Tag Archives: Chicago

RAIN. – The latest EP from Jay Wood

As fun as it is to pretend like the clock striking 12:00 is a magical moment of renewal… it’s highly likely you’ll be scribbling out 2017 and rewriting 2018 for the next three months. So before we get too hasty, let’s get hip to a recent EP release from a fearless up-and-coming rapper: RAIN. x Jay Wood. (listen here on soundcloud)

The forecast for this project (meteorological pun aggressively intended), features artists like Femdot & fellow Freesole artist Chulo. Not to mention, obtuse beats with versatility, an agile flow and direct lyrics describing the reality of a young black artist clinging to his faith and sanity amidst the chaos. While the delivery is clutch and charismatic, its the authenticity that seals the deal. This EP will grow on you.

Speaking of growth, the Midwest music scene is undeniably doing just that: growing in confidence, support and reach. Adding to the momentum is a one Jay Wood a.k.a. “Wizzle”, the young rapper out of Chicago boasts a unique voice, contagious passion and lyrics that you can’t ignore or minimize. (Think – lunchroom cypher spontaneity, spiked with the bitterness of  adulthood and the awareness of the narratives he’s expected to fall into. Think – teriyaki sauce, familiar, sweet, but deeper than just that. Opaque brown and thick consistency, fun but heavy.)

You get the point. Now let’s go through the 8 tracks, dropped just this December, together and peep his inspiration for each.

  1. FAITH.  You can’t prepare yourself for the intro, so just let it happen. An alien invasion opens after landing and out comes – no, not a purple monster with tentacles, but “Wizzle” with clear cut confidence and a killer hook. Suddenly, the invader sounds less alien and more like one of your own voices in your head. His inspirations: Faithful x Common, T-Shirt x Migos. Listen.
  2. SOMETHING TO GIVE. A personal favorite. The rhymes are stacked and the sound will put you in a trance if you let it. True Jay Wood style and variation and an almost unbearable familiarity in the track’s content. You’ve been there. His Inspirations: Stoney x Saba, All Falls Down x Kanye West. Listen.

  3. DESTINY. (feat. Christian JaLon and Oliv Blu) A cool interlude that sounds just how stepping into those pools that don’t have stairs but actually slope down like a beach, feels. Inspo: You Can’t Stop the Rain x Loose Ends. Listen.
  4. RIGHT NOW. (feat. Chulo and Femdot) The title fits like a glove, this song is as much a hype track as it is a call to action. Phonetics and emphasis are dancing with each other and each of the flows present are distinct yet complimentary. His Inspiration: Roc Boys x Jay-Z, Like My Style x 50 cent. Listen.
  5.  JESSE WHITE. (feat. Ajani Jones) Funky tones like a droid from a space movie meet an equally sporadic style as Jay Wood spits the real seemingly in every octave, with Ajani Jones coming in with heat. The quirks of the song fits the artist, like the 8 ball cap perched on top of the iconic mane. His Inspiration: Like a Pimp x David Banner, Modest x Isaiah Rashad. Listen.
  6. MILKNHONEY. A vibe I’d call damn near the best remix of the Charlie Brown song, in the best way – trust me. The steady message is layered and intentionally obstructed. Whether lyrics come from your voice of reason or a crackling megaphone, the song supplies both force & direction and the sweet title almost hides the true danger of our desires.  His Inspiration: The Commander x Kid Cudi,  Get Out My Way x Alex Wiley. Listen.
  7. STREETLIGHTS. A quick blunt report of the overlooked grind and what cultivates behind trendy culture, in the reality of the shadows. Inspo: BON x King Louie. Listen.

  8. LET HIM IN. The track is gentle and smooth with the kind of hooks and ad libs that makes you feel involved. Part of the appeal is not only Jay Wood’s ability to befriend you through a speaker but also there’s encouragement and hope. Humble hunger and real thoughts make the track all the more relatable.  His Inspiration: All of the Lights and Stronger x Kanye West, Immortal x J. Cole. Listen.

Find Jay Wood on Twitter and Soundcloud or mobbing with a family of artists to a stage near you.

Full Circle. As a country, and maybe even as a human race, 2017 comes to a close with some horrendous memories politically, huge societal failures and almost comical gaps in accountability. While the general team record is hot trash, if you’ve been paying attention the year has been full of exponential growth in areas like sexual assault awareness, climate change and of course, in music. To be specific, Hip Hop and R&B (after flirting with senseless chaos, demonic glorification and gassed up vine wannabes) has evolved and thrived this year. Whether it’s because we need more music to cope with the impending nuclear war, or because people are beginning to fight for themselves and support fellow creatives, taking advantage of the digital age – it’s hard to say at this point. The result is infectious growth (ew, not the best word choice but you know what I mean). We often forget how much impact personal growth can have.

Jay Wood Jesse White

Shout out to Jay Wood and all the artists putting real life into their craft and not letting a bunch of sheep in suits, uninspired parents or dream killing teachers crumple their destiny. Shout out to the artists multitasking and going to get that thing.

Growth is not defined by an A+, a piece of paper or worldly success but successful learning. Learning from pain failure and frustration, from love, tears and laughter. Countless artists and misunderstood individuals forget that being stuck in pain means you are in prime position for growth, if you fight for it. The music you love, like RAIN. come from those spaces and the minds we take for granted and forget to explore. If you don’t make music, make something. Make an effort to grow, and support those around you who are doing the same. If you need  inspiration check out Jay Wood and the Freesole (soundcloud page) fam.

Thanks for visually digesting my word collage. Listen to RAIN. again and plot your next move. Grow.

Summer Selections – Vol 1.

Summer May not have officially started on the celestial calendar, but as this month closes to an end, here are a few tunes to try out to get you through that shift, pregame to, and fit the vibes of those hot, sunny drives.

  • Young Hot Thotties  x Dan Murray

    YOUNG HOT TH art

    This 2016 jam, available on Apple Music and here on Soundcloud, is by Virginia
    birthed, ATL reppin’ Dan Murray. In this interview with The Perfect Play, Murray states, “Everyone has that cocky side to them an I’m just open about it and like fuck it – being cocky or conceited is okay if your intent is good. I’m a pretty ass nigga blame my mom & dad not me so shit I’m going to brag about myself – why not you know.” It’s my current go-to solo drive song whether I’m feeling myself, the weather or I’m just back on my bullshit. Bump this track here on Soundcloud or stream on Apple Music, and thank me later.

  • XO TOUR Llif3Lil Uzi Vert

    XO Tour Art

    All my friends are dead, push me to the edge.” I know, I know – not exactly the fun message you think you’d want to hear when taking advantage of late nights and chasing thrills, but you’d be surprised. While perhaps lyrically disturbing, this Uzi track is currently placed eighth on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Don’t knock it till you try it, this tune is a guaranteed to be played at some functions if you havent heard it already. Check it out on Apple Music or here on Soundcloud. Prepare yourself, after party staples like Carti’s Magnolia and GoldLink’s Crew, you may find yourself in Uzi’s dark space (and you might like it).

  • Everyday We Lit (feat. PnB Rock) YFN Lucci


    Lucci claims this collab between the two came organically when just vibing in the studio, running through beats. However it was birthed, this track certainly captures the attitude many share this summer. A highly requested bop on college campuses, its got a sound that carries it beyond the seemingly played out topic. So, how lit does it get you? Peep the original on Apple Music or the remix featuring Lil Yachty and Wiz Khalifa here on Soundcloud.

  • Lemon Pon Goose (feat. Jean Deaux) x Smino

    The beloved STL native dropped this single in 2016 around the same time of the underappreciated release of the blkjuptr EP and its been sitting pretty in my “Songs to Whine on my Future BD” playlist ever since. (I wish I was joking). Infectious beats and the sultry feature of Jean Deaux (a dope voice known to roll with the Pivot team in the Chi with fellow up-and-coming-artist, SABA).  Listen on Apple Music or via Soundcloud here.

  • RAF (feat. A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert & Frank Ocean) x A$AP Mob

    RAF ASAP MOB art

    The Mob has done it again with this fat collaboration with a specific request of the listener. Originally, a preview was flashed by A$AP Rocky in January under the name Please Don’t Touch My Raf  and more recently an alternate version aired on Frank’s Beats 1 Radio station Blonded earlier this month. With such a diverse set of artists, it’s impressive how cohesive it comes together and how consistent the sound represents Rocky and the Mobs usual ambiance. From Carti’s adlibs to Frank’s variations and stresses, the song is art just as much as any Raf Simmons original. Available on Apple Music and you can hear the preview on Soundcloud here


More Summer Selections coming your way next week. Enjoy your flight. 

Making His Mark, In Marker

His hashtag is searchable, with almost 5,000 hits on Google in half a second. His art covers his walls and crosses timelines across the country. Celebs and artists alike have been eyeing the handiwork of 22 year old, Travon Greer a talented Chicago artist with a passion for sharp shapes and Sharpies. His work features Egyptian, Oriental and pop culture icons and themes, bright and glow-in-the-dark colors, and mesmerizing hand drawn patterns. Greer features the greats from Kanye to the ancient goddess Isis and back to Kid Cudi. His work is hard to miss, and if you’re sleep now, you won’t be for long.

(Shmay) Q: When did you start drawing and why?

(Travon) A: I would say I started drawing my freshman year in high school. I took an architecture class in which we had to draw out floor plans and random other stuff, but that wasn’t really drawing to me. I started my style of drawing in 2013 when I was at Kansas State. I started drawing to help relieve me of stress, it was just something that eased my mind when my thoughts were clouded.

One of the most admirable things you can notice about Greer as an artist, just by scrolling through his Media tab on his twitter (@xTRVONx), is that he is consistently producing work. As simple as it sounds, consistency is what separates talent from success and progress.

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Q: What motivates you and keeps you focused?

A: The thing that motivates is the satisfaction of finishing a drawing. The process of putting my thoughts and feelings on paper soothes my soul for some reason. Its a great feeling to be able to show people the type of imagines and ideas I have in my head.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and what does it mean for you to be one?

A: My favorite artist in any field is Kid Cudi. I have a bunch of favorite visual artists like Basquiat but its too many to narrow down. At first, I never thought of myself as an artist, I just wanted to be able to represent my thoughts on paper because its easier to me than talking. It means a lot to be an artist because you can just be expressing yourself and without knowing, you can be inspiring people to be creative as well.

Jhene x Travon
Usually the other way around, Jhene has heart eyes for these xTRVONx originals.



Some very important people are falling in love with what Greer is producing.


Q: Is there a reason marker is your go-to medium? Interested in any others?

A:  I use sharpie because it was the only thing I had to use to add color to my pictures, when I first started drawing. I know there are way better markers to use than sharpie but I’ve used sharpie for so long I just prefer them now. I do want to experiment with painting though, I feel like once I teach myself how to paint I can really create some crazy art pieces.

Q: Egyptian themes are heavily present in your work, what else inspires you?

A: Besides Egypt, I get a lot of inspiration from music. Artists like Kid Cudi, Kanye and Travis Scott inspire me to push my creative boundaries.

Q: Favorite musicians? Who’s currently on your playlist?

A: Kid Cudi, Travis, The Underachievers, Chance The Rapper etc. And I’m listening to Thouxanbandfauni right now.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone aspiring to take their art seriously or follow in your footsteps?

A: The advice I would give other artists is keep creating and never stop. The more you draw/paint the better you get. Once people start to see your progress, more opportunities will open up.

Q: Do you have a goal for your work/art/brand for this summer or this year?

A: One of the main goals I have this year, is to get involved in more art shows. I’ve only been in 4 art shows and that’s not a lot at all but I’ve set myself up in some up coming events so I’m already off to a good start.

Speaking of  events, for any Chicago readers or those who can make the trip, you can catch more of Travon at the Art, Mimosas, and Pancakes Exhibition on July 8th, at Mad Art Gallery in Chicago.

Art is an individual’s documented reaction to existence
– Chance the Rapper

Check out more of Travon’s work by stopping by his website or following him on twitter and peeping his hashtag (@xTRVONx and #xTRVONx, respectively). His work has been distributed on shirts, rugs, prints and he’s been commissioned for album art featured on Apple Music. Hit him up for commissions and orders, RT, and support if you can. On top of dope music opinions, event updates and more of his work, Travon has even in the past had a couple giveaways of his most popular prints.

travon 3