Depending on who you ask, many would say 2016 has been a miserable year; but when it comes to music it has been undeniably amazing. Chicago has been leading the charge by way of hip hop and soul. Chance the Rapper is currently the leader of the new school and his seven Grammy nominations are proof of his impact.
Last year we put out a list of artists to watch from Chicago. Those who made the cut did not disappoint. Bj The Chicago Kid received a few Grammy nominations, Saba released a stellar follow up with The Bucket List Project, and The Boy Illinois toured with Chicago great Lupe Fiasco. This year the list is even stronger and you owe it to yourself to check out the talent coming from the Windy City.
1. Jamila Woods
Jamila is a revolution by herself with her sweet vocals and powerful subject matter. A vocalist and songwriter, her spirit travels through every note, and her song “VRY BLK” embodies her talent with an unapologetic approach. In an environment of hyper-sexualized music and artistry, Jamila is a breath of fresh air. Take a listen to her most recent project HEAVN
2. Joey Purp
Joey Purp recently performed at the Timbuck2 celebration at the Metro. He had full command of the stage, and his music resonated. His work continues the theme of the Savemoney Crew, delivering honest stories about himself and his community. The lead track “Morning Sex” from his most recent release iiiDrops sounds like a journal entry. Purp wears his heart on his sleeve, and it works. Check out his recent project below.
Noname is a poet with a haunting delivery that draws the listener in. She has been featured on songs with Chance The Rapper and Saba. In all of her guest spots she stands out with beautiful, unorthodox delivery. Her work is an honest look at herself. She is open. She is free. Her sound is Chicago. I’m really looking forward to watching her career grow. Take a listen to her highly anticipated release Telephone below.
4. John the Author
John the Author is an alumnus of the famed Donda’s House, the organization providing resources to Chicago’s youth founded by Che “Rhymefest” Smith and Kanye West. Named for Kanye West’s mother, it cultivates and nurtures the talents within young participants. John has decided to be a voice for Black people, and is providing a social media platform for change through @BLACKECONOMICS101. He is using is music to raise awareness in the community and affect change. Take a listen to his most recent single “Black Queen”.
5. Ravyn Lenae
Ravyn Lenae’s voice is alluring and arresting. This South Side native is part of a collective called Zero Fatigue. The classically trained singer and songwriter complements her hypnotic vocals with impressive range. Her skills are showcased on her most recent release Moon Shoes. Take a listen.