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Chicago Hip Hop

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Get To Know Angry Blackmen, Chicago’s newest feel-good rap duo

posted by Alejandro Hernandez September 9, 2017

One of the newest acts in the ever-growing Chicago Renaissance is a duo that goes by the name of Angry Blackmen. Despite literally having the word angry in their name, the duo made up of Brian Warren and Quentin Branch are actually one of the most easy going guys you’ll ever meet, and their music is reflective of that. Their first single “OK!” was released in March and is an upbeat, easy-going track and their most recent single “Smile” is an ode to Black Boy Magic.

I had the chance to speak with them last week, and despite their limited body of work together as a duo, they show a lot of promise and I was sold on their potential. It’s time that you should get know the Angry Blackmen:

Question: How did you guys first decide to form a duo?

Quentin Branch: Basically, we met at a music video shoot by my friend Eric, and we exchanged info and just stayed in contact. This was in 2014, so it kinda happened naturally. At first, I really wasn’t fucking with being a part of duo, but I thought about it and decided that we make good music together. Plus as a duo we can rebrand ourselves as artists so we just did it.

Brian Warren: Late last year was when I brought up the idea that we should do a duo, and he was like “No! Let’s just stay solo since we’re just already doing our thing,” and I was like if you say so. Then it was in December that we got on the phone again and decided to do it, and literally as we were on the phone talking about it, he was drawing the logo. Then he sent the pic, and I was just like, we need to get that to be official, and then he sent the logo to this dude named Wesley who added his own special thing to it. Once he kicked it back to us, we decided that we were going to rock with it. So we really became official in January. We made “OK!” and got Ric Wilson to mix it, and then we dropped it in March.

Q: Who are your musical influences?

QB: Tyler for sure. I love him, he makes great production. Childish Gambino was the one who really got me into rap. Like I liked it before, but he really got me into it. I also really like Pharell’s production and try to infuse that poppy sound he’s known for. Then The Internet, Steve Lacy, and recently, Brockhampton

BW: For me, I gotta shout out the man Chance The Rapper. He’s just goes so hard. J. Cole, Kendrick, Eminem, he’s just so magical with his metaphors and punches. Then also Meek Mill for his punches. I’ll also say, and a lot of people really don’t say this, but battle rap. I don’t even know if they write their bars, but it’s just so creative with how they do it.

Q: What’s the reception been like to your music? Did that help reaffirm your decision to be a duo?

QB: When we first released “OK!” the reception was actually really good. I surprised actually because although I expected it to be popular, I wasn’t expecting it to get it tweeted by EARMILK or Ric Wilson, even though he said gonna do it, it’s one of those things where you never know. Then Rich Jones retweeted it and his manager retweeted it, so it was just getting a bunch of love. It was then that we definitely decided to keep this going. We knew we had something.

BW: I’ll say that when we created “OK!” we actually made it in a Krispy Kreme parking lot out in Homewood. We were just out there playing the instrumental, and then we just vibed off it and went off the type of energy we had. When we hear a beat, we basically freestyle to see who will sound better rapping on it and who can do the chorus. With the reception though, the energy of the people who reacted to it kept us going since we just had people talking about “This is really dope! This is hot!” Everybody was loving it, so we kept going.

QB: When we dropped “Smile” though, I was definitely scared a little just because we made something that was getting a lot of great feedback, but you never know what their expectations are like for the sequel. It’s like how it is with movies, you know? Like the original is usually always better.

BW: Yeah, we were definitely a little nervous just because we were like “damn, people are just gonna want something OK! related,.” When we made “Smile,” it’s more different since we made that as result of what’s going on with this whole racist, KKK, white supremacist stuff going on. “Smile”  is something we made to kinda talk about that because as much as what’s going on in the world and how hard it is for a Black man, we still need something to smile about. That’s where the chorus comes from, “Let me see that Black boy smile.”

QB: With “OK!” it’s definitely a song for everyone. It’s like asking are you feeling okay as a person, but with “Smile” we definitely made for Black people, which makes it more more political. All of our songs are for sure going to have those type of messages.

Q: Hip-hop is going in a new direction. Traditionally, it’s always been very aggressive and gangsta rap has been probably been the most popular subgenre of hip-hop for a while, but now we have guys like Tyler, The Creator and Joseph Chilliams who embrace a carefeee nature and you guys have a sound similar to that. How do you feel  this new direction?

QB: Yeah, you know when I was young, it was like if you weren’t about that life, it was like “you’re not Black enough.” I hate that. Like, I love anime and listen to bands, and dudes would look at me like “Really?” But now it’s cool because now we got dudes like Tyler rapping about being cute and shit and it allows us to actually be ourselves.

BW: I actually love it because hip-hop is finally not boring anymore. Like not that it was ever bad, but it got to a point where it was like “What else is there?” Now though, people can finally talk about other shit. Like maybe I don’t want to rap about stealing your girl or getting money. Like it’s cool if your getting money, but how’s your day going? What’s going on in Chicago that we don’t know? Bring that up and put some flavor on it. If you don’t have enough knowledge of what you look like, you basically a misfit in the world. How are you doing just as a person? People are rapping about that finally. There’s a lot more variety and we can finally talk and listen about things that weren’t really talked about, and it’s dope to be a part of that movement.

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UG Vavy Drops Two New Tracks Just In Time For Back To School Season

posted by Alejandro Hernandez August 28, 2017

                  

Chicago rapper/producer UG Vavy blessed the music scene yesterday by dropping not one, but TWO brand new fire tracks that are sure to be absolute hits at all the college functions for the new school year.

First up is “Man On Campus.” This high energy track features a beat produced around a college marching band sample. The college theme isn’t just restricted to the production though. With lines like “F–k a scholarship/Only went to college just so I could f–k a college b—h” and “If you play the captain they gon fall in line like pledging s–t,” keeps the theme overt in the lyrics as well. UG tweeted that he recorded this song while he was lit himself, and that energy definitely transferred over to the track as it’s braggadocious fun from start to end.

The second track is “Go Crazy,” a remix of Ryahn’s “Baby Boy.” It’s a more mellow and smooth track for the ladies. Vavy lets the girl he’s talking to in the song that he’s going to hold it down for her unlike the guys from her past (“See these n—as ain’t no lakers, they ain’t James Worthy/And if she only want me then why should I worry”).  The juxtaposition between this track and “Man on Campus”is wonderful. With UG flexing his versatility by being able to drop one hype turn-up song and one smooth love track that both still sound like they can get bodies on the dance floor at the function is just a testament to him being one of the city’s most talented artists.

As we transition from Summer to Fall, UG Vavy showed once gain that while he’s still putting put music, the season is always going to be FUEGO.

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Pinqy Ring – “Phoenix”

posted by Alex June 6, 2017

The first time I heard a verse from Pinqy Ring was on Visual’s The Ambassador project about a year ago. I remember I had to rewind her verse on “The Take” and realized that Pinqy was going to be a problem really soon. Today, I’m happy to be posting her latest track called “Phoenix” which describes Pinqy Ring’s coming out of the ashes in life. Pinqy Ring buries the opposition, not just in English, but also in Spanish. Check out “Phoenix” below and be on the lookout for more from Pinqy Ring, who will be performing at this year’s Taste of Chicago.

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Trestyle – “Creampie”

posted by Alex April 7, 2017

It looks like Trestyle has plenty of tracks under his belt just waiting to be released. We’re lucky enough to get his latest today called “Creampie”, produced by Tommy Avery. The Chicago native will surely be dropping a lot more heat later on, so be on the lookout as we’ll be featuring his tracks as they’re released.  Listen to “Creampie” below!

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Project: Esohel X PLA – Vivid Livin

posted by Alex March 31, 2017

Normally when it’s someone’s birthday, the birthday person gets gifts. Esohel decided to flip the script this time by giving us a present for his birthday. Esohel linked up with PLA for their 6 track EP called Vivid Livin which includes production from CashMoneyAP, Serious Beats and Fly Melodies. We haven’t heard much of PLA but from this project, it seems as if he makes the perfect person to link with Esohel on Vivid Livin. Hopefully this isn’t the first and only time we hear from the two together, cause we can see ourselves ridin’ round with the widows down “vividly living”. Check out what Esohel and PLA cooked up together below.

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The Boy Illinois – “I’m Home” (Koto Freestyle)

posted by Alex March 23, 2017

When Illi speaks, we listen. He’s here to take the crown back from all of the trendy rappers who come and go. At the end of the day, Illi is still standing. Honestly, I would of liked a milk carton with a “Missing Rappers” sign on it, but I see what he did here with the planet Sirius. Anyways, The Boy Illinois has really been making a name for himself as he’s been featured on various media outlets recently. He’s also got a performance lined up for this summer’s Taste of Chicago, so make sure you’re present for the food and the show! Take a listen to “I’m Home” (Koto Freestyle) below.

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Video: AM Early Morning – “Prewrite 2”

posted by Alex February 19, 2017

The homie, AM EarlyMorning is back with a vengeance on this one! Check out his video to “Prewrite 2” above. AM EarlyMorning shows off his lethal verbal skills while name dropping some of the dopest that ever blessed the wrestling arena. The video was shot and edited by Canon Montana. We’ll definitely be sure to keep you up to date on anything new from AM EarlyMorning!

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V!sual – “Break Away” (featuring Tony Centrino)

posted by Alex March 11, 2016

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The definition of an Ambassador is a person who acts as a representative or promotor of a specified activity. What V!sual has been doing throughout the city definitely embodies the definition of an Ambassador, which is also the title of his upcoming project. Today, we get to hear the first track called “Break Away” which features Tony Centrino and production by DJ Mo Murda. The track touches on a various subjects such as the city’s violence and how he plans to show the people how to “Break Away”. Take a listen to “Break Away” below and be on the look out for The Ambassador set to be released this Spring.

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Esohel – “Peligro” (featuring Navarro & Phero)

posted by Alex February 26, 2016

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Here’s something I’ve been waiting to listen to. Chicago emcee, Esohel linked up with Navarro and Phero on a Custom Made and 21 Grams beat to give us “Peligro”. The Chicago spitters take the track and their tongue twisting lyrics to another level by throwing in some Spanish lyrics. Check out “Peligro” below.  Continue Reading

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Phero – “Streets” (featuring Navarro)

posted by Alex December 10, 2015

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We love hearing new music from Phero. We love hearing new music from Scheme Navarro. You can just imagine how we react when we get something new from both Chicago artists on the same track. Word is that we might be hearing a lot more in the near future from both of these artists together. Check out “Streets” below and we’ll keep you updated with their latest drops.  Continue Reading

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Video Premiere: Tooty – “Stepping Stone”

posted by Alex October 15, 2015

Want to know about someone local that you need to be listening to, but you probably aren’t? Look no further. Today, we are excited to have the privilege to premiere Tooty’s “Stepping Stone” video from his second album, Suicidal Thoughts. The Chicago native has some things to get off his chest and now that he’s got our attention, he’s going to tell it like it is. Suicidal Thoughts is set to be dropped on November 24th.

Produced By: Von Vuai

Directed By: Alexander King