be assured that it won’t disappoint, as D2G understands that as he continues to churn out good music, fans, old and new, appreciate his efforts. Enjoy.


 I’ve long been a fan of New Orleans rapper Curren$y aka “Spitta Andretti,” since his days as a member of Lil Wayne’s “Sqad Up” collective. Although he didn’t have the large profile he currently has, I still made sure to catch every one of his verses, even on the songs that I knew were straight and complete trash. Since, Curren$y has departed the group and left Weezy’s rap clutches, beginning a solo career and basically, perfecting the “Lifestyle Rap” genre. He’s even put together a roster of sorts of like-minded artists and branded “Jet Life” as a way of, well, life.

This past Saturday, the team dropped World Wide Hustlers, a project that does a bit more than past releases to showcase Jet Life members besides front-liners Curren$y and Young Roddy. Unfortunately, my rap booski Mary Gold does not make an appearance on this release, but we do get some spirited bars from Jet Lifers T.Y., Fiend, and LE$. Mr. Marcelo and Freddie Gibbs guest star on ‘WWH,’ as well. With a chill sound, this tape does not disappoint, although I would have preferred a song or track from Mary Gold, arguably the brightest star in the camp.


Review: ‘Vision Pipes (EP),’ Vic Spencer (Prod. by Rocket)

visionpipesI swear, Vic Spencer has the formula for today’s rap fan: Churn out as much quality music as possible, all the while managing to establish a relatively new identity on each track; on each project. Certainly, on his new EP, Vision Pipes, produced by TDE in-house beat man, Rocket (who also sings), Spencer has carved out one more niche for himself. The funny thing, just as I will find myself getting accustomed to this “V-I,” another will show itself. No matter. Time to dive into Vision Pipes, which was released on July 4.

“The Special Move” – “I don’t wanna chase y’all/I don’t wanna race y’all/I don’t wanna face y’all/Fuck up out my face, dawg,” spits Spencer to start the EP. What stood out most about this unofficial intro is the production. The relative serenity of it contrasts with Spencer’s oft-aggressive flow, with some intermittent Rocket vocals in the background to provide a soft touch. A great start, indeed.

“Massive Takeover” – I’m conflicted. While not a huge fan of the beat, I do like Spencer’s flow and the vocals provided by Rocket. And that hook, though: “I tell you what/When I take over these mountaintops/The world is mine/The world is mine…” Everything but the production on this track does it for me, although I will admit that if pared down a little, it would feel a little “cleaner.”

“WW VIII”– If you’re remotely familiar with Spencer’s music, you should know that it is, well, you know, rather aggressive. “Chicago’s ODB” is how I describe Spencer’s work. “WW VIII” isn’t quite as gritty as some of his other tough tales, but it’s one of those tracks in which he puts on his storytelling hat and lets us have it. “This ain’t Rambo in 1988, you gonna need more than a fucking knife” ended Spencer’s first verse before Rocket jumped on, and killed another hook.

“Young World” – MAN. MAN. Spencer is one of the more emotionally vulnerable rappers you’ll hear (which isn’t a detriment at all), and he certainly delves into his feelings on this one. Rapping about the death and murder of two brothers, and attempted murder of another, Vic once again lets us in on a part of his life not usually made available on a music track. As per usual, Spencer is quick to flaunt his style and reminisce about prior sessions, along with his quest to conquer this relatively young world.

“Vampire Diaries Screwed (Rocket’s Solo)” – This sounds like something that didn’t make 808s & Heartbreak, and I don’t mean that as an insult. You see, I’m a huge fan of screwed (RIP DJ Screw) music. That goes for screwed R&B, as the slowed-down chords and vocals make for a unique listening experience. I’m still not entirely sure just what the hell the message behind this song is, but I still like it. A lot.

“House of Hope,” ft. Michael Anthony of THEMpeople – Rocket gifted Spencer with this damn production. It’s so dope that Spencer should release an instrumental version of this EP just so anyone who somehow didn’t listen to Vision Pipes can hear this beat. Whereas “Massive Takeover” sounded like it had too much going on, this beat is fucking insanely good. Michael Anthony of THEMpeople joined the fray to provide some vocals, but honestly, this track could have stood alone based on the merit of its production. Is that an 808 kick I hear? And a snare? Hi-hat, too? Just. So. Raw. Good on, Rocket. Good on.

“Planes, Trains & Passports” – If it weren’t for “House of Hope,” this track would easily have the best production on Vision Pipes. As far as the song goes, it’s a fitting ending to the EP. Spencer has never been shy to let listeners know that he’s simply “way mo’ fresher” than you, in all aspects of life, and while that surely drives some away, it likely draws more to his music. Undoubtedly my favorite line on this EP is on this track: “I’m with the youth, dropping the gems/And if they rob the Louis store and the belt fit me, I’mma cop it from them.” Telling it like it is.

Crazily enough, Spencer seems to be improving with each project. Teaming up with various producers and artists, he seems to be constantly trying to find ways to reach new ears. As a fan of music, I love this approach. It’s somewhat hard to say that Spencer operates outside of his comfort zone, because his confidence enables him to step into new forums with new people and lay down exactly what he wants to. Yeah, there will be hits and inevitable misses, but most impressive is that Spencer wants to evolve as an artist. Vision Pipes is available on Spencer’s Bandcamp page, and it’s one of those “pay-if-you-want-because-that-would-be-cool-but-if-not-at-least-listen-because-that-would-be-equally-cool” joints, so if you’re short on ends or want to listen before buying, you can download it for the freeski for now. Let’s hope to get more Vic Spencer dope in the future, and in addition, hats off to Rocket for the production and vocals, too. GoILL.


Quickly now: “Infectious (Telling Folk),” Vic Spencer ft. D. Brash and Brian Fresco (Prod. by DC) #GoILL


Vic Spencer is no stranger to MKLH. One of my favorite Chicago rap artists, Spencer basically churns out music at such a pace that would make a simple man or woman’s head spin. Because of work and quite frankly, a lack of motivation, I haven’t posted as often over the last few months as I possibly could have. No more. Vic Spencer dropped a goody in my email inbox today, and you bet your ass that the new is heat. “Infectious (Telling Folk)” is led off by Spencer, with D. Brash in the 2-hole and Brian Fresco coming on strong to finish the track off. DC is on production duty, and the beat sounds like a very eerie serenade (love that “tellin’ folk” vocal in the background), navigated rather meticulously by the three aforementioned artists. “You just mad because you not what blogs writin’ about…”

For 2014: D2G

D2G-July-9th-A-Caner-StoryWhen it comes to hip-hop in Chicago, contrary to “popular” belief, there is a rather extensive history of successful artists. Perhaps most of them did not reach a national level in terms of popularity, but on a local level, they provided a soundtrack to many of our lives. I won’t regale you with tales of rapping along with Crucial Conflict, Da Brat or Do or Die, but I will tell you that in my somewhat biased opinion, Chicago hip-hop is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. A part of this new movement is artist/songwriter/hungry MC, D2G.

I first heard D2G on the DC-produced Hard Bars, a 2011 collaborative effort with fellow Chicago hip-hop artist, Vic Spencer. While I knew what to expect from Spencer and to an extent, DC, it was D2G’s performance that not only caught me off guard, but forced me to look at Chicago’s rap and hip-hop scene in an almost completely different way. Far too often rife with gang references and odes to violent acts, Chicago’s rap and hip-hop landscape can appear very watered down to some. And, not to dismiss trap artists like Lil’ Durk, Chief Keef and King Louie, but I always knew that there were artists who more accurately represented the struggle and desire to overcome it, in a less materialistic, self-centered way. Enter, D2G.

In December of 2011, D2G released The Blood Diamond Tape. Sixteen tracks long with features from Spencer, Lili K, Jay Rashard, A.M. and others, it was a very solid project, from start to finish. Evident was the fact that not only could D2G rap, but he actually gave a shit about his craft. Similar to Lil’ Wayne on Tha Carter, you could hear the hunger in D2G’s verses. You simply cannot listen to “Mom’s Prayin'” and tell me that D2G is half-assing it on the track. Period.

After a 2012 that seemingly came and went for just about everyone, whether in the music industry or not, D2G gifted us on his birthday, July 9, 2013, with July 9th: A Cancer Story. Holy shit, what a mixtape. What. A. Mixtape. I reviewed it earlier on this site, and if I were forced to review it again today, my opinion of it would probably be even more glowing and positive.

I listen to an awful lot of hip-hop and it’s not often that I can sit down and listen to a project in its entirety without thinking that the artist is bullshitting me, at some point. It happens; the need to appeal to your fans who are borderline hip-hop purists and those who simply want to hear good music without the requirement of it actually speaking to them in any way, shape or form. Maybe it’s harsh to call addressing the needs of one’s entire fanbase “bullshitting,” but it is frustrating to listen to such code-switching. D2G’s struggles are not mine, and mine are not his. However, to hear the raw effort on J9: ACS made me a believer in D2G. I have faith that D2G can establish himself as one of the premier hip-hop artists in Chicago, for years to come.

I’ve had the opportunity to do a little “Q & A” with D2G, and his answers didn’t seem contrived. They appeared to be thought out, in order to provide me with the insight that many artists seem to not think is very important in how they are viewed not only as artists, but as people. Regardless of what anyone says, we all judge. Most of us do so unfairly, but nevertheless, we all judge. And while I’d love to write that we as fans can easily separate the artist from the person, more times than not, it is incredibly difficult to do so.

In conclusion, I appreciate the music that D2G puts out, and the effort that goes into it. He certainly isn’t the only rap or hip-hop artist in Chicago who gives a damn about their product, but he’s one I rock with the most, arguably. With the momentum he built in 2013, especially after J9: ACS, it wouldn’t be surprising that he uses that to propel himself to another level in 2014. It’s a “GoILL” movement, y’all.

For 2014: Martin $ky

martin-sky-timelessAs a certified music fiend, I’m constantly on the search for good music. New music, preferably. There was once an unfortunate time when I was completely immersed in the genres of rap and hip-hop, but thankfully, I have since grown out of that stage of arrested development. Despite my love for what some perceive to be “unconventional” music, I have not totally deviated from my affinity for rap and hip-hop.

2013 was a good year for me, overall. Musically, however, it was fantastic. I was lucky to hear countless singles, EPs, albums, mixtapes, collaborations, remixes and features. Some were mainstream while most weren’t even in the neighborhood. Whether swapping music with Spo or someone else, hitting a record store to make a purchase, perusing through music on iTunes or going back to the lab and discovering hidden gems, there was almost never a moment when music wasn’t infiltrating my brain.

Perhaps with artists like D2G, Psalm One, Vic Spencer, Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, Angel Davenport and the like, Chicago is enjoying a resurgence (again) on the hip-hop scene. One more for your ears: Martin $ky.

$ky released his debut project, TimeLESS, in September of 2013 and holy hell, was it a doozy. Thirteen tracks long, TimeLESS has no features (always a good formula when you can actually rap well) and includes production from P.U.R.P., Knxledge, Mndsgn and $ky, himself.

Martin’s flow is very smooth and the production on each track fits his seemingly mellow style. The almost monotone feel of his bars don’t come off as uninterested. Rather, he seems under control with a sure sense of where he wants to take each word, line, verse and song. His voice rises when need be and he accentuates profanities and certain phrases with purpose, and not just because he can. With no features, it is much easier to get a feel for his version of wordplay and lyrical content, as features can sometimes overshadow an artist’s entire work. Long a believer that all rap and hip-hop artists should have some input on their production, my favorite beats on TimeLESS were worked by $ky, including my favorite song on the project, “Contrast.” In addition to that track, the $ky-produced “LIMIT(LESS)” and “Pearl Gawd” are worthy of instrumental versions.

I was a little late to the party and didn’t download a copy of TimeLESS until roughly a week or so after it was released. However, it has not left the rotation since its induction into the Hall of Music that is my music library. Check Martin $ky’s SoundCloud for all of your non-TimeLESS musical needs and you can download TimeLESS here. 2014 should be an even better year than 2013, music-wise, and $ky’s work will be instrumental in Chicago establishing itself once again as a hotbed for hip-hop artists with something to prove.

Vic Spencer’s ‘Red Button Series’ finale: “Run Roughshod”


It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A hiatus of a bit over two months was more than long enough, and for whatever reason, I’m ready to get back to occasionally blogging on this page. Yeah. That.

If you’re familiar with Chicago MC Vic Spencer, you were probably hipped to his Red Button Series, which debuted in September. Spencer dropped a new track on each Monday and the first was “The Newport 500,” produced by Marc Moulin and The Jet Age of Tomorrow, featuring Monster Mike on the bars. Aggressively attacking each line, Spencer wanted to keep his fans amped for his November release, The Rapping Bastard, by giving their ears something to consume in the time being. With dope bars, insane production and “Vic Spencer-like” cover art, RBS was not something entirely new, as it has been done before, but admittedly, I don’t think I’ve ever come across an artist who so often put out B-side tracks that could have easily been on his album.

“Run Roughshod” serves as the finale for RBS, and it’s a fitting one. The Barry White loop is dope (guess what song it’s from and win a buffalo nickel!) and Spencer lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he’s done the music thing before, is doing it now, and will continue to do it in the future. Is his tone harsh? Yes, as always, but very few artists can spit with that demeanor and be taken seriously. Spencer is one of them, as I can personally attest that his persona is nowhere near contrived. RBS may be over, but it delivered a few gems, my personal favorite being the Word Mann-featured “Foes.” I know “V-i” has some more dope up his sleeve, and will deliver it when the time is right. Check out his SoundCloud page for the rest of the tunage. For now, Red Button Series, out.

Video: “I.R.A.N.,” D2G (Dir. by Trice Aaron)

I reviewed Chicago rapper D2G’s July 9th: A Cancer Story not long ago and am happy to share with you the first set of visuals from the album. “I.R.A.N.” got the treatment, with some directorial help from Trice Aaron. D2G is one of the hardest-working artists around, so don’t be surprised to see more from him on this page in the near future. Check the fly shit:

King Lamar. Chance’s unconventional dopeness. Elli Ingram is 19 and here to stay.


Last night was pretty monumental for the state of hip-hop, depending on who you ask. Rapper Big Sean took to his Twitter account to release “Control,” a track featuring Californian Kendrick Lamar and NOLA’s own, Jay Electronica. The song didn’t make the final cut of his upcoming album, Hall of Fame, apparently because of sample clearance issues. Big Sean is not exactly the most admired rap artist in the industry, so when I read a few tweets about the song, I didn’t pay it much mind. Shortly after, however, people got wind of, and then heard Kendrick Lamar’s verse. And all hell broke loose, digitally speaking.

Declaring, “I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York” was what got more than a few in a tizzy. To follow that up, Lamar later spit, “I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ wit’/But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is/And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale/Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake/Big Sean, Jay electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller/I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas/Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas/They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas…”

Well. Alright. Some have opined that Lamar was out of line to proclaim himself the king of New York, considering he’s from Compton, and from what he told a concert crowd that I was a part of, his roots go as far east of Cali as Chicago. Others have chimed in that all Lamar did was give rap and hip-hop artists in New York motivation to step their game up. I’m somewhat in between. I didn’t necessarily get the purpose of boasting that he’s the king of New York, unless he wanted to ruffle feathers. Considering that the artists he appeared on the track with don’t have any ties to New York (Big Sean is from Cali/Detroit, and Jay from New Orleans, now in London), either, it seems to me like he went out of his way to take shots at the current state of the genre in New York State.

The bigger debate is over whether or not Kendrick was dissing the artists he named. (He previously mentioned Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem and Andre 3000 as the best MCs out right now, along with himself. I won’t even get into the absurdity of mentioning Andre 3K on that short list.) I feel he did, to an extent. Possibly, it could be considered healthy competition; what rap and hip-hop actually started as. Supposedly, you could argue that he was somewhat paying homage to the artists he named. If that’s the case, that’s an underwhelming cast of characters. Regardless of whether you believe he was insulting those artists or not, one thing should be sure…

Kendrick, your verse was pretty good. However, you called out a bunch of “meh” ass rappers and got lionized for it. You had folks on Twitter considering you some sort of all-time great in hip-hop. Somehow, these same folks all developed a severe case of amnesia, because they continued to insinuate that what you did has basically never been done before, or that it’s been so long, people have forgotten. No, it’s not your fault; their reaction. You are culpable for something, though.

If you consider yourself the Alabama of rap, you don’t call out Mississippi State or Vanderbilt football. You don’t declare yourself a Kennedy- or Obama-style politician and then clamor for Dubya to come correct. You’re apparently the king; the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Don’t call out the 95-96 Blazers, who were barely above .500 that season. I appreciate the old-school approach, I really do. But outside of Jay Electronica, you’re easily more talented than the others mentioned. In fact, I would agree that you are indeed one of the best MCs out at the moment. Who gives a shit about NY artists and their egos, to be honest. I couldn’t care less to address their taking offense. But… Mac Miller?! Tyler, The Creator?! MEEK FUCKING MILL?!?!?! Sir, sir

No path to any throne goes through mere peons.

From a 10-day suspension to ‘Acid Rap.’

I first heard Chicago hip-hop artist Chance The Rapper on Vic Spencer’s “National Geographical” single in 2011. If you’re familiar with Spencer, you know his flow can vary, but is mostly grungy. Having never heard Chance rap before, I was taken aback by his cadence, lyrical content, and just overall dopeness of his verse. Throw in that at times he sounded sing-songy on his part, and while he didn’t exactly fit the “norm,” I was intrigued, nonetheless.

Hoping Chance’s dopeness was more trend than blip, he gifted us with 10 Day, his debut mixtape. “Windows,” “U Got Me Fucked Up,” and “Family” immediately got heavy play and are still in rotation to this day. 10 Day, a debut effort essentially centered around an act of misbehavior, struck me as immature, initially. But then I realized that Chance was doing nothing more than telling a story. His story. And he did it in incredible, and quite unique fashion.

While I was certainly pleased with 10 Day, I admit that I didn’t have high hopes for his follow-up project, Acid RapI just simply felt that what he created on 10 Day, he wouldn’t be able to recreate on Acid Rap. I was incredibly glad to be proven wrong, as Acid Rap was not only seen as great by my somewhat high standards, but by many blogs, websites, journalists, and most importantly, rap and hip-hop fans. Where 10 Day seemingly fell short, Acid Rap compensated for it, and then some.

I’m sure Chance’s style irks some. His high-pitched voice can be a bit shrill at times, and sometimes it seems as if he doesn’t know what direction he wants to go in on a song. But it’s that organized chaos that is so alluring. The adlibs are dope. His features are even better. He tackles topics that a good number of artists his age would rather not be in the vicinity of, lyrically and artistically speaking. In an era in which so many hip-hop fans can’t discern who’s who, it is very easy to distinguish Chance The Rapper from the rest of the crowd. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have a certain bias for his music because we are both native GoILLians, but if you were to remove that tidbit, the kid just puts out dope ass fucking music. Stay starving, Chano.

Stay sober, Ms. Ingram.

I was browsing different music websites online several days ago, when I came across an album cover that immediately caught my attention. After I finally stopped drooling over the cake in the artwork, I decided to find out a little more about the artist. British electronic production duo Chase & Status founded the independent record label, More Than Alot Records (MTA Records) in 2009 and 19 year-old British singer-songwriter was signed in 2013. At the age of 18, she covered Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.” This, alone, is what ElliIngramOfficial-590x339turned me into an Elli Ingram fan. It didn’t take long after that for me to find her website and immediately download her first project, the 6-track EP, Sober.

The entire project was produced by Felix Joseph and Rudi Redz, who were also behind her cover of “Poetic Justice.” I instantly fell in love with the title track, 3 minutes and 31 seconds of greatness, glossing over, ironically, how she is not in a sober state. “Mad Love” is remarkable, and Ingram delectably croons to the object of her desires on “Elliot.” The mood becomes much sexier on “High Love,” as Elli sings, “Hit me with another taste/We can go to outer space/Lay me down and rest on Mars/Together we can watch the stars”. The production on this track is strong, but it doesn’t overshadow Ingram’s singing ability. She perfectly dictates the flow of a song that I feel a number of other songstresses would have struggled on. Over the piano-backed “Fun,” Elli showcases her emotional vulnerability, and honestly, this is about as close as she gets to sounding like Adele. Yet, listeners should be able to easily tell that she is her own artist.

It’s entirely possible that Ingram created this entire EP while under the influence. It would certainly make sense. For someone who is all of 19 years of age, Ingram sings with a maturity not found in many artists twice her age. Yet, Ingram doesn’t appear to be tired, or worn down. She is seemingly in control even when it appears that she may have completely lost it. It’s refreshing to hear someone who is genuinely sensitive, and not just trying to appeal to a certain contingent. She ended Sober with her cover of “Poetic Justice,” just to let you know that, even though this was your introduction to her musical stylings, she ain’t your average rookie.

Stay sober, Ms. Ingram.