Chicago producer and bandleader Peter Cottontale blends hip-hop, gospel, neosoul, and R&B on his debut album | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Chicago producer and bandleader Peter Cottontale blends hip-hop, gospel, neosoul, and R&B on his debut album 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge Peter Cottontale

Peter Cottontale

Courtesy the Artist

A lot of theories about how Chicago hip-hop was supposed to operate have been shattered by the events of the past decade—the idea that only one local rapper in a generation could make it big, for instance, or the insistence that the city had a singular sound. While drill became the dominant underground wave, proving that young Chicago rappers and producers with few means or connections could build their own cottage industry outside the mainstream, a panoply of other artists showed how many dimensions the scene actually has: the Era devised “footworking with words,” DLow brought bopping’s euphoric sound to the Billboard Hot 100, and Supa Bwe mined the melodic aggression of screamo years before “Soundcloud rap” broke. At the same time, a loose web of producers laid the groundwork for a style that’s become emblematic of the city's “alternative hip-hop” community. Most notable among them is Peter Wilkins, better known as Peter Cottontale, whose nuanced blend of neosoul, gospel, R&B, and post-College Dropout hip-hop has enriched some of the best material from local breakout acts such as Jamila Woods, Vic Mensa, and Chance the Rapper. These days Wilkins is best known as bandleader of the Social Experiment, which formed to tour behind Chance the Rapper on Acid Rap in 2013, and he’s played such an important role in every Chance release since then that Chance brought him onstage at the 2017 Grammys for two of his three awards. For Wilkins’s debut album, Catch, he tapped into their growing network of friends and collaborators, including rapper Tobi Lou, R&B star Jeremih, and inimitable gospel star Kirk Franklin. (Catch also contains one of the first appearances by Towkio since the Chicago rapper was publicly accused of sexual assault in January 2019.) Wilkins recently told the Tribune that Catch is bathed in gospel’s uplifting spirit but doesn’t follow genre traditions, and that’s a fair self-assessment: he imbues his songs with R&B tenderness, pop moodiness, and a hint of neosoul sensuality to create atmospheres that feel divine.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Popular Stories