The Amazing Albums by Local Artists in Chicago
There is no need to introduce Chicago. The Windy City has played a significant role in the history of American music, particularly in jazz and blues, but it has also been a breeding ground for other genres like house music, which emerged from the city’s underground club scene in the 1980s. It is also known for its deep-dish pizza, world-famous architecture, and the iconic Chicago Bulls basketball team.
Since then, the genre has spread internationally, with DJs and producers from all over the world turning to Chicago for inspiration. In addition, the city is home to a vibrant indie rock scene, which includes acts like Wilco and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Everybody can find something to do in Chicago. The city boasts a thriving and diversified music scene that is likely to please even the most discriminating listener, and these seven albums represent only a small sample of the tremendous talent that has come out of the city. Venues range from small jazz clubs to enormous music festivals like Lollapalooza.
1. That’s the Way of the World – Earth, Wind & Fire
“That’s the Way of the World” is a classic album by the legendary funk and R&B group, Earth, Wind & Fire. Originally released in 1975, the album is a masterpiece of soulful grooves, rich harmonies, and infectious melodies that will have you dancing and singing along in no time.
Led by the iconic Maurice White, the band delivers hit after hit, from the title track That’s the Way of the World to Shining Star and Reasons. The album’s production is impeccable, with lush orchestration and intricate arrangements that showcase the band’s incredible musicianship. “That’s the Way of the World” is a timeless classic that will continue to captivate listeners for generations to come.
2. Next To The Sun – Kaina
If you’re looking for a fresh and vibrant sound, then Kaina’s “Next to the Sun” is definitely an album worth listening to. Her debut album is a melting pot of genres that blend together to create a unique and refreshing sound, featuring an eclectic mix of R&B, soul, and indie pop, with Kaina’s smooth and soulful vocals taking center stage.
From Green to Could Be a Curse, “Next to the Sun” takes listeners on a journey of self-discovery, love, and growth. Kaina’s lyrics are introspective and honest, and her vulnerability shines through in every song. Her voice is both soothing and powerful, and her range is impressive. This album is a true testament to Kaina’s talent and potential as an artist, and it’s definitely one to add to your playlist if you’re a fan of experimental, genre-bending music.
3. Care For Me – Saba
“Care For Me” by Saba is a powerful and uplifting album that showcases the best of Chicago’s music scene. The album’s blend of hip-hop and jazz rap creates a unique sound that is both catchy and thought-provoking.
Saba’s storytelling ability is truly impressive on this album, as he captures the highs and lows of life in Chicago’s South Side with raw and honest lyrics that touch on themes of love, loss, and growing up in the city. He’s not afraid to address tough topics such as gun violence and mental health, but he does so with a sense of hope and optimism that is infectious.
The album, with standout tracks including Life, Logout, and Prom/King, is a tribute to Saba’s cousin who was murdered in Chicago in 2017.
4. Room 25 – Noname
Noname is undoubtedly one of the most creative minds in Chicago hip-hop. Her second studio album Room 25 is an exploration of love, spirit, and intellect. Throughout its 12 tracks, Noname weaves stories of her own personal journey with her trademark jazz-tinged production. This album is sure to make any listener think while taking them on a fascinating musical journey.
From the very first track, Self, Noname sets the tone for the album with her mesmerizing and introspective lyrics. “Room 25” is a celebration of black womanhood, vulnerability, and resilience, tackling themes such as mental health, gentrification, and self-love. The album features guest appearances from fellow Chicago artists such as Saba, Smino, and Ravyn Lenae adding to the album’s unique and collaborative nature.
5. Crush – Ravyn Lenae
Ravyn Lenae’s debut EP “Moon Shoes” caught the attention of many music lovers, and her 2018 release “Crush” only solidified her place in the music scene.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “Sticky”, which features a funky bassline and Lenae’s playful vocals as she sings about a conflicted and confusing relationship. With a mix of infectious grooves, introspective lyrics, and standout features, this album is a must-listen for anyone looking for fresh takes on R&B and soul music.
6. Siamese Dream – The Smashing Pumpkins
“Siamese Dream” is the second studio album by the iconic Chicago band, The Smashing Pumpkins. Released in 1993, it quickly became a critical and commercial success and is still considered one of the most important albums of the 1990s alternative rock scene.
One of the most impressive aspects of “Siamese Dream” is the way it blends hard-driving rock with more introspective, even psychedelic, moments. This is evident in tracks like “Hummer”, which starts with a brooding, melancholic guitar riff before building to a roaring climax, and “Mayonaise”, which showcases Corgan’s ability to write poignant lyrics that capture the angst and uncertainty of youth.
7. Universal Beings – Makaya McCraven
Makaya McCraven is a master at creating powerful jazz soundscapes. His fifth studio album “Universal Beings” is an exploration of themes such as collaboration, vitality, and social challenges. Across the twenty-two-track project, McCraven’s distinct grooves are the star. He puts a modern twist on classic jazz sounds, blending it with various genres, including hip hop, rock, punk, psychedelia, ambient techno, funk, reggae, and Afrobeat.
What sets “Universal Beings” apart from other jazz records is its emphasis on collaboration and improvisation. McCraven allows his collaborators to take the lead on many of the tracks, resulting in a sound that is both cohesive and constantly evolving. The album was recorded in four different cities – Chicago, London, New York, and Los Angeles – and each location is represented in the music.
8. Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
If you’re looking for an uplifting album to brighten your day, look no further than “Coloring Book”. Chance The Rapper’s album is an example of great artistic freedom and is a celebration of life, faith, responsibility, independence, love, and childhood nostalgia.
With its mix of gospel, hip-hop, and R&B influences, it’s a testament to the diverse musical traditions that make up Chicago’s vibrant music scene.
From the opening track All We Got (featuring Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir) to the infectious No Problem (featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz), this album is full of catchy hooks, infectious beats, and joyful lyrics.
These eight CDs represent just a small sample of the great talent that has emerged from Chicago, a city with a rich musical history. Each project offers something distinctive and is a perfect example of top-notch music. They are among the city’s best and most creative musical works, and everyone who hears them is guaranteed to be profoundly affected.
You won’t be sorry you started investigating. So crank up the music, relax, and let these incredible records transport you to Chicago’s rich and varied musical landscape.