Creativity is a sixth sense for Chicago artist Phoelix; it just comes naturally. From his production to his lyrics to his flows, Phoelix is one of the most purely talented artists in not only the city but the country and even the world. His music pushes boundaries that were barely even existent before he started making music and his sound is unlike nearly anything out today. The diverse artist has a unique way of making his message bleed through the speakers, embedding his emotive compositions directly into listeners’ minds and allowing them to rest there until they can be thoroughly experienced.
From production to song writing to vocals to drawing, Knox Fortune can do a little bit of everything. His artistic prowess can be found on full display in his solo music, where he creates vibrant, robust instrumentation, sings warm and heartfelt melodies and draws his own cover art, completing the artistic tornado that accompanies his work. Aside from his solo work, Knox Fortune has produced for and worked with Chance the Rapper, Joey Purp, and Kami, among others.
It’s usually a good sign when an MC gets on a Monte Booker beat and Jay2 has collaborated with him on a handful of excellent tracks. Jay2’s smooth flow, clever lyrics, and melodic vocals help him stand out among Chicago’s crowded scene and tracks like All Night and Better Serve should be all you need to hear to recognize his immense talent.
One of Chicago’s best R&B artists, theMIND has an ear for music like few other people. His music has a nearly ethereal effect and is full of soft vocals and hypnotizing production, putting listeners in an otherworldly headspace. His album Summer Camp is a great example of this welcoming sound and with a bunch of production from THEMpeople and Knox Fortune, it’s one of the best projects in the past few years.
When it comes to artists who just stand out, Yomi is at the top of the list. She incorporates the harp beautifully into all her music, bringing a refreshing and unique sound that is still very focused and allows her skill to breath. Her project #THATHARPIST is a great example of her work and is really the tape that got me introduced to Yomi. The soft, calming music on #THATHARPIST is a good way to just relax and it showcases Yomi’s talent as a vocalist and songwriter as well as a harpist. The authentic, personal sounds she has been releasing will definitely keep me on the lookout for any new material she releases.
SWADE is really one of the most lyrical MCs in Chicago these days and his music is always on point. Coming in with a more classic hip hop sound, the thoughtful MC has found his own lane, often speaking on real life subjects in a poetic, deliberate manner that hits home.
Shepard Hues has been creating music for over a decade but only recently began releasing it for the rest of the world to hear, but with music this good it’s better late than never. His ability to sing and produce high quality material makes him one of the most talented artists in the city and he’s sure to continue gaining recognition thanks in part to being in the group Fight Me with Supa Bwe and UG Vavy.
ERYN ALLEN KANE
One of Chicago’s best vocalists, Eryn Allen Kane has been making a name for herself thanks to the powerfully passionate music she makes. She consistently shows her excellent range and ability to sing with heart you can feel with each note she hits, often reminding listeners of older vocalists such as Aretha Franklin. Things are only looking up for Kane so you should expect to be hearing a lot more about her in the future.
Mari is an artist who has an ear for quality. The Chicago MC has the rare ability to make meaningful songs that are still catchy and fun to listen to. Mari’s melodic voice and flows can often be found over piano loops and smooth backdrops which provide the perfect space for Mari’s thoughts.
MELO MAKES MUSIC
Melo Makes Music has a great musical sensibility and very song he’s on has the potential to be a hit. With the ability to create unique, ear catching melodies over hand picked production, Melo has been making waves by releasing high quality music and collaborating with some of the city’s best producers and MCs.
Ova East Meech is one of those artists who can spit a crazy verse full of outstanding wordplay then come through with a catchy hook to match. This diverse ability has led to some great music such as the tracks Saved, HBH, No Doubt, and Tango. His work with producer Mic Lee in particular is worth a few listens.
Sometimes it’s clear an artist has that kind of sound that will eventually lead to big things for them and Austin Fillmore is one of those artists. His uptempo music makes you want to dance and the energy he brings is contagious. Songs such as Juke are perfect examples of the fun, lively style he brings to the table.
The Boy Illinois is an artist who proves hard work pays off. Over the past few years he’s taken his music to the next level and continues to push his sound to new heights with nearly everything he releases. His energetic sound is coupled by an impeccable sense of style that can be seen throughout his music videos.
There are a few artists who I could see really hitting the mainstream and Calez is one of them. He simply knows how to craft a song and is a true triple threat who can produce, rap, and sing with authority. He has also worked with some of Chicago’s biggest names such as Nico Segal, Alex Wiley and Mick Jenkins and it feels like Calez could be next in line.
Heavily trap influenced production and braggadocious bars are easy to find on just about any Valee track. His hard hitting style will make you feel like you rule the world and he backs up this confidence with plenty of talent as both an MC and producer.