I haven’t been good about using Tumblr lately (catch me hanging out on Twitter instead!), and I assume all the diehard Kyle Kramer fans have seen these already, but in the interest of cataloging my recent exploits/preserving some pixels for posterity/broadening my readership(?), here are links, with tantalizing excerpts to draw you in, of things I’ve written in the past few weeks:
This song is about a challenge that all dudes have dealt with at some point or another. It’s one of those situations that is just really difficult. Like, really, really…hard. There are those who accused the acting in the video as wooden. Others who felt the lyrics were a little stiff (is it really necessary to clarify the phrase “The way that you shake it on me/Makes me want you so bad” with the adverb “sexually?”). But one thing about “Too Close” is that it got a lot of people excited, to the point that the number one song in the country AT THE HEIGHT OF THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT SCANDAL was about getting a boner. We should erect a monument in its honor.
The city’s rap scene is the most vibrant and exciting it’s been in recent memory — perhaps ever — right now, a fact underscored by both the diversity of the night’s bill and the deep catalogue of local singles played between acts. While a Chicago hip-hop show two years ago might have warmed the crowd up with national hits and a Twista song or two for the purists, Thursday’s playlist from DJ Victoriouz was heavy on tracks from artists like Chief Keef, King L and Lil Durk, all of whom have helped draw national attention to the city in recent months.
When young Danish punk band Iceage played the Empty Bottle for the first time two years ago, the show – a bloody, 20-minute thrash of an event – ended with singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt descending the stage and stumbling out through the crowd in a daze. It was a striking gesture and an emblematic moment: In a genre of stage dives and pure releases of energy, Iceage are a band that is just as often caught in a cathartic stagger as it is in a whirlwind of rage.
I have this theory that Chance is the first significant rapper to emerge who is entirely post-Kendrick. This is not exactly a notable distinction in of itself but what’s impressive is the Chicago rapper’s ability to wear that influence so loosely, not biting but carving it out into his own style - a less hinged and more melodic almost gospel infused whine.
It might be a jinx to the whole rap game to make this claim but it seems like the particular slipperiness and relative complexity of Kendrick’s flow(s) make him nearly impossible to bite directly. I mean he’s obviously a considerably more popular rapper than say ASAP Rocky, but you don’t see hoards of Kendrick-lite types out there like you do the aspiring rapper with a dollar sign in his twitter profile types running that god damn Lord Infamous flow fragment into the ground. Kids actually have to learn how to rap well if they want to rap exactly like Kendrick and in doing so they’ll probably also learn that rapping exactly like Kendrick is not the best idea. Chance’s Acid Rap is coming soon. It should be good.
The Music Vox 8/12/12 - RedEye’s Kyle Kramer on Chicago’s rising female rappers
By the way, I forgot to post this earlier, but I was on the radio last month talking about Chicago rap! Like, the real live radio that goes over the airwaves, not even my dumb podcast. I think I did pretty well, too, and this is kind of relevant re: other things people are discussing. So check it out!
Thanks to Jesse Menendez and Vocalo for having me.
Hey David Drake and I wrote, what I’m guessing in this final form, 1000+ words about Chief Keef, Chicago rap, coverage of Chicago rap, and all points in-between for Complex Magazine. So many hours were put in this, so take a few minutes to read if the topics interest you in the slightest. SLIGHTEST!
@KatieGotBandz - RedEye outtakes (Taken with Instagram)
I wrote an article about Katie Got Bandz and some other Chicago rappers that might be worth your attention:
Well, sort of—the career part was unexpected. Katie was serving jail time on a gun charge when the video for “I Need a Hitta” came out and became a YouTube hit among local youth, so it was a surprise for her to come home to a fan base. The sudden success, however, prompted her to keep making music.
“I ain’t want to be a one-hit wonder so I’m like. ‘Let me just keep going,’” she explained recently…
“Beef,” “Us” and “Haters” are already classics to me (“Haters” doesn’t make an appearance here, I’m guessing they’re saving that up for the album and, from what I understand, a Kells feature). Of the new stuff, “Traffic” stuck out to me the most; strong tape, better than SD’s although not quite at Durk’s level imo. Only ten tracks long, you should probably get it.
WE DON’T COUNT MONEY WE WEIGH IT.
More importantly, DJ Drama’s explanation of the “BandKamp” drop »>
There are features from Hell Rell and Freddie Gibbs and Johnny MayCash that are all good, too. More rappers should put out mixtapes that are only 36 minutes long.
Man, I could listen to Louie rap like this for hours. His voice is mesmerizing:
“I’m a young man with big bank
Need sharks for the fish tank
A new whip for the summer time
My gun name is a number nine
Got a lil hoe on the phone now
Bad bitch on the other line
The money calling me all the time
That’s why I text most of the time”
This has been a very good week for Chicago hip-hop. David mentioned the other day that the bar for him to repost something online has been raised, and I would agree, but I think it’s also luckily the case that almost everyone in Chicago is putting out better stuff than now than they were even a couple of months ago.
“Fuck you like a naughty Christian” is such a dope line that I can recommend this video just based on that. But there is also the fact that this song works really well as a song, the fact that Tink effortlessly handles several different flows, and the fact that this video makes her look incredibly cool (Chicago’s answer to Azealia Banks, hopefully?).
Tink is from the south suburb of Calumet City. She’s only 17, but she has one pretty fantastic R&B mixtape from earlier this year (admittedly with a few too many DJ Hustlenomics drops on it, but also with the amazing line “my heels are seven inches/Monday through Sunday/I’m walking to the bank as if I’m Tyra on that runway”), and she’s being managed by Lyrical Eyes, who has a very good track record in Chicago. I could see big things happening for her. Already since this video she dropped a solid freestyle on FakeShoreDrive, so keep your eyes open.
But start here because this is a great video. That’s DGainz on the beat, and also on the couch shredding the guitar, by the way.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Louie (excuse me, King L), signing to Epic and releasing the single for which his label name is an appropriate descriptor, “Val Venis,” here is the full transcript of my interview with Louie from my Chief Keef/DGainz/New Chicago story, up now at RedEye. This interview was particularly great because, unlike the last time I talked to Louie, I had a more focused set of questions prepared, and, more importantly, it was on 4/20. So let it be known that King Louie wished me a happy 420. I ended the talk by wishing him the same and telling him to “roll one up,” to which he responded “I already am.” Zoo Lou is, in fact, too cool.
Read the whole piece here. Yung Kyle Kramer doesn’t just cover Keef. He takes a look at the entire wave Chicago rap is riding right now through the eyes of cats like DGainz, SashaGoHard and others.
Hope you dig it.
I wrote about (almost) everyone in Chicago rap (and talked to most of them here), and, beyond the fact that I want you to read what I wrote, I recommend checking this out simply because it’s a fascinating story and a really great scene coming out of here right now.
If you follow rap music closely on the Internet/are from Chicago/fall at the confluence of those two communities you may have noticed that Chicago is having a bit of a street rap boom at the moment, propelled in particular by the artists King Louie and Chief Keef. There are a lot of interesting sub narratives in here — the role of mobile YouTube views in disseminating this music, the insularity of this scene to Chicago high schools, the weird appropriation that happens when a high school hobby turns into something the Fader set is chasing, the story of Chief Keef’s producer, DJ Kenn, who came to the US from Japan five years ago and somehow ended up producing hip-hop tracks for high schoolers on the South Side of Chicago, the proliferation of female rappers in this scene, etc. — but one thing worth stressing, I think, is that there are a lot of artists involved who are not really ready for widespread exposure or even interested in it. DGainz, the producer and videographer whose videos for Keef’s “Bang”, Louie’s “Money Dance”, and Shady’s “Go In” make him kind of the de facto scene spokesman, pointed out in an interview with FakeShoreDrive that “a lot of this stuff is just for fun” (probably something that anyone who likes music would do well to remember). The point being that I’m not sure it’s doing someone like Chief Keef a huge service to be insisting right now that he is ready for big time rap game (although, for better or for worse, he is about to arrive, via a collaborative mixtape with Soulja Boy). As happy as I am for the visibility Keef’s gotten, I’m still not a huge fan of anything he’s put out yet, and I find the aforementioned narratives more interesting than most of the actual music. I think Louie’s fantastic, and he definitely has the most support to break out at the moment, for what it’s worth.
But Lil Durk, who is also definitely making a go of it as far as having a career, may have just made the best actual song to come out of this scene so far. “L’s Anthem” has apparently been getting some radio play on WCGI and Power 92, and I can see it, by virtue of actually having a hook, becoming a legitimate hit, in Chicago at least. Durk seems just a little more developed stylistically than some of his peers, and he has an excellent pop instinct as well as a pretty concerted ambition. So this is me recommending “L’s Anthem”, and, by extension, Lil Durk himself, in case he has been less on your radar than Chief Keef or King Louie.