We haven’t seen a Chicago music scene like this before. With the newfound attention on our city following Chance The Rapper’s rise to fame, every artist in the city that can say “I’ve worked with Chance,” or even “I stood next to Chance at a party once” is proudly saying so as often as possible. But now that all eyes have turned to Chicago, what’s next? This isn’t to ask who the next Chance the Rapper is, as there won’t be one and that’s a good thing, but instead who is going to be the next artist to step into the spotlight that our city has finally gotten. Who’s going to be the next one to show the world that Chicago is one of the most vibrant, diverse music cities in the world?
We recommend keeping your eyes on Mykele Deville. Labeled a “DIY Rap Phenomenon” and coming off his recent performance opening for BJ The Chicago Kid at Chop Shop, Mykele Deville dropped his third record Peace, Fam earlier this month. The album comes as a follow up of Each One, Teach One and Super Predator, both released last year when Mykele first dove into rapping.
Mykele is collaborative, humble, and above all, you’ll never see him do the same thing twice. With his roots in spoken word and activism, Mykele approaches his music as a true artist exploring his own boundaries and refusing to become content with just one sound. This new album exemplifies that as it seamlessly jumps between sample and jazz backtracks to melancholy, ambient poetry. Beyond those instrumentals remains a collection of incredibly thought-provoking lyrics, far beyond that of a “normal” rapper.
Then there’s “Shea Butter” which is simply delightful and whimsical, another quality of Mykele’s that sticks out to those that know him.
It’s easy to notice that Mykele’s background is not hip hop, but spoken word and activism. The intro of “Unqualified” follows a black student who finds his African American studies class is full of only white kids. “Poem For My Niggas” is the quickest way to connect with Mykele’s roots, and it will leave you hanging on every syllable. That track also features McKenzie Chinn and Sam Trump of Sidewalk Chalk, and part of that trio has already created a new project under the name of Growing Concerns. This is furthers the point that Mykele is not here to get famous for this rap project, he’s here to explore his artistic boundaries and grow through these endless collaborations. His second album featured 19 different outside artists and some appearing more than once across the 24 tracks. You never know where Mykele will pop up, and who he will be performing with, but you know it will be one of a kind experience.
This represents a lot of how Mykele expresses himself. With this album, we are given further reassurance that this man refuses to let one genre define him. Poet, activist, creative, and now rapper, Mykele Deville is a versatile artist and the definition of what makes this city’s music community so special.