Feature

California Dreamin’: From Chicago to LA

February 8th of this year I packed up my car and moved from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

The idea of leaving Chicago had been something I played with for years but uncertainty kept me home, going through the motions. Then in December of last year I was told the bar I had been working at was closing. Soon-to-be-unemployed, single and too close to 30 for comfort I decided “fuck it” and started packing for LA. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is leading the U.S. in population loss for the second year in a row. The publication cites high taxes, state budget issues, crime and the unemployment rate as major reasons for why people move out of state. I left Chicago because I saw a bigger market for my social media management agency AN Social, I’ve never been one to stay put for long and I thought a little sunshine would do me some good. Everyone has different reasons for making that leap and in this piece I talked to three other Chicagoan’s about their transitions to Los Angeles.

Jordan Eversley – Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator / Hip Hop Caucus (@younghustle8)

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Jordan “Hustle” Eversley grew up off 87th and Jeffery on Chicago’s Eastside. His marketing and public relations background came into play while working with King Louie, Jeremih, G Herbo and Dreezy to name a few people. His work ethic and ability to seize opportunity earned him the nickname “Hustle” which is still very much a part of his character.  Eversley moved to LA in July of 2015 for better opportunities and to get away from Chicago’s persistent violence. “The violence is just real. And for me to be safe and working is everything”.  The hardest part of his transition to LA was leaving his family behind. “Not having family, that’s super big,” says Eversley. “You don’t really realize how important family is until you don’t have it”. Getting set up in LA wasn’t easy but he’s definitely made the most of the past two years. Not only is he a vital part of the Hip Hop Caucus team but he is also the National Director of A&R for A3C, one of the largest music conferences/festivals in the country. He says he misses Chicago but moving to LA has given him peace of mind. “Things lined up the right way and I took the opportunity,” he says. “Having peace of mind is so much more important than people think”.

Christina Gray – Chef / What’s On the Menu (@whatsonthemenu_) 

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Tenacity is extremely important when trying to make a name for yourself in a place like LA and Christina Gray has plenty of it. Gray moved around Chicago growing up; from the west side to the 100s to the south suburbs. She started contemplating the move to LA in November of 2014 after a terrible breakup but finally took the leap January of 2015 after her mother announced she was moving. “I didn’t know what my next step was. I didn’t know if LA was the place I needed to be in”, says Gray “My mother moving to Arizona felt like a clear sign it was time for me to leave”.  She saw greater opportunity in LA to expand her brand as a chef and to raise her son in a safer environment. “Chicago is really a harsh city and I didn’t want my son to have to grow up in that. California is a place where u can be free to be whomever u are, almost like a judgment free zone. So that played a big part”.  One of her best friends, comedian Lil Rel (Get Out and The Carmichael Show) was moving to LA at the same time so that gave her somewhere to stay during the transition. Gray is focused on what she came here to do which shows in the growth of her catering company What’s On The Menu. Amazingly creative and delicious dishes combined with Gray’s effortlessly cool personality makes What’s On The Menu a success but she still remains humble and focused on getting to where she wants to be. “Of course people think “oh u made it” when u move to LA but they really don’t understand it’s more of a struggle living here. It’s unfamiliar land. I definitely haven’t “made it” YET. I’m honestly trying to figure it out every day”.

Jonathan McCoy (Pavy) – Artist (@pavyworld)

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Rapper and Chicago Washington Heights native Jonathan McCoy (stage name Pavy) is honest when it comes to why he moved to LA. “I lied and told myself it was for my career but it really wasn’t. I was honestly just running away from a lot of the responsibility I had back at home and I thought somehow being 3,000 miles away would fix all of my problems”.  Three years later he’s adjusted to the west coast and is focused on his social calendar, getting fits off and most importantly, his music. McCoy describes his sound as “upscale rap music” and wants to create songs for people to enjoy every day. Luxury and good vibes are themes that are apparent in McCoy’s rhymes, inspiring people to live their best lives. “There’s no way my music would have improved sonically & topic wise had I not moved,” says McCoy “I’m around so many different cultures now & having experiences I would have never had back at home so obviously it effects my music. I honestly feel like I’m making the best music I’ve ever made right now”. Initially hating LA, McCoy now admits his time here has made him a more well rounded person. He’s nonchalant about missing Chicago but does admit he made the transition too soon. “I felt I made the wrong decision (moving to LA) for the longest time, I actually still feel like I made the wrong decision but more so with the timing of rather than the actual choice”.  He was forced to grow and stand on his own in moving to LA which is something I identify with. Some people leave their comfort zones and crumble but some rise to the challenge and McCoy has definitely risen.

 

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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: 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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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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