Two years ago, during a Freddie Gibbs show at Bottom Lounge, Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy made an onstage appearance to announce that he was signing the Gary, Indiana, artist to his CTE label. At the time, it seemed as though this type of high-profile endorsement was the only avenue of legitimation for Chicago rap.
Gibbs and CTE recently parted ways, but the intervening period has seen the city find new types of exposure. Headlining a showcase of local rappers curated by the influential Chicago blog FakeShoreDrive Thursday night, Gibbs once again offered a look at the state of Chicago hip-hop, again at the Bottom Lounge.
The city’s rap scene is the most vibrant and exciting it’s been in recent memory — perhaps ever — right now, a fact underscored by both the diversity of the night’s bill and the deep catalogue of local singles played between acts. While a Chicago hip-hop show two years ago might have warmed the crowd up with national hits and a Twista song or two for the purists, Thursday’s playlist from DJ Victoriouz was heavy on tracks from artists like Chief Keef, King L and Lil Durk, all of whom have helped draw national attention to the city in recent months.
Joining Freddie Gibbs in the lineup were Tree, whose mixtape, “Sunday School,” has drawn accolades for its warm beats and candid lyrics, Sasha Go Hard, a confidently feminine voice in the distinctive South Side movement, and Show You Suck, a staple performer at North Side parties.
It was a rare bill, simply in the sense that Tree and Sasha Go Hard have hardly had any opportunities to perform, despite ample local buzz and considerable online attention. Although each of these artists has strong recorded material, neither is entirely comfortable onstage yet, and both chose to rap over versions of their songs that included their own vocal tracks.
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