Chicago Beat Blog

How Louder Than A Bomb Unites Chicago's Youth

How Louder Than A Bomb Unites Chicago's Youth

By Marlena Wadley and Tommy Brannigan 
photos via YCA

It’s no secret that Chicago is one of the most racially segregated cities in America. Constantly under speculation because of the violence, many benefactors to the city go by as unsung heros. However, their efforts to build a better community in the city have resulted in the largest annual poetry festival in the country, Louder Than A Bomb.

This Sunday (January 15), LTAB kicked off its 17th year with its annual coaches meeting, where novice and veteran coaches come together to discuss the year’s theme, and prepare for the start of the festival.

One of LTAB’s main goals is to instill positivity and unity within communities and its more than 1,000 youth participants. LTAB founder Kevin Coval notes, “[LTAB] brings young writers together, especially because Chicago is so...

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Artist Spotlight: Producer Jaro

Artist Spotlight: Producer Jaro

By Breanna Bonslater
photo via Jaro

Jaro is a producer from the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, IL. His family is originally from Vietnam, but he was born in America. While we talk, he always says something that makes you think about the topic on a more profound level.

His earliest musical influence was the piano, which echoes in his production work, through his use of keys. His uncle taught him how to play the piano when he was around five, and in middle school, Jaro picked up a little guitar. He’s part of a group known as Beach Jesus, and his most recent solo project is an EP entitled Le Bleue. Overall, his beats have an eerie sound, and with his use of keyboard and snare drums, you get an electronic vibe from his music.

Breanna Bonslater: What inspires your...

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Emma McKee: Chicago's Hip-Hop Cross-Stitcher

Emma McKee: Chicago's Hip-Hop Cross-Stitcher

By Anna Mason and Nick Dimas
photo via Bryan Allen Lamb

It’s common knowledge that you must fail a few times to achieve success.

Emma McKee’s failures led her from falling off a skateboard in a Jiffy Lube parking lot,to an elevator encounter with Kanye West.

McKee is full of laughter while she explains spending hours trying to teach herself how to skateboard, though she says there was nothing funny about it. She moved to Chicago three years ago, after getting kicked out of Canada. Since then, an old-fashioned hobby passed down from her British mother has helped McKee become a vital part of Chicago’s vibrant hip-hop scene. She's now known as the Stitch Gawd.

But cross-stitching was never part of McKee’s plans. At one point, she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and be an opera singer. She decided it would be too...

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oddCouple Creates “Feel Good” Music by Intersecting Different Genres

oddCouple Creates “Feel Good” Music by Intersecting Different Genres

By Simon Berdes
photo via Renee Marban

“My music isn’t for a person who likes just a single genre — my music is for people who just want to listen to feel good music,” Zach Henderson says. Better known as oddCouple, the 27-year-old producer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin has found major progression during his time as a hip-hop producer in Chicago.

Working closely with big Chicago names like Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, and Jack Red, oddCouple’s success within the city’s production community skyrocketed after signing to Chicago-based indie label Closed Sessions in 2014. One of oddCouple’s bigger 2016 records has been Woods’ hit 2016 song “LSD.” “LSD” stands for Lake Shore Drive, one of the major highways the sits right by Chicago’s lakefront; the song speaks on what it means to be a true Chicagoan.The beat...

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Interview: Sir the Baptist Talks Being a 'Preacher's Kid'

Interview: Sir the Baptist Talks Being a 'Preacher's Kid'

By Kharisma Thomas
photo via Sir the Baptist

“I always wanted to make music, but I wrote because I needed that sort of outlet. Most of the writing I do is very emotional,” Chicago musician Sir the Baptist says in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. The hum of eager Lollapalooza attendees fills the space as he explains life growing up as a preacher’s kid in the south side neighborhood of Bronzeville, a hub for legendary blues and jazz artists like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong.

As he jokes about attending church seven days a week, Sir admits, “Being in church kept me alive. It kept me out of the streets.” Regardless of being a preacher’s kid, the surrounding violence of Bronzeville and seeing his friends succumb to that violence had a major impact on his music. In addition, ...

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Playlist: Chicaglo

Playlist: Chicaglo

By Charles Donalson
photo via Bradley A. Murray

Jamila Woods, “Bubbles”

“Bubbles” is the first song from Ms. Woods’ debut album Heavn. The track sets the tone for the rest of the album, both sonically and subject-wise. The track starts with beautiful vocal loops, courtesy of Ayana Woods and Dee Lilly. The instrumental to the song is very smooth, even with the chill trap-like drum pattern that enters almost a minute in. The synth bass was used very carefully and correctly to create a smoother and more emotional feel to the track. The lyrics speak as an ode to the trapped black girl; Woods goes on to sing the melodies, “How many different ...

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