Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, February 23

Gapers Block

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Review Fri Nov 06 2015

Kendrick Lamar and the Company He Keeps

Kendrick Lamar and I have history. I was 20 when we first met. He, only 25.

I was new to adulthood, and I had just topped off the last two years of my teens with a list of senseless decisions, unwarranted consequences and only a handful of regrets that I won't admit out loud.

He, on the other hand, was "new" to the rap game. By that time, he had already released Overly Dedicated and Section.80, two mixtapes that secured his spot in XXL's Top 10 Freshman Class of 2011. A closer look, he had already mapped out for me what my early 20s would look like: chaotic, systematic and full of a hell of a lot of good times.

Continue reading this entry »

F. Amanda Tugade

Review Thu Oct 22 2015

Chasing Skirts, Chasing Dreams: A Lesson From Dan Kanvis

Last Friday night felt all too familiar, and it started out the same way it always does -- one drink to hold you over while you're waiting, another to get the conversation going, and maybe a third just for Friday's sake.

Everyone who came through the door was searching for someone they knew. Tiny colorful lights twinkled from neat rows of arcade games at Emporium in Wicker Park, and guided its evening visitors to familiar faces. The evening was a complimentary alternative to the "new normal" of Netflix and chill.

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F. Amanda Tugade

Hip Hop Wed Apr 29 2015

Chief Keef's Love Affair with Food

"Since I've been eating, now I like a bunch of food!" Although he's famous for run-ins with the law, this lyric from Chief Keef's 2014 track "Stupid" showcases his affinity toward another artform: food.

Turns out, he's always liked rapping about various cuisines.And just last week, he dropped a track called "Heinz Ketchup," using condiments as a vehicle for expression:

"You stuck in mayonnaise, ketchup
You got mayonnaise ways, catch ya
You mustard, catch ya"

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Ornberg / Comments (1)

Hip Hop Fri Apr 17 2015

Kendrick Lamar Joins BJ The Chicago Kid "It's True" Remix

As hip-hop is the most adaptable genre, the sounds between the MCs' words are what induce the lyrics, pulling the listener to a different type of high.

This being said, the sounds of Motown crooner BJ The Chicago Kid — equal parts silky neo-soul, babymaking R&B and confessional hip-hop — offer an introspective depth and inherent Chicago color to any of his hip-hop features. Especially those with West Coast hip-hop collective Black Hippy, which includes Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Sol: BJ The Chicago Kid is consistently their music's outstanding dark horse.

The remix of BJ's hood tale-telling track "It's True" dropped April 13, taking a reflective look into the hardships of life on the streets. In addition to the original Schoolboy Q verse and smooth hook from BJ's latest mixtape The M.A.F.E. Project, the remix features a brand-new verse from Punch, president of indie label Top Dawg Entertainment, and the following bone-chilling bars from Kendrick Lamar:

"California economics, killer assignments
School test scores drop, murder rates climbin'
Scarface where you watch, try to reenact
And launched over the balcony, buck shots in our backs
Every day casualties got me losin' my sanity
Can this be within arm reach? I'm all panicky"

BJ has had an extensive career, mostly from behind the spotlight of major artists: penning songs for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott and singing backup for artists such as Mary Mary, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Diddy-Dirty Money, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and that Tupac hologram at Coachella. His debut album, Pineapple Now-Laters, is heavily influenced by his Chicago roots, complete with his trademark sensual R&B grooves.

Check out the remix, below, or the the original music video, created by local production crew Verluxe:

Emily Ornberg

Preview Thu Mar 26 2015

Earl Sweatshirt Returns to Chicago with a New Album

Ever since Earl Sweatshirt returned from his hip-hop sabbatical in 2012, the 21-year-old Odd Future word whiz has been watched under a microscope. His murmured polysyllabic flow and vivid murder fantasies proved a skill well beyond his age; but right as 13-piece rap mob catapulted into fame, Earl disappeared.

Investigations confirmed Earl's mom had shipped him to a school for at-risk teen boys in Samoa. As soon as he returned, every verse, interview and public appearance was analyzed for a clue as to what his commercial debut might sound like. When Doris dropped, an even further matured version of the previously precocious Earl Sweatshirt appeared: altogether stoned, heady, horny, insecure and thirsty for blood.

To our surprise (and his), Earl's second album, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, hit iTunes pre-order last week and officially released March 23. Worrisome and dark, the album covers recent hardships: a broken relationship, the death of his grandmother and troubles adjusting to fame. He's talks of losing loved ones and replacing them with fans "who you can't get mad at when they want a pound and pic/ 'Cause they the reason that the traffic on the browser quick/ And they the reason that the paper in your trouser's thick." Complete with drugged, slouched beats and a biting bass, the mischievously witty album is self-produced by Earl, under the alias randomblackdude.

Earl Sweatshirt's live performances in Chicago usually result in mind-melting freestyles, sweaty, bloody mosh pits and random articles of clothing getting chucked offstage. Lucky for you, he is playing an all-ages show alongside protege West Coast MC Vince Staples and Remy Banks at the Concord Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.) this Sunday, March 29 at 5:30pm. Tickets are $28.50 (+fees).

Emily Ornberg

Hip Hop Mon Dec 01 2014

Vic Mensa Rocks the Metro (Nov. 28)


I saw Chance the Rapper at the Riv at year. I think it was either the day before or the day after Thanksgiving. It was a sold out show, shortly after Acid Rap had come out and he was excellent. It was the performance of an emergence. As Chance juked around stage under the bright lights, rapping along with thousands of fans, you felt that something was happening. Coincidentally, this performance was the first time I saw Vic Mensa and the last time I saw DJ Rashad before he passed away.

Let me clarify. I'd seen Mensa once or twice before as the lead singer for Kids These Days and I'd heard his then recently released Innanetape mixtape, but watching Mensa cameo during "Cocoa Butter Kisses" during Chance's homecoming set was my first glimpse of seeing him as a solo artist. Fast forward almost exactly a year later. After touring around the world and releasing a series of singles, Vic Mensa returned to Chicago for a sold out homecoming show at the Metro, also during Thanksgiving.

Continue reading this entry »

Justin Freeman

Hip Hop Tue Nov 11 2014

Preview: Lil Bibby at Bottom Lounge Nov. 13


Its got to be an exciting time for Lil Bibby. Based off the strength of his debut mixtape Free Crack, the local rapper has found himself in the spotlight, attracting the attention of Drake and earning a spot on XXL's annual list of buzzworthy and interesting rappers.

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Justin Freeman

Lollapalooza Tue Aug 05 2014

Run the Jewels are a Job Well Done at Double Door 08/02


As somewhat dated as this reference is becoming, Run the Jewels are the anti-Watch the Throne; two anarchist leaning savage bullies who'd gleefully kick in the windows of mansions only to break in and steal the Basquiat paintings belonging to rapper millionaires.

El-P and Killer Mike have have been doing their own things for awhile now. El-P ran the much respected alt rap label, Definitive Jux, before deciding to pursue a solo career. Killer Mike was a student of Outkast as well as a member of Atlanta's Dungeon Family. Killer Mike guest starred on El-P's latest album, Cancer 4 Cure for the single "Tougher Colder Killer." They realized they had chemistry and kept the partnership going. In 2013, they released their debut mixtape as a collective, the self titled Run the Jewels.

Continue reading this entry »

Justin Freeman / Comments (1)

Hip Hop Thu Jun 19 2014

Preview: Evian Christ Tonight at Primary


Evian Christ has one of the more memorable sets of Pitchfork last summer. Hidden away in the shade of the blue stage, he played a minimalist set creating a chill and decadent aura with psychedelic drug rap samples and spaciously ominous beats. Towards the end of a remix of Kanye's "I'm in It," he experienced some technical difficulties. A John Cage-esque palpable silence filled the place as he made the necessary repairs. After a brief moment, the music resumed to Kanye coincidentally declaring, "Pick up where we left off." It was subtly kinda beautiful. Everyone looked around and took in the serendipity of the moment as Evian Christ finished his set.

Signed to the impeccable TriAngle Records, the Kanye West affiliate recently released his newest EP, Waterfall which finds the UK producer gravitating towards a more full sound, occupying the company of producers such as Hudson Mohawke, Clams Casino, and Lunice.

Check out streams of a few of his singles below.

Our friends, the cool kids at Them Flavors, are helping bring Evian Christ back to town. Evian Christ plays tonight, June 19th, at Primary (5 W Division.) This is a 21+ show. Dutch E Germ, Devin Hudson b2b Beng Fang, Hai-Chu, and Evan Annihilist all fill out the lineup. If you're into it, tickets are $10 and can be grabbed here.

Justin Freeman

Artist Tue May 06 2014

Chicago Rappers on the XXL Freshman List


Yesterday afternoon, the annual XXL Freshmen list was announced, and Chicago was highly represented on it. For all of y'all that don't know, XXL is an influential rap magazine that's been around since the late 90's. Once a year they curate a list of 12 "freshmen," emerging artists of whom they consider to be the most promising. Of these 12 selections, Chicago is home to four of them; Chance the Rapper, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa and Lil Bibby.

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Justin Freeman

Hip Hop Wed Jan 15 2014

Common's Not Smiling on New Album

Chicago-native rapper Common is currently hard at work on a call-to-action album dedicated to stopping violence in the city. The rapper stated in an interview with Revolt that the upcoming album, titled Nobody Smiling, aims to speak to the conditions of violence in Chicago and inner cities all over America.

"War" is the first track released as a teaser of the upcoming album. The song is an embittered attack on the complacency of the warfare environment plaguing the urban population, especially the youth of Chicago. His tone comes from a feeling of disappointment, from the perspective of a man who tours the world and returns to his home city only to find the conditions increasingly worse each time. It also includes a snippet of the rapper's interview where he discussed his motives behind the indignant album.

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Rima Mandwee

Concert Sat Jan 04 2014

Flosstradamus @ The Riv 12/30


It's been awhile since we checked in with Flosstradamus. The last time we saw one of their shows was at Lincoln Hall; coincidentally during New Year's Eve of 2010. Some things have changed in the last three years. Lead by producers such as Skrillex, a new generation of electronic music has exploded into the mainstream and Flosstradamus have found themselves performing to ever growing crowds around the world in between recording EPs and new mixes. We remember Flosstradamus playing small yet intense sets at dive bars, so we wanted to see how they would transition from that setting to an almost arena sized theater. It was with this in mind as we headed to The Riv on a snowy Monday night for the first of two sold out performances.

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Justin Freeman

Concert Tue Oct 29 2013

Review: King Louie @ Reggies, 10/24

Chicago is a city in transition, transforming into a central force in hip-hop before our very eyes. In between the meteoric rise of Chance the Rapper and the relentlessly confrontational presence of Chief Keef, Chicago plays host to a slew of artists who are on the verge of making it. This past Thursday at Reggies, I was able to witness one of those on the cusp artists; King Louie.

You may recognize King Louie from his appearance on Kanye's latest album Yeezus, where Louie raps the first verse and chorus on "Send it Up." Perhaps you recall seeing his Basquiat-inspired promo stickers all over town a year or so ago. Maybe you're into the local rap scene and are already familiar with him and his impressive lineup of mixtapes. The point of this is that knowingly or not, you probably at least have a passing knowledge of the man and his work.

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Justin Freeman

Concert Thu Aug 15 2013

Preview: Chandler London, ShowYouSuck & ProbCause @ Empty Bottle 8/17

Chicago has emerged as a central force in hip-hop, incubating rappers on the ascension such as Sasha GoHard and Chief Keef while at the same time acting as a homeland for established legacy rappers such Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco.

With that said, our friends over at Vocalo are putting on a rap show at the Empty Bottle this Saturday. They're showcasing three rappers that personify the increasingly diverse and complex ideals of the modern Chicago rapper who are all on the verge of potentially being a next big thing; Chandler London, ShowYouSuck, and ProbCause.

Continue reading this entry »

Justin Freeman

Hip Hop Thu Aug 08 2013

Chicago Meets LA in New WHOevers, Beat Junkies Collab

Local hip-hop heavy hitters the WHOevers have made all sorts of digable noise since we first started following them two years back, during the release of their digital album debut, Renovations. Since then, they've been dishing out the haymakers alongside other Chicago-style sound makers such as Show You Suck, Chandler London and another the on-the-rise duo, Retrospect.

Just yesterday, however, J.Arthur and Dot Kom took their growing rep to new heights, with the release of "Hey," a collaborative track with the world famous Beat Junkies originator, DJ Rhettmatic. The track shakes the speakers with a booming backdrop of horns, bass, and scratches complementing the pair's unique style and delivery, with the original beat maker at his best.

Ricardo Villarreal

News Tue May 28 2013

Chief Keef's Big Week

Chief Keef was arrested in Northfield Monday night for going 110mph on the Edens. This after being arrested in Atlanta last week for "disorderly conduct" for smoking pot in a hotel room (he claims the security guard was racist.

Meanwhile, the rapper otherwise known as Keith Cozart posted on Instagram two photos of himself holding two handguns. Is he still on probation for illegal gun possession or is that all clear now?

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Andrew Huff

Hip Hop Fri Dec 07 2012

Review: Return of the Mecca Don & Chocolate Boy Wonder

Keeping the rhythm of its recent rally of bringing some of the most prolific faces and sounds of hip-hop and R&B to the city, The Shrine upped the volume once more last Friday, by welcoming a duo that practically epitomizes an era; Pete Rock & CL Smooth.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth at The Shrine. Photo by Ricardo Villarreal

Celebrating twenty years since the release of their debut LP, Mecca and the Soul Brother, the originators were set to perform the album in its entirety. They took to the stage with all the command and comfort of a veteran, but the energy and excitement of a pair of performers in their prime. Pete Rock excelled behind the decks, as a master of his craft would, at interluding and blending his tracks with their samples, and even including some classics off of the pair's 1991 EP, All Souled Out. CL Smooth's lyrical performance was complimented by his physical one, as he moved and grooved through every beat of every track, making it clear that the birth of the "hype man" marked the decline of the real emcee.

PeteRockCL5.jpg    PeteRockCL6.jpg

The two performed together as though they had never stopped, and provided, as promised, a momentary cure and escape, or "medicine", as CL Smooth called it, for the currently troubled times. They took the room back to '92, or rather, the golden age of hip-hop that Millennials imagine it to be, with the music, and the moves, and the mood they set with a flawless live rendition of their masterpiece. The album may as well have been recorded in that room that night, because the perfection that boomed through the speakers equaled that of the LP.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth at The Shrine. Photo by Ricardo Villarreal

Wrapping up the night with their most known, respected, and most magnificent track, T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You), carried all the power that an ode to a fallen friend would, but it also blared with a reminiscence of the music, and the feeling that comes with thoughts of "the good ol' days," and everyone's varied recollection of them. It was nostalgia at its finest, channeled through legends in their truest form.

Ricardo Villarreal

Video Thu Aug 09 2012

A 13-Year-Old Rapper Shocks the City with "Get Smoked"

Lil Mouse is a 13-year-old rapper from the Wild 100s. He's already recorded several videos, the first when he was still 12. His latest track, "Get Smoked," has attracted attention for its glorification of popping pills, selling drugs, having sex, shooting people and other activities not usually associated with barely teenaged kids.

In the Sun-Times, Mary Mitchell asks where the outrage is over a child producing gangsta rap. She includes a quote from Che "Rhymefest" Smith, whose first single came out when he was 20.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Hip Hop Thu Jun 07 2012

Review: De La Soul @ The Shrine

To celebrate three years in the business of good vibes, good music, and an ambiance and audience to match, The Shrine thanked its guests, two weekends back, by welcoming the near-mythical hip-hop trio, De La Soul, to its stage. The group, made up of Maseo, Posdnous, and Dave, ranks among the greats, of not only the era that birthed similar legends like A Tribe Called Quest and The Wu-Tang Clan, but certainly of all time.

It isn't often the city, let alone the Midwest, gets the chance to see artists that possess the trio's level of influence and legend. It's no wonder then, that as soon as Maseo took the stage, the room filled with cheers, chants, and song requests; and all hands were filled with a cell phone.

Maseo at The Shrine. Photo by Ricardo Villarreal

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Ricardo Villarreal

Concert Thu May 24 2012

De La Soul - Much More (Than A Classic Debut)


You know Miles Davis' On the Corner? The early '70s one with the HEAVY funk grooves and the crazy editing? And the cartoons? Like a Ralph Bakshi/Pedro Bell key party, that one is. Inside the sleeve, there's one set of cartoons with various caricatures of what I assume are Miles' ideas of stereotypical fan responses to his music. One guy is wearing a dashiki and pulling some sanctimonious body language. His word bubble says, "Me and Miles, we go way know, Kind of Blue...." The implication, as I read it, is that this is the type of fan that can relate to an artist at their point of highest mass popularity. If a similar caricature for hip hop could be drawn today, the person might be saying, "Me and De La, we go way know, 3 Feet High And Rising..."

Of course, you'll get no argument from me or any other hip hop fanatic that De La Soul's debut is one of the great rap albums of all time, but sometimes, it's hard to convince casual fans that De La Soul never stopped producing classic albums. But with precious few exceptions, De La Soul's story is one of constant artistic ascent, with each album topping the previous in terms of lyrical content, flow, message, you name it. And even if you still like the Prince Paul era the best, the band's production has never been less than stellar. I'd even go so far to say as 2004's The Grind Date, recorded 15 years after their debut might be the of the band's very best outings. So how'd they do it? And what are they up to now?

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Chris Sienko

Hip Hop Fri May 11 2012

Clothes Don't Make the Man: Hip-Hop Artists' Outrage Over Misrepresentation in the Reader


The latest front page story for the Reader titled Scratch and Stitch, claims to cover Chicago hip-hop artists and the brands that back them. The Twittersphere buzzed heavily yesterday in reaction to what many in the hip-hop community deemed a misinterpreted premise, however, and their initial problem with the story begins with the cover photo. "Insert Chicago Rapper Here," it says, filling a white circle that covers the space where the rest of hip-hop artist ShowYouSuck's face should be.

"Why was I asked by name to do this?" says Clinton Sandifer, a.k.a. ShowYouSuck. "For my face to be covered? I feel disrespected." In a statement released on Ruby Hornet to address the Reader's story, Sandifer added, "I thought we were past the 'all rappers are the same,' mentality.' Rap fans in Chicago are [finally] open to different sounds and artists, and instead of THAT being celebrated, we all get thrown back into being another rapper."

Tweets from fellow artists Auggie the 9th, and Million Dollar Mano, among others, also express concern over the essentials that the piece failed to highlight.

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Ricardo Villarreal / Comments (1)

mp3 Wed May 02 2012

Chief Keef's "I Don't Like" Remixed by Kanye West

The web's been buzzing, banging, twittering and Facebook blasting all about the recent remix released by Kanye West. The track titled "I Don't Like", was a Chief Keef original that stood strong in getting attention on its own; over two million views and rising to be specific. Add a cosign from Mr. West, as he gives shout outs to other local rappers including King Louie, Bump J, and the LEP Bogus Boys, and the local scene is sure to get a few more listens from the big markets.

Ricardo Villarreal

Hip Hop Tue May 01 2012

Supreme Cuts Pull Back The Curtain On Their Next Mixtape


The Chicago duo Supreme Cuts are travelers from a world where Mannie Fresh, Missy Elliot, and Timbaland never fell out of R&B graces. In this world Missy Elliot gets down on some high tea with Phillip Glass and Stephen Hawking on the first Tuesday of every month. Today Supreme Cuts slipped a new audio artifact named Gully featuring rapper Haleek Maul out of their four-dimensional spacetime printer.

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Jason Olexa

Hip Hop Fri Apr 27 2012

Get Drillmatic On That Chicago Hip Hop Tip


Multi-disciplinary illuminati aficionado and DJ Meaghan Garvey released a mixtape of current Chicago Hip Hop so ill it'll put your Friday into quarantine. The Drillmatic features a window rattling mix of current breakout Chicago Hip Hop that serves as a companion to Meaghan's article highlighting Chicago's female MCs underground on Creamteam. Tracklist after the cut.

Continue reading this entry »

Jason Olexa

Video Mon Apr 16 2012

Hip Hop on Film

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, is an upcoming documentary by Ice-T about the roots, culture and artistry of rap and hip hop. The film includes interviews with dozens of artists from both the new school and old school, including Chicagoans Common and Kanye West.

Meanwhile, local music video producer Konee Rok has put together a documentary of his own: The Rebirth of Chicago Cool, telling the story of how nightclub owner Joe Russo came back to Chicago to open The Shrine.

Andrew Huff

Hip Hop Wed Apr 04 2012

Listen to the New Kanye West Song, "Theraflu"

Hot 97's DJ Funkmaster Flex debuted a new track by Kanye West Wednesday night called "Theraflu," featuring DJ Khaled and DJ Pharris.

For most of the last minute, DJ Pharris runs through shout-outs to various Chicago neighborhoods:

This is Chicago, nigga!
South Side we're in this bitch!
East Side crazy blow that loud!
Low End! 39th! the Ickes!
47th Street! Garfield Park!
79th! Stony Island!
K-Town and Wild Hundreds!
This is Chi-Town!
Dro City! The Village!
Harvey World! O-Block!
64th and Normal!
64th and King Drive, what up!?
83rd! Cottage Grove! The Gardens!
This Chicago, nigga!
The Dearborns! 55th!
Cabrini Green! Terror Town!
West Side! Pocket Town, it's Chicago!
Halsted to the Ida B. Wells!
Lawn-City! The Manor, London Town!
Chiraq Drillinoise!
DJ Pharris, fuck around and get embarrassed.

Fake Shore Drive has a download link should you be interested.

Andrew Huff

sxsw2012 Tue Mar 20 2012

SXSW 2012 Tour Diary: Jip Jop, Day 4 and a Wrap Up

sxsw2012.jpgWe had some technical difficulties, but here's the final day of tour diary from Jip Jop, and some photos from a few impromptu shows to remember. Guess the old rule rings true — it's not a good party, till the police show up.

Day 4

Hello from Austin! Our second show brought the house down (almost literally) with police coming to stop all the commotion. We followed a couple of great bands from Berklee School of Music — Canary and Against Atlas.

Seeing some of our favorite artists has been a major highlight of the trip. SBTRKT (below), Terror Pigeon, and Deerhoof to name a few...

FINAL-SBTRKT picture.jpg

Continue reading this entry »

Transmission / Comments (2)

sxsw2012 Tue Mar 13 2012

SXSW 2012 Tour Diary: Jip Jop, Day 2

sxsw2012.jpgWell never fear, Jip Jop is making some new friends down in Austin, and fitting in just fine. Here's the latest from Carlos and Jip Jop.

Day 2

We played at Baby Blue Studios on E. 12th St. and witnessed a dusty garage party turn into a wall-shaking dance party before our eyes. Bikes chained to gates, keg lines, red cups, and a crowd ready to party late into the night gave us that authentic Austin vibe we came for.


The energy was amazing! Our boys at Good Luck Sir put together a great line-up of music that we were happy to headline.

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Transmission / Comments (3)

Feature Thu Mar 08 2012

Minding the Gaps in Chicago Hip-Hop

The WHOevers; Dotkom (left) and J.Arthur (right) by Stephen Klapko

To the casual listener, Chicago hip-hop is heavily defined by the works of Kanye, Common, Lupe Fiasco, and maybe Twista, if they know a thing or two. Beneath the surface, however, sounds from artists on the up-and-up like King Louie, Chief Keef, Chandler London, and The WHOevers, stay reserved for those savvy to the young and dynamic scene. From local stage shows to web videos, these artists have succeeded in developing a following based on each of their own unique styles; creating sub-genres within the culture.

The problem is, while diversity in style and content can be a good thing, a segregation has developed between the artists and the groups of people particular to their sound. This complicates the concept of hip-hop as a unifying movement in the city.

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Ricardo Villarreal / Comments (8)

Interview Fri Feb 17 2012

Da Brat Returns to Chicago with the Legends of Hip Hop Tour, Saturday


For 20 years now, Da Brat has cemented her status as one of the most noted women in hip hop; as the first female rapper to ever go platinum (1994's Funkdafied), this Grammy-nominated artist has definitely earned a place in music history. After riding in the fast lane with three follow-up albums, along with several television and movie roles, Da Brat (aka Shawntae Harris) hit a speed bump in 2007 with a prison term that threatened to end it all. Now, the Chicago native, part of the Legends of Hip Hop tour, is back in the driver's seat; here, she talks about her life, lessons learned, and of course, loving hip hop.

Gapers Block: You've been in the game for a while now. Take us back to the girl growing up on Chicago's west side — when did you know you could rap?

Da Brat: I knew when I was in junior high school when I was battling all the guys and was just wearing them out. And then when I started to see MC Lyte, [Queen] Latifah and Monie Love, I said to myself, "Oh — this is what I'm going to do."

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (2)

Transmission Tue Dec 27 2011

The Whoevers Speak "Spectacular Vernacular" in Latest Video Release
The Whoevers' album, Renovations

Local emcees J. Arthur and DotKom combine their drive, talents, and roots in the soulful and gritty sounds that make up their style, to create the hip-hop duo known as The Whoevers. They've earned the respect of listeners from the tops of several stages in the city, including one at Wicker Park Fest this past year.

With the digital release of their first album, Renovations, back in September, The Whoevers are wrapping up their biggest year yet, with their midnight release of the music video for "Spectacular Vernacular," the second track off the EP.

Ricardo Villarreal

Video Tue Nov 15 2011

Kid Sister Gets Her Gucci Rag Top Detailed With Danny Brown

Neon bright Chicago MC Kid Sister just dropped her video for the remix of Gucci Rag Top featuring fellow Fools Gold MC Danny Brown. The remix Xzibit Pimps the original track into a Missy Elliot sampling Rick Rubin-esque 808s and gated guitar party shaker as Kid Sister and Danny Brown engage in a battle of who's sexual libido is best represented by their choice of vehicular transportation.

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Jason Olexa

Video Thu Aug 11 2011

"Ghetto Dreams" Video Debuts

Kanye and Jay-Z aren't the only hip-hop dream doubleteam right now. The other is Common and Nas, whose "Ghetto Dreams" has been rocking turntables and booming out of cars for the past month. The official video just debuted; thanks to Fake Shore Drive for the tip.

"Ghetto Dreams" is on Common's forthcoming album, The Dreamer, The Believer, due out Nov. 22.

Andrew Huff

Hip Hop Fri Jul 08 2011

Psalm One "Juke Me"

It's Friday, it's sunny, and it's time for a the supreme summer 2011 track. In my opinion it has to be "Juke Me" by Psalm One. This song is self-released as the lead single for her 15-track road tape "Get In The Van" Vol. 3 which is coming soon. You can find "Juke Me" on iTunes or bandcamp. What tracks are you blasting this summer?

Jason Behrends

Hip Hop Thu Jul 07 2011

Cool Kids Get It All Covered

Chicago rap duo The Cool Kids get the feature treatment on the B-Side of the Chicago Reader out today all in honor of the official upcoming July 12 release (finally!) of their full-length album When Fish Ride Bicycles (Green Label Sound). If that label doesn't ring a bell, that's because you may not have run across the musical arm of Mountain Dew before. Does this mean The Cool Kids are finally making their long-delayed break out album forever writing their name in the skies of Chicago-born rap legends? That's yet to be seen. But we'll enjoy the ride with them this summer, for sure.

Even better news is your next chance to see them perform live isn't going to just be at any old stage or street fest — they're the newest addition to the Lollapalooza line-up. [Update: They've also just added an official Lolla aftershow at Reggies on 8/5.]

Listen to the wholly seasonally appropriate song "Swimsuit" (ft. Mayer Hawthorne) from the upcoming album. Or to the track below "Penny Hardaway" (feat. Ghostface Killah).

Anne Holub

Hip Hop Wed Jan 26 2011

Lyrics Born brings the beats to Abbey Pub 1/29

Bay-area rapper Lyrics Born (Tom Shimura) hits the stage at the Abbey Pub this weekend with no less than a full band and hopefully some fresh batteries in his microphone. The maestro has rocked stages at Lollapalooza, and almost all the venues in town — he tours so much he must have mastered the science of packing a suitcase. But this isn't just your ordinary "Hip-Hop Hooray" rap artist. Blessed with a gift for enunciating the most complicated of rhymes, and for the good sense to bring a solid live band into the studio, Lyrics Born is as entertaining to listen to as he is to shake your booty to.

His latest album, As U Were is no exception to a series of energetic solo releases which began back in the late-'90s with singles, and really took off with 2003's ...Later That Day and the widely successful remix album, 2005's Same !@#$ Different Day. He followed up with a live double album in 2006, another studio release in 2008 and this fall's latest album, As U Were. This one isn't just rap beats, but LB takes a lot more funk into the studio to create some pretty groovy songs like the more sung than rapped "Lies X 3" and the disco-influenced "Coulda Woulda Shoulda". Songs like "Oh! Baby" are classic Lyrics Born with machine gun-fast lyrics alongside piano and brass horns, oh, and some vocoder too.

[mp3] Lyrics Born - Lies X 3 (Keys N Krates remix)

Lyrics Born performs at the Abbey Pub along with Keys N Krates, The Opus, Abstract Giants, and Vapor Eyes on Saturday, January 29th. The doors open at 8pm, music starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are $18 (adv), $20 (door). 21+. The Abbey Pub is located at 3420 W. Grace St. 773-478-4408.

Anne Holub

Hip Hop Thu Nov 18 2010

Matlock Raps (But It's Not Who You Think)

[This piece was submitted by freelance writer and creator of many mediocre YouTube videos Daniel Shar.]

Chicago-based rapper Matlock, like most of you, has a friend who seems to love nothing more than showing off YouTube videos he has incorrectly deemed worthwhile. Every now and then, as you know, that friend unwittingly manages to strike gold. If you're Matlock, this happy accident opens the door for a chance at wide-scale exposure and promotion unlike anything you've experienced in the first decade of your music career.

Though most people today hear "rap battles" and immediately think of 8 Mile, it is not unreasonable to expect future generations to associate the phrase with Grind Time Now. The league, which began humbly in Florida just two years ago, now has multiple divisions throughout the country, several copycat leagues around the world, and more than 35 million views on YouTube.

After his buddy turned him into part of that sizable audience, Matlock realized the opportunity available to get involved as a battler and expand his own following. Battling has long been viewed as a great way for rappers to earn respect, but Grind Time Now has truly transformed and heightened this reality.

By encouraging participants to write verses for their opponents, and by eliminating the presence of instrumentals, the league manages to put a fresh spin on one of the oldest traditions in hip-hop. This cultural tornado will touch down in Chicago for the sixth time since 2008 at The Windy City Takeover IV this Saturday, November 20, at Elastic Arts Foundation.

Continue reading this entry »


Hip Hop Wed Sep 15 2010

One More Drink with Ludacris

Photos by Stephanie Griffin

The back stock room at Binny's may be the last place you'd expect to find Ludacris, but nevertheless that's where I found myself chatting with this famed rapper and actor this past Saturday afternoon. Luda had stopped by the liquor store to promote Conjure, his new brand of cognac, before his show at Park West that night. Sadly, samples of the cognac were not offered.

Continue reading this entry »

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

News Thu Apr 29 2010

Edible Audible Picnic Returns This Summer

I was starting to think that city cutbacks were going to stretch all the way into summer music programming at Millennium Park, but luckily the schedule for this season's Edible Audible Picnic arrived in our inbox today and here we share it with you.

As you probably guessed by the name, Edible Audible Picnic is a music series that takes place at, you guessed it, lunchtime at Pritzker Pavilion. Every Monday afternoon beginning on June 7th, the "polyrhythmic music series" will present bands and DJ's spanning from around the world to right here from Chicago including Green Velvet, The Cool Kids and Orchard Lounge. It's like a party instead of work. You can step away from your computer for an hour a week for that, right?

All concerts begin at noon. See the full schedule after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

Hip Hop Wed Feb 17 2010

Promoters Speak Out Over Doom / Not Doom Fiasco

mf-doom1.jpgAfter the Mos Def / MF Doom double bill at the Congress this past Saturday, allegations began to surface that an impostor performed as MF Doom. Local hip-hop blog Fake Shore Drive is heading the charge, claiming that the "DOOMpostor" and his DJ were performing to a recording of album tracks, and holding fast to the assumption that the performer was in no way Daniel Dumile.

The rumor mill's blame has fallen on the promoters and yesterday, representatives for React, Cold Grums, Silver Wrapper and the Congress responded both to Fake Shore Drive and the Vocalo Blog. They maintain that they have no knowledge of whether the performer was MF Doom or an impostor, and the performer's behavior - while suspicious - gave them no clues. However, they are threatening legal action for a breach of contract if it becomes clear that MF Doom sent a stand-in.

Several videos of the performance have surfaced, so judge for yourself:

Mica Alaniz / Comments (3)

Event Fri Nov 06 2009

Before I Self Destruct Advance Screening

Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) has just embarked on a 10-city promotional tour for his new film Before I Self Destruct, a companion to his latest album of the same title. Fiddy wrote, directed, and starred in the film, and will be hitting up Chicago on Monday night with a preview screening. Want in? Head on over to to print out free passes (you'll have to create an account, also free). The screening will be overbooked to guarantee a full house, so it would be wise to arrive a bit early. It'll all be going down at AMC River East 21 (322 East Illinois St), Monday night at 8:30 pm.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Blog Fri Oct 16 2009

Friday Quick Links

A bit of what's been going on elsewhere online this week:

  • A.V. Club Chicago asks Jeff Tweedy to react to comments about him on the Internet.
  • Big Rock Candy Mountain goes all weak in the knees over Chicago band Cococoma and their luscious pink vinyl record.
  • The Deli Chicago has the line (and a video) from a DA reunion on Chic-a-Go Go.
  • More in video is on Fake Shore Drive with local hip-hop artists Kidz in the Hall on Mark Bazer's "The Interview Show" which also begs the question: Why isn't there any hip-hop at The Hideout? Or any, really?
  • Jim DeRogatis has the line on a fledgling band called Ideamen hitting the Beat Kitchen later this month with their newly minted album.
  • Loud Loop Press has it that Pelican will play an in-store show at Reckless later in the month, but more importantly, they'll debut a new "Pelican Burger" at Kuma's. Congrats, fellas! You've arrived.
  • And I totally missed the recent announcement of Kid Sister's long-awaited (and awaited) debut album release. Ultraviolet drops 11/17 and you can be at her show at the House of Blues to celebrate on 11/25. Tickets $16-$18.

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

Hip Hop Wed Sep 16 2009

Vote for The Truth Awards

thetruthawards2009_logo.jpgThe nominations are in, and now it's time to vote for 2009's The Truth Awards, which celebrate Chicago's vibrant hip hop scene. Will Twista win best album? Is Mic Terror the artist of the year? It's your call.

The Truth Awards will be held Oct. 9 in the Grand Marmon Ballroom, 2231 S. Michigan Ave. from 7 to 10pm. Tickets are $25, available by calling 312-980-2681 or emailing midwestgap[at]

Andrew Huff

Hip Hop Tue Jul 14 2009

North Side There's No Juke

BBU (aka either Bin Laden Blowin' Up or Black, Brown and Ugly) have a hit on their hands with "Chi Don't Dance." Check it out:

BBU is performing with Hood Internet and the Life During Wartime DJs at UR Magazine's Dickfork night at Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago Ave. The show starts at 9pm and is free before 11pm with RSVP or all night if you have a Pitchfork ticket or wristband (it's $5 after 11 if you don't). 21+

Andrew Huff

News Tue Dec 12 2006

Evel Kanyevel

Billboard magazine today reports that the pride of Butte, MT, Evel Knievel, is suing Chicago rap producer Kanye West over his "Touch the Sky" video. Apparently, Knievel objects to West biting his style in the video, which recreates the legendary daredevil's failed 1974 Snake River Canyon Jump in a rocket-powered SkyCycle.

[Author name lost in database explosion]

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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