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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Feature, Uncategorized

Skinny man, fat dreams: A spotlight on Chicago creative Desmoney

Sometimes you meet people who are electric. Who are rare and doing things that are not only cool, but important. South side native Desmond Tutu Owusu (Des for short) is building and if you’re smart, you’re paying attention. Des has been lending his fresh perspectives to photography for two years now with a portfolio including Nike, Complex and recently, a children’s book called Too Fly Not To Fly.  

Des

“I was messing around with the iPhone and I was getting better, getting good and Trash (Trashhand) was telling me “Yo, you should make this a serious hobby”. I came by his crib and he let me borrow his (Canon) Mark III for 3-4 weeks and after he saw the shots he told me to really think about getting a camera. I bought my first camera July 2014, a Canon Rebel T5i”.

Des’ photography centers around human interaction and urban settings. He gravitates towards anything concerning life and works at becoming better at his craft constantly. In the two years I’ve seen Des grow as a photographer what he’s gained the most is a confidence in himself.

“I trust my ideas more” he says, “I’m not afraid to make mistakes right now. I’m comfortable with myself and my ideas”.

Through his lens you see an honest and somewhat softer side of Chicago. This can be seen in his work for Too Fly Not To Fly, an alphabet book created by him and writer/teacher Briana McLean. The book is meant to spark discussions for children and help them critically examine issues affecting their lives. Since the release in early June the book has done extremely well, selling out within a few days.

“The reaction we got from a lot of people was that the book was a breath of fresh air,” says Des “the kids felt like stars. We wanted to give them something to be a part of and feel proud of”.
young gifted and black

Des explores the city with his camera and a purpose; unifying a city that is constantly being torn apart.

“We got so much culture here but it’s so fucking segregated. The segregation within the city affects how Chicagoans treat each other. With my photography I want to show people that we’re the same”.

This idea of unification and love shows up not only in his photography, but in his clothing campaigns, including the “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee that drops today online and in store. Des has worked with his friends Vic, Joe and Terrell in clothing design for quite some time now, each one with their own projects that are unified by the store Fat Tiger Workshop. Since an image of the shirt was posted on social media earlier this week the demand for it has an been insurmountable.

“Chicago women don’t get no love and I feel like we got some dope ass ladies here. This is something to encourage our women. I love them and want them to be the best”.

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The “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee will be available online or at Fat Tiger Workshop (1043 W. Grand) today at 12pm central. Follow Des on Twitter @_desmoney for more info.

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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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Feature

Dj spotlight of the month: Dj Boi Jeanius

This month I bring you Boi Jeanius. His passion for djing and his keen sense of all things music make him a standout not only in Chicago, but all over the U.S. 

  
Boi Jeanius was given his name when he was 15 by an early mentor. Boi Jeanius would go clean his mentors studio and in exchange he would show him some of the basics of djing. 
“I went home and asked my mom what she thought. She said “genius? It sounds too cocky. You have to be the best if that’s what you’re going to call yourself.” So I decided right then and there what I wanted to do”.

And that’s what he’s done. Boi Jeanius is recognized as one of the most talented dj’s in Chicago. His skill brought him to the finals of the RedBull 3style Dj competition the past two years in a row. 

“I try to incorporate the art form as much as I can. Creating on the fly is what I live off of.” 

In addition to being an amazing Dj Boi Jeanius is also an instructor at Scratch Academy on the north side of Chicago and in his spare time he builds custom dj desks with his father (@liboriodesk). His influences include A-track, Jazzy Jeff, Craze and Chicago’s own Timbuck2. When asked about Timbuck2 he says, “it’s kinda crazy how much influence one man has on an entire scene. I don’t always know how to show my gratitude and appreciation but I try to reflect his teachings in my accomplishments.” 

  
Follow him on social media @boijeanius 

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Style

Style: “Made in a Chicago Hood”: DBM

It’s been a good year for Chicago-based designer/creative JoeFreshgoods.
His brand DBM (DopeBoyMagic) has been immensely successful not just locally, but all over the world. Joe and his team put in work and as a result he owns one of the strongest street wear brands out right now. Today his fall/winter collection “October ’96” dropped on dopeboymagic.com with a visually stunning lookbook shot by trashhand. Hypebeast described the collection accurately when they stated it “updates the throwback aesthetics for the modern youth”. I wanted to go back a little and see how it all started. In the two years I’ve known Joe I’ve learned that he’s a great guy with a solid work ethic and a love for strawberry lemonade but I wanted to know what inspired DBM and hopefully get a glimpse of what’s to come.

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According to Joe, DBM was created in 2008 by himself and his friend Vic Lloyd. The two worked at Leaders in Wicker Park and came up with the name DopeBoyMagic as joke. The name stuck. The inspiration behind DBM is 30 years of urban culture and Chicago lifestyle. The goal was to bring the hood to the mainstream fashion world. The first full collection was launched the summer of 2012. Since then the popularity of the brand has grown and Joe has become synonymous with Chicago street wear.
“People identify themselves with the brand” explains Joe, “people see where it has come from and that works in our favor”.
Speaking to Joe now versus the beginning of the summer you can definitely see how he’s grown and how that will translate into his brand. “Some of the pieces are more mature this season. I’m slowly starting to shy away from DopeBoyMagic and move to DBM. We’re trying to reach a bigger audience”.
I think he’s doing a great job at reaching a wider audience while still making the current supporters happy, which isn’t always an easy task. “It’s a learning process everyday” says Joe, “it’s important to stay a few steps ahead of people”.

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The “October ’96” DBM collection is really something to be proud of. I’m absolutely in love with the flight jacket and the Tommy: No Job hoodie is genius. The entire collection can be seen at dopeboymagic.com and if you live in Chicago you’ll have the opportunity to snag your gear in person soon. Joe has been working on opening his own store and its slated to be ready for Black Friday. All I can tell you is it will be in the Logan Square area and it will be awesome. DBM is definitely a hood success story and I’m so excited to see this brand flourish and leave its mark.

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