Music

10 years of Food & Liquor and what it means to this Chicago kid. 

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco’s debut studio album Food & Liquor. This occasion has me thinking about what kind of person I was in 2006 and what kind of impact the album had on my life.

I was 17 in 2006.  I was a high school junior who was starting to realize that I was different from my majority Caucasian and Hispanic classmates. I grew up in a Catholic household with white parents in a majority white area where you had to drive to the next town to purchase an album that wasn’t edited. I was born in Chicago, lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of the city until I was 7, bounced around for a bit but landed in the west suburbs at 9 and stayed there most of my life. I remember bits and pieces of Chicago as a child. I remember the building on 47th & Woodlawn where I had my first bike stolen from underneath me. I remember having to take the stairs at my moms boyfriends apartment in Cabrini Green because the elevator didn’t work. The spoken word intro on Food & Liquor by Ayesha Jaco brought me into a world I had only seen in glances since we moved.

“Food and liquor stores rest on every corner
From 45th and State to the last standing Henry Horner
J&J’s, Harold’s chicken, good finger licking
While they sin, gin, sin sin at Rothschild and Kenwood Liquors
The winos crooked stagger
meets the high stride of the youth searching for the truth
They rebel and raise hell across alleyways and in classroom settings
They get, high off that drum bass and 20/20 rims
They rock braids, Air Force Ones and Timbs”

Food & Liquor was access to a world my mother worked hard to keep me away from. Chicago. The West side. The neighborhoods where my grandmother raised my father and uncles. The places where people looked more like me, had my type of hair and my type of lineage.  I grew up 25 minutes away from the west side of Chicago that Lupe hailed from but it felt like galaxies away.  The music was my connection to Lupe and his world. I found comfort in the music of someone who was black like me, who was nerdy and loved language like me.

As someone who was raised by just my mother “He Say She Say” helped me appreciate her hustle in a time when I was dealing with teenage angst and wanted to hate the world. The first verse in “Daydreamin'” is still one of my favorite verses of all time. Lupe’s enchanting and intricate description of the robot he’s commanding was my first realization of the connection between hip-hop and storytelling and my first glimpse into his lyrical genius. “Kick, Push II” is still a favorite of mine because of the diversity of the story.

“Traveling band of misfits and outcasts…..”

Everyone in the song had their own struggles but everything became ok when they got together to skate. That need for a community where you feel accepted is important and was something I longed for at 17 when the album came out.

With Food & Liquor being 10 years old today I’m reminded of the impression music can have. There are albums that just fall into your life at the right moment and Food & Liquor was that for me. This album is a part of my hip-hop foundation. It influenced me at 17 and helped lead me unto the path I’m on today.

 

Dedicated. To my grandmother. Peace.

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Music

Chicago’s Rap Villian: Vic Spencer 

 Vic Spencer is pushing for honesty. He’s pushing for realism in hiphop and like always he’s pushing people’s buttons. 2015 was a good year for Chicago’s rapping bastard. His album “The Cost of Victory” received plentiful buzz including the number 19 spot on Rolling Stone’s Top 40 rap albums of 2015. Spenser made it on to the list with no label, no pr and a meager budget. David Drake of Rolling Stone magazine said “Vic Spencer’s music sounds like nothing coming out of Chicago. Spencer is not positive. (He) has his own sound, own style, own obnoxious sense of humor”. Spencer was also featured on Hip Hop DX’s Top 25 albums (so far) last May where it was said “The Cost of Victory is a chanting on good music suffused with Vic’s signature realism and lamentation”. 
  

 Another artist who made our list was Lupe Fiasco whom Spencer notably had controversy with last winter. A Twitter beef developed as Fiasco challenged any mc to a battle and Spencer stepped up to the plate. “It was a lot of tit for tat going on,” says Spencer “and people made it bigger then what it was. It wasn’t anything serious, he followed me on Twitter later on and DMed me and told me I did good. I just got tired of him battling nobody’s”. Spencer said he battled Fiasco to “bring integrity back to the game”. Spencer is always stepping up to the plate and taking on giants because he believes in himself but he’s also not afraid to burn bridges along the way. Immediately after finding out he placed on the Rolling Stone list he had words for his naysayers. “It was like a slap in the face to everyone talking shit. I don’t care about what people say musically and personally,” says Spencer “I just do me and hope it can be an addition to what’s going on”. 
“The Cost of Victory” is a funny, controversial and political addition to the Chicago rap catalogue. It showcases Spencer’s lyricism and his signature curmudgeon ways. Whether it has you nodding your head, rolling your eyes or laughing this album will make you feel something and that’s what music is about. Check out “Carrot Juice (feat. Sulaiman)” and “First Aid Kit” and expect more solo and joint ventures from Spencer this year. His project Who the f**k is Chris Spencer done with Chicago’s rowdy emcee Chris Crack has been described by Spin as “90s-esque styling and virtuosic”.  

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Music

Chicago pays tribute to Dj Timbuck2 

On December 19th we lost a true legend. Timothy Francis Jones, known as DJ Timbuck2 passed away from stage four renal cancer at the age of 34. The day he passed I wrote this:

The impact DJ Timbuck2 had on not only Chicago, but the worlds hiphop culture will be remembered & carried through his loved ones. 
I remember when I first met Tim. I was 21 and walked past him in the hall at Shrine and thought he was so fine lol. Then I heard his Dj set & was blown away. So I started following him wherever he spun. Timbuck2uesdays became my home, one of the first places in the city I really felt accepted. I used to get in trouble when I was bartending at Shrine cuz I’d say I was in the bathroom but I’d actually sit up in the booth & watch Tim work lol. Timbuck2 made me curious about music history and was just a good guy who made me proud to be from Chicago. After dealing with my uncle passing from MS I know how hard terminal illness can be & I’m glad he isn’t suffering anymore. 

Thank you for all you gave us Tim

Last Tuesday the city came out to Beauty Bar to show their respect. The bar was at capacity by 11:30 with people hugging, drinking, crying and dancing while remembering Timbuck2. Tonight there will be a special event at the Metro to benefit Tim’s family and spread cancer awareness. “The event will include a silent auction, tributes from some of the best battle dj’s and a special Go-ILL segment with local artists” says Timbuck2’s friend and protégé Boi Jeanius.
There isn’t anywhere you need to be tonight in Chicago besides the Metro. Trust me.
If you can’t go but want to donate to Tim’s family please click here 
  

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Music

Music: OG Webbie x Just Cause Vol.1 

Chicago-based producer and dj OG Webbie dropped a new mix: just cause. 

Because I mean, who really needs a reason. The 45 minute tape includes tracks from Jay Rock, Kanye West, Future and Treated Crew. The tape is something you put on while you’re getting ready to go out, music to hype you up at the gym or something to zone out to during a long commute. 

Check it out here –>> https://soundcloud.com/ogwebbie/just-cause-vol-1               

                       

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Music

Music: Joshua Tree in the Open with Young the Giant 

Over the past year I’ve been in love with these In the Open videos from indie rock group Young the Giant. In the videos the band performs beautiful stripped down versions of songs from their 2010 self titled album and their 2014 album Mind Over Matter. Recently the band released Joshua Tree in the Open which is a full length, behind the scenes look at the making of the In the Open videos. Filmed in Joshua Tree National Park in California, fans get a intimate look at the bands process which is pretty damn cool.  

Click here for the video –>> Young the Giant – Joshua Tree in the Open

 
On the bands Instagram page they commented: 

“It’s both interesting and challenging to reimagine our songs in these sessions; to play them stripped of all their production, naked and pure.”

My favorite In the Open session is for “Mind Over Matter” which they perform inside a cave. Definitely worth checking out. 

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Music

Music: Talib Kweli feat. Jean Grae “Uh Oh”

Tonight one of my favorite artist is doing a special dj set at The Shrine; Talib Kweli.
Here’s one of my favorite songs from him and it so happens to feature the amazingly talented Jean Grae.
Doors open at 9pm at The Shrine tonight. 2109 S. Wabash in Chicago. I’ll be behind the bar, come have a drink with me.
Talib Kweli’s new album “Prisoner of Conscious” is in stores now!

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Music

Music spotlight: Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas is a 23 year old English singer/songwriter whose become my new obsession.

I was first introduced to her song “No Room for Doubt” a few months back. I thought she was good but didn’t pay her much mind. Recently I revisited her music and came across this version of “Forget” which is the most wonderful thing I’ve heard in awhile.

Visit http://www.liannelahavas.com to find out her tour schedule and buy her album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” I recommend getting the iTunes Deluxe Edition which has five bonus tracks including her cover of Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me”.

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