Last week, Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, Saba, and The Social Experiment, debuted a new track called Angels on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The performance was riveting and refreshing for many reasons, but what really stood out to me was the way Chance put on for his city.

From the footwork (juke dancing), to the local radio shout out and hoodies both he and Saba were wearing (WGCI 107.5 and Power 92 are the main stations in Chicago that play hip hop), the slang (“woo woo this woo wap da bam”), the many references to Chicago culture in the song itself (including a recycled Kanye line and a nod to Chief Keef), and the way Chance speaks on his life as a new father, and the fact that he will never stray far from his roots (“clean up the parks so my daughter will have somewhere to play”, “I’m still at my old church”).

After a deeper listen to the lyrics, I found that at it’s core, the track subtly touches on the very real issue of violence in Chicago, and a widely felt sentiment by many in the city that they have been abandoned by those in power. However, in true Chance style, he chooses to turn this bleak idea on it’s head and has put forth an upbeat song which, despite all its hardship, celebrates and strengthens Chicago.

You can download the track for free on iTunes now (plus, it’s also on Spotify and SoundCloud).

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Melbourne’s Banoffee covers the solemn I Miss You. (Penned by Frank Ocean, then eventually recorded and released by Beyoncé.)

Sonically, this rendition is far more spacey and heavy than the original(s). Pair that with her soulful, syrupy tone and you have a sincerely unique effort which more than stands up to the likes of Mr. Ocean and Yoncé.

Simply lovely.

Banoffee is on SoundCloud & Facebook

RTJ’s latest visual effort accompanies their frantic and bouncy track Close Your Eyes (And Count To F**k) and like much of their output, is a distinct political statement.

This completely black and white video beautifully illustrates the futility of violence; A powerful message made even more poignant by its 2 main characters – the white cop, and the young black man. Run The Jewels have been key players in the ongoing debate within music/culture about race and police brutality. (Kendrick even mentions Killer Mike on his track Hood Politics from To Pimp A Butterfly)

The video is confronting for all the right reasons.

Listen to RTJ2 in full here.

Widely regarded as one of the best lyricists under 25, Earl Sweatshirt’s participation in the rap game is equal parts unwavering, and low-key.

Since his return to music in 2012, Earl has carved out a lane all his own. His lyrics are terrifyingly honest, introspective, and while often dark, there is always an underlying glimmer of hope which seems to reveal itself through Earl’s stark awareness of his own potential.

His latest release, Grief continues in a similar vein to work from his last album, Doris. The haunting, slow, and lo-fi production paired with his dense, frenzied raps is the perfect marriage. This is the leading single from his upcoming album, I DON’T LIKE SH*T, I DON’T GO OUTSIDE, dropping next week.

The black and white video, [presumably] filmed on a thermal imaging camera, picks up on heat rather than light. It depicts a troubled Earl gliding through various scenes, people at every turn but unable to shake the overwhelming feeling of loneliness and isolation.

Check the track list below, and pre-order the album here:

1. Huey
2. Mantra
3. Faucet
4. Grief
5. Off Top
6. Grown Ups [ft. Dash]
7. AM // Radio [ft. Wiki]
8. Inside
9. Dna [ft. Na’kel]
10. Wool [ft. Vince Staples]

Sweatshirt has a WebsiteSoundCloud, Twitter, & Instagram

New York rapper Wavy Spice has gone through something of a rebirth in the last couple of years, releasing her latest EP, Metallic Butterfly in 2014 under the pseudonym, Princess Nokia. Known to the government as Destiny Frasqueri, Metallic Butterfly is a collaboration between Destiny and fellow New Yorker; Producer OWWWLS.

This project is equal parts earthy and other-worldly. It is soulful, reflective, digital, cosmic, and three-dimensional. It represents an important shift into a new realm for Destiny and her music, a place of supreme divinity, intelligence, exploration, and empowerment.

Watch the breathtaking visuals above (directed by Destiny and Milah Libin) for her latest single, Young Girls in which Princess Nokia pays homage to her fertility, strength, and womanhood.

Princess Nokia is on SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram, & Tumblr

Two and a half years after dropping – perhaps the most incredible debut mixtape we have seen in recent years – 1999, Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$ has released his much anticipated studio album, B4.DA.$$.

At only 20 years old, one of the most striking aspects of his flow is the potent influence of 90s hip-hop which acts as the solid foundation upon which he builds. His music also contains clear elements from his West Indian heritage, inventive components of new New York rap, topped off with a youthful fearlessness to add other genres such as dance and electronic into the mix. Still in the early stages of what is shaping up to be a long musical career, the rapper seems to exist as one of those rare talents who is loved and respected by everyone in the industry. Just one listen to any of the myriad projects/songs released by Joey and ProEra in the last three years and it isn’t hard to see why – His vision and lyrical talent are undeniable.

In Like Me (which features BJ The Chicago Kid), Joey ponders his mortality against the backdrop of Brooklyn. While the video itself has a clear storyline, it would be foolish not to look further into the message behind it and realise that Joey is exploring the deeper (and currently relevant) themes of police brutality, minority incarceration, fear, redemption, and hope.

Listen to B4.DA.$$ in full here.