Open Mike Eagle (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

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It’s no longer a secret that Chicago boasts a very vibrant hip hop scene, with top quality projects getting national attention seemingly every year. The latest Red Bull Sound Select show curated by Consequence of Sound at Double Door only further cemented what a good thing we’ve got going on here. With performances by Air Credits (a collaboration between ShowYouSuck and The Hood Internet), Saba, fresh off an appearance on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book and headliner Open Mike Eagle, who has his roots here in the city, the night served as a reminder of how spoiled with riches we’ve become in recent years.

Although Open Mike Eagle might have seemed an odd fit with the other acts on the bill who still call Chicago their home and embrace the city’s sound in a more traditional manner, there were still a loyal number of fans who found a kinship in his quirky demeanor. The eclectic set found him rapping over an array of samples such as Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” and Sterolab’s “…Sudden Stars” in truncated bursts that suited his status as an outsider. By programming and queuing up the music himself through drum machines, pedals and a laptop, OME’s performance was more intimate than the artists who took the stage before him and was a natural fit for songs like “Qualifiers” and “Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)” that double down on being social outcasts.  

ShowYouSuck has long been one of the standouts in Treated Crew and his partnership with local mash-up masters The Hood Internet could give both of their profiles a boost. The newly formed project known as Air Credits released their first single “All I Need Pt. I & II” to acclaim just a few days prior to their show at Double Door, which meant the audience was privy to a set of songs being performed for the very first time. “My Mom ain’t even heard this,” ShowYouSuck said to the crowd, reiterating how special the night was. Aside from a sample of Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song)”, there weren’t a lot of the identifiable traits that’s normally associated with The Hood Internet in the music as most of the tracks kept to a mostly apocalyptic and soulful sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Definitive Jux album in the early 2000s. Regardless of expectations, Air Credits still energized the crowd with a bunch of songs no one knew. Towards the end of the set, ShowYouSuck declared Air Credits was his favorite project. Judging by the sweat that trickled down his face, it felt like an emphatically sincere comment.

While Saba may not have been the headliner, the night truly belonged to him. There was an obvious benefit to having two popular mixtapes in the past four years (2012’s GETCOMFORTable and 2014’s ComfortZone)  and handling hook duties for Chance The Rapper’s “Angels.” Saba was able to cash in on that goodwill and provided many of the night’s highlights by getting everyone to jump during “Westside Bound” and showing off his crisp rapid flow on “Burnout.” At every step, he kept the crowd engaged, whether he was detailing small slices of city life during mellow, contemplative songs like “Whip (Are You Down?)” and “GPS” or maintaining an expressive stage presence filled with loose arm gestures and wide eyes. Part of why Saba had such a hold on Double Door wasn’t just because the music was good, but his movements could connect with even those all the way in the back of the venue.

In between performers, Boi Jeanius, one of the city’s best DJs, kept the festivities lively with a heavy mix of hip hop hits from the mid-’90s to the present, even expertly chopping up the keys for OG Maco’s “U Guessed It” to form the melody of 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah.” He was a welcome addition in what might turn out to be one of the best concerts in July.

Keep up with Open Mike Eagle, Saba, Air Credits and Boi Jeanius by clicking on their names and if you want to know when the next Red Bull Sound Select Show is, click here.

Check out more pics from the show below!

Saba  (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)
Air Credits (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)
Boi Jeanius (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

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