Lupe Fiasco once said, “Really love my city, and I hope that G-D bless it.” And bless he did, uh, musically at least. While Chicago got dissed from the Olympic Committee, saw their parking meters jacked, and all around sports failures, at least the arts and culture scene put forth something to be proud of. To celebrate the year that was in music, fashion, and culture, we put together a survey to highlight the best of Chicago 2009. We invited a wide variety of our friends, colleagues, and associates to tell us their favorite artists, release, DJs, clubs, clothing brands etc from ’09. A Sample of our respondents include Naledge, Willy Joy, Million $ Mano, Suli, Anna Hovet, Krabby of Saint Alfred’s, Brian Nevado, Matt Boy White, Scheme, Michael Kolar, and many many more, so, if you don’t like the list send them the hate mail hahaha.. Enjoy!
Best Party Series:
Chicago’s experienced a slew of popping, and uh, not so popping regularly occurring parties. There were weekly jumpoffs such as SuperFun Party, Ill Behavior, Booty Up, Do The Right Thing, Rehab, and many more. There were also monthly shindigs such as Fly By Night, The Goodness and of course, our own Dimes and Dozens. Come rain or shine, or even snow, Chicago is ready to party. We asked our slew of experts to weigh in on their favorite nights…
Dimes and Dozens (Monthly/Lava Lounge): One of our big reasons for letting others decide Chicago’s best of ’09 was to eliminate our own bias. I mean, yeah, we thought Dimes and Dozens was the s**t, but… Anyway, it’s great to see that Dimes and Dozens, a monthly party we hosted at Lava Lounge was on almost every response. Willy Joy wrote, “For hip-hop I’d definitely say Dimes & Dozens – no competition there…” The event, done with L.A. based dubFrequency, took place every third Saturday at Lava Lounge and saw our own DJ RTC joined by artists and DJ’s such as Million $ Mano, Rhymefest, Kidz In The Hall, GLC, Mic Terror, Hollywood Holt, Chip Tha Ripper, Amanda Diva, Emilio Rojas, U-N-I, Curren$y, and many more. Dimes and Dozens is currently in the moving process, as Lava Lounge has closed.
@SuperFun (Weekly/JBar): SuperFun started during the summer, and took a viral/media approach not seen too often. The new marketing, the new format, and the regular mix of great music and JBar’s posh atmosphere led many to list SuperFun right up there with Dimes and Dozens for one of ’09’s best party nights. Run by a mix of Chicago’s industry tastemakers, JBar moved Saturday to Wednesday, and hasn’t looked back. SuperFun has hosted Kid Sister, Supras, and many others… Simply put by Brian from Juggrnaut, “superfun is pretty cracking.”
The Goodness (Monthly/Lava Lounge): Where can you see Statik Selektah, DJ Babu, The Alchemist, DJ Revolution and Large Professor? The answer in ’09 was DJ Rude One’s “Goodness” monthly. Celebrating its second year running, The Goodness consistently brought Hip Hop’s top DJs to Lava Lounge, and provided what Krabby of Saint Alfred described as a “consistently dope monthly Hip Hop party w/ major headliners, no drama and cheap covers.” We agree…
Rehab (Weekly/Debonair): Any list of top parties in Chicago would be incomplete without a mention of Rehab. The Monday night jumpoff was voted America’s Best Party by Paper Magazine, and each week featured kids getting drunk and freaky off PBR while Skyler and his rotating crew of DJs killed the dancefloor.
Others receiving votes: Fly By Night, The Cooler, ABC
Best One-Time Event:
Sprite Green x R.S.V.P.: Total Eclipse: There’s no denying the dopeness of the Sprite Green x R.S.V.P Total Eclipse event that took place at Millenium Park. The event was a showcase of G.O.O.D. Music and featured the entire crew sans Kanye West, who was apparently on the bill until he spazzed out on Taylor Swift and went into recluse mode. Either way, the event made a lasting impression on our voters, who rated it as one of their favorite events of 2009.
Hennessy Black Party @ The Shrine w/Common, The Roots Heavy D, Colin Munroe, etc: Hennessy Black also made a splash on the Chicago scene in ’09. While it may not have made the lasting impression that Sprite Green did, the Henn came correct when it took over The Shrine in early September with performances by Common, The Roots, Heavy D, Colin Munroe and more.
Division Fest: Hip Hop in a car wash on Division St… that was the scene for RTC and Friends Live At Division Fest, another event that registered on many responses. DJ RTC was given a two hour time slot to rock at Division Fest, and rather than play by himself, he issued to a call to a wide variety of Chicago artists and created a live mixtape featuring the likes of Mike 100’s, Really Doe, Phil G, Project Mayhem, Mikkey Halsted, Mick Luter, Mic Terror, Rhymefest, and GLC. Hustle Simmons hosted, and fun was had by all. You can also download the live recording right here.
Others receiving votes: The Cool Kids w/Bun B, Lollapalooza, Tanya Morgan At Sub-T
*Most Productive Artist
We asked our panel which artists continually turned out a dope product? Who made the most of the ’09, and was consistently on our iPods, on our blogs, and in our ears….
Mikkey Halsted: The Uncrowned King topped our list, getting the most mentions as ’09’s most productive Chicago artist. Mikkey continued to leak new material, build the now deafening buzz for Chicago: The Photo Album, as well as raise his brand throughout the country.
Naledge: Coming in just behind Mr. Halsted was Naledge of Kidz In The Hall. The man voted one of Chicago’s most eligible bachelors turned in a dope solo project in The Chicago Picasso, helped to break Big Homie D.O.E. and Vic Mensa, toured with Warren G, hit Rock The Bells, and finished the third LP for Kidz In The Hall.
Mic Terror: “Mic Terror. Best rapper in Chicago. Never not good,” said Willy Joy, and frankly Mic Terror makes it hard to argue. He released Leader of The New School, shut it down at the Wale show, and further showed why many see Mic as “next up”.
GLC: Also appearing on many responses was GLC. GL started the year by releasing Similar To The Letters, and finished it with the release of Respect My Comeup. In between he hit 106 & Park, saw his single “Big Screen” in rotation, dropped a slew of viral videos, and picked up a second residence in Atlanta…Matt Boy White adds, “Man GLC was on his s**t this year! He put out a lot of good music/mixtapes/videos and is still doing his thing well, so he gets my vote!”
Others receiving votes: Project Mayhem, The Cool Kids, Primeridian, Million $ Mano,
New On The Scene:
It’s always hard to give out a “best new artist” type of award, as many artists that qualify have actually “been here for years”… But, for this category we asked our respondents to name an artist that popped up in ’09 and has fully taken their seat at Chicago’s musical table…
Y.P.: Hands down the number one vote-getter was Y.P. Beyond dropping his debut album, Classified, Y.P. was a fixture at events, as well as on the pages of RubyHornet and Fakeshoredrive. He’s respected by other emcees, as well as his fans, and has positioned himself for a solid 2010.
BBU: Following right behind Y.P. was BBU. Their first introduction was the juke hit, “Chi Don’t Dance”, and the trio from Humboldt Park is now preparing to drop their new mixtape, Fear of a Clear Channel Planet.
Add-2: Add-2 also appeared on a number of responses due to his continual output of witty lyrics, and accompanying visuals.
Others receiving votes: Kentrell, Rockie Fresh, Bullet, Scheme, Sulaiman
Being a DJ takes many forms, and requires many skills. There’s song selection, technique, and presentation when it comes to the clubs. Then there’s the mixtape host, the street A&R, radio host, and all the things that happen outside the club. We asked our respondents to give put it all in perspective and give us their favorite DJs of ’09.
DJ Timbuck2: Timbuck2 successfully continued Go ILL on WGCI, established Timbuck2uesday at The Shrine, co-hosted Naledge’s Chicago Picasso, and held down every damn club/venue in the city… And oh yeah, he won a little award from VH1. The Heavy Hitter had a helluva year, and showed up as the top choice on almost all of our surveys.
Million $ Mano: The gap between the hipsters and hood, as one respondent called him, Million $ Mano was a beast on the turntables as well as the production boards this year. Whatever you want to hear, he’s got it along with many joints you’ve never heard but fall in love with.
Willy Joy: “Well, not to sound like a dick, but…. heeeyyyyyyyy. Hahaha,” wrote Willy Joy… It’s cool Willy, you weren’t the only person that listed you amongst the top DJ’s of ’09. Willy Joy maybe most at home playing dance and party tracks at Evil Olive and Debonair, but his musical knowledge and pure skill allow him to rock even the most Hip Hop of parties making him a favorite of the last calendar year.
Others Receiving Votes: VIPJ, 33 1/3, Rock City, Jay Illa
Best New On The Scene DJ
Counting the votes for “best new DJ” proved even harder than “best new artist”, as it takes a lot for any DJ to actually stand out. Chances are, if you know a DJ’s name, they’ve been honing their craft for years… Nonetheless, we asked our people to determine the best new DJ as the one who made the most moves, or raised their stock the most so to speak via choice club/party dates, mixtapes, and other methods.
DJ RTC: Despite all our efforts to not include RTC on this list for various reasons, his name appeared the most in this category. While we’re not sure why, our respondents cite his regular performances at Dimes and Dozens, gigs with DJ Revolution, holding it down at the Metro for the Sneaker Pimps tour, and his releases with GLC (Similar To The Letters), Naledge (Chicago Picasso), DJBooth.net (In The Booth vol 2 & 3), and singles w/Tanya Morgan, Amanda Diva, Kidz In The Hall and others via the forthcoming Closed Sessions EP. In all fairness, the dude also interviewed a slew of the year’s top music and culture news makers and established a record label with Michael Kolar… We ain’t made at you.
DJ Izzo: Another DJ that fits, but doesn’t fit in this category is DJ Izzo, who’s name appeared right up there with RTC. Izzo’s been the resident DJ at The Tonic Room for years, but it was in ’09 that he made it a lowkey hotspot, and branched off into other parties and venues including regular appearances at Dimes and Dozens, SuperFun, and Timbuck2uesday. He ended ’09 by creating Classy Hands Favours with fellow DJ and roommate, DJ Castle. As VIPJ wrote, “I thought Izzo came up ever since I played that first Tonic Room with him and Ruby Hornet, big uppers to the homie!!”
Matt Boy White/Vic Lloyd/Ray Protege: This trio shared the exact same number of votes, and all had an impact full ’09. While Ray Protege is similar to RTC and Izzo in that he’s been doing his thing for a minute, Matt Boy White and Vic Lloyd are truer newcomers to the decks, showing that experience is not everything.
Others receiving votes: Stefan Ponce, Ghetto Division, Starter DJ’s, DJ MoonDawg
We saw mixtapes, as well as major and indie LP’s from many Chicago artists. Here are our panel’s top choices for ’09.
Gone Fishing (The Cool Kids): The Cool Kids did not release their heavily anticipated album, but they did link up with Don Cannon for Gone Fishing. For some fans and many of our respondents, it was just a good. “Gone Fishing. A progression of their sound that might be better than their actual album (and the album was dope.)”
King of The New School (Mic Terror): This was an early ’09 release and featured joints such as “Asshole” and Mic’s classic “Definition” freestyle. DJ MoonDawg was on the mix, and this was on the top of our respondents’ lists.
808’s Remix Tape (Rashid Hadee): A fresh concept with fresh execution, that’s what led Rashid Hadee’s 808’s & Heartbreak inspired project to being considered one of the year’s best.
Others receiving votes: Enemy of The State (Lupe Fiasco), The Chicago Picasso (Naledge), Classified (Y.P.), The Manifesto (Scheme)
Favorite Place to See A Show
Wow, this was a s**t storm of a category… If you ever try to do one of these lists, just skip this as the answer vary and hinge on so many factors from the place you met your girlfriend, to the place where the bouncers don’t check your I.D. Nevertheless, we sifted through all the responses to see where the best place to see a show was in ’09.
The Metro: There was little agreement in this category, but one thing most of our respondents did agree upon was the quality sound and atmosphere provided by The Metro. Located right across the street from Wrigley Field, The Metro is one of Chicago’s top venues. If you can stand Wrigleyville, this place is definitely amongst the city’s top music posts. It was also absent from our respondents’ list of worst venues to see a show, making it the clear winner… We’re not even gonna try detailed posts of all the other venues… Let’s skip to “others receiving votes”…
Others receiving votes: House of Blues, Lincoln Hall, Sub-T, Double Door, The Shrine
Most Productive Clothing Brand:
Viewing local clothing brands as artists, we asked our panel to name the most productive producers of fine attire. Here’s what they had to say.
Leaders 1354: Leaders opened up a new shop, closed their staple Wicker Park location, brought in DJ Premier and released a helluva lot of fitteds, tees, and sneakers. They’re store wasn’t just a place to buy new gear, but also a social hub. As Willy Joy (always good for a quote) said, “It’s hard to name someone putting out more releases per month or supporting as many local brands.”
Saint Alfred’s: Just up the block from Leaders in Wicker Park, and just under them in number of votes, we have STA. Saint Alfred’s dropped a very fresh Reebok Pump, and their STA hats don’t stay in the store long enough for those of us in the RH office with smaller hat sizes to get our hands on one. They decked it out for the release of the Yeezy’s, and fully support Chicago’s Hip Hop scene, plus Krabby is just that dude.
Jugrnaut: The home of the in-store, Jugrnaut made some big moves in ’09, less than a year after opening. Their fresh tees and fitted were repped by artists ranging from Raekwon to Wale, and they also serve as a breeding ground for new talent.
Others receiving votes: Ends/Wealth, Solemates…Chicago, Fashion Geek, Anna Hovet, ChiBoys
Most Anticipated for 2010:
We had a few more categories, but just as ’09 is in the past, we’ve decided to trim the list and finish off with some new s**t to look forward to in 2010. The new year will hopefully bring forth new releases, new connections, and new opportunities. Mano is looking forward to new joints from “Hollywood Holt and He Say She Say”, while Naledge and Izzo are anticipating Black Ribbon Hard, Hard Work by Suli. Newness from Mic Terror and The Cool Kids are on the horizon for Niena Drake, VIPJ, and MoonDawg, while Krabby is simply looking forward to “all of it.”
Whatever the dope s**t is, and where ever the quality goes, RubyHornet will have it for you in the new year. Thank you to everyone who sent in responses, and all of you reading this. As stated above, we trimmed the list a bit, maybe we’ll have an out takes edition, but we probably won’t… Haha….