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Chicago steps up its hip-hop game
Daily Northwestern


As the city with the third largest population in all of America, Chicago has produced a disappointingly small number of prominent hip-hop stars. In fact, the typical Chi-town rap conversation begins and ends with one name- Common- and he doesn’t even call the Windy City home anymore. But there are a couple of promising artists who have the potential to put Chicago on the hip-hop map like never before.

Diverse released his official debut album, “One A.M.,” last November after a string of hot underground teasers including the single “Wylin’ Out” featuring Mos Def. Raised in Evanston, the local rapper is gifted with one of the freshest flows out there- his authoritative voice effortlessly swoops between the beat, filling up every possible space with carefully placed syllables. Diverse is clearly a rapper’s rapper, spitting thoughtful verse after thoughtful verse on songs like “Jus Biz,” and “I Used to Love H.E.R.”- Type ode to real hip-hop, where he pumps out tongue-twisting lines like, “My pages consist of spacious outlooks/ I’m lookin’ outside the cubicle/ The usual doesn’t seem suitable.”

Accompanying Diverse’s lyrical workouts on “One A.M.” are stellar beats, most notably provided by Def Jux producer extraordinaire RJD2. The combination is highly combustible on the justly titled “Explosive,” and the soulful “Uprock,” where Diverse unleashes scathing criticism on lesser MCs as he raps, “Bubble gum gangsta-pop/ Stop playin’/ These consolation pseudo-stars/ Collapsible like a compact reality.” Diverse could easily rap circles around 95 percent of today’s hip-hop stars and, although raw talent rarely leads to popular success, he is poised to represent Chicago’s underground talent to the fullest.



Kanye West is hip-hop’s premier utility man. He has produced some of the hottest songs of the last three years (including Jay-Z’s notorious Nas dis track “Takeover”) and is now ready to take the mic into his own hands. But whereas other producer/ rappers like P. Diddy often abide by the mantra “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks,” West takes pride in his old-school-soul drenched beats and witty rhymes.

Riding high on the massive airplay granted to his first single- the sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, Chaka Kahn-sampling “Through the Wire”- from his upcoming album, “College Dropout,” West is on the verse of superstardom. Although West cannot match Diverse when it comes to lyrical acrobatics, his intriguing combination of social awareness and over-the-top braggadocio could possibly attract both backpackers and bling aficionados alike.

And if that is not enough to get excited about, recent West interviews confirm an upcoming collaboration with Common, which should continue to prove Chicago’s rising relevance in the rap world.

By: Ryan Dombal

Big Game
CD/12” | CHLT 051

Jus Biz
12” | CHLT 047

One A.M.
CD/2xLP | CHLT 039

Mos Def & Diverse
Wylin’ Out
(Kut Masta Kurt Remixes)

12” | CHLT 034
12” | CHLT 031

Diverse, Mos Def & Prefuse 73
Wylin’ Out
CD/12” | CHLT 030

CD/12” | CHLT 018

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