There’s a lot to say about the dissemination of rap culture away from whatever city or coast is currently hot and toward variously located artists who forge a sound based less on geography and more on personal aesthetic. Chicago rapper ProbCause toes that line, sounding both uniquely Chicago and distinctly like himself at the same time. His new Waves EP defines itself by a skillful infusion of love for his city and an appreciation of more abstract frameworks of hip-hop. With an impressive roster of features and some choice beats, ProbCause stakes a claim for greater relevance both in his city and yours.
Just because you haven’t thought about him since the last time you heard “Slow Jamz” doesn’t mean Twista isn’t still spitting absolute fire, and his guest spot on “Chicago Style” should remind anyone who isn’t still respecting his hustle. Props to ProbCause, who keeps up with the spastic delivery almost syllable for syllable and showcases how malleable his flow can be over the right beat. Produced by Chicago beatmakers Fortified Sounds and Drew Mantia, the banger snaps from a horns-laden head-bobber to a juke freak-out, instilling itself as a summer anthem for the city. “One of a Kind” finds Prob going over horns again, this time supplied by Chicago outfit The O’MY’S, who together with the rapper make one of the most soulful hip-hop tracks you’ll hear this year. The Chicago influence soaks through on this track more than most; the jazzy horns reek of the city’s past while the verses shine a light on the life of a young musician in a big city with a big history.
This is a strong statement from a fringe rapper in a major city, a guy who’s packed with potential and might just be another Chicago rapper ready to make the same leap in status Chance did. Having Chance himself on album closer “LSD” doesn’t hurt, but hearing the two rappers on the same track really makes it clear that ProbCause is a talent, plain and simple, yet neither plain nor simple. He can hold his own with the best the city has to offer. Keep an eye on ProbCause: You might see him on your El train one day and on the charts the next.
Essential Tracks: “Chicago Style”, “One of a Kind”, and “LSD”