There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years here locally of a sort of ‘hip-hop renaissance’ that has taken place in Chicago. As one act after the next finds success on a national scale, it’s hard to argue that sentiment. From Chief Keef to Chance The Rapper to Vic Mensa, the acts that have come from here have paced the scene on both a national and international scale. But a scene isn’t made by only those at the top. To be a true scene, many aspects have to exist, many players have to take part, and in Chicago that is as true as it’s ever been. While everyone may be attracted to the story of a 20-year-old who tours the world on the strength of a free album release, stories abound locally and one in particular worth telling is that of underground veteran Rich Jones who is currently preparing for his Pigeons and Waffles release for which we are premiering the lead single, “Lies, Lies, Lies” ft. ADad with production by Montana Macks.
“Long story short, at some point I figured I’d try my hand at it and have spent well over a decade now cutting records and having fun,” Jones said. “On my best day I’m a font of knowledge for aspiring artists, a vocal advocate for the creative peoples and endeavors I support, and most importantly a bridge between people and places that aren’t familiar with one another but should be.”
No one plays more shows than Rich Jones. At 27, he has seemingly seen and done it all. A native Chicagoan, he began rapping at a young age and found his passion for the art form almost immediately. A typical day sees Jones crisscrossing the city from his side job hustling sausages on a food truck to studio sessions and shows all over town. A typical month sees him play on average five to six sets, give or take. A member of the Second City Citizens trio, Jones hosts a monthly show at Tonic Room and underlines that with additional sets opening for friends or headlining local venues.
Pigeons & Waffles represents a renewed vigor from Jones, who is coming off a spirited and well-received release, LoveJones with producer Krush Love and, as he says it “there’s plenty in the tank.”
“Pigeons & Waffles has existed as a playlist in my iTunes since 2011,” said Jones. “Due to other projects and life shit, I was having trouble seeing how I could finish it in a way that would satisfy both Montana Macks and I. As fate would have it, I took a long hard look at what music I had in the archives at the beginning of the year and thought, ‘Fuck, I really like these songs. This needs to get done’ If not now when ya know?”
The lead single, “Lies, Lies, Lies” featuring ADad is a welcome entry point to the project as a whole. The smooth, understated tones sit well with the creeping warmth of Spring and Jones is right at home over the easy instrumentation while handling himself impressively over a variety of rhyme schemes. He also flexes here on the vocal side of things, giving a peek into future releases by handling the hook ahead of ADad’s inspired bars.
For an artist that truly embodies the hustle of Chicago from the ground up, Rich Jones is comfortable with what’s on the horizon and excited to start unloading some of the music he’s had locked up. It’s the kind of ease that comes with knowing the right moves and understanding how to make them and Pigeons & Waffles looks to be a continuance of a local act breaking through.
“I think the most frustrating thing I dealt with early on was being ambitious with what I wanted to create but lacking the ability to carry out that vision properly. I do miss the default mentality of creating something without any expectation of where it might go or lead to, something I have to remind myself to keep in mind now that I have a catalogue, done shows, etc,” said Jones. “Losing yourself in whatever you’re doing is one of the greatest possible feelings in the world. It may even test the limits of your very sanity! But if you’re doing it right, it’ll all turn out alright in the end.”