Chicago hip-hop has been putting itself on the map for a few years now. Every year there would be notices that the city was brimming with talent ready to take over. And, for a while, it sort of would. Acts like the Cool Kids, Rockie Fresh, King Louie, and Tree would grab a bit of national buzz, enough to validate those claims of coming Chicago dominance, but not enough to thin out the deep talent pool. 2013, though, saw a few Chicago heavy hitters reaching insane new heights, further solidifying that projected dominance.
Three rappers in particular have provided blueprints and left space for the next crop to grow. Chief Keef largely did the latter after his big deal in 2012, spending much of the year releasing mediocre tapes, having run-ins with the law, and plotting his next big step. Chance the Rapper, meanwhile, skyrocketed from promising dude with a prominent high school suspension to a feature on a Justin Bieber track, among other star moves. Kanye… Well, Kanye got to a point where it’s hard to say that he’s actually a human being that is from a place.
So, if you’re ready to see what names might be filling those big shoes this time next year, look no further. We’ve assembled a list of 10 up-and-coming Chicago rappers that haven’t gotten to that level yet, but have the potential to break into the national consciousness. It’s time we stop talking about Chicago taking over the rap world and just let you know who comprises the next wave.
Ibn Inglor is an undeniable talent, but that’s proven to be as much of an obstacle for him as an asset. Being compared to Kanye West off your first few singles would be something that most rappers would gloat about, even aspire to, but not Ibn Inglor, who has spent the last few months developing a unique style all his own and carving out a niche sound with his debut mixtape, New Wave. On “Black Print”, he raps, “Stop putting me on the highest pedestals/ Let me work,” a plea from an artist immediately slapped with enormous expectations because he sounded somewhat similar to a Chicago legend. New Wave was the perfect response, a by no means perfect effort, but something that gave critics a more complex piece of work to think on. With cosigns from The Fader, Pigeons and Planes, and Complex (who premiered his mixtape), Ibn stands as one of the most promising young rappers coming from the city, with potential that bleeds through on every track. With some dark, aggressive production backing his ferocious lyricism, Inglor shuts down the comparisons and asks that the work speak for itself. But, it doesn’t speak. It fucking screams. –Pat Levy