Young Chicago Author's 'Louder Than A Bomb' Mixtape 2018

 Photos by Michael Salisbury

Photos by Michael Salisbury

What Chicago lacks in a music industry or proper infrastructure, it makes up for in heart, creating art, music, and literature. But in order to shine a light on those stories, you still need people on the ground, documenting and establishing a platform for those voices.

That’s the aim of Young Chicago Authors’ journalism program Chicago Beat, and These Days: strengthen Chicago’s arts, music, and literature scenes through storytelling, while also creating a space for journalism to flourish. It only made sense for YCA and These Days to become allies, pool their resources, and work together for the greater good.

Every year, in advance of YCA’s annual poetry competition Louder Than A Bomb, YCA drops an LTAB mixtape, featuring a slew of Chicago-based artists, which we are premiering today. This year, Chicago Beat’s young journalists teamed up with These Days to highlight nine of the musicians from the tape. Chicago Beat worked on real deadlines, in a real world setting to produce this piece about the city's newest wave of artists. While this story is about the musicians, it's just as much about the young reporters who are writing them.

—Tara Mahadevan

LyriQ The Misfit


Age: 22 

Hometown: Westside of Chicago

What makes them special: 

LyriQ the Misfit doesn’t know where he’s going, but he knows what direction to take. With a music library that leaps between Andre 3000, Puddle of Mudd, Avenged Sevenfold, and Kid Cudi,  the self identified introvert has style characterized by a stream of consciousness flow and has established a simple writing process. “My songwriting process is actually not like, super complicated,” He says. “It’s just like, listen to a beat, and however I feel, or however the beat makes me feel, whatever comes out, comes out. I’m not really big on editing my lyrics, so whatever comes out at that moment is what comes out.” Through self reflection he’s found his purpose of providing balm to the different types of loneliness that come with battling mental health through his music for “any and everybody who needs it.”  As “a loner type person,” socializing proves to be draining, making  the social side of making music - networking and  collaboration with fellow musicians - very different, but he makes it work. “It’s helped improve my artistry,” he says, “and helped me open my eyes to like, there’s no set way to make a track or write a song. It’s endless possibilities.” It’s this amenable attitude, coupled with humility, controlled “silent chaotic type shit”, and his verve for sharing and performing that makes LyriQ the Misfit a true misfit, in the best way.

- Leah





Age: 27

Hometown: Southside of Chicago

What makes them special: 

Me'Chelle's music feels like an ode to Black empowerment and a warm embrace of survival, vulnerability and femininity. When she performs “Firefly” live, she likes to say that "that we all have a light within ourselves, something in us that’s special and we can use that to help others around us." She started rapping because of Tupac and DMX and it is because of Tupac's music's influence on her life that she wants to create music that uplifts people. Her being a rapper is what helps her work as teaching artist with Black youth on the west side. Her experience as a  teacher reminds her of who she wants to influence with her music.

"Can I be that person for [young Black girls with low self-esteem] to listen to and feel good about themselves?"

She is currently working on Negro Heart 2, the follow up to her mixtape Negro Heart.

- Eliana Buenorostro


Elton Aura


Age: 24

Hometown: Fox Valley, IL

What makes them special: 

Elton Aura isn’t a traditional Chicago rapper. He isn’t from Chicago and he’s not always rapping. He does whatever he can to fit his influence into tracks; singing, rapping, talking; his voice becomes a versatile instrument. Also versatile is his style, which changes for almost every song. Elton says the main consistency throughout his songs is the soul and heart he puts into them because the idea of sharing his struggles and pain through music are what got him interested in music originally. Elton uses his experiences living in the burbs with pastors as parents and being black in America to define his struggles in his music, combining multiple genres with classic soul to create a persona entirely his own.

“I watched [The Temptations] and fell in love with the whole culture of working your way up into the music industry and working hard, touring, becoming successful, enduring hardship and coming out to be something classic.”

- Anna Mason


The Law & Leader Lockwood of HUEY

 The Law of Huey 

The Law of Huey 

 Leader Lockwood of Huey (Lead producer of Huey) 

Leader Lockwood of Huey (Lead producer of Huey) 


Age: 23

Hometown: West Side, Chicago (290!)

What makes them special: 

Rapper The Law of Huey is what I’d like to call a renaissance man. He raps, MCs and hosts - truly a man of many hats. After sitting down with him he mentioned he’s focused on becoming an outstanding performer. Unlike other artists he values the feedback from the audience and takes that into heavy consideration when dropping music.  

“I take that same energy [from the crowd] and put that on the track.”

The Law of Huey is on the rise and won’t stop till he gets rich and famous!

-Elsa Medhin


Shawnee Dez


Age: 22

Hometown: South Side, Chicago

What makes them special: 

Shawnee Dez is everyone’s sangin’ home girl from 95th.. You might have heard her featured on of your favorite Chicago rappers’ songs, seen her performing at the Tonic room, or downtown walking to class. Shawnee is currently finishing her last year at Columbia; She is  majoring in Cultural Studies and minoring in Black World studies.

“Collecting family and people that i know can genuinely be in my life just as much as im in theres both growing as people that’s really what it’s about.”

Marlena Wadley




Age: 21

Hometown:  South Side, Chicago

What makes them special: 

Ausar is a new age soul artist who derives his sound from his South Side Chicago roots. At 21 years old he has already released 2 EP's and combines his passion for faith and the community into his art. Ausar represents what's best about the Chicago art scene: pure innovation, addictive sound, and music that comes from the heart.

-Kristen Simmons


Jesse 5000


Age: 27

Hometown: "Nebulon" (or, West Suburbs)

What makes them special: 

Jesse 5000 is a stargazing rapper who, while looking at the stars, also seems to live among them as well. He is best known for his song “She Loves Me Not”, a song where he doesn’t just talk about love. He goes into other problems within himself and the world that could be solved, at least to him, with some love. Jesse 5000 is influenced by none other than his anti-namesake Andre 3000. Playing a game of "Date / Marry / Kill", Jesse says “ kill 3000...that’s my dad, but it’s a Darth Vader(versus) Luke skywalker type of thing.” Still retaining respect for the rapper however, “he’s my avatar Roku… I connect to him first when I’m in trouble.” Jesse 5000 has said “ whenever I try to ride someone else’s wave I fail...I just do me”, and wants other young rappers to follow suit. Not just in rapping, but happiness and other endeavors they have. Jesse 5000 is Your new favorite human being. Who also happens to rap.



Aeon Moore


Age: 17

Hometown: Currently North Side of Chicago

What makes them special: 

Deja, other known as Aeon moore stays on the Northside of chicago, but takes pride in being from “all over the city.” She says she has lived everywhere, “South side, West side, East side, now Northside, all over.” At just 17, Moore has already dropped her first mixtape, titled The Flux. This mixtape touches on everything from Chicago, relationships, grief, and death, to black resilience and success. The recurring theme to this mixtape is “Working hard, doing it on your own, making it on your own.” That being said, Moore said it was only right that she submitted “Moon Rocks” the first song of her mixtape, to be featured on LTAB’s mixtape. Moore expressed that during the process of writing the song, she felt very depressed, “I felt like I didn’t have a lot of friends. I had like two friends who really stuck with me through all my hard times. At the time I felt like my goals weren't set high enough for me, you feel me? I felt like i wasn’t doing enough. In this song I talk about shooting for something further, beyond the stars.I’m reaching for what seems impossible, regardless of what I've been through, I’m shooting really high.”

T Munoz


Aakeem Eshú & [dj]xzist

 Pictured left to right: Aakeem Eshú, [dj]xzist (producer)

Pictured left to right: Aakeem Eshú, [dj]xzist (producer)


Age: 24

Hometown: Southeast Side

What makes them special: 

His soulful and jazz influenced music is unique in its consciousness. In his project Betrayal and Liberation he raps about the food industry, systematic racism and the microaggressions within it. He says, “As a rapper I still have all these different opinions, and hip-hop has always been a beautiful platform to be free and speak on these things”. Aakeem’s message to his listeners is that they can be free and part of a liberation or they can continue to be betrayed. Aakeem's acknowledges that he’s working in a male dominated industry, and would like to work with more women. His dream collab would be with Erykah Badu. Some of his influences are MF Doom, Madlib, Common, Stevie Wonder, and the city of Chicago.

Lesley Casas


Catch these acts on Saturday February 10th at The Metro for YCA's Winter Block Party !


The Chicago Beat

Young Chicago Authors journalism program writers


pictured left to right

Top: Matthew, Marlena, Elsa, Lesley, Leah

Bottom: Eliana, T, Kristen, Anna