Collective Thoughts Vol. 2
T.D.E., OVO, Dreamville, G.O.O.D. Music. Any time the head honcho of these respective cliques drops a new project or single, debates over who's the best collective get sparked up between hip-hop fans everywhere.
While the four aforementioned crews and their collective members deserve all the recognition and accolades they have received, there are other labels and collectives that are worthy being brought up in the discussion.
In the first installment of Collective Thoughts for The Barber's Chair, Eyeless and Just JT take a closer look at four crews that are poised to make a major impact in 2018 and beyond: SAVEMONEY, SOB x RBE, GRISELDA, and T.R.U.
The goal of this series is to give light to those getting overlooked by the widespread masses. There will be some established brands and household names but the main focus will be on the equally talented moving parts inside the machine that helps it operate.
After the breakdown of each collective, a sampler playlist and links to standout projects are provided to help you get familiar with the clique.
EYELESS - SAVEMONEY
Chicago's strong influence on the hip-hop scene continues to change the game for the better. One of the more impressive outfits of today is SAVEMONEY, a crew that's been active and relevant since its inception in 2013. Spearheaded by Vic Mensa with Chance the Rapper also playing an integral role, the Chicago-based collective has a bunch of extremely talented music creatives who are sonically versatile and boldly experimental.
Many varying elements - juke, jazz, synths, and more - are layered over traditional hip-hop and RnB production to create a novel sound. The artists in the collective have this kind of manic-type zen balance; one minute, they're in full rage mode spazzing on a track. The next, they're slowly singing out auto-tuned ballads. Range shown by SAVEMONEY makes them one of the more interesting acts to watch in 2018.
They are still very much active 5 years since their official birth, with members already dropping strong projects to start the year with others just on the horizon. They have mainstream appeal as well as underground appeal without sacrificing art for either It's a wonder why they aren't more of a household name. Judging by their music output, they don't care about that. They know they're doing dope shit and widespread validation is secondary if anything.
I first heard Vic Mensa when I saw Kids These Days on a whim at The Roots Picnic in 2012. Their performance was one of most memorable ones out a star-studded lineup. When Vic left the group to focus on his solo career, it was only a matter of time before his rise to rap star took place. Mensa has been one of the more promising rappers to come out of Chicago this decade or, anywhere for that matter. His slick, tongue-twisting rhymes can have the listener in a headspin; his clever and witty metaphors and punchlines will further cause dizziness.
He's known to unexpectedly sing, as do other members of SAVEMONEY are known to do from time to time. Vic Mensa is not afraid of shying away from being outspoken. He's becoming increasingly visible in the Social Justice community by advocating for a stop to the gun violence in his city (it's still "Fuck DJ Wackademiks"). His solid debut, The Autobiography has Vic's versatility on display and is a good indicator that he'll be around for a while, whichever route he takes musically.
Leather Corduroys (Joey Purp x Kami)
My personal favorite artists in the SAVEMONEY clique are Joey Purp and Kami de Chukwu. Together, they form a Gotenks-type fusion with the group Leather Corduroys. So much energy comes from these two artists in their own unique ways. Joey can go from a gaudy rap, laid back professional roaster to a seriously raw and emotion filled rapper at the drop of a dime. "Morning Sex" the opening track to his 2016 mixtape iiiDrops gives you a look intohis traumatic past in an unfiltered way. Kami is also known for a gritty rap performance but can switch it up completely which was evident in one of his most recent releases Just Like The Movies. Purp should be releasing new material in 2018; fingers crossed for something new from Leather Cords before the end of the year.
Towkio (f/k/a Tokyo Shawn)
Towkio or even Tokyo Shawn is a fitting name for the SAVEMONEY member. This isn't based on the fact that he is of Japanese descent, it's more based on how foreign (in a good way) his sound is. Towkio's vocals are drenched in electronic modifiers that puts the listener in an unexpected mindstate, again, in a good way. His approach to creating a unique and authentic sound is one of the things that makes him great. He can rap, he can sing, he can blend both without sounding sloppy.WWW., a tape that he literally dropped from space, is one of the music releases of 2018 so far. It's a lively ride in a landscape that feels like controlled turbulence. Well worth a listen.
As Chicago once did with Miri Ben-Ari, Nico Segal is another atypical musician that is being championed in the hip-hop world. Current member of The Social Experiment, former Vic Mensa bandmate, and frequent Chance the Rapper collaborator Nico Segal has many credentials in his young career. The vibrant blares from his trumpet is a signature sound that can be heard around the world. There hasn't been much news about a solo project the young jazz producer for 2018 but it'd be hard to imagine him remaining quiet for much longer.
Sterling Hayes, Brian Fresco, and Dally Auston
Just because their names aren't being brought up on a daily basis doesn't mean these 3 artists are lacking in quality whatsoever. Whenever their time to shine arises, they'll be ready to seize the opportunity. I'm guilty of only recognizing the names of Sterling Hayes, Brian Fresco, and Dally Auston from features with the aforementioned. Doing the research for this piece made me regret not checking out these cats and their individual work sooner. Three distinctly sounding artists that bring their own flavor to the table. Brian Fresco is arguably the most "traditional" rapper out of the whole collective but he can get hype too. His excellent project Love Scars flew under the radar but was one of the better releases of March. Hayes has more energetic, thrashing and raging type of style, a wave (he should exploit) that is extremely popular with today's young hip-hop fans. Dally Auston's chilled out, somber raps also provide a different kind of shock value, quality stuff that should be ignored.
Affiliates, Notable Features, and Former Members
The connected roots of SAVEMONEY's hip-hop affiliations run deep in Chicago alone. Kanye, Chano, Mick Jenkins, BJ The Chicago Kid, Noname, Saba and many others are frequent collaborators with this crew. Having immensely talented in-house producers such as Thelonious Martin, Caleb James, and Cam O'bi at your disposal is a cheat code itself. This allows the lyrical creatives the flexibility to whip up some new shit that the world has never felt before. A boundaryless playing field is where SAVEMONEY operates. Some sort of organized compilation with contributions from everyone in the collective would be a beautiful thing to hear one day.
Start Here: Original Playlist and Notable Projects
Vic Mensa - INNANETAPE
Joey Purp - iiiDropsTowkio - WWW.
Kami - Superstar EP
Brian Fresco - Love Scars
Dally Auston - 99 cents
Sterling Hayes - antidepressant
JUST JT - SOBxRBE
To most hip-hop fans, the Black Panther soundtrack was true introduction to SOBxRBE. Kendrick Lamar kicks off Paramedic with the introduction and proceeds to let the crew take lead. The young, live, vibrant, & chaotic energy you get from listening to this group can draw you in as a listeners. Plus the right balance of righteousness and ratchetness plays fairly well. Paramedic become one of the standout songs of the soundtrack but it also opened up the group to a new level of fans.
SOBxRBE originate from Vallejo, California, a city that’s home of the late great Bay Area music legend Mac Dre. This group was formed in 2015 back when they was two separate groups; Strictly Only Brothers and Real Boi Entertainment. Before the Black Panther soundtrack, they debuted their self titled album in 2017. The debut of their album resulted in hit in their respected city such as Anti & Lane Changing.
Right after the release of Black Panther soundtrack, the group released their 2nd album, Gangin.When you mix in some hyphy music along with of the sounds and samples of 80s Pop music, then you got yourselves the official sound ofSOBxRBE. Between the two albums and the co-sign from the king of the West Coast & Rap, SOBxRBE is only beginning. Another collective hailing from the Left Coast aka the Best Coast when all the best music resides.
Whether he’s with SOB or whether he’s solo dolo on a record, Slimmy B always sounding like he’s having the most fun on records. He dropped his solo mixtape back in October called his mixtape Problem Child which featured members of SOBxRBE, Lil Yee, Mozzy, & MistahF.A.B. Contribution towards Production includes Lil Rece, M.A. Da Pilot, MaczMuzik, House of Jamzand Remedy.
Here’s some personal standout mixtape cuts. You can find this mixtape on any streaming platform:
T.O.’s approach on records is considered close to the mainstream sound as it can but still sounding true to himself. His style is melodic, airy & fluid when he’s on the hook singing. But he still shows up when it comes to rapping. His collaborative project with Mozzy Gangland is my favorite project from him. His discography includes Before the Fame LP and On My Momma which is his most recent release.
Here’s some standout cuts to check out for the time being:
One of my favorite members of SOBxRBE. The energy that DaBoii produces when kicking off song catches my attention. At the beginning of Lane Changing, he raps, “What you fuck niggas sayin'?/Glock in the party, I be strapped like a gay bitch/ Niggas lane changin', don't know where they lane is / I carry big bills, nah nigga I ain'tchangin'”. The way he kickstarted SOB’s self titleddebut album was the energy that was needed and he didn’t disappoint. While rapping, his energy is always up and always in your face with it. He just won’t let up. His latest project Young Wild Nigga is available now and he has some other collaborative efforts. Check out his joints below.
Lul G is also another one whom has potential star and style to help with the crew possibly crossing into the mainstream world. Even though he is less showy and more of the glue guy for the whole crew, he still is able to stand on his and flex his melodic rapping muscles from time to time. His mixtape Yhung Nigga World is available on every platform. Here are some records for y’all to check out.
Affiliates, Notable Features, and Former Members
Also included in the creative process of Black Panther soundtrack, Mozzy has collaborated with SOB on numerous occasions, from his collaborative project with Yhung T.O. Gangland & other numerous collaborative singles with different members of SOBxRBE.
Also TDE playing a role in bringing on SOB into the mix of the Black Panther project was a big thing to consider. I want to hear a bit more TDE/SOB collaborations in the near future because like Slimmy B said, “TDE and SOB we can’t Lose.” Some other Bay Area legends such as Too Short, Mistah FAB, Lil Yee have all collaborated and affiliated with SOBxRBE.