I often wonder what is it about Chicago that generates so much creativity and innovation. After all, this is the city that gave birth to both the zipper and the skyscraper; the city where Ferris invented his Wheel; the city where the mobile phones we all carry around were first designed.
When I consider Chicago’s musical identity, I think about the immense continuum of innovation running through the city’s black music history. From Louis Armstrong’s earliest jazz recordings, to Mahalia Jackson’s developments in gospel music, to the urban blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, up through the house, juke, and footwork creations of Frankie Knuckles, DJ Funk, DJ Rashad, and the drill sounds of Chief Keef, it’s hard to think of another city with so many indigenous genres that’ve been as influential around the globe.
“Visionary #ChicagoMade artists are emerging from across the city’s patchwork of neighborhoods to make their mark not only through music, but as entrepreneurs disrupting old industry models and blazing new paths to economic viability.”
I recorded a DJ mix that represents a wave of musical creativity emanating from Chicago. It’s a movement that offers an alternative to some of the dominant narratives about our city. Visionary #ChicagoMade artists are emerging from across the city’s patchwork of neighborhoods to make their mark not only through music, but as entrepreneurs disrupting old industry models and blazing new paths to economic viability. Chance the Rapper, a figurehead of this movement, became the first artist ever to win a Grammy without releasing a physical recording, or needing record label behind him.
Listening to this explosion of sound led by Chance and crew, I wonder; is this yet another (to-be-named) Chicago music genre? There are elements of jazz, gospel, blues, house, juke, footwork, and drill, yet this is a new sound entirely. It’s hip-hop, but breaks the paradigm of gangster-rap, party-rap, backpacker hip-hop, and trap, to create something that transcends them all.
Chi-Town? Chi-Raq? No. This is The Go!
The continuum of innovation running through Chicago's black music history is immense. From Louis Armstrong's earliest…
A version of this article was originally posted on Huffington Post