Surveying the New Chicago underground
Tosten Burks won signing day.
The most annoying part about Finally Rich, aside from “Laughing to the Bank,” was the Chicago hip-hop narrative it encouraged the blog mafia to settle for. Drill this, drill that. As if the only thing this generation listened to in their youth was Gucci Mane. As if there wasn’t a burgeoning new underground deeper and more inspired than the city has had in years.
The SaveMoney family is at the front of the movement. You know Chance. By his side are Martin $ky, Kami de Chukwu, Vic Spencer, Joey Purp, et. dozens others. There’s the 2008ighties crew. Stones Throw backed Julian Malone and the rest all lean similarly subterranean. Frank Leone is adventurous.
They’re collectively interesting because their taste is so left of Young Chop. More than that though, they take good inspiration and actually get inspired by it. It’s the difference between being influenced by your influences or just aping them, between carving out a modern era as opposed to just a Pro one.
The nature of their taste is important. Jean Deaux feels post-Shabazz. Vic Mensa’s more extreme whims are rooted in local blues. Nico Segal of Kids These Days is carving the type of niche the Roots might if they understood what the internet was actually listening to, if Okayplayer’s second highest rated album currently wasn’t “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.”
The Doom thing also continues to pop up. $ky takes verse structure cues from the super villain. Someone like Kami de Chukwu – picking and choosing from whatever compelling beat scene he wants to engage in at the moment – couldn’t exist without Dumile’s precedent of following good musical instinct wherever it takes you. Chukwu’s been known to spit on Jonwayne and Nosaj Thing. The internet’s proving to do more than just shade in people’s historical artistic framework, it’s connecting contemporary progressives.
Which is really the point of this presentation. Chicago as an entity has been out of the national conversation for so long that we overlook how intricately woven it’s development has nonetheless been with other regions. It’s produced a rising generation of eclectics, a scene as layered and diverse as any young scene in the country. How long the city’s time back in the spotlight will last is up for debate. What’s not is how wide and riveting its offerings are, independent of that question.