Those Chi City Boys – Lupe, Rhymefest, Common and Kanye

Some of the hottest hip hop music of the last decade came out of the mid-west. That’s right, Chicago was hot, hot, hot. How hot? Let’s ask Rhymefest to break it down for us.

What did Chi city boys bring to hip hop? More like, what didn’t they bring.  Fashion, social conscience and clever insight, often in every song. These guys took hip hop seriously and always tried to take it to the next level. They did not shun their responsibilities as hip hop artists, instead they have answered for hip hops crimes and tried to take it to a better place. Common, Kanye, Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest are all favs that have delivered hours and hours of listening pleasure and enlightenment. You know, edutainment.

So after the jump, all sorts of great hip hop from out of the Chi.

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe made me a fan after hearing  these lyrics in Hurt Me Soul. I just loved his description of the internal struggle caused by loving music that contains such a hateful message toward women.

Now I ain’t tryna be the greatest
I used to hate hip-hop… yup, because the women degraded
But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it
A hypocrite I stated, though I only recited half
Omittin the word “bitch,” cursin I wouldn’t say it
Me and dog couldn’t relate, til a bitch I dated
Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike
But I learnt it from a song I heard and sorta liked

Lupe has done many excellent songs. Kick, Push was his first big break-out hit and it highlights another big trend of the Naughts, the intersection of hip hop with skateboard culture. (I’m looking at you, Pharrell.) There are so many great lines in Kick Push. His debut album Food and Liquor was excellent.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And the kid just got stronger. And I really enjoyed his follow up album, The Cool. It showcased an older, more mature Lupe, but don’t worry, he was still smooth.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I posted a killer promo clip for Lupe’s new album Lasers, due in Spring 2010. Can’t wait.


This dude totally inspires me as an artist, he is so true to himself.  And he makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis. His first album Blue Collar contained some great songs, including Fever, the song at the top of this post. And his duet with ODB was my favorite Wu sing-a-long song since, well since this song. Line for line, Rhymest holds his own against ‘Ye, no small feat indeed.

And lest you think ‘Fest is all about the good times, he is saying some important things that need to be said.

He too has an album out soon. Can’t wait.


There are many things I like about Common that have nothing to do with his music. I love his style, he dresses so well all the time. I loved that he dated Serena Williams. And he too has cultivated his own musical style, chill but precise. Laid back, but hella tight. I admire that Common has always tried to be a part of the solution, not part of the problems plaguing hip hop.

I mean for the love, the brother dressed up NICE and sat in front of Oprah’s audience who was worked up into a tizzy after the Don Imus fiasco. Common and three other men basically came onto Oprah to answer for the portrayal of black women in rap. Common was so brave to answer for crimes that of which he himself was not guilty. I respect the hell out of him for that.

We write songs about wrong cause it’s hard to see right

Look to the sky hoping it will bleed light

Reality’s hard, I heard that she bites.

And he does it was such style that he makes every other man look woefully under-dressed.

And HELL YEAH that is Avon Barksdale. Wire forevah!

Kanye, Kanye, Kanye

Oh ‘Ye, you are enfant terrible. But you are genius and you have been exactly what we all need. I know you have upset many, many people, but Kanye, I ain’t mad at you. Here are ten reasons why:

1. I totally agree with you a lot of the time. Bush didn’t care about black people, Beyonce did make the vid of the decade. I’m glad you said what you did about Bush, you should have had better impulse control with Taylor.

2. You can laugh at yourself. Everytime you behave like an ass, you seem to realize it later and try to make it right in your own way.

3. Your blog is really, really unique. And awesome.

4. You have supported new talent around you. Then and now.

5. You are a trendsetter. You don’t know what’s hot now, you know what’s hot next.

6. You stay true to yourself. You believe in what you are doing. You are always trying to push yourself and those around you. We might not always like what you do, but you are an artist in a world of performers.

7. You’ve offered such an alternative to to what was dominating mainstream rap. In fashion, in subject matter, in lifestyle. One of my favorite lines from early on: Forrest Gump’s mama said life’s like a box of chocolates. My mama said go to school and get your doctorate.

8. You are your own worst enemy, we don’t need to punish you. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother, I can’t imagine how that was for you.

9. You speak wicked truth at times. I hear your lyrics, I know your spirit.

10. I can think of at LEAST 10 songs of yours I LOVE. That counts for something ‘Ye.

Keep fighting the good fight. Mad love to the Chi.




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 19:59:05

    Thank you for posting those Lupe and Rhymefest clips, I really liked their smooth, relaxed attitude with their lyrics and clever tuns of phrase.

    Kanye is just killer. I adore him. “Stronger,” “Love Lockdown,” “Jesus Walks,” “Touch the Sky,” his verse on Estelle’s “American Boy.” He’s incredible.


  2. Mr.Gawn
    Jan 17, 2010 @ 22:48:59

    Common has been one of my most fav rappers since about 1992. Ever since “I used to love her”, hes been one of my idols… and “The People”

    Kanye has some SMOOTH CDs/Songs/Rhymes/Lyrics, etc
    his entire 808 & Heartbreaks was phenomenal
    Stronger, Diamonds Are Forever, Workout Plan, Ds on it… Dreams with The Game was nice (he produced it)

    Lupe is… hit or miss.. I love a like of hit tracks, and hate the others
    Kick Push & Kick Push 2 were great
    Day Dream is still great
    Superstar… half/half

    Never really noticed Rhymefest tho… imma start listenin to him


  3. Margo
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 01:00:29

    So much great stuff here – I adore Lupe, Kick, Push got me back into hip hop after a short break, it just melted my brain. And who can’t love on Common? Plus, I am with you on Kanye. He just needs to marry me, and he’d be fine.


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