Dime Digest – Follow Friday: “… and they say Chi-City”

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Is that… is that you? Yes, it’s me – more importantly, it’s Friday. Which means one thing: well, that it’s Friday (obvs), but also it is Follow Friday (for those of you who still celebrate, like opposite day – it’s a strong niche holiday… digress) so let’s get to stalkin’!

This Friday comes in like a breath of fresh air from the Windy City, we have a trifectious Pop trinity of Chitown’s finest – native and newcomers alike.

So much to be said about these three… but nothing that could define them better than the figures themselves

@kanyewest – Kanye West

One of Chi-Town’s pre-eminent gods tweets in perfect Pop Art prose… that is all – anything more that needs to be said, he has tweeted, is tweeting now, or will tweet in the future

Alex Ludovico: The Reawakening

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So many “MCs” on the hustle nowadays … it’s a daunting task to filter through the riffraff and find the diamonds in the rough worth following. Rest assured though, that those diamonds do indeed exist: enter Alex Ludovico.

In his own words:

Hey. I’m Alex Ludovico, a MC from Chicago (by way of Gary, IN).  I’m submitting my newest album. It’s entitled The Reawakening. It’s a 10 song sprint through my psyche, with production from Blurry Drones (Douglas Martin of Fresh Cherries From Yakima/5 O’Clock Shadowboxers), D, Wildlife Production, and JD (relative younger producers all from Chicago), along with a few stolen tracks I kicked verses over. I hope that you get the chance to take a listen and notice something you like about it.

Manners matter to me, but mad flow matters a bit more in the game – Mr. Ludovico doesn’t disappoint with The Reawakening.

reawakening

In my words: The intro, I’m Here Droogs, doesn’t get Ludovico’s foot in the door – it kicks down the door down; his rhymes kill any character confusion over an equally relentless White Stripes’ Icky Thump beat. The newcomer is “back from sabbatical/here to change the station, all the whack sh*tcha listenin’ to; New name so I’m feelin’ invincible.” (Mid-post pretense: if you know me you know I love dwelling in the contradictory; if you don’t know me, at least now you know that bit.) A self-proclaimed rookie coming back from hiatus – to kill the counterfeit constants in the game no less – comes out the cannon with a battle cry boasting invincibility; needless to say, nuff said. But wait; there’s more! If you’re – somehow – still unsure about the album’s directon or Ludovico’s demeanor after the first 30 seconds, wait 2 more and he’ll “explain it all like Clarissa.”

The Reawakening is a classic clash between titans: “Alex is the dark side, personified evil/Ludovico is the good, uplift the people.” Like yin and yang, the dark and good are distinct but dabble in one another’s tracks; like right and wrong, the dark and good walk a fine line and the black and white become grey; but like true “dark” and “good,” both inevitably balance each other out and it makes for a dead-on debut for this man from the Midwest.

Sonically, the album starts off banging (personally, my mind jumped straight to Baltimore club scene) then switches gears and eases into a more classic downtempo vibe. Sequencing is often overlooked, but when it isn’t the product is rarely sub-par: The Reawakening is proof. I’m Here Droogs to The Asphalt Jungle is prime time percolating club music. Right Cross is just that, the bridge from the club to the couch. Roaring 20s starts off the steady post-game music – you know the kind that has you rhythm-riding and head-bobbing the second the beat drops. The album eases on down the reawakened road, as Ludovico rhymes – at times showcasing a more toned-down flow – between vintage beats and vinyl overtones from 20s through the last track, 100 Milligrams.

Lyrically, the boy is banana sandwiches. His vocal mode is drenched in battle rap and freestyle; his emphasis is remnant of  the Slim Shady LP/Marshall Mathers LP – literally spitting lines. Continuing in the Eminem vein, Alex and Ludovico go “back and forth all day like Red and Meth” (and though he may or may not concur, he jokes when he says the best, “in the booth/but a lot of truth is said in jest”). In my humble opinion, the lyrical dark side is the first half (sans the intro): fun, witty, tongue-in-cheek, heavy on the club commentary, very “night out”-esque. I’d argue the lyrical “Alex” persona is the dark side because – even though the timbre is hard – the content is lighter. The post-Right Cross tracks are where Ludovico comes in to lyrically uplift the people. His tone may mellow out at times, but what he says resonates louder when not drowned out by how loudly he says it. I could be wrong though, after all Kanye said “They say I speak with so much emphasis/oooh they so sensitive;” either way, A. Ludo’s definitely got the Midwest on lock.

All this is to say: check out The Reawakening; it’s worth the listen – and he’s “by way of Gary, IN,” which means he’s practically the Jackson 6th.

Massive shout to the one and only Douglas Martin for pretty-much-amazing production on A Round of Anger: per usual

Watch this space: The Battle – some may call the rookie’s flow unseasoned and unprepared, I call it raw.

The Gold Post: 100 Kept

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Finally, the century mark. It’s times like this when you recap to the beginning and where it all began. So: a playlist paying tribute to where it always begins — home. (Actually, I stumbled across “City is Mine,” and decided to put together a city playlist. It just so happened to be The Dime’s 100th post, and all the cities are hometowns — thus the easy spin about where it begins.) Either way, enjoi

Starting at the top of the map with an ode to our Neighbors to the North — compliments of their most hyped export since Jimmy Brooks