Two Years of Running the Best Music Blog in Chicago: Lil Yachty & Pink Skateboards

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About a year ago, my life was turned upside down when the snowball of press & social media attention around my article about harassment in punk culminated in an editorial pick for Best New Music Blogger in The Chicago Reader (#savethereader). I was presented with a new opportunities, some which worked out, some which didn’t. The biggest one was joining the Do312 team. Every time I tell someone the story about how I ran a music blog and show calendar and ended up doing the social media for an event discovery/promotion outfit that throws parties with sloths and bouncy houses, they’re like, “That makes sense.”

At the same time, it’s hard to come home from 9 hours of working on promoting local music for money and sit down to do 4 more hours for free. I’ve shifted from being a music journalist to a copywriter. I spend more time in Facebook Power Editor than green rooms. I’m not drinking right now, and rock and roll is deeply exhausting to me sober. I mostly just go to rap shows where half the attendees have X’s on their hands and impeccable teen streetwear outfits that dunk on my entire life.

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I was shocked recently to find out that Store Brand Soda had won the popular vote for Best Local Music blog in the Reader’s new Best of Chicago issue. Like, Fake Shore Drive is an INSTITUTION.

I’m grateful to my coeditor Emily and our Dead DIY Spaces columnist Eric for keeping this lil punk rock music fanzine alive. I’m touched that people still care; that people stepped in to help fill in our calendar when we got overwhelmed (thank you especially to Eileen Marshall, who recently started writing some incredibly touching essays about her relationship with music and the world). That people wrote in our name to nominate us, then selected us in the final round of voting. That’s huge, and if I’m gonna be real, it gives me the power to keep going.

I don’t know if I’m going to keep writing about music in the same way I always have. But I know I’m not going to stop.

If you miss me talking about noisy rock and garage, I recommend you read this feature I recently published on the paranoid synth punk of Giorgio Murderer over on the new Bandcamp Daily. For now, here’s two music related things I’ve been digging lately.

Lil Yachty – Lil Boat

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My endless Twitter thread about Lil Yachty is a running joke on Twitter that’s gotten more people into this deeply weird mixtape than I can count. “Darnell Boat,” the narrator of the tape’s intro track & interludes, introduces us to the bifurcated personalities of the eighteen year old rapper & singer Miles Parks McCollum.

Lil Boat’s Southern rap flow is boastful and confident, and not without accolades – Chano himself gave him the nod for best feature on Coloring Book, which also featured verses from, you know, Kanye West and Future, who have a few years on the King of the Teenagers.

Darnell describes the little Lil Yachty persona as “a little bit nicer” and “a little more emotional,” with an angelic sing song that tackles the album’s more vulnerable and intimate lyrics. The wavers and warbles in his voice are the cracks in the Liberty Bell; they’re warped rather than polished by Auto Tune and lend an eerie sincerity to the overarching message of positivity and the belief in serendipity.

My friend Tom floated the idea on Twitter that “Lil Boat and Coloring Book are viable treatments for depression and that doctors should study their effects on the human psyche.” When I’m singing along with “We Did It (Outro) *Positivity Song*” every morning while doing my eyeliner, I can’t help but agree.

Club 75 x Vans sneaker collaboration

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I spent 2008 obsessed with Bertrand de Langeron, the art director of Ed Banger Records. He was always there, open shirt and French accent, sleazing in the background of tour photographs from Justice’s whirlwind superstardom in the wake of their single D.A.N.C.E. (he directed the iconic video and their escandaloso documentary) and in Cobra Snake photos of fucking Fool’s Gold parties or whatever. I’ve always loved his palette of bright primary colors and fleshy pinks, endless handlettering finesse, and his ability to elevate a cartoony style that bubbled out of club flyers into a cohesive identity across a record label, web publication, and fashion label.

And now: sneakers! I love this throwback to those all-over print hoodies littered with tiny drawings, this time a souvenir print for an idyllic imaginary French seaside. I’m also digging the “Locals Only” embroidery on the Era iteration.

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