Video by 119 Productions
Part of the overall mission here at TheseDays, beyond keeping our readers up to date with all that's happening in and around the city from arts and music to city hall news, has been to also preserve the lineage and history that seems to be created on a literal daily basis. A few months back we had that chance as Washington D.C.'s Jay IDK arrived in town around March for an opening set alongside Freddie Gibbs. Playing Thalia Hall and crashing on my couch, we decided to make Jay's time in Chicago worthwhile and so fittingly, we called Mike Kolar and Alex Fructher of local imprint Closed Sessions.
For those of you just recently beginning to pay attention, the Closed Sessions name first originated not as a record label, but as a feature on the website RubyHornet. Beginning way back in 2011, Fruchter, who wrote for the site and Kolar, who owned Soundscape Studios, would team up to pair a big name artist coming through town with a local producer or fellow artist. Taping the whole thing and releasing it on YouTube, Closed Sessions was born. Since making the foray into the record label business though, the name took on a new meaning.
It was with that in mind that we brought Jay to the studio on west Chicago Ave. Arriving at around 10:30 PM in the windy nighttime of March, we piled into the studio with Westley and Jay's people and were met by Odd Couple and Boathouse. In the process of finishing up his Money Bank project, that would release later in 2016, Jay sat listening intently as the pair of producers rattled through a library of beats. In the background, Kweku Collins, Netherfriends, EB and the Dutchmaster kicked it on assorted seating, looking on through clouds of smoke. After about an hour, Jay found inspiration that matched the verse in his head in a beat Boathouse played for him. It wasn't long before he laid a verse he was happy with after only a couple turns in the booth. Listening back to it, the clock nearing midnight, leaning back in his chair; Jay looked at me and said: "it's good, but I think we need someone for a second verse, do you know anyone?"
By that time Kweku had already packed up and headed north back to Evanston. Flipping through names in my head, one in particular immediately stuck out. I called Femdot who was studying for a biochemistry exam the next morning and he was across the city and jotting down rhymes between chemical compounds within twenty-five minutes. After a quick pep talk from Jay on the concept of the song, Fem took a few minutes to think it over before getting in the booth and hitting it just as IDK had asked by the second take.
Once the verse was laid, Jay, surprised by how quickly Fem had arrived and delivered looked over his shoulder. Fem was right back in the rolling chair he'd onyl recently departed, his eyes staring deeply at a piece of lined paper of notes, bobbing his head to the new single while memorizing the equations and symbols before him. His test was only six hours away.
About an hour later, as the clock hustled to 2 AM, we packed up and left out. The next night Jay would take the Thalia Hall stage in a President Nixon mask before rattling through a steady list of bangers from his debut SubTrap album. A few months later, in the summer, he'd drop his much anticipated Money Bank and today we give you the quick behind the scenes look that we helped put together. Jay may be from the DMV, but he's been a favorite here at TheseDays for his careful rhymes schemes, clever thematics and genuine disposition. We'll definitely be seeing more of him soon, for now get deeper into the track with the visual courtesy of Jackson Duncan and 119 Productions and take part in a well-worn Chicago hip-hop mainstay as we revisit the origins of the name Closed Sessions.