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.

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

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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:

Review: ‘July 9th: A Cancer Story,’ D2G

, It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, much less one for the work of Chicago hip-hop artist D2G. Not only do I enjoy the work that he releases, he seems to possess a certain work ethic that isn’t a part of the repertoire of many other artists, from my observations. Obviously, I await the release of music albums of all genres, all year. D2G’s July 9th: A Cancer Story was no different.

I hate pointless intros. I hate them with a fiery passion. I’m not sure who told music artists–especially rappers–that intros are necessary, but if that person exists, they misled them. Most times, it’s audio snippets or some crazed man screaming obscenities or the artist telling you how big of a chip is on their shoulder. Luckily, D2G’s “A Cancer Intro” gets right into the album, with him laying out what is part-mission statement/part-state of the rap union address. The reggae-tinged “I.R.A.N.” was produced by DC, and I’ve been playing it since I posted it on this page several weeks ago. “I Am Him” continues the swift pace, as D2G exclaims that he is “the shit.” Kudos to RelElite for the production.

Credit Doc Da Mindbenda with the production assist on “Drive Down The LS,” featuring Chicago vocalist Ben Official. This isn’t the typical D2G track, but I think the collab and sound worked very well. Continuing on with somewhat of an appeal to the ladies is “Agreement.” Finy the Genius provides vocal support and Maserati Myers’ production combines some elements of both modern and 90′s R&B. To validate my theory that when rap and hip-hop artist lean towards women at a certain point on an album or mixtape, they do it in threes, we get “The Search.” I actually really liked DC’s production on this track, but felt that a female voice was needed. Perhaps a female singer who also described her search as well would’ve complemented D2G’s tales a bit better.

Vic Spencer and Brian Fresco join the fray on “Not Sober,” and once again, DC is on production duty. Clearly, the subject matter of a song with this title will almost always be fairly light, but I still enjoyed the debauchery-filled lyrics of this one. Fresco’s verse got nastier as it went along, which is sometimes what happens when you’re last to bat.

“YNS” sounded a little too much like “The Search,” in terms of its overall tone, except the latter was smoother. If I read these lyrics before hearing the song, I would have expected something a bit grungier. Fortunately, D2g raps along with a beat better than most, so even on tracks that don’t seem to fit his style, he can “save” them by being fairly technically sound. One of my favorite performances on J9:ACS was by Chicago rapper Angel Davenport…and she didn’t even rap. However, her singing on the hook of “Hangover Syndrome” was extremely rhythmic along with B4 La$ers’ production, even though she has a somewhat unconventional sound. The emotional appeal on “If U Hear Me” is very strong, which is exactly what I expect from an artist of D2G’s caliber.

Producer R.A.D. and D2G rebound from “YNS” with the beautiful-sounding “Come On.” Chicago rapper Abstrak Mind contributes a very good verse, as he and D2G convey thoughts of how difficult it can be to just to make it to the finish line. “;” is officially my shit, and I think Vic Spencer should offer his services on hooks, if he can duplicate his effort from the track. O’Bonjour produced “;” and admittedly, the beat grew on me. “Hood Tales” were just that, but in typical D2G fashion, he took it a step further. With all due respect to the other vocalists on J9:ACS, they simply couldn’t match Alex Brittany on “Reoccurring Nightmares.” It’s her voice that I hoped to hear with each passing second, even though D2G’s lyrical effort was one of his best on the album. I’d argue that this was the best collaboration on the entire project.

J9:ACS ends with “A Cancer Outro,” and it’s appropriate that one of the first words D2G utters is “reflect,” since that is what he seems to do often, and very well. Every once in a while, I believe people should take self-inventory and reflect on things in the past that have contributed to their present and possibly, their future. Unfortunately, I’m unsure of the female vocalist in the background.

Knowing what went into this project is what makes it even better, in my opinion. To hear that an artist has been working on an album for nearly a decade is remarkable, and warrants much praise. Who knows if D2G is gaining traction in the Chicago hip-hop landscape. I, personally, don’t care. Politics dictate the flow of music. I think all any of us should hope for is that D2G continues to churn out good, meaningful music.

Late Entry: ‘July 9th: A Cancer Story,’ and Q&A with D2G

First, I’d like to begin this post by pointing out that, once again, this is a late entry. Sue me.

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If you’ve been bored and happened across my page any time during the last several months, you’ve noticed Chicago rap artist D2G on here a few times. Whether appearing on M.K.L.H. as a feature on a song, releasing one of his own, or ethering ears with one of his freestyles, the outspoken rapper has been slowly progressing towards what culminated on Tuesday, July 9th: July 9th: A Cancer Story. The long-awaited album was released on D2G’s birthday (happy belated, broski), actually, which is a treat in itself. Features on this project range from Vic Spencer to The Boy Illinois, and the production, from dope folks like DC and O’Bonjour, is definitely more than solid. I had the opportunity to get D2G’s take on a few things below:

Nigel Watson: When did you get the idea for this album? How?

D2G: I’ve had the idea for the album since about 7th grade when I seriously started rapping.It’s been an idea for me just as a means to explain who I am.

NW: How long did it take to finish the album?

D2G: When I tell you this project is a lifetime in the making, it’s exactly that. This project was supposed to come out about a good 13 July 9th’s ago. [LOL]

NW: Favorite track, production-wise?

D2G: Production wise…it’s gonna be cliche…but I can’t call it.

NW: Favorite track, feature-wise?

D2G: Feature wise…I can’t say. They ALL are some dopeness. They all give me that good feeling.

 NW: Song on the album most likely to get to you, emotionally?
D2G: The tracks that get to me emotionally are “If you Hear Me” and “Cancer Outro.” Reason being because that was my actual story being told on those tracks. Those are my struggles that I document on those songs. That was actually reality. I always say that I talk to people better through my songs. It’s just easier.

NW: If I were forced to compare you to a rap artist, it would be Havoc. I’ve always considered him a silent assassin. Would you agree?

D2G: Let me be the first to tell you, I’ve NEVER gotten that comparison before. [LMAO] And it’s only because that’s the most original comparison I’ve heard. I can actually agree in terms of the silent assassin part. I feel as though this project has just somewhat established my identity. Whereas before, you’ve heard my voice countless times, but you couldn’t quite pinpoint who I was. Unless you’re familiar with cats like Vic Spencer, JDP, Pavy, C.RICH, A.M. , Duke, Jon Content, Sulaiman and countless others….I’m not the first you’ll pick out of the crowd. I mean, you can hear me and say I’m dope, but it’s usually me not even appearing as though I CAN rap. You know what I mean?

NW: What’s it like working with people who support you and your craft?

D2G: It’s the best feeling in the world. I’ve been blessed with everybody around me that I work with to be all dope as hell. And to top it all off, I don’t just work with random strangers that just think I’m dope. I work with people I consider my family. Like, this is really a family affair; this music thing. So everything has the right vibe because it’s my “peoples” I’m creating with.

NW: I rock with starving artists. Just how hungry are you?

D2G: Brother man, brother man. To describe my hunger, you’d have to travel with me inside the belly of the beast. I reside there. I AM the hunger that resides in the beast’s belly.

NW: What’s next?

D2G: The only thing next for me is more work. I’m gonna try to push ‘J9ACS’ to the people as hard as I possibly can, while building a bigger catalog and more cameos for myself. By the time this year is out, you will know D2G.

NW: Who is D2G?

D2G: D2G is Anthony Ingram, Jr., understood better with rhythm. He is everything I can’t say when I try to speak. Most importantly, he is the underdog that lives in everyone. He just happens to be from the Southeast side of Chicago, Illinois.

NW: Describe this album in one word.

D2G: ME.

Well… There you have it.

https://soundcloud.com/d2gdagreat/sets/july-9th-a-cancer-story

Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ 3D album artwork: ALK;DJFLKAWJERIJAND;N2IOUWPEIO!

SO. EFFING. DOPE.

SO. EFFING. DOPE.

A friend of mine, who is nearly as big of a Joy Divison fan as I am, told me that someone would be doing some funky thing to the artwork of Joy Divison’s debut album’s cover. I paid it no mind, but after a quick visit to one of my favorite sites last week, I was absolutely astonished at what I found. Funky waveforms on the original were freaked by Michael Zollner, and the finished product was the picture above. Insane, no? Check it, check it out…

Album: ‘Free Hugs,’ Hologram Kizzie (bka Psalm One)

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I once won tickets to see Chicago rap artist Hologram Kizzie (or Psalm One at that time) and others perform at The Hideout, and the night culminated with me getting a sweaty hug from Psalm One herself. ‘Twas glorious, I tell you. Be jealous.

Besides all of that, Madame Kizzie released Free Hugs on May 28. This 7-track EP was produced entirely by Compound 7, a duo comprised of A Plus and Aagee. You had better believe that Kizzie leaves everything on the floor on Hugs, and how effing dope/clever is that artwork?! Head to her site, throw down some scratch for Free Hugs, and then give it a listen. Oh. You’re welcome.

Download: Free Hugs, Hologram Kizzie (Psalm One)

Album: ‘We’re Still Disappointed,’ Vic Spencer & Sulaiman

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About three years ago, Chicago rap artists Vic Spencer and Sulaiman teamed up to gift our ears with We’re Just Disappointed. Well, they’re still disappointed. The rappin’ ass duo released We’re Still Disappointed a few days ago, much to the delight of their fans. This album features production from Ikaz, Black Spade, Thelonious Martin and others. Also, there are no features. All you’ll get on this album is Vic and Sul, Sul and Vic. If you’re familiar with the theme of We’re Just Disappointed, then this project won’t catch you off guard. Head to their Bandcamp page, name your price, and download We’re Still Disappointed.

Download: We’re Still Disappointed (Album), Vic Spencer & Sulaiman

Ears, please: “Lyfe Change,” D2G X Young Diesel (Prod. by Cardo)

Anyone who knows me is aware that while I am a huge supporter of GoILL music as a whole, I am not afraid to voice my honest opinion about any artist (especially rap and hip-hop) who I feel is less than, mediocre, wack, flat out trash, et cetera. I personally know a few artists and will always be forthright when it comes to my views of their music. Some got it, some don’t. D2G falls into the former, and the silent assassin-like  rap artist just continues to grind his way to respectability not only among his peers in Chicago, but those nationwide as well. “Lyfe Change,” which features D2G and fellow “East Side” emcee Young Diesel, is the latest example of D2G’s hunger. The two artists haven’t released a collaborative effort since 2003, but this one does not disappoint. Serving as a little over 3-and-a-half minutes of reflection, “Lyfe Change” is one track that belongs in music libraries.

Download: “Lyfe Change,” D2G & Young Diesel (Prod. by Cardo)

“I.R.A.N.,” D2G (Prod. by DC)

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Chicago rap artist D2G emailed me the first single from his upcoming album, July 9th: A Cancer Story, and I felt inclined to share it with you. “I.R.A.N.” (Ign’ant Rappin’ Ass Nigga) was produced by DC, and you can certainly tell just by the sound of this track. Despite the title of this song, I can assure you that D2G is anything but “ign’ant.” One thing I enjoy about D2G’s flow is that he maintains a reasonable level of aggressiveness without coming off as a diminutive persona with something to prove, but without the means and ability to do so. With each release, more and more people are made aware of just how dope D2G is, and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.

Download: “I.R.A.N.,” D2G (Prod. by DC)