THEY. shuts down Chicago with their first headlining show in the city

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After coming to Chicago as an opening act for Bryson Tiller’s TRAPSOUL tour and Jeremih and PARTYNEXTDOOR’S Summer’s Over tour, THEY. were finally headlining their own.

THEY. introduced themselves as stars in their own right by coming out in hooded capes by emerging from the crowd in hooded capes to “Africa.” Wordless, THEY. stood facing each other, letting the track play out. However, when the opening bars to “Deep End,” the first THEY. song I fell in love with, they threw off their capes and were completely turned up.

What I find most interesting about concerts is that you can see the motivating force behind an artist. You can see if they are doing all this for the money, to party all the time, for their ego…I’ve seen any number of reasons. The best reasons I’ve seen which I see in THEY. is that they do this because they feel as if they aren’t meant to do this and can’t do anything else. This is how they express themselves. Drew shared a story about how he didn’t fit in growing up and when he was younger on his birthday some TP’d his house. He said the Nu religion movement and The Wolf Pac was the space where everyone can be themselves. Dante then initiated the crowd into the Wolf Pac with these words:

THEY.’s motivation is to be able to exist in a place where they can be themselves and express themselves. They want the same for everyone else.

While performing all their songs off Nu Religion: Hyena, it was a sonic journey to say the least. A lot of times with music, the lyrics or the beat are great, and the other is an afterthought. With THEY. considering the marriage of both these aspects, the songs are stronger, taking you to the mindset that they want you to be in.

Highlights from the show also included performing Motley Crew, with the whole audience doing the whip motion for “riding around Sunset Boulevard.” And while a lot of the time the show was very hype with songs like “U-Rite,” they did slow it down for “Silence” and a cover of The Weeknd’s “High for This.”

I’m very excited for what is next for THEY. I got to meet them after the show and they were very sweet. With how they interact with fans in person and online and the amount of attention and care they put into their music, I think THEY. will go far.

Check out more pictures from the show, their tour diary and the album below.

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[Pictures] Vince Staples brings his Life Aquatic tour to Chicago

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Vince Staples brought his Life Aquatic Tour to the Metro on Saturday and Sunday. I caught the Saturday show and I was more than impressed.

The Metro isn’t the biggest venue, so I was surprised by how his large set was. He had three large TV screens that had images appear like fish and skeletons that made you feel like you were underwater near a sunken ship. The blue strobe lights also added the feeling that you were on an underwater execution.

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Despite the nautical theme of the set, Vince was in his usual uniform of a hoodie, jeans and Converse high tops. He was extremely energetic throughout his entire set, which included songs from his debut full length album “Summer ’06” and his EPs “Primma Donna” and “Hell Can Wait.”  In the middle of the show, he also performed his singles that he is featured on. For instance, one of the highlight was his performance of “Smoke & Retribution,” his song with Flume.

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The highlight of the night was during the encore, when he performed “Norf Norf.”  It was crazy to hear people shout out Northside, Long Beach in Chicago, and I’m sure it was a surreal moment for him.

Vince Staples will be back in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival in July.

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“The New Edition Story” is up there with “The Jacksons: An American Dream” as one of the best music biopic movies

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I’ve never been a huge New Edition fan. Mostly because of being born at a different time, and being more familiar with Bobby Brown’s personal life and Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” When I heard that BET was doing a television biopic movie about them, I hate to admit now, but my hopes were pretty low. Most biopic music movies are terrible (see current trailer for Britney Spear’s Lifetime movie) and unauthorized, and I wasn’t sure I was willing to commit to six hours just for a good laugh.

After getting a text from a friend to watch it, I watched the repeat showing of Part 1 after the premiere and I was astounded. I had hope when I saw that Chris Robinson, a music video director who also directed the movie “ATL,” directed the mini series. The first part, the group is played by children actors, and their dancing, singing and acting was incredible. You actually saw that New Edition had been working day and night since they were kids who came for more than humble beginnings. The rest of the mini series was amazing, with it eventually concluding in 2005 when they performed at the 25th anniversary BET where they performed a melody of their hits.

The mini series was a rating success. It also helped increase New Edition’s Spotify streams up to 637 percent.

What notes can other music biopics take?

1. Have the people that the movie is about involved: All six members of New Edition were co-producers of the movie, and even were on set to teach the actors the dances. Having authorization of the people who the movie was about also meant you can get a more authentic storyline, including revealing things that people did not know (like the fact the Ricky had a drug problem).

2. Have the cast rerecord the songs with their voices, and actually be able to sing: What was so surprising and great about this is that the actors actually sang the songs. They all have really amazing voices, and sounded so much like New Edition.

3. Show full performances: To me what set this biopic apart from a lot of others is that they showed performances of entire songs. I think it helped that the director had experience shooting music videos, so it was well done. The performances with helped balance out all the drama and showed that despite it all, they were excellent artists.

Check out Spotify’s New Edition playlist below:

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.”

 

[Review] Tinashe at House of Blues Chicago

 

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Beyoncé once famously said “a diva is a female version of a hustler.” By this definition, Tinashe is a diva. Although she displays no diva behavior (she still lives at home with her parents) she definitely hustles. She has self-produced tracks for her mix tapes from her bedroom, been the opening act for veterans in the game like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj and now she is going on a worldwide tour for an album that isn’t even out yet.

Tinashe’s hustler spirit was evident in her performance. Although she had very intricate and physically taxing choreography, she sang live the entire show. While her sophomore album, “Joyride”, isn’t released yet, she did perform songs off the forthcoming album, including the Metro Boomin produced track “Ride of Your Life” and her current single “Player.”  During “Party Favors,” the first promotional single for the album, her dancers threw out Blow Pops to the crowd.

While the show was high energy, Tinashe did slow it down, performing a medley of Janet Jacksons’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” with Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love,” which showed off her strong vocals.

Although an officially release date hasn’t been announced for “Joyride,” Tinashe thanked fans for the patience and believing in her.