The work of these two Chicago rap veterans—MC Qwel, who cofounded Typical Cats, and producer Maker—recalls the playful, rubbery wordplay and slightly dilated soul samples of golden-age hip-hop as well as the spitfire rapping and aggressive beats of the aughties underground. Qwel and Maker
have found a happy medium between the two styles, and on their fourth album together, the brand-new Beautiful Raw
(Galapagos4), they absolutely own that sound—it’s a big territory too, encompassing gnarly boom-bap, thoughtful party anthems, and heartfelt almost-neosoul. On “Long Walkers,”
Qwel’s fast-paced alliterative rhymes play off his springy flow like a Super Ball launched into a moon bounce while an acid-streaked guitar solo blares away. Beautiful Raw
isn’t just Qwel’s show, though, and on “Lake Effect” Maker finds the perfect combination of sparse drums, dainty wah-wah guitars, and melancholy, occasionally warped vocal samples to match his partner’s dreary tale of outcasts scraping by during a Chicago winter so bleak that the sun feels like a barely remembered dream. —Leor Galil Qwazaar & Batsauce, Lady Daisey, Psalm One, Big Once, and the Whoevers open.