Imagine performing as a solo hip-hop artist, relying on nothing but vocals and backing tracks, when suddenly the show promoter announces the backing tracks have failed. At this point, there’s two options: walk on the show or recruit musicians from the night’s bill to back the performance.
Nearly six years ago when this situation happened to emcee Dhan Dee, he choose the latter; opting to share the stage with guitarist Chad Wynes and drummer Kyle Voivodas. Artistically, Dee had nothing in common with Wynes’ and Voivodas’ band. Dhan Dee was a poet, rapper and lyrist. Waynes and Voivodas were folk rock instrumentalist. Having never met or rehearsed, the three musicians took advantage of the serendipitous moment, having no idea it would lead to the creation of one of Chicago’s leading genre-mashing projects; Chicago Loud 9.
Nothing fits quite as nicely as hip-hop and jazz. The two genres may not be a typical mashup, but the Chicago duo Bonelang definitely makes it work it on their newest EP Venn Diagrams (Pt. 1). With careful layering of emotional vocals over smooth instrumentals, Bonelang has put together a truly unique piece of art. The music stands out on its own, but it’s not what makes Matt Bones and Sammy Language artists. They’ve collaborated on a complete body of work which includes 12 tracks split between two releases, a four-volume short film series entitled Venn Diaries, two music videos, multiple 3-dimensional installations, an art book and a photo series. Each piece is being released in its own time, creating a true experience for fans as they explore the minds of Bonelang.
The EP opens with Bonelang’s first single “Mushroom Moon”; a creatively arranged piece pairing jazzy instrumentals with heavy beats and poetic lyrics. From the first downbeat, the vocals are strong building with emotion until the lines “I like my city dirty and I like my thoughts deep/I like the sky scrapped and I like the concrete,” are belted out. These lyrics repeat throughout the song, always the same and always different. They become a bit of a mantra as a round breaks out with “I know you wish that someone could be on your side but I’m hopelessly addicted to my own brain child oh/What am I to do if I can’t have you?” There’s a great deal of buildup as the music fills with static and distortion before abruptly coming to an end; like the white noise on like a television before suddenly being turned off to a silent room.
Four local bands came together on Thursday, December 15th at Subterranean for the release of Anti/Beyond’s first full-length self-titled album. The brutally cold night was filled with a diverse group of artists exploring various genres ranging from synth pop to hip-hop.
The night opened with the debut performance of the duo Fever Queen made up of Eleanor Rose and Adam Wayne. Their psychedelic rock sound was composed by a blend of bass, keys, guitar and vocals. While Rose’s harsh vocals were definitely on point with feminine grunge, there was something about the live keys that added a bit of 80s pop to the tunes (along with their all white getup). For a first time performance, the band was musically well put together. A bit more work on stage presence and utilizing space and they’ll be sure to draw a loyal following in no time.
The sound of Chicago. That’s how vocalist and poet Mykele Deville describes his music. Grounded in the DIY scene, the art is fueled by collaboration and sprinkled with thoughtful lyrics over the beats of friends and local artists. But it’s not just the musical implications that describe Deville’s music or the idea of Chicago’s sound. It’s the voices of protestors. The cries of outrage. The tunes of the streets. It’s everything that the city stands for, music and all.
With two full-length albums and a third before year’s end, Deville has explored many social and cultural issues from race to injustice and personal acceptance through poetically crafted songs and poems. Not only does Deville shine as a musician, he is also a successful poet and actor splitting time between continuous shows and his upcoming role in the U.S. premiere of Octagon by playwright Kristiana Rae Colón.
And that’s just the work of 2016.
Chicago based artist D-Win has broken his near year long silence with his latest concept EP Kubrick; exploring racism, police brutality and manipulative media. A collaborative effort with Chicago producer Tek X, Kubrick was created, according to a press release, to “enlighten and inspire those who are seeking a shift in the right direction”.
The EP opens with the title track, an introduction into mastermind Stanley Kubrick; a filmmaker most know for his controversial works such as A Clockwork Orange and Lolita. From this first track, the tone is set with a heavy bass backing the opening lyrics “I was being misguided so I decided I wasn’t going to be silent”.
The opening piece bleeds into “Walking on Water” with a continuous energy as D-Win unapologetically hits hard with his standpoint of media corruption and unjust toward minorities. Underlying the punch of his words is a theatrical choir of strings building into the chorus: “We smell smoke/ running through the fire/ really we should fall/ with every step/ flames all around me and I can’t see through/ but at the end of it all/ it’s like I’m walking on water.”