SEARCH FOR: SABA

Smino: Still Building

Photo by Pooneh Ghana / Red Bull Content Pool On November 23rd, coordinated by Red Bull Music Festival, Smino played for a sold-out crowd at Thalia Hall in Chicago. A few days prior, he was nominated for his first Grammy Award in light of his contributions to the renowned Revenge of the Dreamers III. A few months before that, Smino offered a standout performance on Chance The Rapper’s highly-anticipated album, The Big Day. And before that, the St. Louis mainstay embarked on the 33-stop Hoopti Tour, directly after releasing his critically-acclaimed album, NOIR.  2019 has been busy for Smino. And tiring, probably. But on November 23rd, the wear and tear of a restless year, bounded by success, refused to be seen. Entering the stage with the same effortless cool that swept across his introductory album, blkswn, Smino won the night before it even started. The show was just a victory lap. You see, at one point in his life, Smino moved from St. Louis to Chicago without a dime. He slept on the floor of a cramped recording booth, convinced that at some point or another, Plan A would pay off. In front of an exhilarated Thalia Hall, I was …

What A Life – [MFnMelo]

Pivot Gang affiliate MFnMelo is back on our website for the second time in two weeks with his brand new track titled “What A Life”, and it’s the best song that I have listened to all day. MFnMelo is a superior artist in his own right when you examine his skill set, so when you see that he has his close homie Saba on the record with him you can’t help but image what it’s going to sound like, and even more so once you see that the great Monte Booker handled the beat, it’s literally a musical Big 3. Once I heard the gentle & soothing melody that Melo pieced together it put me into paradise, and once Saba jumped on the back end of this one with his great verse + made it that much better it quickly became one of my favorite songs I have heard this month. Stream this brand new song below and be sure to keep an eye out for Melo’s forthcoming project Everybody Eats that’s set to drop in the near future.

Flow Seats – [MFn Melo]

If you told me a year ago that Pivot Gang would be pretty much running the city of Chicago right now, I would probably believe you but still be a bit skeptical. Saba has always been one of my favorite artists to emerge from the city and I was nervous that he would possibly outshine some of the members in his crew. I’m not sure if this means that the rest of the collective steps up their game as to not get overlooked or if they’re just a powerhouse, but I’ll go with the latter. This is considering the fact that I’m beyond impressed time and time again by all of the solo music I hear from the different members of the group, and MFnMelo’s latest single “Flow Seats” is absolutely no different. Recruiting Monte Booker to produce a wavy beat that bounces and simply grooves was the first thing to notice about this song. Beyond that, Melo demonstrates his talent by changing styles and cadences for his verses, proving that he can run with, if not propel in front of, the rest of the major talents rising up in the city. I can’t wait to see what’s to come …

Hero – [Pivot Gang]

Chicago powerhouse group Pivot Gang impresses fans yet again with a super visual for their song “Hero” off of their fantastic album You Can’t Sit With Us. Opening up inside a comic book shop, two kids are looking for an issue of the latest Pivot Gang comic book. Once they have it in hand, they open it up and introduce the audience to a completely new world. Although Saba, FRSH Waters, and MFN Melo never actually leave the confines of an unknown condo somewhere, the animations within the video take them to completely different worlds all while giving them superhero personas of their own. Comic book themed lyrics float in the air next to the rappers at times, furthering the comic book ideation that the viewer is bound to form. In fact, the completely unique story told within the visual feels like you’re actually reading a graphic novel, with different frames that transition from one shot to another. Although in reality, it seems like the whole group is just hanging out, the subtext suggesting that everyone’s a superhero in their own way which is truly inspiring. To end the video, a Pivot Gang signal is flashed in the night sky …

Q&A: Kiraly Payne talks new EP, ‘PROTECT MT he(ART)’

With the release of his new EP, ‘PROTECT MY he(ART)’, coming later this month, Chicago-based artist Kiraly Payne will have initiated the next phase of his music career. The EP not only marks an evolution in the versatile rapper’s sound, but it also represents a shift in his overall mindset when it comes to the creative process, ceding his own ego and the notion of proving himself to anyone. Instead, he’s in pursuit of a greater goal, as he puts it, “to make the best music possible”. This next step for Kiraly has been motivated by his experiences in the Chicago hip-hop scene for the past few years. He only wants to see himself and his friends blow up, and doing that, he’s realized, requires the building of community and collaboration. Listen to Kiraly Payne’s new single “By My Side”, read about his forthcoming EP, and the Chicago hip-hop collective he’s starting in our latest interview below: Photos by @kayodidthat — MDR: Tell me a bit about where you’re from. KP: I’m from like Oak park, but we moved to Bolingbrook when I was six. Is there like a music scene there at all? I mean, yeah, but to be …

Häagen Dazs – [Ghetto Sage]

Last week, Noname, Saba, and Smino began teasing a collective release under the moniker Ghetto Sage. The prospect of this midwestern rap supergroup was enough to get any hip-hop fan excited, as the three’s past track record together has been nothing short of excellent. Today, the trio made their formal introduction as Ghetto Sage with a new single titled “Häagen Dazs”. The three versatile artists waste no time in getting to what listeners have been craving since last hearing from them, opting for a hard, straightforward comeback single that showcases the unique talent of each individual member. Smino kicks things off, holding down the hook and first verse with his signature buoyant flow, mischievously maneuvering with the beat as if his presence is weightless. Saba’s follow-up verse is short, sweet, and poignant, demonstrating that his precision for crafting never-before-heard rhyme schemes only continues to get sharper with time. Noname, who’s remained the most relatively low-key of the three artists since dropping ‘Room 25’ last year, enters the arena as a master of metaphors, able to contrast flowery eloquence with blunt truths, all while keeping her penchant for clever wordplay in pocket. Producer Vzn ties everything together, arming Ghetto Sage with …

No Vest – [Pivot Gang] ft. [Mick Jenkins]

Pivot Gang is a collective out of Chicago that feature some of the best rappers, creatives, DJ’s & producers that the city has to offer, and today they are back with their brand new music video for “No Vest” featuring Mick Jenkins. This record was off of their well-received project You Can’t Sit With Us that dropped earlier this year, and a number of fantastic videos came from that tape, this new release is yet another great one to add to the list. Pivot Gang is about to hit the road here pretty soon for their next tour, they might be in your city to keep your eyes peeled for that. Watch this brand new music video below and if you’re in Chicago around the end of November visit this website to purchase tickets for the third annual John Walt Day. Directed by Alexander Myung

Sacrifices – [EARTHGANG] [J. Cole] [Smino] [Saba]

Last month, J. Cole’s Dreamville label unleashed their star-studded compilation album, ‘Revenge of the Dreamers III’. The project came with no shortage of impressive bars and top-notch talent, and the closing track “Sacrifices” quickly became a fan-favorite with verses from Smino, Saba, EARTHGANG’s Johnny Venus, and Cole himself. Today, the track gets a new video to accompany it. As the crew takes turns spitting over an introspective beat, the camera follows them through an abandoned building. Every member shines in their own moment: Johnny Venus brings his animated energy to life, Smino does his iconically melodic style justice, Saba comes through with his superhuman lung capacity, and Cole comes in to close the track out effortlessly. Emotions no doubt run heavy on this track, and the video concludes with a dedication to Venus’ father who passed a year before this video was shot (Venus’ mother also makes an appearance). Watch EARTHGANG, J. Cole, Smino, and Saba wear their hearts on their sleeves and honor those who they have lost in the “Sacrifices” video below:

Highlights of Bonnaroo 2019

I have attended Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee three times now in the past five years and it has quickly grown into one of my favorite festival experiences! The first time that I attended Bonnaroo (2014) I had just turned eighteen years old and took the trip down with my brother to see Chance The Rapper the first time he graced the stage there (at 3am if I’m not mistaken) and we also got to see Kanye West perform in front of nearly 90,000 attendees. The second time I got the opportunity to go to Bonnaroo was in 2017 when Chance performed in front of 80,000 people, I took the trip last minute and took a car full of his merchandise down there with my roommate & co-worker at the time (we worked in his merch department at the time for more context). The experience I had that year was just as wonderful as my first time, I was a little bit more experienced with my surroundings and was able to soak in the environment a little bit more. As the event went on I got to see first hand how diverse the festival was with their crowd, …

Tobi Lou: Chicago’s Rising Superhero

Tobi Lou is a lot of things: he is a unbelievably talented artist, a trend setter, a Chicagoan, a unique individual and a self proclaimed superhero. I don’t believe that’s far fetched either: the way that Tobi has built his career to this point, the positive + contagious energy he puts out, his extraordinary charisma, it’s something like a superhero. About a month or so ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Tobi Lou after his sensational set at Governors Ball in New York, and after being a huge fan & rooting for Tobi over the past couple of years, I had a bunch of questions I wanted to ask him! I have spoke to hundreds of artists in the past but this conversation that I had with Tobi Lou is one of my favorites for sure, he has a great energy & aura around him, he is undeniably himself and it’s only a matter of time before he is one of the biggest artists in the world. Take some time out of your day to learn about Tobi Lou below, and don’t forget to follow him on Twitter & Instagram! Visit Tobi Lou’s website here!   EM: …