The sum of all parts
Local hip-hop artists come together for ‘The Chicago Drop’
by Brandon Wetherbee Magazine Editor

Rather than leave Chicago for either coast to try to “make it,” the absTRACT giANTS have taken a more noble route. Embracing Chicago and all the music it has to offer, the giants have organized a hip-hop compilation album entitled “Chicago Drop.” What’s sad is that this is the first compilation of Chicago’s hip-hop bands. In other words, this should have been done years ago.

Guitarist Cary Kanno of absTRACT giANTS is one of the guys that got the project rolling. “Basically, the idea came about because my band and I have been playing with all these different bands that we love, we wanted to have something to bring us together to create more unity. Groups like All Natural have done this. We asked these bands if they wanted to do this and they all did. Once we got all the tracks together we decided we need to do this big roll-out release party.

The album features ten bands that live in or around this city. It’s an all-star lineup of underground acts, all of which have the potential to be the next The Roots. With the current climate of the Chicago hip-hop community, it made perfect sense to put this together as soon as possible. “The Chicago scene has recently been blowing up recently. Because of Kanye West, Common and Twista, companies are pumping millions into South-Side labels to find the next Kanye. The microscope is on us. It’s a great scene here in Chicago," said Kanno.

The best part about this project is that each band has their own sound and multiple accomplishments. “The one criteria for all these bands is they had to be able to put on a good live show, which all of these bands actually do,” said Kanno. In the form of organic hip-hop, all of these bands are molding the best of old school hip-hop, jazz, rock, reggae, funk and rhythm and blues to create a sound that appeals to anyone willing to open their ears.

The group that spearheaded all of this headlines Metro on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Metro. The giants have been together for over three years and have played over 200 shows. In addition to their headlining shows at Metro, House of Blues and Double Door, the eight-man group was also the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands winner last year. Winning a slot on the Chicago Warped Tour date didn’t hurt the band at all. Since then they’ve shared the stage with such respected artists as Diverse and Jean Grae. Their full-length debut, “A Grow Culture,” has been well-received by the Chicago Reader and Chicago Innerview magazine. Deciding not to stick to any one genre, the absTRACT giants are hard to disappoint.

Also playing with absTRACT giants at Metro are DePaul favorites Treologic. In addition to being covered by The DePaulia last fall, the group was also named 2004’s best unsigned band by the Chicago Tribune run Metromix. With positive reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times, Red Streak and Chicago Reader, it seems that they can do no wrong for critics.

The highlight of “The Chicago Drop” album comes from the Double Door headliner Small Change. Utilizing two emcee’s, the five-man band has a buzz in this city. Last year Vitamen D won the emcee battle of Wicker Park and UR Magazine ranked them as one of the 20 best bands to watch. With members having played with Ray Charles, Morris Day & the Time and The Roots, Small Change are definitely making a run at the big time.

Playing before Small Change at the Double Door will be Contriband. A favorite of the Chicago Sun-Times, Contriband are definitely professionals. The five-man band’s debut LP “The Sound” has been selling well throughout the city and can be picked up at Tower and Grammaphone records. Fans of both hip-hop and jam bands will enjoy seeing these guys on stage.

In addition to absTRACT giants, Treologic, Small Change and Contriband are the other six bands that make up “The Chicago Drop.” Farm Crew just released their debut LP “Some Other Now” and is for fans of dueling emcees. Bad News Jones released “Soundtrack to the Revolution Vol. 1: A Drink Before the War” last fall and can be seen backing up R. Kelly in his “Step in the Name of Love” video. Planets Audible made the wise decision to move from Indiana to Chicago and just released their debut self-titled EP. Tabakin has opened for the Roots and hosts a weekly freestyle open mic at Subterranean and Tonic Room. Star People is comprised of members of the now defunct jazz group Family. Dynamic Vibrations round out the bill with the group having opened up for Brand Nubians and members of Jurassic 5.

If you’re into hip-hop at all, there is no reason not to check out these bands. In addition to only paying $10 for the show, you also get a copy of “The Chicago Drop” compilation. Consider it an investment. In a few years, one of the bands will go platinum and you will be able to eBay the album for way more than $10.

‘The Chicago Drop’ record release shows:

Saturday Jan 22 - Double Door
Small Change
Dynamic Vibrations
Planets Audible
$10, 21+ Doors, 8:30 p.m.

Friday Jan 28th - Metro
Bad News Jones
Farm Crew
Star People
$10, 18+, 8 p.m.