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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Meet Kidd Kenn, Chicago’s hottest openly gay 15-year-old rapper

Posted By on 08.07.18 at 06:00 AM

"It's a faggot party baby, you cannot get in." - MATT HARVEY
  • Matt Harvey
  • "It's a faggot party baby, you cannot get in."

When 15-year-old Dontrell showed up at the Reader's offices for an interview, he was fresh off a delayed return flight after his first trip to New York. He's better known as Kidd Kenn, Chicago's most popular openly gay male rapper, and he was exhausted—his whirlwind trip east had included a meeting with Def Jam and a music-video shoot. 

"We were there for one day," said his manager and family friend, Sharron Beverly of Family First Music Group. (She asked that we not use Kidd's real last name.) "We had the meeting with Def Jam, and then we had to shoot a video for Kidd's new song."

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saba confronted grief and found joy in his Pitchfork set

Posted By on 07.21.18 at 11:18 AM

Saba performs on Pitchfork’s Red Stage on Friday afternoon. - TIM NAGLE
  • Tim Nagle
  • Saba performs on Pitchfork’s Red Stage on Friday afternoon.

Saba
is one of Chicago's best current musical exports. He's spent most of April and May touring the U.S. and Canada in support of the alternately scalding and beautiful Care for Me, and his late-afternoon Red Stage set on Friday at Pitchfork was his first hometown show of the year. The emotional epicenter of that self-released album, which came out in April, is "Prom/King," a vivid, even-handed recounting of the 24-year-old rapper's friendship with his murdered cousin, Walter Long Jr. They didn't always get along growing up, as Saba acknowledges in the song, but their friendship crystalized after Long offered to find his cousin a prom date. In 2012 they helped found west-side rap collective Pivot Gang, and Long took on the name John Walt for his music. It seemed like everywhere Saba went, Walt was by his side. They weren't just family who made music together—they'd become best friends.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chance the Rapper owns Chicagoist—now what?

Posted By on 07.19.18 at 01:11 PM

Honestly, if you live here, you should know who this is by now. - JACK PLUNKETT / AP
  • Jack Plunkett / AP
  • Honestly, if you live here, you should know who this is by now.

A young black Chicago philanthropist has purchased a dormant local news site. But because that philanthropist is Chance the Rapper, and because he made the announcement in "I Might Need Security" (the best of the four new songs he dropped last night), the good news comes with an asterisk. What good news doesn't?

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Chicago’s footwork community takes center stage at the MCA

Posted By on 07.06.18 at 03:59 PM

KIAM MARCELO JUNIO
  • Kiam Marcelo Junio

The Era footwork crew are no stranger to art galleries: they've worked with High Concept Labs in Pilsen as part of a 2014 residency and in 2016 curated a photography show at Columbia College's Hokin Gallery. But last Saturday's "Prime Time: F00TW3RK" event at the Museum of Contemporary Art was different. It was their first full-scale museum takeover.

The MCA has incorporated elements of footwork into past events—most notably, it featured RP Boo in a 2016 installment of its Prime Time series—but the museum hadn't really engaged with the local DJ and dance movements until this event. "It's about time," says Jamal "Litebulb" Oliver, a founder of the Era. "And it brings some questions up, like, why hasn't this happened already?"

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Is Logan Square's graffiti permission wall in danger?

Posted By on 06.14.18 at 12:09 PM

The Project Logan permission wall, with an ominous sign - LEOR GALIL
  • Leor Galil
  • The Project Logan permission wall, with an ominous sign

Since 2011, Chicago graffiti artist and hip-hop documentarian Flash ABC has overseen Project Logan, a four-sided permission wall that encircles a 3,300-square-foot plot of land between Fullerton and Medill Avenues just west of Milwaukee Avenue. Over the past five years, Flash has helped hundreds of artists showcase their graffiti skills and provided Logan Square with a flood of public artwork. Project Logan's walls have paid tribute to fallen hip-hop heroes, from Steff Skills's mural honoring Tribe Called Quest MC Phife Dawg to Dream and Werm One's recent homage to local underground rapper Mic One. Two of Project Logan's four walls face the elevated Blue Line train tracks that bisect Logan Square, so commuters and tourists are likely to get a look at the art as they pass by. "I know that 80,000 people see it weekly," Flash says. "We've done a lot there."

But Project Logan's future may be in doubt. Part of the land the permission wall sits on is part of a 9,500-square-foot parcel of land that quietly went up for sale in April; EHomes Realty listed the property at 2936-2940 W. Medill for $2.1 million. Flash hopes the high price for the land buys Project Logan some time, but he'd seen the writing on the wall. "I knew, ever since I saw the [condo] tower go up in Logan Square—on Milwaukee and California—that the neighborhood is going through a radical change," Flash says.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Poet and rapper Tati wants to help you make your own love potion

Posted By on 06.12.18 at 06:00 AM

Tati performing her song "Better" at Young Chicago Authors' WordPlay open mike - MELVYN WINDMON
  • Melvyn Windmon
  • Tati performing her song "Better" at Young Chicago Authors' WordPlay open mike

On Saturday, June 16, at the Museum of Contemporary Art's 21Minus event, 20-year-old North side poet and rapper Tati debuts her first performance-art piece, Luvpotion—the result of a year's worth of emotional trauma, self-care, and spiritual growth. She's been writing raps (and rapping for her friends) since elementary school, but her first public performance as a rapper was only about a year and a half ago—part a rapid transformation during which she's brought several of her private artistic pursuits onto public stages.

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Vlogger ZackTV devoted his life to making Chicago’s fractious rap scene into one community

Posted By on 06.04.18 at 07:26 PM

Zack Stoner, aka ZackTV - IMAGE VIA ZACK STONER'S FACEBOOK
  • Image via Zack Stoner's Facebook
  • Zack Stoner, aka ZackTV

Zack Stoner dedicated his life to documenting parts of Chicago that few outsiders with video cameras ever bother to visit. He uploaded his interviews to YouTube as ZackTV, so you could call him a vlogger—his channel, ZackTV1, has more than 175,000 subscribers. You could call him a journalist too, because he did tremendous work capturing local artists in their elements, sometimes before anyone outside Chicago knew who they were—Chief Keef, 600 Breezy, Rico Recklezz, Queen Key, FBG Duck. But neither "journalist" nor "vlogger" adequately describes him. He pursued his work with an activist zeal that bordered on the missionary.

Stoner was about support and healing, not just reportage—he gave voice to Chicagoans who had none, quashed beefs between artists and cliques, and strove to create positive change in resource-deprived communities burdened by a history of systemic racism. It's impossible to count how many people he touched with his work, but after he was shot dead at age 30 on Wednesday morning in the South Loop, it seemed like all of Chicago began grieving. "It's a dark cloud over the city," says rapper and G Herbo manager Mikkey Halsted.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

It’s important to react as quickly as possible to Kanye West’s new Ye

Posted By on 06.01.18 at 10:58 AM

Kanye West in 2016 - CHRIS PIZZELLO / AP
  • Chris Pizzello / AP
  • Kanye West in 2016

Asking anyone for a thoughtful review of Kanye West's Ye, which came out this morning, is like asking Kanye for the key that will fix all the damage the U.S. is doing to itself and the rest of the world. If you've somehow made it till this year still imagining Kanye as some sort of savior, he should've disabused you of that since April: despite the American right's overt hostility to people of color, he's put on a MAGA hat, cozied up to bigot in chief Trump, and come out as a fan of right-wing commentator Candace Owens. I won't pretend to know exactly what's going on with Kanye, and the vulnerability he's already displayed in his music convinced me years ago that he's just a regular human. Nor will I pretend to know everything about Ye less than 12 hours after he flew a crop of journalists to Wyoming for a celebrity-stacked outdoor listening party in Jackson Hole.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Black Pegasus just dropped two unreleased early Common cuts—and you can only hear them on vinyl

Posted By on 04.26.18 at 06:00 AM

The Black Pegasus release includes two songs from the sessions for Common’s 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?
  • The Black Pegasus release includes two songs from the sessions for Common’s 1992 debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?

Brooklyn label Nature Sounds reissued Common's 1992 debut album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, for this year's Record Store Day, but last week's most intriguing new Common release came out on an entirely different label and isn't in brick-and-mortar stores at all yet. Last Wednesday, local DJ and record collector Marc Davis announced that his microlabel Black Pegasus was putting out a seven-inch of two previously unissued recordings from Common's Can I Borrow a Dollar? sessions: "U.A.C. Freestyle" and an alternate take of album cut "Charms Alarm."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How and why did G Herbo’s show at the Vic get canceled?

Posted By on 04.18.18 at 03:02 PM

G Herbo - BRYAN LAMB
  • Bryan Lamb
  • G Herbo

Promoter Peter Jideonwo of Pete's House says that on Friday night, when G Herbo was supposed to headline the Vic, the Chicago rapper had planned to present Chance the Rapper's nonprofit Social Works with a check for $20,000. But earlier this week the venue canceled the performance, which Jideonwo had booked, after the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection contacted Jam Productions (owners of the Vic) and expressed concerns about "safety."

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