Written by Crystal (@crystalleww)
Despite its long rap history, Chicago has recently experienced a youthful surge of emcees that are still forming into their musical identities. Katie Got Bandz is the queen of drill with the ability to energize a party, Mikey Dollaz is the guy who sometimes sounds slightly disinterested but can really turn up the sinister on the most melodramatic of beats, Tink is the dual rapping and singing threat who is always negotiating the divide between tough and tender, and King Louie is rapper who happens have an ear for production that helps define a city’s sonic scene. While a number of other rappers are still carving out their space, this generation of Chicago rap have proved themselves to be worthwhile additions to the Chicago rap canon regardless of their age.
Dreezy’s Schizo makes the point that Dreezy is the rapper’s rapper, a MC with impeccable flow and dizzying bars. While the current preference for “femcees” seems to lean towards those good at both singing and rapping—Nicki Minaj, Angel Haze, Azealia Banks, even Tink—Dreezy’s moments of shine are when she’s focused on rapping.
This comes across very plainly in the up-and-down quality of the mixtape. Dreezy gives acceptable efforts on sung choruses, but her most memorable hooks remain the rap ones. “Break a Band,” her late 2012 collaboration with Mikey Dollaz shows up here towards the end of the tape, as the repetition of “I break a band” rockets off into space. Elsewhere, her emphatic “ain’t for none!” and the zooms of “zero” are ready-made for rocking back and fist-pumping forth. It’s much better than the listless, auto tune reliant fare of “Lonely,” “Bad Habit” and “Truth Hurts,” which truly drag in their sung bits. Her vocal limitations drag down the songwriting and lyricism during these parts, but there are popping moments in the rap bits before being dragged down to earth by their generic hooks.
On the other hand, Dreezy emerges as a full-blown artist when she’s rapping. From the impressive display on “Break A Band,” Dreezy’s taken time to try different flows with her voice, all at the same time improving the variety of subject material and thematic content. She snarls on “All the Time,” forcefully spitting out swagger, but can still slow up with “Mind Games,” a surprisingly tender track about an aloof boy that has Dreezy changing up her flow and delivery with total ease. “Heard It All” is generically silly during the sung hook, but the verses are great, with really fantastic moments including using the double meaning of “under cover” and a slew of ad-libs brimming with personality like “duh,” “nope,” and “yaaaaaa.”
The most successful attempt at branching out is “Dreamer Pt. 2,” which explores a different subject without feeling false to Dreezy as a whole. Turning inwards to explore herself, it’s the inspirational rap song that Angel Haze wishes she could have had on Dirty Gold, using her personal goals, aspirations, and details as a vehicle to tell a narrative about her macro environment. Dreezy rounds her story with vividly specific imagery of herself (“blue jeans, Jordans, kinda cute but can still spit mean”), plainly articulating the problems she faces as a female rapper without essentializing them (“they say women don’t make it unless they on their knees so I got down on my knees, started praying, god please”), while at the same time grounding herself at the place she’s called home (“I put my dad to sleep next to a Bible”).
Chicago, and no other city, is what gives these rappers such strong material to take with them into the recording booth. They understand the constant negotiation within the city’s textured hip hop scene much better than any web documentary about “Chiraq.” Dreezy drops specific local references to Lil Kemo and boppin’, Stack or Starve, and Harold’s Chicken on “Zero” showing that these kids might just be figuring out who they are, but they’re doing a hell of a better job than the adults
Link: Dreezy’s Schizo