WGCI kicks off the season right with Summer Jam

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WGCI’s had it annual Summer Jam concert Friday night. But unlike other major summer concerts that have had been canceled due to weather this season, luckily this Summer Jam was inside the United Center.  Clad in summer gear, fans poured in to the stadium to rock out with the numerous acts that were on the roster, including 2 Chainz, T.I., Young Jeezy and Lil Durk.

Up-and-coming acts opened up the show playing their hits. For instance, Chicago’s own Famous Dex got the crowd going with his track “Hoes Mad” from his mixtape “Dexter’s Laboratory.” While he had a short set, his energy was high, dancing around on stage with the excitement on his face that showed making it on this stage in his hometown meant the world to him. Desiigner, also from Chicago, played his Billboard Hot 100 number 1 song “Panda.”

While this was Chicago’s Summer Jam, Atlanta was represented well with a slew of artists from there including Migos, 2 Chainz, T.I., and Young Jeezy. Migos, the rap trio that have been known for their mixtapes for years and finally put out their debut album last year, played a bevy of hits from their catalog, including “Hannah Montana,” “Handsome and Wealthy,” and “Pipe It Up.”

2 Chainz couldn’t be contained by his 20 minute set time. He went all in while performing songs like “All Me,” “Birthday” and the Chance The Rapper song he is featured on, “No Problem.”  He showed the audience how much time he had left on the clock and kept going, performing “Watch Out” from his newest album with Lil Wayne, “Collegrove.” He eventually pushed over the TV that displayed his set time, performing over his limit. Once he finished his set, he dropped the mic and walked off the stage.

T.I.’s set included music from the past and present. While he performed his first single “Rubberband Man,” he also performed his newest single “Dope.” He also performed summer hits like “Why You Wanna,” “You Don’t Know Me” and “What You Know.”

Young Jeezy closed out the show with his 40 minute set, rapping with the crowd songs like “I Luv It” and “Put On.” He brought out new artist and Chicago’s own Lil’ Durk to finish the night, playing songs from his mixtapes and getting the crowd ready for his next album “Lil Durk 2X” which is being released June 24.

Summer Jam was a great way to further kick off Chicago’s summer festival season, which started with Spring Awakening and will include Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.

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Chance The Rapper grows as Chance The Man on new mixtape

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Credit: Arturo Torres/Basketball (And Other Things)

 

Chance The Rapper is afraid of summer. Seem like an odd phobia to have, I mean who doesn’t like BBQs, ice cream tucks and tank top weather, and his latest mixtape, “Coloring Book” is looking to be the soundtrack to the summer. He talked about his fear of the season on several songs. On “Paranoia,” a hidden track on his 2013 mix tape, “Acid Rap,” Chance talks about why he hates summer.

It just got warm out, this the shit I’ve been warned ’bout
I hope that it storm in the mornin’, I hope that it’s pourin’ out
I hate crowded beaches, I hate the sound of fireworks
And I ponder what’s worse between knowing it’s over and dyin’ first

He then sings in a hazy strained voice

Cause everybody dies in the summer
Wanna say ya goodbyes, tell them while it’s spring
I heard everybody’s dying in the summer
So pray to God for a little more spring

Chance talks about summer again in his most recent project, “Coloring Book.” On the song “Summer Friends,” he talks about summers growing up in his South Side Chicago neighborhood Chatham.  While the songs opens up about the beauties of summer, “socks on concrete, jolly rancher kids,” it quickly loses its innocence and joy.

We still catching lightning bugs
When the plague hit the backyard
Had to come in at dark cause the big shawtys act hard

Chance has always been about juxtaposition.  Behind his toothy, young grin seems to be the knowledge of a man three times his age.  On his new mix tape, he grows from his previous stoner persona and talks about Chicago, God and freedom from labels.

I’m in love with my city, bitch I sleep in my hat.

-Finish Line/Drown

 

Chance has been a mascot for his city, more recognizable by locals and out-of-towners alike than Clark The Cub and Southpaw. This was proven when his album cover, a painting of him looking down, covered cities around the United States. His name wasn’t on there, there wasn’t even an album title on it, but the image soon went viral.

While Chance has talked about the violence in his city, he also shows it in a positive light.

“There is definitely a challenge to it because it goes against public perception, but is not a stretch. Chicago is beautiful,” said Chance in an interview with Zane Lowe for Beats 1 Radio. “There are very dark shadowy parts to it, and I think rather than Vice documentary style, pointing at it and being like ‘isn’t this weird?’ It’s kind of like shedding like into all those areas”

Unlike other artists from Chicago, he has no plans on leaving. On “Angles, “the first offering from “Coloring Book,” Chance states:

“I got my city doing front flips/
When every father, mayor, rapper jump ship”

Chance just doesn’t show love on his songs, he always gives love by being apart of programs in the city. He started an open mic event at Harold Washington Library for YouMedia, a program he was apart of, and last summer he was apart of the Teens In The Park Fest, a free concert and festival for youth ages 13-24 that included him chaperoning a trip to w Shedd Aquarium.

How can they call themselves bosses
When they got so many bosses
You gotta see what your boss say
I get it straight out the faucet

-Mixtape

 

Chance is one of the most well-known independent artist. After releasing three successful mix tapes, with the first one being released in 2012. he is still an independent artists and has made great strides being his own boss. He was the first independent artist to perform on Saturday Night Live back in December, and also released the first free album on iTunes with “Surf,” which he references on the track “Angles” with the verse “I even had Steve giving out apples for free.”

However, even though Chance is independent, doesn’t mean he doesn’t get trouble from labels.

“Labels told me to my face that they own my friends,” Chance says on the penultimate track “Finish Line/Drown.” During his interview with Zane, Chance explained that the album was going to include more featured artists, including more songs with his friend and fellow Chicagoian Jeremih, and a song with Big Sean and J. Cole. However, their labels stopped these songs from being released.

Chance explained the track, “No Problem” a call out to the labels that tried to stand in his way. In the song’s refrain, Chance says “If one more label try to stop me/it’s gonna be some dread headed n*ggas in ya lobby.”

“I don’t think there will ever be a release from me again that feels controlled,” Chance promised to Zane.

I speak to God in public, I speak to God in public
He keep my rhymes in couplets
He think the new shit jam, I think we mutual fans

-Blessings (Reprise)

Chance revealed to Zane that he felt like he was “losing [his] God”  when he moved to Los Angeles for four months in 2014.  To get back to the feeling of being close to God, Chance started to blast Kirk Franklin out of the speakers early in the morning, filling cup the neighborhood with gospel music. This daily routine led him to knowing that this project, “Coloring Book,” would be founded on God and his faith. Kirk Franklin is even featured on “Finish Line/Drown.”

While many people proclaim the album to be gospel rap, Chance says that was not the goal.

“I never set out to make anything that could pretend to be new gospel or to pretend to be the gospel,” said Chance. “I think its music from me as a Christian man. Before I was making music as a Christian child. In both cases I have imperfections, but I think there is a declaration that can be made out of going through all of the shit I’ve been in through in the past two years.”

Even though Chance doesn’t consider his music to be gospel, he does not shy away about talking about God.

“I don’t think we are pushed or promoted to speak about God with fervor,” said Chance. And while he is a champion of talking about freedom in the music industry, he believes the ultimate freedom lies in God. “We’re not free unless we are free to talk about God.”