Chicago has long been known for being the hometown of many a great MC and producer. Chi-town has hailed greats such as conscious legends Common and Lupe Fiasco, the ever gleeful and humble Kanye West, and the tongue-tying tzar Twista. Even so, the urban music mecca continues to be a breeding ground for immense talent. Here’s as list of 10 of MC’s and singers who continue to carry the torch of Chicago’s repository of artistry.
10. Vic Mensa
Rapper, Producer, Singer, Vic Mensa has been lauded for his lyrical versatility. His breakthrough mixtape Innanetape was met with critical acclaim and featured many guest appearances by fellow Chicago MC’s. His musical style is both electronic and soulful and his flow meshes with his music brilliantly.
9. Jean Deaux
Jean Deaux is a vocalist with a captivating, ethereal quality to her voice. Her atmospheric music is a trip to listen to. Her style is R&B and neo-soul and her smooth voice matches to suit.
8. Mike Golden
Mike Golden was originally from Indiana but moved to Chicago to push his music career. After dropping out of school to pursue music full-time, he slowly became a forced to be reckoned with within the Chicago mecca. Known for his powerful, belting voice and guitar skills, this singer-songwriter has made a name for himself and continues to grow. His newest project Golden has no release date yet but fans are waiting with bated breath.
7. Eryn Allen Kane
It’s hard to explain just how amazing her vocal ability is. With a blessing and a song feature from the late, great Prince himself, Eryn Allen Kane is a vocal powerhouse of soul. Her two EP releases thus far, Aviary Pt. 1 and Aviary Pt. 2, have both been met with critical acclaim. Her frequent collaborations with producer Donnie Trumpet and Chance the Rapper have cemented her as one of the most soulful, go-to artists in Chicago. And well, if Prince loves you, you gotta be good right?
6. Mick Jenkins
Socially concious rapper Mick Jenkins tackles the more tabboo ideas. His first mixtape Trees and Truths featured acid-jazz production and bibical allegories. This put Mick into the spotlight where he’s continued to shine since. His second mixtape The Water[s] metaphorically compared water to life’s truths. His stunning ability to convey his message and his use of metaphors in tackling serious underlying topics is what sets him apart.
5. Liv Free
Liv Free is a very new artist to the scene. She currently has 3 Soundcloud releases and they showcase her lyrical abilities and flow. Definitely worth looking out for on the come up.
4. BJ The Chicago Kid
Bryan James Sledge, or BJ The Chicago Kid, is an R&B singer who’s been making steady pace in his way up the game for some years now. He’s known for his frequent collaborations with Top Dawg Entertainment rappers such as Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar and has matched his talent to that of his peers. After getting his breakthrough on Kanye West’s “Impossible”, the Chicago Kid has been laying down his vocals on many a high production and continues to be a rising star.
There’s a lot to be said about the talented rapper/producer Saba. His beats have made appearances on the mixtapes of many of the peope on this list and his own mixtape ComfortZone lyrically delves into the struggles of Chicago lifestyle as well and showcases both his ability as a producer and a rapper.
NoName (Originally NoName Gypsy) was originally a slam poet/spoken word artist who got a buzz from her powerful performances at open mics. After deciding to try her hand at rapping, she quickly became one of the more sought after rappers in the city. With no official EP’s or mixtapes released, she comes in and drops her poetic bars on a single and leaves again, constantly leaving us wanting more. Her debut mixtape #Telefone has been rumored for years and here’s to hoping it actually comes out.
1. Chance The Rapper
Don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming. No list on Chicago music would be complete without the incomparable Chance The Rapper. His music is the epitome of “feel good”. And in addition, having kept very strong ties with the musician fraternity, his frequent collabs with seemingly all of Chicago make for an explosion of talent. His tireless work ethic has given us amazing music consistently. He’s arguably the biggest name in Chicago’s independent rap scene and it’s easy to see why. Without signing to any major label, he’s released 3 mixtapes to critical acclaim and launched himself into international success.