In this corner, weighing in at 234 square miles and armed to the brim with proverbial wit and pulsating cadences is the powerhouse of the Midwest’s spoken word scene: Chiiiiiiiiicagooooooo!
It has long since been acknowledged that Chicago steadily brews greatness in the form of new age rap over enchantingly rhythmic beats. Praised artists such as Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Chief Keef and Vic Mensa, to name a few, have managed to manipulate Chicago’s unforgiving class mobility to catapult themselves into the limelight. Understanding that success stories of such an elevated scale are conceivable among the ranks of the city’s artists, it begs a question: Which contender will be the next sensation?
At the end of a consultation with my good friend Jake Millan, an 18-year-old Chicago resident currently at the launch of his music management career, a couple notions became apparent. Primarily, Chicago continues to bloom with a unique cultural capital. Furthermore, there is never a lack of creative representatives willing to take hold of the rap reigns in order to point the spotlight on this capital.
Utilizing the knowledge acquired from Millan concerning Chicago’s rap underground, compiling a brief list of the up-and-coming individual and group performers on the brink of a breakthrough became a cake walk. Moreover, be warned that the work of these attributed artists may be too raunchy for the taste of some.
So, without further adieu, the remainder of this article will contain a list of these musicians of interest.
Jake Millan (on left) with Lucki Eck$. Photo courtesy of Millan.
The 197 movement is one that has recently been exposed to heightened popularity credited to its front man Lucki Eck$.
Eck$ considers himself a very superstitious man, hence the name, and departed some revised wisdom to Millan after a stroll through his West Side neighborhood.
“You know the saying step on a crack break your mommas back? Well, out here it’s step on a crack get shot at later,” said Eck$ perfectly encapsulating the trials and tribulations the average Chicagoan may face on a day to day basis.
Eck$ sagacity can correspondingly be heard flowing through his musical vibrancy which grants insight into the hard terrain that 197 and similar artists have to combat to achieve their desired respect.
Despite the aforementioned difficulties Eck$ faces, he manages to reflect a positive perspective while still delving into the finer things of life: sex, drugs and money. For a more in depth illustration of this inimitable approach to rap, listen to Lucki Eck$ self aware “Love It.”
$ike (on left) with Millan. Photo courtesy of Millan.
$ike, another avid contributor to the 197 movement may follow in Lucki Eck$ footsteps. Nevertheless, $ike is capable of delivering his own powerful sermons through an array of styles all while exuding confidence.
He is arguably the runner up to 197’s throne and shows many promising features that, if brandished correctly, will carry him far in the music industry. To catch a glimpse of $ike’s harmonic preaching check out his theatrical refrain “Tesla.”
Composed by members Carl, 19, Supa Bwe, 25, and Mulatto Beats, 20, Hurt Everybody prefers to flaunt “malicious” personas on stage whose energetic tracks pack a violent punch to the audience’s eardrums.
Yet, off-stage, these guys have a reputation of being some of the more kind-hearted, genuine people Chicago has to offer; which explains why their adopted brawny personas are often transparent. It is safe to say that at times their name precedes them…at times.
Hurt Everybody has amassed plenty of attention lately and they have found that their rise to fame has arrived in the company of its share of envious cretins. These low-lifers are not afraid to hurdle racial slurs at the affiliates of Hurt Everybody whose response is usually to physically retaliate.
As witnessed on occasion by Millan, Supa Bwe has dropped his mic to allow his fists to do the talking.
This instance of artists defending their urbanity at all costs sheds light on the solidarity of cultural capital in Chicago and the robust ties this capital has to these rapper’s musical attributes. Additionally, proving that Hurt Everybody can remain so humbled while backing their bark up with their bite is just another reason why they deserve this growth in recognition.
To instil a burst of adrenaline, listen to Hurt Everybody’s rabid “2k47.”
Lux Money Gang
Lux Money Gang (LMG), originating from the South Side of Chicago, consists of two young entertainers who consistently lambast their competitors and have also bestowed upon me a night of ethnic involvement I will not soon forget.
Mid summer of 2015, I was privileged with attending an art and fashion show in downtown Chicago. The small venue was packed wall to wall with an eager audience (the majority of which were Kenwood High students and family) awaiting the debut of amateur clothing lines between swift sets executed by slam poets, rappers and vocalists.
From left to right: Iggy, Millan and OT. Photo courtesy of Millan.
This social expedition was paramount to me on account of, for the first time in my life, converting to the racial minority. In junction to this excitement of novelty, I was enthralled to observe first hand how amidst performers OT and Iggy, the partners who make up LMG, were able to stand out and captivate the room.
LMG is a group where passion fuels their ambition, as opposed to money or fame. When they get up in front of an audience and belt out a couple well-rounded stanzas, it is so blatant that they are loving every second that they get to share their gift of music with a crowd.
That being said, as they continue to cascade fans with a barrage of new music releases, it is evident that money and fame will be abundant between OT and Iggy.
While it wont go so far as to immerse you in the culture shock I felt, any one of LMG’s published songs will be sure to get you on the bandwagon. Check out their SoundCloud.
So, if these artists are collecting all this notoriety, why are they considered unsung?
These entertainers have gathered a more than decent fan base in Chicago, but outside of the city’s borders finding someone who knows their names would be a hard-pressing task despite their deserving talent. Undeniable is the impact that these figures can inflict on us through melodic revelations and, foreign to most, Chicago acumen; for instance, heeding Lucki Eck$ lesson, Millan still avoids cracks in the pavement to this day.
I encourage you to spread the work of these men who have poured their heart and soul into making every track a succulent masterpiece for their devotees, and to always be aware of the local talent whether it is here in East Lansing or wherever you call home. We can only hope these artists are on the verge of earning their homage.