Chicago hip hop
Chicago hip hop artists have never coalesced around an easily defined style or sound (with the exception of the recent drill scene). Instead, Chicago hip hop artists took inspiration from a variety of regional influences - initially the East Coast, with its jazz and soul based sampling and "conscious" lyricism. At the same time, other Chicago artists embraced West Coast production, with its funky, synth-driven instrumentation. Eventually, artists like Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict and Psychodrama put their own twist on West Coast instrumentation, adding double-time high hat patterns, and, in what would become Chicago's first, home-grown, and immediately recognizable "style", rapping in double or triple time over the funky, synth-driven beats.
Chicago hip hop's embrace of eclectic regional styles was also reflected in (and probably influenced by) the playlists of local hip hop radio stations, which gave West Coast, East Coast, and especially southern Hip Hop equal consideration.
The success of Kanye West has had a ripple effect on the local hip hop, with his production style (called "chipmunk soul") having a large impact on albums like Common's critically acclaimed album Be and Twista's Kamikaze, both of whom are Chicago hip hop veterans and both of whom have guested on West's tracks. His alternative, non-gangster sound also helped pave the way for non-gangster rappers like Lupe Fiasco, whose career had a huge boost when he guested on West's track Touch The Sky, in addition to conscious rappers such as Rhymefest. West's legacy is still felt in the local hip hop scene by up and coming rappers like Chance the Rapper, with West's The College Dropout being the first Hip Hop record Chance ever heard.
A new sound that has recently gotten very popular in Chicago is a new style of hip hop called the drill scene that formed on Chicago's South Side. This style is very slow, repetitive, heavily influenced by trap music which is synonymous with Southern hip-hop and far more thuggish than the music Chicago rappers of the past have put out and is considered representative of the South Side's dangerous environment and its effect on the youth. The main rapper in this scene who has brought this style to mainstream prominence is Chief Keef, and his success has extended to other local rappers in the drill scene such as King L, Lil Durk, Lil Reese.
Crucial Conflict is a Chicago hip hop group best known for its 1996 single "Hay" (from the album The Final Tic) and "Scummy" (from the album Good Side, Bad Side). The members of Crucial Conflict are Coldhard, Wildstyle, Kilo, and Never. They frequently collaborate with fellow Chicago rappers Do or Die and Twista. They recently finished their album Planet Crucon, with their newest single, "Barn Fire".
Crucial Conflict, with the help of Do or Die, made the Chicago rap community more visible. With fast-paced raps, the band was compared to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, with whom they later ended up feuding. When the smash hit "Hay" was released, it improved the sales of the band's album The Final Tic.
Crucial Conflict has also recorded tracks for movie soundtracks such as Def Jam's How to Be a Player, Rhyme & Reason, Belly, and Thicker Than Water. They also made a brief cameo appearance in the 1998 Hype Williams movie Belly, which starred DMX and Nas.
Common's success as an underground rapper in the nineties was the first time that significant attention was paid to Chicago hip hop as a separate entity. The singles from his first album reached the top ten in the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks and the attention of music critics and fans alike shifted to the Midwest based on Common's lyricism. This opened the door for other blossoming MCs from Chicago in the mid-nineties (such as Da Brat), but Chicago hip hop was still vastly overshadowed by the West and East Coast hip hop scene. Still, Common has found mainstream success in the 21st century with Grammy winning albums like Finding Forever and Be, and is recognized as an icon of Midwest hip hop.
Kanye West's lyricism, then not prevalent in rap music, disregarded any talk about how well-respected, or "hard" the rapper was on the street. As West became successful, many other rappers from other places like Drake and Kid Cudi realized that they could use alternative hip hop to gain mainstream success as well, and many rappers re-orientated their styles from a gangsta rap persona to an emphasis on other things. This was significant for Chicago, as many rappers from there do not have hardcore styles, having been influenced by Common or Kanye West.
The recent surge in popularity for alternative hip hop finally gives Chicago artists an opportunity to be successful. As the violence in hip hop toned down during the late 2000s, conscious rappers such as Lupe Fiasco and The Cool Kids became a regular in the Chicago rap scene.
Lupe Fiasco was a guest artist on "Touch the Sky" with Kanye West. His debut album was Food & Liquor. Receiving both critical and public praise, Food & Liquor peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200, and at one point was at #2 on the Hip Hop Billboard Charts. It was nominated in 2007 for three Grammys, including Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Solo Rap Performance. Fiasco's The Cool was released in late December 2007. His single "Superstar" peaked to #10 on The Billboard Hot 100, making it his most successful single on the chart until 2011, where he released his most successful album to date, Lasers along with his most successful single to date, the Kane Beatz-produced track, "The Show Goes On". He released his fourth album, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album recently.
Record producer No I.D. has been cited as having an instrumental role in the development of alternative hip-hop. Having worked with both Common and Kanye West. In fact, West mentions No I.D. as his mentor in his song "Big Brother" from the Graduation album. He produced most of Common's first three albums, and his 2011 album, The Dreamer, The Believer.
Do or Die
Do or Die is a gangsta rap trio originally from Chicago, Illinois. The group experienced mainstream success with the single "Po Pimp", a collaboration with fellow Chicago rapper Twista, from the album Picture This. Group members are brothers Belo, Nard and AK-47. The trio has sold more than three million albums. Many of the tracks feature Chicago's own Johnny P singing the hooks and The Legendary Traxster on production.
Twista is known primarily for his rapid-fire delivery. At one point recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest rapper, Twista's success has come largely with other Chicago acts (notably Kanye West and Do or Die). His most successful album to date, 2004's Kamikaze, and its two singles, "Slow Jamz" and "Overnight Celebrity", were all chart toppers.
Rhymefest hails from a Chicago neighborhood known as Jeffrey Manor. Although relatively new—he has released two albums, Blue Collar, and El Che. He was a co-writer of Kanye West's 2004 single, "Jesus Walks". His debut album, Blue Collar hit #61 on the Billboard 200.
The Jermaine Dupri protégé had chart success in 1994 with her single and video entitled "Funkdafied" taken from her debut album of the same name. During the rest of the decade, she remained somewhat low-key and came to be known more for her featured appearances on other rappers' and R&B singers' albums than for her own solo work.
MC Juice or simply Juice, is a freestyle rapper from Chicago, known for his seamlessly smooth flow and his ability as a ‘punchline rapper’ he has received acclaim for his freestyles and battle raps. He is best known for beating Eminem in a freestyle battle; the famous Scribble Jam freestyle battle competition in 1997. He was regarded in 2004 as one of finest freestyle rappers ever produced by Chicago.
Chief Keef is known for his particularly violent lyrics. He is considered to be a representation of the youth of the violent streets of Chicago. At the age of 17, he is the youngest label head in history.  His debut album Finally Rich was released on December 18, 2012.
List of notable musicians
- TREATED CREW
- Brandun DeShay
- Chali 2na
- Chance the Rapper
- Chief Keef
- The Cool Kids
- Crucial Conflict
- Da Brat
- Dan Klebanov (Kleb Collab)
- Demarco Castle
- Do or Die
- Earatik Statik
- Fast Eddie
- Fredo Santana
- E.C. Illa
- Gerald Walker
- Hona Costello
- The Hood Internet
- The Individuals
- Katie Got Bandz
- Kanye West
- Keezo Kane
- Kid Sister
- Kidz in the Hall
- King L
- The Legendary Traxster
- Lil Durk
- Lil Reese
- Lupe Fiasco
- Malik Yusef
- MC Juice
- Mickey Gran Estez
- Mr. Lee
- No I.D.
- Psalm One
- R. Kelly
- Rockie Fresh
- Sasha Go Hard
- Saurus and Bones
- [Sicko Mobb]
- Speedknot Mobstaz
- Soundmaster T
- Young Chop
- Yung Berg
- "Chicago Rap Blazes Up From the Streets". Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "Discography - Lupe Fiasco". billboard.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor". billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.[dead link]
- "Artist Chart History - Lupe Fiasco". billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2007-10-31). "Don't Call It a Comeback". ew.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- "Fast Talk, Slow Climb". mtv.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- "Discography - Rhymefest". billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.[dead link]
- Hopper, Jessica. "Chicago's insurgent rap scene is all the rage, and Chief Keef is at the head of it". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Elevator : Top Floor Hip Hop
- Gowhere Hip Hop - #1 Chicago Hip Hop Blog
- Fake Shore Drive - The Chicago Hip Hop Blog
- No ID vs. Traxster Website
- The Chicago Hip Hop Story
- Join the Midwest Movement
- Meet Da' Gangstaz
- "Chicago Hip-Hop’s Raw Burst of Change" by The New York Times