In a world where black bodies are too often undervalued and destroyed, Ethos is here to anthemically say, Black girls matter. You can listen to his full eight track project here. The project features a great deal of beautiful spoken-word-poetry set to celestial sounds and beats that feel emotive and important not only for Chicagoans but for the world at large.
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They’re not actually sleepy eyes; I’m just not high enough to be completely okay with promiscuity in a summer festival setting despite the aid of empathogens. And this song, with its cute horns and Odesza beats circa In Return, isn’t locking in because beyond the melodic summer vibes and faux-PLURness, it reminds me of how dependent I still am on other people for validation, how I still struggle with feelings of attachment, and how I still can’t reconcile with the unpredictability of the future. But sure, if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll open my eyes when I kiss you. Whatever makes you happy, dear.
Corona Electric Beach, a one-day popup beachside festival that’s touring the country this summer, hit Chicago’s North Avenue Beach on July 15th for a day of fun in the sun. Win and Woo, Borgeous, and Grandtheft each played hit-heavy sets suited for the sun-drenched, beer-guzzling patrons; a heady mix of trap filled the salty, boozy air as beach balls bounced around the crowd. While the Corona-loving masses got down on the sand, there were other activities happening at the fest as well: for the more athletically inclined (of which I am not), there was lots of beach volleyball, as well as a beach lounge space to gather up free swag. And of course, lots and lots of Corona. Check out the photos from the event below!
Mamby on the Beach, React Presents’ indie-leaning beach festival, faced the telling third-year test: while many buzzy festivals hit logistical bumps in their third go-round, Mamby passed with flying colors, even surpassing my own expectations that had been garnered by two solid years of fun. It seems that many Chicagoans had caught on as well; Oakwood Beach was noticeably busier than it was last year, especially on Saturday. Mamby’s crowds tend to be on the older side, as reflected in the lineup (Cut Copy and MGMT, aka blog staples of the mid to late aughts) and the plentiful number of bars.
Seriously, if all Chicago festivals could get their bar game to be more like Mamby’s, it’d be amazing. There was a large selection of alcohol, the bartenders were prompt and friendly, payment was quick and easy, and I discovered the joy of little single-serve glasses of wine stacked in a tower.
Also noted was React’s focus on reducing the environmental impact of the festival, which included forgoing print-out maps and schedules. While I appreciate the efforts to be more sustainable, I would have liked some sort of large poster of a map at the entrance of the festival that guests could take photos of. I didn’t realize that there wouldn’t be a physical copy of a map or schedule at the festival until I was inside, and with the speed of my mobile data on the grounds, downloading the Mamby On The Beach app was out of the question.
However, I mostly remembered the lay of the land from last year, and found a friend with a screenshot of the set times, so I was good (and resourceful). Musically, this was one of Mamby’s most diverse years; each stage had their own special vibe, but my favorite spot was the Mixmag Tent. MK’s set was magical, and not just because he is one of the most beautiful men in the entire universe and I sort of fell in love with him while watching his performance.
Other highlights included an actually interesting bass-house set from Tchami, Justin Martin’s dreamy brand of house, Lee Foss’s “I don’t give a fuck that it’s mid afternoon, I’m playing late-night German techno on a beach” style, and Green Velvet’s iconic performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of Relief Records.
The Beach Stage had some great acts as well, including the electro-pop group Marian Hill, as well as Miike Snow (my other new boyfriends). I hit the Park Stage when I needed a break from dancing, and caught snippets of BJ The Chicago Kid and Thundercat during my downtime. The Park Stage was a better stop later in the day, when there were more people in the crowd to absorb some of the sound; while the acts were awesome, the stage’s sound was a little on the loud side, depending on where I stood. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it made me realize that I should probably start wearing earplugs when I go to festivals if I’d like to hear past age 30.
After three ever-improving years, Mamby On The Beach has been cemented as a Chicago festival season staple, and I can’t wait to see how the fest continues to top itself.
What: React Presents’ one and only beach festival, Mamby On The Beach, is back for a third year. It’s one of Chicago’s more eclectic musical events, slotted right in between React’s EDM party Spring Awakening in early June, and Pitchfork’s namesake festival mid-July.
Who: You, if you’re 17 or older. As for artists, this year’s lineup is STACKED. House fans will be pleased with the Mixmag Tent lineup—Tchami and Green Velvet are headlining Saturday and Sunday, respectively. MK, Justin Martin, Miike Snow, Lee Foss, Sango, Todd Terje, and Thundercat are all high on my must-see list as well.
When: June 24th and 25th, 2017. Because it’s only on Saturday and Sunday, it’s an ideal festival for those traveling to Chicago (or working a 9-5 job)—the lack of lineup on Friday allows festgoers to travel into The Windy City without having to miss a part of the festival, and it allows suburbanites like me a chance to avoid weekend rush hour traffic.
Where: Oakwood Beach, which has a phenomenal view of the city’s skyline.
Why: Mamby’s lineup has consistently been the most interesting on the summer Midwestern festival roster, and its picturesque setting makes it one of the most beautiful too. Offering a little bit of indie, hip hop, house, techno, and lots of fun daytime activities like yoga and beach games, it’s my favorite summertime Chi festival by a longshot.
Buy passes for Mamby On The Beach at React Presents’ official festival website.
It can’t be easy being Smino. He first hailed from the St. Louis and moved to Chicago a few years ago to pursue a rap career in what was quickly becoming a hot bed for new music, especially rap and R&B. In almost no time at all, his Zero Fatigue crew started picking up some serious recognition, complete with a feature in Pitchfork’s rising artist series. Keep in mind, all of this hype surrounding his fresh career was based off only a few massive singles, a smattering of EPs, and a couple of feature verses like the one on Noname’s “Shadow Man”. With all of that pressure, it must have been tough to finally release a full-length LP, especially one that spans over 18 tracks and clocks in at just over one hour in length.
Smino turned all of this pressure into musical gems, creating one of the most exciting local record debuts in years. It will likely go down in the history books with projects such as Noname’s “Telefone”, Mick Jenkin’s “The Water[s]”, and Chance’s “Acid Rap” though he is a St. Louis rapper through-and-through. Smino completely exceeded the expectations of me and many other hack music journalists, it’s amazing. In creating a completely unique sound and then shaping, wielding, and progressing that signature drawl on every track, Smino and his team, have turned each song into a unique listening experience. With this nearly flawless LP, he has delivered an extremely cohesive debut project, despite the fact that each track sounds completely different. The album has great sense of movement, in the literary world it would be considered a page-turner.
The first thing to keep in mind about this record is that it is long. Although there is an overwhelming amount of content to digest, take note that every song is jam-packed with substance. Being that there is so much going on throughout this record, it is going to take even the most experienced listener at least several listens to fully appreciate everything going on here. Not unlike some of the current kings of rap, i.e. Kendrick Lamar, Smino has a way with words that truly astounds listeners. Most of the punchlines heard on these tracks are worth rewinding, as they actually push beyond the clever double entendre into many-layered realms of meaning.
Smino has an endless supply of delivery methods, excelling in sing-song formats and in sporadic stanza. Lyrically, the things he says are so nuanced, it’s easy to miss what he says because the non-lyrical aspect of the music is so well-crafted. The production on the record is so consistent to the point that each track flows into the next, creating a ephemeral atmosphere of positive energy behind his effective vocabulary. This is one of those records where it is more difficult to figure out its flaws than it is to point out what the artist did right.
On the final track “Amphetamine” is perhaps some of the strongest work on an already phenomenal record. It begins with Smino questioning his place in life and where his career is headed, it rapidly changes halfway through into a mean lyrical piece, featuring verses from Noname, Zero Fatigue member Bari, and Jean Deaux, all of whom compliment each other generously. This song is not only one of the most ebullient tracks on the project, but also the perfect way to close “blkswn”. It begins with a reflection of Smino’s identity and ends with him flexing with his friends, a beautiful dichotomy. It’s impossible to classify this song as a touch-n-go buddy rap track, or a deeper intellectual rap song—because that’s the thing about Smi, he covers all of the bases.
Chance The Rapper is once again in the headlines. This time for the premiere of his “Same Drugs” video off his last album Coloring Book. The unprecedentedly famous unsigned artist was announced as a Grammy performer last week. Chance tweeted to let his fans know that he tried live streaming the premiere of the video via Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat live but was rejected. Facebook however agreed to the idea and premiered it on their live platform. The video all together is very warm with a retro look and in the end we’re presented with some snow gently falling as Chance is seen leaving the stage only to reveal the video was shot by a crew of muppets. Check the video out for yourself above.
This EP kicks off with some great Kid Cudi-esque hooks over dance-able ear-worms. As you continue to listen the beat work becomes even more experimental, blurring many genres at once while 21 year old latino rapper Silver spits bars laced with a cold lack of affectation.
Mulatto has been busy at work and released two new tracks just last week. Basic is a dark, eery beat that reminds me of creepy toys in an old, dusty attic that you can’t imagine ever brought joy to children. Qari provides words with a flow that is similarly dissonant. The song is featured on 119 Productions’, Countdown to Midnight.
Art has always been reflective of the times, and many artists use a variety of mediums to spread a message they hope will positively influence the times.
Malcolm London is genuine and effortless in this facet. On Charlie, the first single off Opia, London uses excerpts from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator urging the world for humanity.
London’s words are honest and thought provoking, but the icing on the cake is the ending from Christian Jalon, whose words send a strong yet graceful message of revolution.
We’re gonna rise up/we’re gonna shut them down/and power to my people/Right on, right on
Coming off of his “Dead Again 3” mixtape, Supa Bwe comes through with some heat on his new song “Portage Theater”. With some help from his FIGHT ME co-mate Shepherd Hues on the production, Supa sending some shots at the venue hall in Portage Park. Supa Bwe recently had an altercation with the Portage Theater security as he was performing. Check out the diss track above.