Chicago music artist are on the rise! With as much as we see happening in the world, Chicago has a rich and emerging music scene as any of the other cities. It’s dope to live in a city where so many creative people are turning their passion into businesses & fan-bases. It’s an accepted idea now: Chicago is ripe with raw talent. This R&B Soul Music Review will get you acquainted with Soulful Chicago’s top picks for Chi-Town’s rising artist.
Some of these names may appear familiar, as they’ve already “broken” among niche listenership’s. Others are probably new to you. There may even be arguments that can be made for an entirely different collection of artists. What they all have in common is that they’re working outside of traditional genre lines.
Chicago’s distinct influential (Kanye West and Chance the Rapper) are two of America’s most popular acts, regardless of genre, and fans and media alike turn to the city of Chicago for uninterrupted who’s-next?
By way of Chicago, it seems there’s always more to hear. There are so many new artists popping up, it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. Many of the most exciting Chicago artists are dignified to have a big 2017.
So I’m gathering up all these artists and putting them in one place for our ‘Top 7 Chicago Music Artist On The Rise.” The list consists of the Top 7 Chicago artists who have the biggest buzz at the current moment, excluding some of the already established acts like Chance The Rapper.
Now get to listening to these Top 7 Chi-Town Rising Music Artist — your next on-repeat album is hiding in here somewhere.
The Top 7 Chicago Music Artist On The Rise
Bryan James Sledge, better known by his stage name BJ the Chicago Kid (or simply BJ), is an singer and songwriter. If it seems like BJ the Chicago Kid should’ve already blown up ages ago, it’s because the industry has given him several chances. He’s collaborated with Kanye West for the Mission: Impossible III soundtrack, and later won acclaim from R&B queens like Jill Scott off his independently released 2012 debut Pineapple Now-Laters.
Sledge is best known for frequently collaborating with Top Dawg Entertainment recording artists Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Rock. He has also worked with several other prominent rappers, such as Freddie Gibbs, Warren G, Big K.R.I.T., GLC and Kanye West among numerous others. Since then, the wait for his solo debut is finally over. Blurring the lines between rap and R&B, he could be the one to finally bring the genre back to the basics when he’s done laying his caramel vocals all over every ’90s-R&B classic.
Sir the Baptist is an award-winning hip-hop artist. Legally named William James Stokes, grew up near the South Side of Chicago in Bronzeville. His father was a preacher and his mother was a missionary, which led to the name Sir the Baptist. Inspired by John the Baptist in the Bible, Stokes wanted to be the voice of Chicago at a time when there was negativity and negative music. Sir the Baptist has been singing hip-hop full time for a year and a half. His first job was working with an adverting agency in Chicago. He then left the agency and became a Lyft driver. Sir the Baptist said he applied his experience driving Lyft to his music. Sir the Baptist opened-up for artists like Beyonce in 2015. He says his goal for 2017 is to show everyone what the world of hip-hop looks like. Sir the Baptist wants to make sure people are listening to better versions of the genre.
Jonathan Caleb McReynolds is a soulful musician whose music has permeated outside of the contemporary gospel music genre. He began his music career in 2012 with the release of Life Music via Entertainment One Music and Light Records. The album charted on three Billboard charts: the Billboard 200, Gospel Albums, and Independent Albums. His second album, Life Music: Stage Two, peaked higher on all three charts in 2015. Here is his latest EP Sessions in 2016. His music transcends the contemporary gospel genre and can be enjoyed by those who appreciate R&B Soul Music.
Jamila Woods is a soul singer, songwriter and poet. She is widely known for her collaborative works with Chance the Rapper on the hit song “Sunday Candy” from the album Surf as well as “Blessings” from Coloring Book. Woods is also featured on the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song “White Privilege II”. Jamila released her debut album HEAVN on her SoundCloud page on July 11, 2016 to critical acclaim. Her album debuts her as brave and representing, by offering a voice not only of insightful rebuke and observation, but also of hope for a better future and black self-love for today.” The album features collaborations with Chance the Rapper, Noname, Saba, Lorine Chia, Kweku Collins and Donnie Trumpet. “HEAVN” was ranked as the 36th best album of 2016 by Pitchfork Media. In January 2016, Woods signed to Chicago’s independent hip-hop label, Closed Sessions. Woods is the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, the non-profit organization behind the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry slam festival.
Anita M. Wilson contemporary gospel music singer, songwriter, and producer whose music has flooded over to assert territory outside of traditional gospel music as an independent artist. After a career as a backup singer for contemporary gospel acts such as Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, DeWayne Woods, Donald Lawrence and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Wilson recorded her first solo album, Worship Soul in 2012. The first single released from Worship Soul was “Speechless.” Her music has grooves rooted in R&B Soul music that glorifies God and inspires the soul.
Steve “Stone” Huff has been steady and creative in r&b soul music, as a brilliant writer and producer whose credits include songs for platinum selling artists Joe, KeKe Wyatt, Avant, Keith Sweat, Mary Mary, Charlie Wilson and R. Kelly. The Chicago producer/musician turned independent artist has also performed with big names ranging from Anita Baker to Whitney Houston. His independent label Billionaires INC., recently joined forces and signed a distribution deal with EMPIRE records. From his upcoming album I Promise His new single “DWTS (Dancing With The Stars)” is a midtempo funky groovy song that will get the steppers going in Chicago, Detroit and anywhere from around the world.
R & B Soul singer Dante Hall is an independent artist who’s thriving among his musical lords yet an infectious, fire as an emerging new artist. His debut solo single, “What About My Love,” — a brilliant cover of Johnnie Taylor’s classic — is gaining a growing buzz among music lovers from coast to coast.
Performing on stages with the likes of Donald Lawrence, R. Kelly, Bebe and Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Michael McDonald and Dave Hollister among others. “Dante is the epitome of ’70s soul meets 2015 new school R&B.” says Donald Lawrence. “The texture of his voice is like a vintage piece of art appreciating with time.