One of the most frustrating habits of the national media is their ability to turn an entire movement’s sound into an elevator pitch, the way Houston’s scene was reduced to a single concept: “syrup.” Suddenly the city’s world of possibility was permanently branded, and its horizons contracted. If you didn’t fit into a pat narrative, good luck finding coverage. Luckily, as Chicago’s street rap scene hits the internet for the first time, it hasn’t had to deal with this problem thus far; rather than sticking to a specific sound, each producer seems to be drawing on different styles and influences from across the musical spectrum.
Lil Durk, a Chicago rapper known for tracks like “Sneak Dissin” and his I’m a Hitta mixtape, just released “I Get Paid.” Produced by little-known Fya Starta, it’s the latest twist in Chicago’s diverse sound palette. The beat is a much more rhythmically complex mutation of the snare-heavy style of tracks like Tone Beats‘ “House Party.” The influence of homegrown juke music is also strong here—when the kick drum gets into gear at the climax of Louie’s verse, it’s not just an impressive display of virtuosity, but a genuine shot of musical adrenaline. It is to Lil Durk’s considerable credit that he more than holds his own.