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.
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.
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.
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.
One half of the Smooth Waves team, Jesse, was traveling throughout Southeast Asia for the past month and a half. Here’s a full photo recap of the trip. Enjoy.
The trip began in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia.
From KL I traveled to the Cameron Highlands. The area is covered in tea farms and is situated way up in the hills.
After the Cameron Highlands I went to Penang and Langkawi, islands off the Malaysian coast. In Penang, the street food was incredible and there was an abundance of street art. Langkawi was slightly boring and incredibly hot, but beautiful nonetheless.
After seeing all there was to see in Malaysia, I headed to Thailand. First, spending a week on the island of Koh Lipe. You can walk around the entire island in 45 minutes. After Koh Lipe I ventured up north to Chiang Mai. It was the burning season so the air was incredibly polluted and smoggy.
This weekend I got the chance to link up with Markus Cook and Jack Larsen. Cook is from Cincinatti and has recently started putting out his own music, both songs premiered through Smooth Waves. Jack has been releasing music for a little while longer. The Chicago native was featured on the song “27” by Kevin Abstract on his debut album MTV1987. The two are currently working on a track together that will be premiered through Smooth Waves some time soon and Markus is working on the music video for his song “Sans1995.” Enjoy the photos below and listen to some of Jack and Markus’ music while you scroll.
2014 was a wild year for hip-hop/ rap and we were here to document almost all of it. The following ten projects are my favorite of the year, in no particular order.
Ab-Soul, These Days…, TDE
These Days… is Ab-Soul’s best project to date, slightly edging out his 2012 debut album, Control System. The album never really seemed to garner much attention outside of Ab’s fan base, and most blogs overlooked it on their top albums of the year list. However, it is deserving of much more praise. With jazz-influenced songs like “Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude” and bass-heavy, street bangers like “Nevermind That,” featuring Rick Ross, the album has something for everyone. From the impressive list of featured artists, to the slightly controversial album artwork, everything was well thought out and executed perfectly by TDE. Ab gave us exactly what he wanted, and it was beautiful.
Kevin Abstract, MTV1987, N/A
Kevin Abstract took the internet by storm in 2014. Going from an artist who was well known in the smaller, underground blog community to being posted on Complex, Billboard and Pigeons and Planes regularly. Even more impressive than his rise to stardom was his debut project, MTV1987. The 12 track tape paints a vivid picture of what growing up and coming of age in an era dominated by social media is like. With only 3 features, MTV1987 gives new listeners an idea of how versatile Kevin is on the mic, being both a rapper and a singer. Thisis a project that will be relevant for years to come. The influence of MTV1987 can be seen everywhere, ranging from Twitter to Soundcloud. A new generation of young people armed with ideas and MacBooks are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art and music.
Theophilus London, Vibes, Warner Bros Records
Vibes is, in Theophilus’ own words, a “real Palm Springs, smoke a joint, hit some mushrooms, go to Joshua Tree, bathe in some motherfuckin’ volcano water… shit like that.” He doesn’t lie, the album is, for lack of a better term, incredibly vibe-y. The whole thing is a hodge podge of different sounds, hitting different ranges of music, from vintage 80’s inspired disco and psychedelic pop, to contemporary hip-hop. This is largely in thanks to the flawless executive production of Kanye West. It’s not everyday that the presence of Kanye West isn’t overwhelming, but on Vibes, he takes a step back and allows London to shine. London’s camp took a huge L in first week sales, barely pushing 2,800 units. However, this isn’t something that’s going to take over the radio and mainstream music. Vibes is a work of art, wonderfully ambitious and experimental.
Mick Jenkins, The Water[s], N/A
Chicago was the hottest city of 2014 for hip hop, followed closely by Atlanta. Chief Keef, drill music, gun violence, GBE, Lucki Eck$, Chance, Alex Wiley… the list of prevalent artists and themes goes on and on. With all of that going on, and all of the artists trying to follow in the footsteps of musicians like Chief Keef and Chance the Rapper, it’s hard to differentiate real talent from those biting off of pre-established talent. Enter Mick Jenkins. I could say a lot about Mick: how socially conscious his raps are, or how progressive his sound is, but I’m not going to say anything about that. I’m going to say one thing. Take an hour out of your day and listen to The Water[s]. If you don’t want to take the time to listen to it all, at least listen to “Dehydration” and “Martyrs.” You can learn something from Mick, and not many rappers teach with their words anymore.
Mac Miller, Faces, Warner Bros Records
Faces is the sound Mac Miller has been searching for for most of his career. He became successful with the frat-rap style that spread like wildfire through college campuses across the US and then ditched that, going after a different sound. However, there was still too much of a college influence on his music, and for a few years he had only mediocre releases (see Blue Slide Park and Best Day Ever). Then, Faces dropped, a tape that seemed, at first, to hold too many songs–24 in all–with no real theme or a unifying sound. And that’s exactly what Mac Miller is, an artist that you can’t label. He’s going to give you laid back songs about drugs, “Angel Dust,” and then 17 songs later he’ll randomly drop a banger with MMG’s Rick Ross, “Insomniak.” Faces is one of the few projects that dropped early on in 2014 and remained relevant after countless listens.
Riff Raff, Neon Icon, Mad Decent
Look past the white man with cornrows, NEFF sunglasses, vintage windbreakers, and the absurd Versace references and realize that Riff Raff had one of the best albums of 2014. Maybe it’s because of how relaxed this album is; it’s not someone flexing guns and talking street violence, but more a change of pace. The album is full of a range of music, featuring comical songs, 80’s disco reminiscent of the soundtrack for the 2011 movie Drive, rock and roll, and actual rap songs. Riff Raff takes the script, rips it up, flushes it down the toilet, and then rewrites it entirely. You probably hate Neon Icon, but that’s okay, stop being so serious.
In a bold move, J. Cole and Roc Nation released one of the best albums of the year without dropping any singles, only alerting the public a few weeks before the release date and having no featured artists. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is Friday Night Lights J. Cole. This is what we’ve been missing from music, and Cole specifically. “You can listen to Born Sinner. You can listen to Sideline Story and hear it, coming out. I wasn’t liking it— I wasn’t happy,” Cole said in an interview with NPR on December 12. Since “letting go” of the things that were holding him back, he’s been able to reconnect with and recreate music that he’s happy with. He holds nothing back on 2014 Forest Hills Drive, being brutally honest on songs like “Wet Dreamz.” He also talks about his quest for material items and wealth on “Tale of 2 Citiez.” You can’t help but be happy for J. Cole with this release–quality hip-hop from a quality human being.
Travi$ Scott, Days Before Rodeo, EPIC/ Grand Hustle/ GOOD Music
If you’re looking for lyricism and content that’s on par with other albums on this list, you won’t find it here. With features from the hottest artists at the moment such as Migos, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan, Days Before Rodeo perfectly embodies the current state of hip-hop and rap. Somehow, the tracks maintain street credibility while also being mainstream enough to appeal to a wide audience. Full of overly simplistic lyrics like, “Call her ticket, cause I really want to meet her (meter),” Travi$ does the most with, well, not a whole not. Expert production and a wide array of different sounds on each track make this the best project of the year.
Childish Gambino, Because The Internet, Island/ Glassnote
There’s not one bad song on Because The Internet. Childish Gambino has done nothing but release quality music since his mixtape days. However, with every release, he gains a new set of critics. He said it best on the song “Be Alone,” off of his first EP, tastefully named EP, “Hard for a Pitchfork, soft for a Roc-a-Fella.” What he’s saying with that line is that his raps are too raw and real for blogs like Pitchfork too handle, but too soft and not street-worthy enough for big record labels like Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella Records. It’s incredibly unfair that Childish Gambino is still viewed with that lens, as he’s one of, if not the most, talented artists out right now. The only other comparable artist is Drake, who seems to get praise from nearly everyone, all the time. Gambino continues to push the envelope, experimenting with different beats, themes and deliveries, while artists like Drake stay in their comfort zones, dropping albums awfully similar to their last release.
Curtis Williams, Danco James, Two-9
Curtis Williams and Two-9 records are going to blow up in 2015. Thanks, in part, to the fact that Atlanta is playing host to one of the biggest hip-hop movements at the moment and, because they have put together one of the more promising, young collectives in hip-hop. Danco James is one of those tapes that people are going to look back at in a few years and ask themselves, “how did I miss that?” With a smooth, stoner vibe to the project, Curtis comes correct with all 15 tracks. Only straying from the laid back mood on a few uptempo songs like “Box Logos & Box Chevy’s,” “Bong Interlude,” and “Drugs.” Look for Curtis and Two-9 to make big moves in 2015.
Mick Jenkins has had quite the year. From dropping one of the best tapes of 2014, The Water[s], to touring with Methodman and Redman on the Smokers Club Tour he’s been very busy. Today, we get one more release from him before 2015 hits. “Fate” produced by Ambl Lyrics is a quality single that doesn’t appear to belong to any mixtape or project in the works. Enjoy the track below.