Every few years, one city takes over the hip-hop conversation. New York, hip-hop’s birthplace, long dominated the landscape, eventually relinquishing control to Los Angeles for a time before snatching it back at the close of the 90s. After the turn of the century, things got a bit more contentious, with Atlanta and the Bay Area looming large over hip-hop, producing some of the biggest artists and leading to huge sonic shifts in the mainstream. Since the wane of the Bay’s hyphy movement, in the public consciousness hip-hop has been largely centerless, with rappers from across the United States (and, in one notable case, Canada) controlling the charts. Though regional favorites and sounds persist, the borders have become so permeable as to be nonexistent. The aesthetics once associated closely with the south have brought success to artists from New York; rappers from Atlanta and Memphis are making their bones riding beats that typify the Bay.
If any city seems to poised to dominate the discussion–and perhaps the charts, as well–it is Chicago. Home of artists as diverse and Chief Keef and Chance the Rapper, a hotbed of artistic creation and horrific violence, Chicago has stirred up the interest of blogs, labels, and listeners since early 2012 when the aforementioned Keef and his GBE crew became the hot button names. A quick, incomplete survey of the city reveals an array of consistently intriguing young artists: Chance’s SAVEMONEY crew (Vic Mensa, Kami de Chukwu, Joey Purp, Tokyo Shawn, and Brian Fresco, among others), King Louie, Spenzo, Ibn Inglor, Alex Wiley, Kembe X, Lil Durk. With his album timeLESS on the horizon, it might be wise to add rapper/producer Martin $ky to the ever-growing list.
$ky possesses and effortless ability to ride rhythms reminiscent of A$AP Rocky‘s smooth, Bone Thugs-inspired bounce (“Doom” is listed as his influence on Facebook; it wouldn’t be surprising if that referred to the rapper). Though his content doesn’t differ tremendously from a few familiar topics (smoking weed, being dope), $ky’s low-key charisma and ability to weave similar syllables into unexpectedly dizzying bars, particularly on “S’all Good” and the woozy “TRACK 01.” His flow alone is enough to make $ky one to watch; the glimpses of originality and clever turns of phrase in his lyrics suggest that he has room to grow to fully realize his considerable potential. A clear sense of his aesthetic (both his cover art and videos suggest a young artist aware of the power well-executed, inventive visuals) completes $ky’s package.
Give a few of the highlights from his available catalog a listen below.