Cassie Ray is a rapper with big ambition, and there’s no greater place to hold down fort than his home base of Chicago — a city that, until recently in the last seven years, hasn’t really been given credit where credit is due for its contributions to independent and mainstream hip hop culture like that of predecessor scenes in New York and LA. Kanye’s The College Dropout in the early 2000s raised eyebrows with influxes of new rap hopefuls pining for creative recognition in Chi-town, a lesser-known organic culture that was slow to pick up steam with hype blog machines and digital media. It wasn’t until Chance the Rapper produced music with moving gospel choirs and childlike adaptations in 10 Day, Acid Rap, and Coloring Book that Chicago was seen and heard (at least in terms of media coverage) as a region with serious, career-minded rap hustlers. Cassier Ray represents a new class of rappers growing from this history, taking keystones the scene was founded on and spinning them into malleable, appealing art with a universal message to attract a wider audience — not just Chicago creatives, but those transnationally.

Previous post

Alma Cook reminisces on the soulful "So Close"

Next post

Nia Wyn takes the first step on a "Love I Can't Ruin"