AIR CREDITS, The Future Is Now

Photos by Julien Carr

A breath of fresh air from a not so distant the future.

Before officially joining forces in late 2016 as AIR CREDITS, The Hood Internet and SHOWYOUSUCK were already two of Chicago’s most innovative and unique artists. The Hood Internet (Steve Reidell and Aaron Brink, famous for their mash-ups) and rapper SHOWYOUSUCK (Clinton Sandifer) are a natural pairing. The two acts share common interests in music that is heavily littered with popular culture references – i.e. Hood Internet’s viral “40 YEARS OF HIP HOP” blend and Show’s frequent mentions of popular culture, including Daria and Alf.

Weeks before the 2016 Presidential Election, AIR CREDITS released their expansive debut project, BROADCASTED, detailing a universe from “the not too distant future,” where “all the water’s gone” and air is sold as a commodity. The record predicted that Donald Trump would not only become the 45th President of the United States, but he would go on to clone himself and never leave office, while also starting an atomic war that would wipeout a large portion of the Earth’s population. A few communities survived the A-bombs and now live in a desert, where they must buy air credits to breathe.

“In the near-future setting where AIR CREDITS’ music is taking place, the idea is that radio stations are one of the only things left standing in a decimated landscape,” Reidell said. “The internet, the cloud — all basically gone. Physical collections of music are scarce, mostly melted away. So radio stations become these important places, staffed and heavily guarded by communities, not only because they're a means to communicate with people out there, but they're preserving what's left of the music on the planet. Many of the radio stations have a New Archives department, where people organize and store songs (old and new) on some sort of archival media format. There's even more details to the story, but that's the basis of the WASTELAND RADIO NEW ARCHIVES series.”

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"I've been thinking of those two releases as like the AIR CREDITS mixtapes. And now we're really getting into things."

—Steve Reidell

AIR CREDIT’s third project, WASTELAND RADIO NEW ARCHIVES [GREEN/776], is centered heavily on the day-to-day life of the remaining people living there. “Basically each song is sort of like a journal entry, so to speak – a story (or) situation somebody is going through within this universe,” SHOWYOUSUCK said about the project, which was released in early March. “Even like ‘This Could Be Bad’ is more like a tone-setter. It’s more like the opening credits to the record. ‘Through the Dust’ is like an action scene, like an action movie. These groups of small stories.”

The four-track EP is part one of a series that will be released throughout 2018. Instead of releasing WASTELAND RADIO as one full length project, AIR CREDITS opted to split it up into multiple EPs, so fans can easily digest the music and pick up on hidden themes or Easter Eggs within the songs. “A couple (of songs) got lost in the shuffle on (BROADCASTED), like ‘HERMOSA BEACH,’” SHOW said about the group’s first project. “So much work is being put into these songs now, I just want to make sure people are digesting them in full… It’s just for people to be able to sit with these songs and really learn these songs and really dig into the world at the pace we want to give it to them.”

In addition to the series of EPs, AIR CREDITS has a collaborative LP with Sims (of Doomtree) and Icetep in the works. “(The Sims/Icetep project) delves further into the AIR CREDITS universe,” Reidell said. “Which is rad because Sims has been part of this since the beginning, we had him on BROADCASTED and a couple of these new songs started as ideas from those sessions. SHOW and Sims both go crazy lyrically.”

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"It’s just for people to be able to sit with these songs and really learn these songs and really dig into the world at the pace we want to give it to them."

—SHOWYOUSUCK

In order to get their music on major streaming platforms (BROADCASTED is only available on SoundCloud, YouTube and Bandcamp), AIR CREDITS cut back on sampling in their production. Even though The Hood Internet’s bread and butter is flipping and mashing well-known records, Reidell is also a multi-instrumentalist and has plenty of experience making music without samples. “The challenge was bridging at least part of the AIR CREDITS vibe that we'd found all on those songs (from the group’s first two projects),” he said. “I've been thinking of those two releases as like the AIR CREDITS mixtapes. And now we're really getting into things.”

SHOWYOUSUCK explained the group’s second project – a one-track, 20-minute EP titled OMEGA VIRUS – had a few sample-free songs and helped wean fans off of the sample-heavy vibe from their debut. “This one sonically was led by Steve, and I just kind of saw him get inspired and ‘yo, I’m not gonna disrupt his wave, I’m gonna ride with it,” SHOW said about working on GREEN/376. “It just went like very industrial, which I’m all for. And it helped me find a lot of new rhyme patterns and pockets I never found before. It helped me write a totally different way too. So I was really excited for this project.”

SHOWYOUSUCK and The Hood Internet, as separate entities, are still some of Chicago’s most exciting and ambitious artists, but AIR CREDITS has given an even more experimental terrain to play with, sparking untapped creativity within them. SHOWYOUSUCK said their collaboration has helped him further develop his rapping skills, that musically, AIR CREDITS is, “more realized than SHOWYOUSUCK,” the Bellwood-born rapper said. “Sonically, it’s fresher. Sonically, it’s its own thing. Solo-wise, I kind of made my version of different sub-genres of rap music. A song of mines can always sound like this, or sound like that, but AIR CREDITS is like, just kind of sounds like its own thing. It sounds very polished for somebody to hear it. For a new band, it sounds very polished. All intents and purposes, my raps are better on there, this is Steve’s best production. It’s just better.”