There Is Good Hip-Hop Out There

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As of recent, I have been seeing many individuals complain about Hip-Hop and how it is in a very bad state currently. As the genre continues to get bigger, of course there will a lack of diversity in most popular songs and can be easily shown by just looking at the Billboard Hot 100.

Continue reading “There Is Good Hip-Hop Out There”

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Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment To Produce ‘Black Panther: The Album’

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2017 was easily a successful year for Top Dawg Entertainment.

With SZA’s rise to stardom with her debut album “CTRL” that as an album, showcased a woman’s growth throughout to becoming an individual that is more independent and requiring less validation from others. Many of the songs did very well on the charts and SZA is now on the forefront for the label with great potential to be a great artist. Also with legendary artist: Kendrick Lamar dropping his 4th LP: “DAMN.” that solidified the artist’s ability to delivery from all forefronts of Hip-Hop. “DAMN.” was easily his most successful album in terms of sales to date with many tracks such as DNA, LOVE, and HUMBLE charting very high on the Billboard Hot 100. The way Kendrick was able to appeal to a more mainstream audience without sacrificing his quality of music was incredible.

Continue reading “Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment To Produce ‘Black Panther: The Album’”

American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground

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Martha’s Got a Limp Wrist (Photo by Christian Contreras)

This piece has been censored for the UIC Radio blog.

It’s difficult to write about punk without draining it of its chaos.

The greatest punk shows are soaked in sweat and blown into the red. The best punk lyrics are incomprehensible, the best punk venues include a highly suspect dirty mattress in the corner, and the best punk showgoer is one who will sweat all over you, push you into other strangers, scream in your face, and then let you bum a cigarette at the end of the night. When writing about punk neglects to include that sense of disorder and entropy, you get sterile talk of what is, above all, the art of violent, cathartic release.

When I was a teenager, DIY punk shows in Chicago were my safe haven. Growing up gay, there are very few spaces in which you know that you’re not the only outcast- which isn’t to say that I was some sort of hunchbacked adolescent hermit, but when you come out of the closet early, there’s a very thin line you have to walk, knowing all the eyes that rest on you. Getting drunk, then moshing and screaming and sweating in trashed apartments on the weekends was just the sort of chaotic release I needed to keep from cracking under the pressure.

There’s an energy at every great punk show that finds its way up your spine and lets you know you aren’t the only one who just needs a f*cking break. There are systems in place working against all of us- some more complicated or institutionalized than others- but the fun of a punk show is sourced from the moment it allows for young, frustrated, bored, and fed up people to stop needing to think for a while.

Eventually though, you stop being seventeen years old and it’s no longer socially acceptable to struggle through an Aquafina bottle full of whiskey, sweat through your shirt and make out with a high schooler at the end of the night.

Continue reading “American Rage and Suburban Malaise: A Study of the Urban Punk Underground”

Note To Self

“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”

Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.

Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.

I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.

Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.

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This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, ouch, that really hits close to home.”

But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.

Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.

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I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To Self Here.

I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.

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15 Years Later…

I was the biggest Simple Plan fan back when I was around 10, 11 years old but then getting into high school I got into rap like Kid Cudi, Kanye West, J.Cole etc. Around that time Simple Plan released their album, Get Your Heart On! (2011). I listened to it, but didn’t add it to my daily playlist. After Get Your Heart On! (2011) they released an EP 2 years later, which I didn’t hear of. Fast forward three years later, I heard they released a new album in February 2016, I went to check it out and was reminded of why I was obsessed with their music. In September 2016, a friend told me they’d be coming to House Of Blues in October, I immediately saw this opportunity to see a band that was huge for me growing up so I bought tickets. Unfortunately VIP, which gives you the chance to meet them after the show accompanied by pizza, was sold out in Chicago. I considered buying a ticket to their Cleveland show a couple days before because VIP was still available, all just to meet this band that had a big influence on the music I listened to. When I was young Simple Plan influenced me to listen to bands like, Blink 182 and Green Day (my absolute FAVORITE BAND) Anyways, the Cleveland VIP tickets didn’t happen because the way my bank account was set up…

However, I went to their October show for the Taking One For The Team Tour, which was filled with throwbacks like “Addicted,” “I’d Do Anything” (which they open with), “Jump,” “Welcome To My Life,” but also awesome songs from their newest record, songs like “Singing In The Rain,” “Opinion Overload,” and “Boom”. The concert was amazing, even if I didn’t get to meet the guys. But after the concert I did promise myself I’d begin following their tour info again and next time they were in Chicago I’d get VIP and finally meet my preteen crushes!

Around Janurary, Simple Plan began posting throwbacks from their No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls (2002) era like this one,

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They mentioned that the 2002 album would be turning 15 years old on March 19, 2017.

Throwback after throwback on Instagram I thought, these guys are gonna do an anniversary tour, I know it. They wouldn’t be dropping so many hints if they weren’t planning something! Another tour? Another movie, like “A Big Package For You”? Another album?

I woke up one morning to a Twitter notification displaying a concert poster “SIMPLE PLAN NO PADS, NO HELMETS… JUST BALLS 15th year anniversary tour” and dates below it. I skimmed the picture looking through the dates to find Chicago, IL 3/31 “I KNEW IT!” I tweeted in reply to the announcement.

That same day I bought a $25 membership to the official SPcrew to be able to buy tickets early and a chance to see them during soundcheck. I was committed this time, this was my chance, I had to meet them. I ended up buying not only the concert ticket, but VIP, and was chosen to attend their soundcheck.

The day came sooner than I expected, the day before I still didn’t think it was real, I was going to meet Simple plan?! Talk to them?! 11 year old me would be crying if she knew this. Okay so maybe 19 year old me is crying too. I was at House Of Blues by 12:30 p.m. probably the 7th person in line, we were part of the 15 people who would be able to see Simple Plan during soundcheck. Around 1:10 p.m. we got to go inside where the band had already been playing a few songs, we screamed out song names after Pierre asked what we wanted to hear, but David insisted on playing farewell for us.

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They came down off the stage to take pictures with everyone, holding back happy tears, I hugged them tight, (David the tightest) & smiled way too cheesy in the pictures. Soundcheck was about 30 minutes long, the guys told us they’d see us later and they hoped we were excited for the concert.

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Now back out to the line we went, after about 10 minutes we realized we’d be waiting quite a while so we all sat down to wait the long four hours before doors opened.

Continue reading “15 Years Later…”

The Best Albums Of 2017 So Far

2016 blessed us with incredible new music. From Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo, to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, and to in my opinion, the greatest album to have ever been produced, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, it was just a great year for music.

We’re three months into 2017, and the new music is starting to pour in. The year is still young, but here are some of the best new albums that have been released so far:

American Teen – Khalid 

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Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, is just the very beginning to the successful music career glowing in front of him. At only 18 years old, Khalid has made huge waves with his single, ‘Location,’ which can be found on American Teen. This album is emotionally crafted with soulful 90’s vibes and smooth vocals. American Teen is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish, without skipping any songs, and you’ll never get tired of hearing it. Highlights include: ‘Saved’, ‘Location’, and ‘Shot Down’

Mansionz – Mansionz

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Mansionz is a new duo featuring singer-songwriter, Mike Posner, and singer-producer, Blackbear. The self-entitled album consists of electronic-based hip-hop and R&B pop. It’s a unique combination that deserves more attention. The transitions from each song are flawless, and blends perfectly. Highlights include: ‘The Life Of A Troubadour’, ‘I’m thinking about horses’, ‘nobody knows’, and ‘My Beloved’

CollXtion II: Unsolved – Allie X

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Canadian singer-songwriter, Allie X, has been working on her second studio album, and it’s for sure a bop. Her sound can be described as edgy electronic pop, and it’s just different than anything else. Highlights include: ‘That’s So Us’ and ‘Too Much To Dream’

I See You – The xx

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I See You is The xx’s junior album, and in my opinion, their best. The xx have always been known for their calming and soothing vocals, and they lived up to expectations yet again. The production of their third album has been a step up from their past work, and it’s honestly beautiful. Highlights include: ‘Lips’, ‘Brave For You’, and ‘Performance’

Process – Sampha

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Heavy emotions can be found in Sampha’s debut LP. Process contains R&B roots, and vocals that sound almost haunting. Sampha rediscovers himself through his work, and you can hear the vulnerability in his LP.  Highlights include: ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’, ‘Plastic 100ºC’, and ‘Take Me Inside’

I can’t wait to hear what else is yet to come in 2017, and I do have high expectations

Dally Auston drops “99¢”

c1bkdynuaaawoxqChicago has been put in the spotlight for many years to work from city natives Twista, Common, Kanye West, and more recently: Chance The Rapper. For years, social media has been exploding over good friends of Chance and affiliates of the “Savemoney army”. Talent in this super-group are Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, RnB artist Brill, Towkio and more. Although all of these are artists have developed over the past few years, they still give back to Chicago and often host concerts and secret parties for their most loyal fans.

In the month of January, fans have expressed their excitement for one of the member’s new projects: Dally Auston. It is his first project in about 3 years and everyone is very eager to jam on his latest work. On January 20th at 3pm (CT), Dally released his latest project, titled “99¢”. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Dally will be live on UIC Radio’s Thumpin’ Thursdays show on Feb 2nd at 3:30pm (CT)

Make sure you follow us on Instagram:
@CeaseDays @DjSoundUTB @LiveLenora @ThumpinThursdays
And tune in Thursdays from 2-7pm (CT)

The Manifestation of Sir The Baptist

If you live in Chicago and you haven’t heard of Sir the Baptist, you must be living under a rock. Announcing his signage to Atlantic Records, performing for the GRAMMYS, opening up for Travis Scott and King Louie, and working with Tony Bennett as well as Lee Musiker – he is no foreign music artist. I’m not just saying this because I have become a part of the team. We are more so because he is playing all the top festivals this summer including but not limited to Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Afropunk, Thrival, Made in America, and more. His single, “Raise Hell”, premiered on BET and has been streamed almost 2 million times on Spotify.

And let me not just stop there, Sir the Baptist just played Columbia College Chicago’s urban arts and graduation festival, Manifest. You may be wondering what it was like – well fasten your seat belts and get ready for a literary journey as I describe one of the most electrifying performances I have seen to date.

Five minutes before taking the stage, Sir is humbled enough to be in the stage to join the stage of student performers. Seconds before the stage, jumping up and down, sparking a fire within the team, and a prayer to seal it all. The first step onto the stage begins and the transformation starts. He’s in the zone. As he screams, “Whatsup Manifest”, the crowd goes crazy as they roar back with cheers and screams. From song to song, he tells his story as he takes you through the journey of a Preacher’s Kid. It becomes an audible movie but yet visually stimulating with a dynamic gospel choir, a tuba, a full band, and a dancer. On top of that, a choir member flipping into the crowd. At one point the entire performance crew jumped down into the audience to share a connection of dancing and singing while the confetti cannons are going off. Additionally, he gave away his hat that was given to him by Jay Z in New York at TIDAL. If you don’t believe me, just check out this video:

 

 

Find more of Sir the Baptist below and catch him on tour below:

http://www.sirthebaptist.com

http://www.instagram.com/sirthebaptist

http://www.twitter.com/sirthebaptist

http://www.soundcloud.com/sirthebaptist

A Spreading Deanfluenza

By some miracle, my first official post as a UIC Radio blogger is about an event I attended under the guidance of an experienced member- the incredible Pearl Shin! She graciously took me under her wing and influence and, thanks to all that, we successfully infiltrated a Northwestern KASA event: Seoulmates. Their Asian-American community, more specifically here, their Korean-American Student Association, was tight-knit and enthusiastic for their end-of-the-year event.

Photo by: Pearl Shin

Of course, this year was more hyped than ever; and even allowed outside guests (including us) to attend the event because of their incredible headliner! Northwestern KASA had managed to snag a growing Korean R&B sensation! Hailing all the way from Seoul Korea, young Kwon Hyuk, better known as DEAN, performed for the lucky people in attendance. This prodigious gentleman of only 23 years is steadfast in becoming one of the greatest cross-over acts to break into the music scene in Korea and the US. He has collaborated with in-demand artists and producers such as Eric Bellinger, EXO, Zico, Anderson Paak, and more.

 

Dean’s sensual and soulful sound captivated the crowd- not only with his voice but his charisma as a performer! As far as student production can go, Dean’s command of the stage was no joke, and it was hard not to be swept up in the overwhelming energy of the room. Despite his long travel time and lack of rest, his energy was high as he swaggered around the stage alone and roused the crowd. His nervous English endeared the audience and his cute poses for the camera only epitomized his adorability as a person.

Photo by: Pearl Shin

As for his concert setlist, it featured some of his popular US and overseas tracks, such as Pour Up, 21, Bonnie & Clyde, and D (Half Moon), as well as his hit single I’m Not Sorry featuring Eric Bellinger.

Social media chatter has definitely enhanced his career in Korea and other countries; so after witnessing this performance, it’s not hard to believe he’s come this far in his goal of bridging the divide between “western” mainstream and international music. If you want to follow Dean in his quest of bringing Korean R&B to the world, check out these links!

Instagram: @deantrbl

Twitter: @deantheofficial

Official website: officialdean.com

^^There are dates available for his upcoming shows, and coming up very soon he’ll be performing back to back shows at a club event in Los Angeles, CA on June 2nd and his own event in New York City, NY on June 3rd. Hopefully we’ll see him in Chicago again soon!

 

“I Have a Dream”

Howdy y’all, its 13lacula, your 0cto5quid!

There will be no Wardens Midwest show tomorrow. However you can catch our downloads here. Rather, I will be preparing for my second spiritual trip to California next week by practicing for the piano midterm.

 

However, this Saturday at Iridium Wardens Midwest alongside Ever Evolved, Dark Cloud and EatWell will be hosting an event titled “I Have a Dream”.  Our stellar lineup includes:

Rhymster with our MC of the night Mike Booth
(Ever Evolved)
https://youtu.be/NVXXqHz47l4

Louie Vizzie
(Dark Cloud)

W.Ill
(EatWell)

Also! Art by Mark Narrens!

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