This year was another year filled to the brim with great and innovating music, so naturally, our staff compiled a few of our favorite projects of the year from the most talented artists Chicago has to offer. Take a look for yourself and be sure to check out the work of these dedicated, talented artists!
Without further ado, here are our top five Chicago projects of 2017 (with honorable mentions):
1. G Herbo- "Humble Beast"
G Herbo cemented himself as a Chicago great with the release of his debut album, “Humble Beast”, this year. From front to back, the project is filled with bangers and tracks full of insight from Herbo, who seems to only be improving from project to project over his career. He showcased his own musical prowess on the album with songs like “Man Now” and “Lil Gangbangin Ass”, while he put together a star-studded list of artists for some features, including Lil Uzi Vert on “Everything” and Lil Yachty and Jeremih on “This n That”, as well as verses from Chicago favorites Lil Bibby (“Mirror”) and Bump J (“Crown”). The project also was produced masterfully for Herbo to take over with his flow and persona, with C-Sick, Southside, and more contributing to well-fitted beats across the album. With “Humble Beast”, Herb made a statement of his own growth and progression to this point, and no one should doubt the heights his career can now ascend to in the future.
2. Vic Mensa- "The Autobiography"
Vic Mensa completed his ascent to the premiere levels of the hip-hop industry this year with his debut studio album, “The Autobiography”. Mensa said the project was about exploring his humanity and sharing what he’s learned from his life and career, and on it, he provided a slew of takes on growing up in Chicago and on life in general. He recounted run-ins with police and experiencing racism on “Memories On 47th St.” and got into the depths of his depression and struggles to find happiness on “Wings”, which features Pharrell. He didn’t stop there, creating a stoner’s anthem with “Rollin’ Like a Stoner” and an aggressive, Chicago-flavored banger with Chief Keef for “Down for Some Ignorance (Ghetto Symphony)”. “The Autobiography” is a complete, career-defining project for Mensa, who has eclipsed his prior levels of greatness and has come into his own as a major player in the rap game.
3. KAMI- "Just Like the Movies"
Long one of SaveMoney’s better-known talents, KAMI finally put all the pieces together in 2017 with the release of his debut solo project, “Just Like the Movies”, in April. Releases had been sparse from KAMI, who once made up half of the duo Leather Corduroys with Joey Purp, but this year he made waves with this vibrant, diverse project. Tapping Knox Fortune to executive produce the joint could not have ended up any better, as Knox laced each track with eclectic, memorable beats over which both KAMI’s bars and vocals resonated distinctly. Tracks like “Behind the Scenes” and “Miami: White Limousines” demonstrated KAMI’s unique autotuned vocals, while he impressed with his bars on joints like the self-titled “Just Like the Movies” — which featured SaveMoney cohorts Towkio, Joey Purp, Vic Mensa, and Knox Fortune — and “Motion” with Sterling Hayes. In all, “Just Like the Movies” was a coming out party of sorts for KAMI, who has long been active in the Chicago hip-hop scene. Now he has his own place carved out.
4. Supa Bwe- "Finally Dead"
A mainstay in the Chicago scene for years, Supa Bwe had a well-deserved spotlight shine on him in 2017 with the release of his debut solo album, “Finally Dead”. He tapped into his gruff, angst-filled persona while balancing it with a more upbeat delivery and production for much of the album, successfully blending the style he’s been known for with a new energy for a memorable, cohesive project. Songs like “Wok Wok” with JuJu and “Down Comes the Spaceman”, with Saba, one of the city’s brightest young talents show Supa’s progression over the years. Despite pushing his own sound further, Supa also supplied listeners with more characteristic tracks, like with the infectious banger, “I Hate Being Alive”. In its entirety, “Finally Dead” was an exclamation point on a year in which Supa Bwe continued his steady, deserved upward rise in the hip-hop industry. Hopefully 2018 will see him rise to even greater heights.
5. Knox Fortune- "Paradise"
If there’s one Chicago artist to keep an eye out for in 2018, its Knox Fortune. From being known for his feature on “All Night” by Chance the Rapper, to producing for friends such as Joey Purp, Kami and Chance, he has finally dropped his own project and has come a pretty long way since then. His solo debut project, titled “Paradise”, has landed on our list at number five. This project has showcased why Knox is here to stay considering the fact that he dropped such a strong project from start to finish. “Paradise” features songs like “Lil Thing”, “Help Myself”, and “Stars”, all of which show off Knox’s diverse catalog of styles. Take a listen for yourself and see where Paradise falls in your top albums of the year!
Honorable Mention: Lucki- "Watch My Back"
Honorable Mention: Mulatto- ".22 Summers"