Despite our affinity for Chicago-bred talent, our Windy City staff keeps up with the music industry at large, from independent darlings to solo artists on the rise. Numbers and popularity are of no importance to us for this particular column. If we like a song or an album/mixtape/EP and it wasn't created within the confines of Chicago, then we will include it in this weekly rundown. Get familiar.
Ben's Pick • Mild High Club: Timeline (Album)
Stones Throw Records continues to show their diversity time and time again. This month, they released the debut album by Mild High Club (great name), led by mastermind Alexander Brettin, who handles vocals, production, and even music video direction. The album sounds unlike anything else in the catalog for Stones Throw (which boasts releases from Madlib, Dilla, Mayer Hawthorne, and countless others). Rather than sounding hip-hop inspired, the cloudy album is stuck in the 60s, puffing away on a doobie while trying to find the right way through life. This album demands more than one stoned listen.
Brent's Pick • Chaz French (ft. Saba): "What Ya Say"
From the land of the gogo, aka Washington, DC, rapper Chaz French enlists the help of fellow DC native Saba for some smooth hook work on Chaz's latest loose track "What Ya Say". The song originally caught our attention when it dropped because we thought the Saba featured on the single was Chicago's Saba, but we were oh so wrong. Perhaps we fell victim to the old bait and switch, but I'm not angry one bit about being introduced to the "other" Saba and re-familiarizing myself with the work of Chaz French. Turns out DC has more to offer than Wale, and thank God for that. Although the new single isn't slated for any particular project, and there doesn't seem to be anything officially announced for either artist at the moment, I think it's safe to say we'll be Checking up on Chaz and Saba periodically to share more gems like this with you.
Eric's Pick • Jess Fairlieau: "Senses"
There's just something special about discovering an artist through a strong debut release. For those that share my optimism, the promise of seeing potential fulfilled is one of best parts of music. The excitement created by all the places they could go from here is amplified by knowing you were able to watch it from the beginning. The latest artist to give us chills in such a way is Australian singer Jess Fairlie with her debut single "Senses." After instantly put in a mood courtesy of Damian Smith on the keys, Fairlie comes through with an absolutely stellar performance as she soulfully reflects on a friend's deteriorating relationship. Get introduced to Jess below, and let's collectively cross our fingers in hopes that we'll hear more from her soon.
Jake's Pick • Mac Miller: GO:OD AM (Album)
Mac Miller's career has been an interesting one to say the least. After drafting behind the rise of fellow Pittsburgh MC Wiz Khalifa, his KIDS and Best Day Ever he largely flirted with a more pop-oriented crowd on subsequent releases before keeping folks interested with the mercurial Watching TV With The Sound Off and here it seems as if all those experiences come together in a way they only can after seeing things from a multitude of angles. The single with Chief Keef, "Cut The Check" features on of the only actually Keef verses that I've heard in recent memory that isn't buried in vocoders and auto-tune for what might just be the Chicago artist's best verses in recent memory. Overall it might just be the magnum opus for Mac thus far and the piece of work he needed to finally win over whoever was left skeptical and judging by early reactions, he's certainly done just that. Of course, a lot of those rhyme schemes sound torn from some hometown notebooks.
Pedro's Pick • Ibeyi: "Stranger / Lover" (Video)
Listening to Ibeyi’s self-titled debut album often feels like you’re embarking on an out of body experience. Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz bring up love, loss and heritage in the form of spirits and rituals through their hauntingly beautiful voices and spectral minimalistic production that combines soul and jazz for a modern take on Yoruba folklore. In their latest visual, the French-Cuban duo bring to life those same characteristics using a simple performance art piece to create a striking visual for “Stranger / Lover,” a standout track taken from the LP. Ibeyi will be in town tomorrow (9/22) for a special show at Thalia Hall and tickets are still available online, don’t miss out and cop if you can.