Chicago’s jazz scene becomes mainstream

Jazz is back.

It’s always been there, really, but recently, the Chicago jazz scene has incorporated something new: hip-hop.

In the 1920’s, jazz was an essential part of American life. It was seen as a way to send a soulful message to the audience, and make them think about what they were hearing. The genre was a sensation, and audiences from all around the world fell in love with the talented musicians they saw on the stage.

Since the 90’s, rap has been forming its roots in America’s heart as a way to speak out, send a message, or even just rant. Regardless of what its purpose is, rap has arguably become the most famous genre in our country, and it holds an influence all over the world.

So how do they relate?

Well, for starters, both of these genres have something in common: they have roots in Chicago. That’s right, the Windy City is home for Kanye West, and was a second home to Frank Sinatra with his classic, “Chicago.” But, unless Frank Sinatra is somehow reincarnated as Paul McCartney, we will never hear a Sinatra-West collaboration, no matter how bad we want it.

But what’s happening is not a collaboration between two totally different genres, but rather a creation of a new one. Yes, this new Jazz/R&B/Rap/Soul collaboration has been driving our country wild, and it’s all coming straight from our doorstep.

Groups like Kids these Days and the Social Experiment, both of which started in Chicago, are making a huge impact on the music world, even though they might not yet realize it.

Rappers like Chance and Vic Mensa are combining the already-dominant rap industry with the once-powerful jazz scene. They masterfully combine the muted trumpets and complex piano solos of old jazz with the powerful, down-to-earth lyricism which once helped us fall in love with rap.

Cool, but why should I care?

You should care because it gives us hope. As a country, we are now reassured that our music industry won’t be comprised entirely of materialistic, autotune-contaminated crap. We can now sleep soundly, knowing that we can revive the roots of the music which once changed the world, and put a modern spin on it.

The fact that Chicago is a starting point for this revival makes us, as Evanston residents, some of the luckiest people in the world. We have the privilege of being exposed to these artists before they get famous.

We got to live through 10 Day, INNANETAPE, and even the new ManWolves EP. America loves our youth. They love our new Chicago vibe, the rap/soul fusion which has empowered so many.

We need to wake up and stop taking what we have for granted. Our music scene is growing more and more in the direction of creative freedom, and we need to recognize that. We have started a movement, now let’s keep it going.