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Damian Lillard Can Actually Rap

The best time of the year #Playoffs…Excited to be here and competing! #RipCity

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The relationship between hip-hop and the NBA tends to look like one of mutual admiration, and perhaps a bit of imitation. NBA players want to rap, and rappers want to ball, but tend to settle on being friendly with each other. Figures like Drake and Lil Wayne are fixtures on NBA sidelines, and plenty of NBA players associate regularly with hip-hop stars in their social lives.

But while plenty of NBA players have tried their hands at rapping, and plenty of hip-hop artists have appeared in celebrity pickup games, it’s rare to see someone who can actually pull off both talents. Right now though, there’s a major exception in the NBA, and he goes by the name of Damian Lillard.

The winner of this year’s Magic Johnson Award (given for combining excellence of play and dignity dealing with the media and public), Lillard has always been a bit of a surprise. He came up through Weber State University, a school known for occasional NCAA Tournament berths, but not for churning out superstars. He was drafted sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, and it didn’t take long for him to become the unofficial franchise player for the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s one of the best small school products in the NBA, perhaps second only to Stephen Curry (who hails from Davidson).

This season, Lillard was supposed to have the Blazers in contention. Predictors saw the Northwest Division as a tight race between the Utah Jazz and the Blazers, and while Lillard’s club ultimately came up short, he still helped propel the team to the playoffs. That feat, despite some injury issues and roster turnover at the league trade deadline, only helped to solidify Lillard as one of the true stars of the modern NBA. While he’s had good teammates come and go, he’s also singlehandedly turned the Blazers into a very respectable organization.

Along the way he’s also cultivated a pretty impressive reputation as a legitimate rapper. He who puts real effort into his work, compiles albums, and even earns praise from some of the best in the business. His biggest endorsement probably came following the release of his first official album last October, when Lil Wayne offered some thoughtful praise. By the sound of things, Lil Wayne has been a little annoyed in the past when athletes trying out rap have attempted to match some kind of stereotypical rap persona. Lillard, by contrast, just raps as himself, and even throws in some positive verses (which aren’t always common in the genre).

Don’t just take Lil Wayne’s word for it though. You can stream the album (called “The Letter O”) online, and you’ll find guest appearances from the likes of Juvenile, Jamie Foxx, and, of course, Lil Wayne. The album earned a largely positive response, suggesting that if Lillard does ever tire of being one of the best guards in the NBA, he could have a legitimate second career in music.

At the very least it’s nice to see the rare athlete-to-hip-hop crossover that actually works out.

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Features Midwest News

FSD Feature: Who is Drayco McCoy?

Words by Aaron Navarro

Drayco Mccoy is one of the rawest rappers in the Midwest, and I can give you two examples why. The first way is the obvious — his beats are heavy on bass and his flows are aggressive, raspy and in-your-face. The second way, you might find only from choppin’ it up with him. You can tell the youngin’ is starting to create a real path for himself, and is only looking up, only looking to improve. To Drayco, this is all just the start.

We caught up with the Naptown reppin’ 22-year-old at the FSD and Red Bull Sound Select show earlier this month. It was only his third time in Chicago, where Drayco was opening for headliners (and bonafide Chicago stars) G Herbo and Lil Bibby. From the Pacers to punk-rock, we got to learn a little bit more about what FullyAutomaticDrayco is about, and where he is going.

Check the video recap below, and peep the full conversation right under that.

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Features News

Catching up with Melo Makes Music as he readies his forthcoming ‘Nomads’ EP

Words by Nandi Howard. Photos by Dennis Elliot.

To not give credit to the successful year Chicago had in music would be a disservice to yourself. 2016 was a great year for some familiar faces in the Chicago scene to go beyond the Midwest. For the most part, Chicago entertainers, despite being from different parts of the city, all know each other. Whether from open mic events back in the day or attending the same grammar schools, one of the largest cities in America surprisingly has a close knit artist community.

“I kind of was on my own thing back then. I got into because it would become a hobby to write songs in my old dorm room, and I started missing class because of it…Really my journey is something I take in alone in a lot of regards as far as creativity,” said Melo.

After dropping out of Columbia College with the backing of his mom, Melo recorded for the first time in a studio in 2015. The result of his new endeavor landed him a debut EP that consisted of three songs, which clocked in at over 73k plays.

“My mom actually inspired me to make the decision to pursue my dreams based on the fact that she felt as though my time was better spent doing that. She could tell I cared about it a lot more. Ever since I made that decision I’ve been working really hard,” said Melo

Now fresh into 2017, Melo is set to release a new EP, Nomads, on February 28th and we got to talk to him about his creative direction, influences in the industry and more.

Check it out below.

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Features Midwest News

FSD Feature: Baby I’m Gone: a deep look into IshDARR’s ‘Broken Hearts & Bankrolls’

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Words by Mitesh B. (@msbhatt92)

One of my favorite moments of an artist’s progression is the initial buildup of a local buzz. An artist makes a debut mixtape, may have had their song on a hip-hop blog or two, and if they’re lucky enough, had the chance to open for a successful artist. After that point, while they may feel the same, possibly a little more confident with some spending cash, they begin to realize that the dream of a music career is truly possible. On top of that, they begin to be a bit more perceptive of the people around them and how they impact their lives. Enter 20 year old, IshDARR from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After impressing listeners with his 2015 hit “Too Bad”, Ishmael has returned with his sophomore mixtape, Broken Hearts and Bankrolls.

Thematically, IshDarr’s newest release is fairly straight forward. He’s enjoying the ride of adolescence, mobbing with his friends in Bandits and Locals, the first visual for the tape. However he chooses to reference him and his friends, both tracks are fun and catchy. Locals is a stoner jam and is a smooth listen for fans. “With the punches / So when she don’t function / I just call my other / Yeah that leaf emoji.” IshDarr’s rapping can be difficult to keep up at times. While each bar is usually direct individually, he doesn’t necessarily paint a vivid picture. To his benefit, he typically doesn’t stray away conceptually so it doesn’t appear random, but it will be interesting to see him mature in his ability to connect lines through his verses.

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Chicago Features News

G Herbo & Andrew Barber attend Game 4 of the World Series

World Series with my dog @nolimitherbo. Best seats in the house! #$@& Curses! 🚫Go Cubbies. 🐻 #teamadidas

A photo posted by Andrew Barber (@fakeshoredrive) on

Last night, the Chicago Cubs returned to Wrigley Field for game four of the World Series. Sadly, they suffered their third loss to the Cleveland Indians, leaving the series at 3-1.

But it wasn’t all losses last night, because if you watched the game you surely saw a familiar face sitting behind home plate: XXL Freshman G Herbo. Donning an Adidas #$@& Curses hoodie alongside Fake Shore Drive’s Andrew Barber, the two popped up on televisions screens all night. The best part? This was Herbo’s first-ever MLB game. Not bad, right? I must say attending a Cubs World Series bout is about as good as it gets for your first major league baseball experience. Herb tried to buck the “F*** Curses” trend, and hopefully the Cubs can break that curse tonight. Herb met the goat out front, and told the crowd he was the good luck charm, so hopefully that luck will turn tonight. Bill Murray sat behind Herb and they exchanged hugs and pounds throughout the game.

Check out some pictures below. As you can see, Herb had his fans going crazy on social media last night when they saw him getting screen time on Fox. Let’s hope the Cubs can pull off a win tonight, because we firmly stand behind F*** CURSES!

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