Over the past year, Chicago has emerged as one of America’s most vibrant rap scenes, rich with talent and equally varied in the types of sounds representing the city. While much attention has been given to Chi-town’s controversial current rap kings, Chief Keef, King Louie, and the GBE crew, the Windy City has also played breeding ground for a host of emcees whose music strays from the street-oriented stylings of their (now major label) neighbors. Though he hasn’t released as much material as some of his counterparts, Kembe X has begun to stake out territory in the latter category.

Dark and occasionally dense as its title suggests, Kembe X’s Soundtrack to Armageddon is a strong statement from a young emcee. The production mostly takes a backseat to Kembe’s technically accomplished rapping, which takes cues from Kanye’s inflection, the melodic leanings currently shared by many of the city’s rappers, and the sort of syllable-stacking that artists like Kendrick Lamar have returned to vogue. Highlights “I’m Boosed” and “Village Over Everything” (a track featuring a cadence and chorus that wouldn’t seem alien to a Schoolboy Q record) are Kembe’s strengths crystallized, microcosms of everything he gets right in the process of developing his voice. Give Soundtrack II Armageddon a spin below.

(Ruby Hornet)