Tag Archives: Jesse Wiles Photography

Vince Staples drops off an interesting short film to accompany ‘Prima Donna’

Vince Staples & Earl. Photo by Jesse Wiles. Park Street Saloon, Columbus, Ohio.

Vince Staples has been on a roll since he first touched a mic. After the release of one of the top album of last year, Summertime 06, and the EP Prima Donna last week, which was enjoyable but altogether too short, he drops off a short film to accompany the project. The short film, directed by Nabil, shows Vince leaving the set of a typical rap music video, getting into a cab and checking in at the Prima Donna hotel. Then things get crazy. The video seems to be a testament to the struggles of balancing celebrity and sanity. Check it out below.


Written by Jesse Wiles

Rap is the new rock and roll, get used to it



Like it or not, rap is the new rock and roll and it continues to usurp aspects of the genre as it evolves. From tour merch to style to onstage antics, rock and hip hop have more similarities than is first apparent.

As Kanye West stated emphatically in his 2013 BBC Radio 1 interview, “rap is the new rock and roll, we the rock stars.” At the time that seemed like a lofty proclamation, as it is with most of Mr. West’s statements. However, as things have progressed West seems to have had the definitive word.

Rock, the culture of hip hop, and the roots of raps lie in the African American community. Rock and roll came about in the 1940s as a mixture of blues and jazz and other music. However, it was adopted commercially as an overwhelmingly white genre, thanks in part to the popularity of artists like Elvis. Hip hop and rap began in the Bronx a few decades later, adopted from Jamaican and Caribbean music styles as well as funk and jazz. Unlike rock, the genre’s roots and commercial success are wholly attributed to African Americans.

With similar roots comes a similar a draw to the genre. In the 1950s it was the rebellious, non-conformists who were attracted to rock and roll. Similarly, rap is enticing because of its lack of boundaries and its accessibility. Anyone can rhyme, and with a few catchy beats and a little swagger, become a rapper, just like the possibility of becoming a rock star if you played an instrument or sang.

A lot of the content in rap is very similar to that of rock and roll. Aside from attracting the rebellious, both genres are very centered around social justice, sex, drugs and love. Where rap tends to stray away from rock is how misogynistic and violent it is in comparison.

The other, more materialistic magnetism is that rappers are living a lavish lifestyle while doing and saying outlandish things. Anyone who is anti-establishment is immediately attracted to this. Fifties and sixties parents hated rock and roll just as parents hate rap today.

The grungy and rebellious leather and denim clad teens of the 1960s, 70s and 80s have been replaced with an equally rebellious group of teens donning Air Force 1s and jogger pants. Everything moves in circles and currently rap reigns.

Instead of electric and often times obscene performances from Jim Morrison you have Travi$ Scott hanging from ceiling rafters and inciting riots at Lollapalooza. Mega stars like Bruce Springsteen and the band, Queen, who sold out shows all across the world, have been replaced by the likes of Kanye West and Drake. The experimental, in both music and drugs, Jimi Hendrix who turned feedback and distortion into something beautiful has been replaced with the squawks and yelps of Young Thug and the codeine induced slur of Future. Hendrix played a large role in shaping the innovative style of Kid Cudi, who, in turn, has helped shape contemporary rap. The youthful, fashion-rule bending duo of Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi who make up the duo Rae Sremmurd have replaced KISS’s stage makeup and boisterous outfits with their loud patterns and ski goggles.

Sonically, rap is not too reminiscent of rock. However, rap style and tour merchandise have been greatly influenced by the fashion and commercialization of rock and roll. Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ tour merch used arguably the most recognizable font associated with a band. The official name, Pastor of Muppets, designed by Ray Larbie, is more commonly known as ‘Metallica font’ after the band used it for their album covers.

Tour shirts and vintage rock posters from bands like KISS, ACDC and Iron Maiden have also been emulated by the likes of Travi$ Scott on tour merch. The look has also become a popular trend donned by everyone from Big Sean to Lil Yachty. Aside from similar logos and fonts, rappers have recently been infatuated with denim and a grungy aesthetic, a staple for many rock stars.

Rappers truly are this generations rock stars. Rap is not for everyone, but neither was rock. Mr. West opens up his mouth a lot. He says a lot of things that are easy to shrug off. Sometimes it takes a few years for us to realize that he was right.

Written by Jesse Wiles

Review: Schoolboy puts together a masterpiece only he could



At first glance, Blank Face appears messy and out of control. With 17 songs and 13 features it seemed impossible that anyone could organize all of that into a cohesive, well rounded album. Somehow Schoolboy Q and TDE have everything under control. They have packaged and delivered one of the best albums of 2016.

The album begins with the bizarre, slightly cracked-out street banger, “TorcH,” which serves as the best intro of the year. Schoolboy drops some of his toughest bars in recent memory while the irresistible Anderson .Paak can be heard at the beginning, and is presumably supplying ad-lib style background vocals. If one song could encapsulate an artist, this would be the one for Schoolboy Q due to it’s eclectic assortment of sounds and emotions.

“Lord Have Mercy” is the second, shortest and undoubtedly the most intimate song on the album. A soul sample is looped in the background as Schoolboy gets personal. “I’m a gangbanger, deadbeat father and drug dealer… Runnin’ from God’s creation,” raps Q. He seems to be torn between sticking with his old ways and pursuing different possibilities for him and his daughter.

The Kanye West-assisted “THat Part” gets the album back on an upbeat, in your face direction and creates a perfect segue into the two-part song “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane.” The first half of the double feature, “Groovy Tony,” features a guest verse from the OG Jada Kiss. His gravelly delivery scrapes across the beat, flirting with discord. Schoolboy is incredibly aggressive on both parts of the song, supplying a relentless barrage of rapid fire gangster rap.

A few songs later, the Ramona Park legend Vince Staples jumps in to help Schoolboy on “Ride Out.” The bass in this song is so heavy that it could crack a windshield. Staples and Q trade violent verses while reflecting on their respective hoods, a gangster ballad not for the faint of heart.

Another West Coast legend, E-40, drops by for a verse on “Dope Dealer.” E-40 dances over the Metro Boomin’ and Southside produced track with ease while Schoolboy flaunts his skills as a drug dealer extraordinaire.

The most lighthearted song on the album, “Big Body,” is an ode to big Benzes, thick women and big money. Tyler The Creator handles production and offers up a bouncy beat that is a breath of fresh air compared to the previous 10 songs.

As things begin to wind down Schoolboy once again calls on .Paak. This time for the title track. “Blank Face” begins with a sing-song verse from .Paak that lasts for over a minute, possibly the strongest guest contribution on the album. The combination of the no-holds-barred rapping from Schoolboy and the groovy singing from .Paak is like yellow mustard on potato chips – surprisingly good.

On a radio-friendly, but underwhelming note, the album nears its end with “Overtime” featuring Miguel and Justine Skye. Against Schoolboy’s wishes, the label insisted on including this song. “Tookie Knows II” is the last song and part on an ongoing song series that spans back two albums to the 2012 release of Habit’s & Contradictions. These songs don’t take anything away from the album, and likewise don’t bring anything to the table.

 Blank Face is a schizophrenic arrangement of sounds that continues TDE’s winning streak. Q picks up where Oxymoron left off, albeit unconventionally. On Oxymoron there was a fine line between party anthem and introspection. Blank Face blurs that line and creates an even stronger project where one can find something new with every listen.

Written by Jesse Wiles

Jack Larsen drops off brand new single titled “Closer”

Jack Larsen.
Photo by Jesse Wiles

After running into some trouble with his last release, Jack Larsen is back with a brand new single titled “Closer.” The song won’t be appearing on any future projects but it’s dope nonetheless and is just enough to tide people over until the release of his album. Vibe out to “Closer” below.

Written by Jesse Wiles

[Interview] Chicago’s Silver talks changing stage name, the 11th Realm and violence in the city

After a brief stint in prison, a change to his stage name and a new look to his group The 11th Realm, the artist formerly known as Hyype is ready to get back to music. More photos at jwilesphoto.com.

Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles
Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles

A few weeks back I got the opportunity to walk around Wicker Park with the rapper Silver, formerly referred to as Hyype. Silver is one of my favorite artists currently on the come up in Chicago. His mixtape Divine Minded ended up on my list of the best projects at the halfway point of 2014 and his follow up tape, Seraphic, was met with solid reviews as well and showcased the growth he’s made as an artist. With a flow that’s hypnotic, laid back and smoked out you could compare his delivery to the likes of Curren$y. He doesn’t waste time trying to be anything he’s not and the music he’s currently got in the works is easily his best yet. Below are some of the topics that Silver and I discussed and his take on them, his responses are in italics.

Tell me about what you want to accomplish with the changes that have been made to the 11th realm, are you looking to grow more with a smaller team or are you looking to add more individuals to the group?

Growth is imminent and essential in this music shit. I’m honestly just looking to improve as an artist myself. Trying to focus on every artistic aspect I possibly can. Right now we’re rebuilding and focusing on this project that we’re creating. Keeping it very personal.

Since getting out of prison has anything changed with your mindset and approach to music?

Of course. Being in a cell all day gives you time to think, rethink, and create new ideas. I’ve got the blueprint prepared. The stuff I worked on in prison is sort of like the battle between Hyype & Silver, trying to figure out who I am. At the same time I was trying not to lose my fucking mind.

Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles
Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles

Why did you feel you needed to change from the stage name Hyype to Silver?

I feel like Hyype was more of a stage in my life rather then something I wanted to dedicate my life to. I decided making it my real name because I can simply be me, rather then a rapper. I want it all to be honest and organic.

With all of these changes can listeners expect to hear some new music soon? Either in the form of singles or an EP/ mixtape.

I’m working on a project right now. I’ll figure out a date to release the title, just know it’s coming and is coming out crazy.

Who are some artists that you’d really like to collaborate with in the future?

It would be raw as hell to work with Alchemist or Harry Fraud.

Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles
Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles

Does the violence in chicago have any effect on the content or direction you head musically?

Oh of course. I refer to the violence a lot in the new music, as documentation of the streets and personal memories. It’s an awful epidemic here in the city, but it’s also part of what I witnessed growing up so it’s only right I speak up on it.

What was the last full album you listened to?

The Buena Vista Social Club album.

 We’ve seen Vic Mensa, Chance The Rapper, Chief Keef and a handful of other rappers emerge on the national music scene in the past few years and it doesn’t seem like chi-town is going to run out of talent anytime soon who’s the next Chicago area artist to look out for?

Besides us (The 11th Realm), Lucki Eck$, Smino, & Plain Dave got it.

Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles
Silver, The 11th Realm. Photo by Jesse Wiles

Interview and photos by Jesse Wiles.