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Elbo Room (map)
2871 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-5549

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DJ Kool Herc, Craze

Fri., May 22, 10 p.m.
The Mid (map)
306 N. Halsted
West Loop/Fulton Market
phone 312-265-3990

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Wire (map)
6815 W. Roosevelt
Berwyn

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Lex Luger, Styles & Complete, Kyral, Banko, Free Pizzv, Kromuh, Foxhound, Lux Johnson

Sat., May 23, 9 p.m.

No producer has held hip-hop in his hands quite like Lex Luger (aka Lexus Lewis) did at the onset of the 2010s. Armed with a laptop and a copy of digital-studio program Fruity Loops, the Virginia beat maker helped make trap a pop phenomenon, in the process injecting hip-hop with the kind of fast-acting muscle-building supplements that late-night telemarketers can only dream of selling. Luger’s hulking, swirling instrumentals provided the perfect platform for the larger-than-life personas of Waka Flocka Flame and Rick Ross—former Reader critic Miles Raymer poignantly describes one of Luger’s production trademarks as “power-up noises from a video game,” and it gives his tracks an extra shot of bombast every time it pops up. After getting tapped by Kanye West for the 2010 opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and then coproducing one of the better tracks from West and Jay Z’s Watch the Throne (“H.A.M.”), Luger commanded space in megastar Rolodexes. Now no longer the “It” producer—Chicago’s Young Chop came into view with drill in 2012, and LA ratchet master DJ Mustard had a grip on the Billboard 200 last year—Luger is still hustling and still evolving. On his recent collaborative mixtape with Alabama rapper King Kuma, Gas-o-Holic 2, he tosses down percussion hailstorms and thundering synth stabs, and he molds big production to fit the mood—sinister, grandiose, and in the case of “Bubba,” a little romantic. Even when the MC’s flow fails to spark, Luger can keep a track moving forward on his own. And when the pair do click, as they do on “Loft,” he manages to make something as seemingly innocuous as wall decorations in a new loft seem giant. —Leor Galil $20, $15 in advance

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The Abbey (map)
3420 W. Grace St.
Irving Park
phone 773-463-5808
Lex Luger, Styles & Complete, Kyral, Banko, Free Pizzv, Kromuh, Foxhound, Lux Johnson

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The Abbey (map)
3420 W. Grace St.
Irving Park
phone 773-463-5808

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Drake, Future

Fri., May 29, 7:30 p.m.

When Drake dropped If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (Cash Money) without warning in February, a lot of online chatter focused on whether to call it an album or mixtape. The Canadian MC called it a mixtape, but fans have always had to pay for it (initially they had to buy it through iTunes), which breaks the cardinal rule for the form: Thou shalt always give away your mixtapes for free. I’ll let Drake have this one, though, because If You’re Reading This feels like a stopgap release, just like an old-school mixtape. It falls into a cruise-­control coma around the halfway mark, but not before Drake has proved himself a commanding presence on a handful of luxurious-­sounding tracks that glisten with the glamour of late-night shenanigans framed in black marble, chrome, and glass. Leave it to Drake to find new ways to spin obscene fame and excess into songs that can speak to those of us who will never have—or even want—a life like his. His Auto-Tune-flecked vocals on “Legend” expertly reconcile somber reflection and triumphant celebration: “If I die, I’m a legend,” he sings, and for a moment he seems to see his own untimely demise as a hypothetical extension of the machinery of celebrity that’s carried him this far. —Leor Galil $39-$129

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United Center (map)
1901 W. Madison St.
United Center
phone 312-455-4500
Drake, Future

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Lincoln Hall (map)
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-525-2501

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House of Blues (map)
329 N. Dearborn St.
River North
phone 312-923-2000

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