Hey guys! What, I’m back again so soon?!

As you may know, I now co-host a show with my friend Pearl on Wednesdays from 4-6. Last week, on April 27th, we had our last show of the semester, and on it, we featured a special guest and returning UIC Radio visitor, Sonny Apollo!

In the past, Sonny appeared on Pahhhsitive Thinking with Elif and Push Love with D-Red. Now, to announce his very own upcoming EP, ADVENTURESINPARADISE, Sonny joined us on air to give us the details in an exclusive interview.

Local Chicagoan, Sonny made his way over here from the east coast, and embarked on quite a journey of both musical and self-discovery. Music has been a part of his life since Sonny was as young as 3 years old. He finds influences in Prince, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder, among others. He explains he received a mix tape from his parents with a melting pot of different artists, giving him exposure to inspiring talent at a young age.

Sonny’s upcoming EP, ADVENTURESINPARADISE, involves messages stemming from self-expression, self-exploration, and sexuality, or as Sonny put it, the “Plight of the Milennial.”

Sonny introduced the instrumental track for his upcoming song off of ADVENTURESINPARADISE, “Zoo.” To conclude, Sonny revealed that ADVENTURESINPARADISE will be released in late July, and the first official single will be released late June.

Sonny Apollo on Midnight with Pearl Girl and Sonia Universe

Sonny will also be performing live shows very soon. For specific dates for the releases and shows, be sure to follow Sonny on Twitter, and Facebook, and check out the full interview below:


Hometown Heroes and Monthly Gathering: Communion – April

Hey everyone! It’s been a while. Finals are right around the corner (literally), and I’ve been immersed in assignments, projects, and studying up to my ears. But I took a quick sanity break from that this past Wednesday, April 20th to head up to Schubas with my partner in crime, Pearl Shin, for the April edition of Communion Chicago!

This month’s lineup featured up-and-coming bands Cyn, AyOH, Jakubi, and Brother StarRace.


Continue reading “Hometown Heroes and Monthly Gathering: Communion – April”

Artist to Watch : ABRA

abra - radio

If you are anything like the average music fanatic, I’m sure you have an array of artists and albums saved on your Spotify  that you’ve failed to listen to because of lifes inevitably inconsiderate tendency to consume all of your time. I also fall victim to this travesty but finally got around to listening to some music I probably saved because of a recommendation by some narcissistic jerk I went went on one date with who actually had credible taste in music. A little over a month ago,  I  watched a music video that happens to be the work of none other than budding cool kid ABRA. The song titled, “Fruit”, was smooth, chill and just upbeat enough to be played at one of those horrid house parties  I occasionally attend. Since I enjoyed the song, I decided to save both of her albums only to fail to listen to them until today.

Surprisingly enough, ABRA experiments with a variety of sounds that are not particularly similar to the song that introduced me to her artistry. With that being said, her body of work was strong, eclectic and a true representation of an artist who has been influenced by a multitude of genres. Unlike mainstream artists who have found ways to re release and repackage the same music, ABRA experiments with instrumentation, hip hop elements and even Chicago’s infamous house music sound. Overall, ABRA is a dynamic artist with the ability to transcend to alternative music lovers.

Listen to her sophomore effort below!



What Does James Blake Have In Store for 2016?

James Blake has kept relatively quite since the end of 2013, a year which saw the release of his sophomore LP “Overgrown”. In early 2015 the dubstep producer gone northern soul crooner announced his 3rd LP titled “Radio Silence”, possibly in reference to his role as BBC 1 radio host, a job that has kept him busy for the last 2 years. Since then fans have been kept mostly in the dark regarding work on the album. What can we expect from Radio Silence? Details on the record are sparse, but based on what little information we have and the tracks Blake has performed since the albums announcement suggests that the record will combine Blake’s growing songwriting abilities he explored on Overgrown with the experimental structures of his first album. Here’s what we know:

Kanye West and Justin Vernon Will Feature

Rumors of a Kanye West x James Blake collaboration have been floating around since Ye declared Blake his favorite artist back in 2013. Fan speculation was proven to be true in July of 2015 when Blake confirmed that he and Kanye were working in the studio together. Also confirmed to be contributing to the album was Justin Vernon, who collaborated with Blake on the 2011 track “Fall Creek Boys Choir”.

Two of the tracks on the album are titled: “Radio Silence” and “Modern Soul”

During his 2015 touring schedule, Blake performed two new songs. One in particular is all but confirmed to be the title track on Radio Silence. The initial performance of the album’s title track made waves across independent music sites. The track begins with the line “I can’t believe you don’t want to see me,” which loops throughout most of the track. Blake builds further vocal lines on top off this loop. Each line pushing the track forward until the beat finally drops, transforming the the track from digital R&B slow jam into a four to the floor club jam.

Back in February, Kanye West played a new James Blake track during the Life of Pablo debut at Madison Square Garden. Blake debut this same track, titled “Modern Soul”, on his BBC Radio 1 program later that day. “Modern Soul” sees Blake returning to the off-kilter and glitchy beats that defined his self-titled debut. Based around a dramatic piano loop, Blake stretches his blue-eyed soul vocals to their limits all over this track. The juxtaposition of artificial piano next to soaring vocal lines is striking. If “Modern Soul”and the albums title track are any indicator, Radio Silence is shaping up to be one hell of a record. 

During the same broadcast Blake announced that “Modern Soul” was the first finished track off the new record. Meaning the possibility of the album seeing a 2016 release is still up in the air. For the listeners sake let’s hope James Blake breaks his Radio Silence sooner rather than later.

Battle Of The Bands: Jamie Finally Writes About Music


bbLike most of the audience that filled the Illinois Room Wednesday night, this was my first ‘Band Battle.’ On behalf of UIC Radio, I had the honor of judging the performers’ music quality and stage presence. Personally, my growing-up culture had taught me that organizing a band was something you did in high school that lasted, if you were lucky, for six months. So I walked into the event with low expectations. And I’m ashamed to admit it.

The bands that performed blew my skeptical head right off my shoulders. I absolutely adored every act and had to work to keep my jaw from hitting the floor, while faced with more experienced Band Battle attendees who had apparently come to expect this quality. I’m sorry to say that if you saw the flyer for Battle of the Bands and assumed all the performers would sound like over-hyped 16-year-olds, and decided not to come, you truly missed out.

One last generalization before we name some names: When you take the quality of your creation personally, it really shows. These musicians clearly practiced and worked seriously hard. They were dedicated to their instruments, their group, and the artwork they’d leave us with. Every song played was original, but you would have guessed it was written by a band that already had a record deal. I’m gonna break out the cliche: It was an honor to witness it.

The night began with the Jades. When these two ladies came on stage, each toting an acoustic guitar, I wrongly expected to see a tribute to Kelly Clarkson and a lot of time spent staring at the floor.  These women started and ended strong with bold, R&B quality vocals that harmonized brilliantly, and separately written guitar pieces. They matched beautifully, never fell out of sync, and were perfectly consistent in their performance. Between songs, they joked with the audience and laughed with each other, and earned their high rank on stage presence, even though they were seated the entire time. Their original pieces had sweet, clever lyrics.

Goin’Dark came out next and set the evening on fire with the first full band. These guys (and lady) got the audience hopping with their brilliant music, which featured incredibly talented performers. The singer had a beautifully dark voice and an impressive range, of which she took full advantage. When the lead guitarist started in on solos, cameras and phones crowded around the stage to record his playing. As a great lover of Brian May and Pete Townsend, I was floored. You know when a guitarist is absolutely killing his solo and his hands are practically touching on the neck? Goin’Dark in a nutshell. Absolute quality from a surprisingly young band.

It’s hard to describe the power brought out by the P.E.A.S, but I’ll do my best. This energetic band featured four college guys, two in sweatshirts, one in a muscle shirt, and one in a sweater vest, and they completely stunned the audience. Their rock/punk/energetic songs were tight and well rehearsed (an understatement to say the least–I would label them the hardest working band in the show), but their stage presence was genuine and exciting. They were a thrill to watch, and even more impressive, they kept up their energy throughout their entire set. The crowd followed and jumped and danced, but we had no chance to keep up with the boys on stage.

The most stunning of all, and the unanimous first-place choice from the judges’ table, was SPLOR…As in, s’plorin’…As in, exploring. They called their genre “adventure music.” I think it has a real chance to catch on; their songs were easily the most unique of the night. Their style was new and consistent, but it never got repetitive. I can’t liken them to any other band, and that earned them considerable respect from my fellow judges and myself. The performers were obviously having the time of their lives and the audience got caught up in their genuine happiness. Each song was dynamic and interesting. The bassist played solos as if he were holding a guitar; I’ve never heard such complex pieces written to highlight an instrument usually kept in the background. Each musician got a chance to stand out for a bit, and they all took full advantage. The singer’s voice blended perfectly with the amp’d up electric instruments around it–nothing stuck out, nothing was lost in the noise. Their last song brought in an electric ukulele to complement the piece. This adventure music sounds like a nimble style of punk rock. They will certainly be on my radar in the future.

The competitors made my job as a judge very difficult; the competition was formidable. I’m amazed at the talent I saw, and my agenda for this article is to get you out to support some local music. One last cliche: the best performers are the ones who love it the most. They’ll make you love it, too.

Your homework over spring break: Find a local band without a record deal, either at a bar or on YouTube, and share some love. I’ll see you again on March 31st!






Experiencing this young woman’s voice in person was captivating. She stood on stage with her eyes closed, singing in a soft raspy voice, swaying to the soulful tunes of her guitarist in the background.  Her entire persona was illuminated when she held that mic. Even after following some high energy rappers, she was able to capture the crowds interest through her passionate lyrics.

Her most recent song and her first solo single, Father Time, has reached more than 25k plays on SoundCloud.

Available on iTunes and Apple Music

My personal favorite song of her’s, Open Letter, depicts the hearts of youth in Chicago as well as her personal life challenges. She quotes in the description,

“1 year ago today I failed at a suicide attempt. Im still here. This is my open letter, Im only getting better…”

This young woman isn’t only a singer, she’s a visual artist and has done work directing music videos. Her first piece of work was a year ago for her song Motel 6. 

On her blog, when asked if music was her deepest passion she simply responded, “Creating is.”

I think that is the best way to define an artist like Jean. Not a singer, not a musician, not a music video directer, but a creator.

At 20 years old, Jean Deaux is an inspiration to female artists everywhere. Not only does she express herself fearlessly, within a music scene she claims “is a liiiiittle mysogynistic,”  she also uses her social media platforms, as well as her art, to speak out against injustice and inequality. She is proud of herself and her roots, which is very admirable. Women everywhere can look to her story for guidance.

Love Tunes For You And Yours

Here are 3 tunes from me to you and yours for this lovely “holiday.”

1) From Chicago’s very own, Monte Booker and Ravyn Lenae have been making a storm with their collective, “Zero Fatigue.” Monte Booker’s production that blends hip-hop, soul, r&b with melodic electronic twists that are crisp is truly a taste of its own. You’ll know what I mean once you take a listen to it. Ravyn Lenae’s soft touch of vocals compliment the track hand in hand.


2) Another Chicago’s favorite and frequenter, SPZRKT has been making headlines with a melody truly catered to a singing that produces a vibing experience. A voice, smoother than butter, with a sound that continues to challenge how music “should” sound will be a treat to your ears. Love cannot be seen but it can be felt. “You’re so beautiful, a blind man can love you.”

Photo by @johnnyfan 


3) From the Bay Area, Anderson .Paak is making waves with his new album, Malibu. Although, I can’t exactly categorize this as a love tune – the mellow vibe and soothing production will probably make you fall in love. Not sure. But, I guarantee that you’ll be digging this hit.


Thank you ALL for reading. The photography post will come soon, I just had to drop some tunes for this lovely day that was manufactured by corporations, haha. This is Johnny Fan, signing out.

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Or write me at with an questions, comments, concerns, complaints, etc.



Calling All Bands!

Welcome back, UIC! I hope your semester is off to a great start.

Are you in a band, or do you know someone in a band? Have you always wanted to be the best of the best? Are you currently attending UIC? Then enter to participate in UIC Radio’s third annual Battle of the Bands!

UIC Radio is currently accepting applications for local talent and UIC bands to participate in this upcoming March’s Battle of the Bands.

In order to compete, at least one band member must currently be a student at UIC. Applications are due February 7th. Enter here!

TanZen performing at UIC’s Battle of the Bands 2014 (via UIC News)


BBHM – Surreal.ak

A good mix for when you’re in a good mood. It’s hard for me not to dance when this mix comes on. It’s also one of my favorite things to listen to when I’m working out. Featuring well known artists such as Future, Drake and Fetty Wap as well as up and coming artists like Playboi Carti and Robb Bank$. This compilation is a perfect mix of trap and upbeat moods.


Scholarships- Drake & Future
Brackin- Johnny Drama
Flu Games- Cashmerely
Can’t Lie- Ralo Feat. Future
Don’t Tell Nobody- Playboi Carti
Gold House- Reese
Oh My Dis Side- Travis Scott
Sensational- Robb Bank$
Jersey- Future
Dui- Jose Guapo Feat. Quavo
Bet It- Key! & ManMan Savage
48- Shy Glizzy
Time- Fetty Wap
Jumpman- Drake & Future

Sippin & Simpin Pt2- DJAmberAlert

A more laid back mix. This compilation gives off a slow and down to earth vibe. I can’t help but sing a long to each song. Featuring smooth transitions between chill tracks and cute lyrics, just about anybody can enjoy it.


Chill – Trey Songz (Prod. By Saaj x DrewsThatDude)
Cruzin’ – Th3Rea$on (Prod. Xander J)
Go Without Her – Key Wane ft. Ty Dolla $ign

Take Me As I Am – Diggy Simmons ft. Mishon
Still – Trumaine Lamar
Late Night Drive – Yo Trane
Uber – Makio
Frank – Jodran Bratton
Better – Ezra
Over – Vann
Can I (Ekali Remix) – Alina Baraz & Galimatias
All That Matters – Elhae
Say It (Ed Sheeran Cover) – Tory Lanez
Sweeterman (Clowd Remix) – Drake
Throwback Love – Nieman
My Love – Villette
Til the Morning (JASE Remix) – JASE.
1738 – e s t a.
DSYLM – Rubee Rayne
Not Around – NOVA & VNSN
Gibberi$h ft. Anthony Funcheon – JoeeBilli
Flickering ft. Common Souls – Smoaj
Sunshine – Joonie
Drive Me Crazy (Rasmix) – RA$CAL
Love Again ft. JMSN & Sango – Ta-ku
Smokers Room – candiceRNB

Vol. 1- Marty Khan

A mix of all of his own tracks. Something you can lay around and vibe to, but also carries the innovative elements of rap and soul that make you want to get up and sing along.


Dopimem- Marty Khan
Charlie Masnon- Marty Khan
Change Yo Life (Do Dat) – Marty Khan
Apollo Apollo- Marty Khan

IS THIS LOVE? (it wasn’t)- Yazmine

Another laid back mix by the talented 17 year old Yazmine. This compilation is complete with soulful beats from artists such as SPZRT & Sango, paired with Aaliyah lyrics to top it off. Yazmine puts a twist on the relaxed mood by adding her own techno/pop sound over and between tracks.

Note from the artist: “I decided to make this mix at a very weird place in my life, my life is still very weird and I don’t know exactly where my mind is. I feel very wandered off and in another world when it comes to my thinking. So I just put it all into this mix, as well with a lot others.”


Unknown – 347 EST SDE
The Code – Natural
Skai Chai – Say You Will Remix
SPZRKT & Sango – JMK
Fortune – Sooner Than Later
Partynextdoor – Her Way Remix
Fortune – Rotation

Mid-Day Cruise: 2015 Top 10 Albums

2015 has been an amazing year for music across all genres. Whether you’re into rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop, there had to be an album that met or exceeded your expectations. With the slew of great music this year, it was extremely difficult to choose albums that I wanted to put in my top 10 list. There have been a few albums that I left out only because I made this list based on albums that I found myself listening to more so than the other releases this year.

10. The Weeknd – “Beaty Behind the Madness”


Beauty Behind the Madness marks the Weeknd’s entrance into mainstream stardom with singles like “Can’t Feel my Face”, “The Hills”, and “Often”. When he released “Can’t Feel my Face”, he was delivering a new Weeknd ‘pop’ sound that gave a Michael Jackson feel, but still a sound that many of his fans weren’t used to hearing. This song, as well as many others off of the album, quickly topped the charts. Although this was mostly a solo album like many other Weeknd albums, he brought in other great artists such as Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Labrinth. This album proved that the Weeknd has come a long way from his first album, “House of Balloons”, and is going to continue to be a major player in the game.


9. Goldlink – “After That We Didn’t Talk”


This is Goldlink’s debut album, and although not a lot of people know who Goldlink is, it was an album that I was able to listen to again and again. He’s not your average hip-hip artist, as he rhymes over up-tempo house music with hip-hop influence, as he calls it “future bounce”. He’s been on tour with artists such as Mac Miller, SBTRKT, and Kaytranada. When legendary music visionary Rick Rubin heard Goldlink was working on this album, he decided to help guide him through the release of his first album in an attempt to mentor him. This isn’t a radio album, and Goldlink didn’t have any hit singles, but all in all, I liked the vibe on this album as a whole and am eager to see what else Goldlink comes up with in the future.


8. Jamie xx – “In Colour”


Jamie Smith, aka. Jamie xx released “In Colour” earlier this year. This album consists of a lot of catchy and up-tempo house music. There are a lot of DJ’s out there and a lot of house music to choose from. What sets Jamie xx apart from the rest is his unique use of vocal samples from the past decades, the choppiness within songs that change the mood and direction, and interesting instrumentals. Unlike a lot of other DJ’s, not all of his music sounds the same. This album didn’t have too many features, but had Yung Thug on his track “I Know There’s Gonna be (Good Times)”, which was a risky move, but a great choice. Jamie is not a hip-hop producer and even with this rap feature, this was not a rap-sounding song. He seems to have a vision for his sound, and doesn’t let anything get in the way of it. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it already.


7. Vince Staples – “Summertime ’06”


If your favorite rapper had a favorite rapper, it’d probably be Vince Staples. This Long Beach, California native has a good sense of humor and knows his sports, which he expresses immensely on his Twitter page and various interviews. You could ask him his opinion on any subject, and he will give you his very blunt and straightforward opinion. Vince gives his listeners a look at the world through his own eyes. This debut album talks about Long Beach’s gang violence, police brutality, and drug presence. Vince has a lot to say, which is probably why “Summertime ‘06” was a 2-part album that consisted a total of 20 songs. With Vince’s powerful use of words and untouchable flow, I would easily consider him one of my top rappers. Because of Vince’s lack of sugar-coating anything, he’s also an artist that may not be for everybody.


6. Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”


I actually discovered Vince Staples through an interview with Earl Sweatshirt, as he claimed that Vince was the best rapper out there (in his opinion). Vince has been featured in a few of Earl’s songs including “Hive” off of Earl’s first album, “Doris”. Earl has been known for being somewhat of a dark and murky artist, and this album stays pretty consistent with that description. This album is a snapshot of Earl’s state of mind after a serious breakup in his life. Through his seclusion and depression, he made “I don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”. The production on the album was done entirely by Earl, and all of the features were done in house and by close friends. What puts Earl at the top is his intricacy and poetic delivery. As dark as this album is, if you can understand where he’s coming from and actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s hard not to appreciate his skill.


5. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Surf”


Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and the Social Experiment come together to make the music they love. They are all friends from Chicago that play the music that they enjoy playing without trying to copy anyone else’s sound or conform to what’s popular in the industry. The best way that I can describe the overall sound of this album is that it reminds me of the background music to a Broadway play or musical. It’s heavy in brass and raw instrumentals but also carries the weight of some huge features such as J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Eryka Badu, Big Sean, Janelle Monae, and a ton of others. If you love music and want to listen to some upbeat music that’s easy on the ears, I would definitely recommend this album.


4. Tame Impala – “Currents”


I admit that before this album, I had no idea who Tame Impala was, but after listening to this album, I was immediately a fan. Kevin Parker delivers his version of psychedelic pop with a heavy use of synths. “The Less I Know the Better”, one of my favorite songs off of the album offers a disco vibe, which is cool since it’s not a sound that a lot of people have. The album itself is an array of different sounds and moods, making it fun to listen to.


3. A$AP Rocky – “At.Long.Last.A$AP.”


This is probably some of his best work to date. A$AP started off as a Tumblr rapper and has come a long way since. He is very open and proud of the lifestyle that he lives whether it be expressed through his good fashion sense, or his drug use. He’s very open and doesn’t really care what people think. He’s become a major artist in the hip-hop world with his consistency of dropping good music to suit various moods for a variety of listeners. He recently went on tour with Tyler, the Creator, which has shown his evolution in his performance and style. Hopefully his next projects continue to progress.


2. Drake – “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”


Drake has stated that this project was a mixtape and not an actual album release, but the general public continues to think otherwise. Drake insists that his fourth album is still on its’ way. Either way, he continues to kill the rap game with songs that you can’t help but sing along to. I personally wouldn’t consider this project an album simply because there is no real theme and each song seems to have its’ own purpose. Theme or not, this album has received a bunch of positive reviews and reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 list, selling over 495,000 copies in the first 3 days.


1. Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp a Butterfly”


“To Pimp a Butterfly” is an album that’s going to force you to think. Kendrick doesn’t rap over beats; he raps over carefully constructed instrumentals whether they be sampled from old jazz songs or curated right in the studio. On top of these instrumentals, he delivers his message that inspires civil rights, or expresses the struggles of fame and depression. Kendrick draws a lot of his inspiration from 2Pac and the album itself is actually addressing 2Pac directly as all of these stories seem to be told to 2Pac himself. Kendrick is critical to hip-hop as not only having respectable and powerful music, but also having such a diverse use of musical choice that helps the listener live through and experience each song as he addresses a lot of relevant issues in America and the world as a whole. This is a legendary album.

That concludes this post from Mid-day cruise and maybe the last on for the year. Thank you for reading, and if you want to stay updated on more posts from me, like my page on.