Every visitor to this site who pays a little bit of attention and whose attention span is longer than the one of a fish knows that Chicago has getting a lot of props lately. And deservedly so. Because there's now a truckload of artists, labels, crews, groups and soloists that represent the windy city and that blow some fresh air in the at times stale vacuum that rap music is. With the albums not being small in number, there's still something exciting about a compilation called "The Chicago Project", as it promises a bundle of 100% Chicago artists, maybe introducing some, maybe re-introducing others, maybe just reminding us on how these are making 'illa noise'.
Things start properly with the "Intro: The Chicago Project", where DJ Spontaneous and Stizo of the Vinyl Addicts do their art over a Grimmace produced beat. This leaves the mouth watering, what Juice then harshly uses to smack your mouth open with some maybe a little too laid back spit verses on "Raise It Up". This 'I don't really give a fuck' mentality sounds like Juice is somewhat bored to again prove his superiority, as that should be a mathematical axiom for some time now. At the same time, he's also a little (too) violent with his rhymes. The Meanwhile beat also fights a subtle battle, as there's a more typical orchestration in the front, but an incredible low bone reaching boom of bass in the back. This will truly rattle a good system, while the whole song is maybe as underground mainstream rap would go, or as mainstream as underground rap can go without loosing the most elitist back packer.
1. The Vinyl Addicts "Intro: The Chicago Project"
2. Juice "Raise It Up"
3. Earatik Statik feat. Submission "Still Got It Locked"
4. Last Won feat. Puertochinko & I.N.F. of the Outfitters "3 Degrees Of Evil"
5. Unhappyest (Rusty Chains, Willis Drummond II, Mr. Kent) "Thunder Strikes Basket Of Roses"
6. capital D of All Natural "Vent"
7. Mic One "Crazee"
8. Puertochinko "Box Cutter"
9. O-Type Star, Ice Gre & Adad (First Chicago) "Mild Sauce"
10. Thawfor "False Idols"
11. Qwel "Face Value"
12. Babble "Transportation"
13. Robust "Out Of String"
14. Offwhyte "Rappers & Chemicals"
15. Lord 360 "Burial Sequence"
16. The Opus "Supreme Navigation"
Another big name comes on next, with Earatik Statik spitting serious braggadocios rhetoric on "Still Got It Locked" over an interestingly traditional The Opus beat. Speaking of The Opus, there are two more tracks graced by the big O. First there's Thawfor's "False Idols", where the elements get more known mystical. While "Supreme Navigation" comes on as the last track on the record, it remaining instrumental, and it being as excellent as the name The Opus guarantees. And another one of the best songs on the album comes by capital D of All Natural. His self produced "Vent" is combining an incredible beat, with the as usual thoughtful lyrics by the D, making 'grown folks music' in a forever staying youth culture.
The Galapagos4 massive also adds two tracks to this compilation: first there's Qwel's "Face Value", produced by Jackson Jones, first released on a 12" and now available to all those that prefer small silver to big black discs. On here Qwel flexes his lyrical strength. What with him however not always results in him bragging, but in a good song. Offwhyte then does "Rappers & Chemicals", an interesting title, that's quick to make the Meaty Ogre produced song interesting too. Off' is still rapping fast and as always he's demanding attention with the rhetoric. And finally, on the rim of Galapagos comes "Out Of String" by Robust, due to him using a Meaty Ogre beat. Robust is consciously choosing not to do battling verses, but the melancholy beat wouldn't allow too much of brain shaking anyways. But the total of the track is not allowing us to get too hyped though.
And isn't that some modern black and white movie sound carpet Unhappyest (Rusty Chains, Willis Drummond II, Mr Kent) rhyme over on "Thunder Strikes Basket Of Rose"? Well, the strings are a little irregular, making it harder for this track to settle in a pattern, what doesn't confuse the rappers though, who kick some dust with their bragging verses, making a good song. Puertochinko does a careless "Box Cutter" track, and similarly bouncy is Babble's "Transportation", and everyone will smile once he recognizes the sample, that's well treated by Chester Copperpot.
Looking for the aspects that don't live up to the high Chicago standards, are the guitar beat by Lost Won on his own "3 Degrees Of Evil", that also features Puertochinko & I.N.F. of the Outfitters. Interestingly enough his old partner Lord 360 also fails with the beat on "Burial Sequence". Lyrically he is one of the next to be big Chicago artists, but at least according to this beat, his production skills need some grooming. While in style but also rhetoric "Mild Sauce" takes us a couple of years back, with O-Type Star, Ice Gre & Adad (First Chicago) fighting against the clustered background beat. The chaos then however overtakes "Crazee" by Mic One, making it hard to care for all the words he says on this song.
Compilations are often a breeding place for throwaway tracks. And while some of the songs don't live up to the quality we know these artists are able to achieve, the two thirds still hold the majority and hold an abundance of dopeness in 'em. Thus we need to give the man behind this project, Tim Stroh of the probably defunct Slaughterhouse V, some serious props. But props also belongs to Chicago, for actually coming together and not only do good music themselves, but also contribute to one collaborative project.
And as this is only scratching the surface of all the good artists in Chicago, we look forward to Volume 2.
It's no secret that Chicago has had its fair share of hiphop heroes over the years. From J.P. Chill on WHPK, to E.C., to Common and the Molemen, the Windy City has slowly, but steadily cemented an enduring hiphop legacy. However, in terms of a full-fledged, vibrant scene, it's only been in recent years that Chicago's budding potential has really taken off. Enter the new school.
"The Chicago Project", a compilation highlighting the talents of a mixed bag of Chi-town's local legends and promising up-and-comers, is a full-blown declaration that argues for a well-deserved place among the best underground scenes of the day. Chocked full of lethal rhymes, dope beats and precision scratching, this arresting release arrives like an incendiary grenade that's about to explode. From the intricately woven soundscapes of Capital D and The Opus to the gritty, back to basics of Juice and Unhappyest, there's plenty here for hiphop heads of all persuasions to feel. Emerging as the debut release from Chi-town's own Gravel Records, "The Chicago Project" marks an important step for the Windy City.
From the get-go, Chicago's finest unleash a furious attack that fades only a few times over the album's sixteen tracks. Fueled by an entire arsenal of spitting styles and production techniques, "The Chicago Project" is as diverse of an outing as it is impressive. Opening things with an enticing, funked-out intro, the Vinyl Addicts ignite the spark and hint at the heavy heat to come. Next, Juice grabs hold of the reigns and delivers an underground masterpiece with the soulful "Raise It Up". Keeping the momentum alive, Lost Won adds to the fire with the sultry "3 Degrees of Evil". Driven by melodically plucked acoustic guitars and liquid programming, Lost Won, Puertochinko, and INF hold it down with the rhymes. Other standout tracks include the multi-textured "False Idols", on which Thawfor addresses the daunting realisms of urban life, and the early 80's throwback "Transportation", on which Babble waxes poetic over Wildstyle-esque beats. However, the album's real highlight is the Qwel-penned "Face Value". Qwel takes the listener on a spiritual journey soundtracked by swarming piano and rugged production. Brandishing a level of street poetry well beyond his years, Qwel's rhythmic dexterity is matched only by his poignant social commentary.
"The Chicago Project" is not just a showcase of new talent, it's a reminder that true underground hiphop is still alive. Lend an ear.