Chicago gets 'Drop' on promoting its scene

January 28, 2005


While many record executives and entertainment insiders look to Chicago for the next big thing in hip-hop, a new branch on the genre's family tree continues to grow in the city, and it's blossoming with the type of vitality and freshness not seen in hip-hop for almost a decade.

And now it has a soundtrack, "The Chicago Drop."

It's live -- sometimes called organic -- music, driven by bands and musicians, who improvise and jam in the tradition of jazz and rock, but who have their roots firmly planted in the traditions of hip-hop. They feature energized MCs who bob and weave over driving rhythms, while flipping ego and attitude big enough fill their baggy jeans.

But there's something more that makes it hip-hop, explains Bad News Jones drummer Daniel Crane.
"Look, that dude from 311 rapped on half their tracks, and if people try to tell me that that's hip-hop just cause the dude didn't sing, they're not paying attention," says Crane. "I won't sit here and try to act as an authority figure on what you can call hip-hop, but it has to do with a lot of things that go beyond just having an MC on stage: attitude, style, and intent. There's a million [reasons]."

Almost as important as their music, the live scene is displaying the type cohesiveness required to call any musical revolution a movement.

It's this cohesiveness that allowed for the creation of "The Chicago Drop," a CD featuring key groups in the live scene, as well as the music of a couple of production-driven crews with a more organic sound.

The project was the brainchild of Cary Kanno and Verses Style of Abstract Giants.

"We needed unity in the Chicago hip-hop scene. We were playing music with all of these cats around the city and everyone knew each other, so the framework was there. But there was nothing to bring us all together," says Kanno, also known as CKP. "I guess we were inspired by what the Wu-Tang Clan did in Staten Island: creating unity not only to survive, but to thrive."

Selecting what bands to highlight was easy, according to Kanno.

"These bands were handpicked based on the caliber of the musicians, songwriting and live performances," he says. "There is such a variety and mix of sounds on this disc and I think that represents where the Chicago hip-hop scene is at."

Once approached to be on the disc, the bands were happy to be part of the project.

"It's a beautifully simple concept," says Mike Ryan the drummer of Small Change. "We needed someone with the skill, experience and time to orchestrate it all. Fortunately, Cary stepped up to the plate and made it happen. Hopefully, we can set an example of how artists can build together."

"The Chicago Drop" features the work of Dynamic Vibrations, Contriband, Farm Crew, Tabakin, Abstract Giants, Small Change, Star People, Treologic, Bad News Jones and Planets Audible. It is available at Tower Records in Lincoln Park (2301 N. Clark) and at the bands' shows, like tonight's at Metro (3730 N. Clark) that is celebrating its release. More information is available through the Abstract Giants Web site at


9 tonight
Metro, 3730 N. Clark
Tickets, $10 (18-over show)
(773) 549-0203

David Jakubiak is a local free-lance writer.

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