TreStyle *Dark Days, Bright Nights* Mixtape Review

If you’re like me, then listening to the radio today is like a personal challenge of endurance of just how long I can listen to a station without having my brain turn to putty and ooze out of my head. The new industry formula for creating a song by constantly worshiping: sex, money, and other vices paired with tinkered tailored sounds on beat machines has turned many a music fan away from contemporary rap and hip-hop. Even R&B is becoming a nuisance thanks to monotonous, dancy pop tracks of artists like Usher and Chris Brown. So what should appear before my very eyes, well actually come across my inbox, but an invitation to listen and review Chicago artist TreStyle’s, debut mixtape Dark Days, Bright Nights.

The 24 year-old Chicago native, West-side born and bred, records out of the “The Jungle” recording studio where we also interviewed fellow Chicago artist WhoisCHI in our previous article An Interview With A Chicago Artist. Rapping verses to himself since he was counting times tables, TreStyle got his professional start early joining the group F.A. The Squad just in his sophmore year of high school. The group members consist of Rel, The Boy Illinois, Rip the group’s manager, as well as TreStyle himself. While working with the F.A. family, TreStyle has contributed to 4 music projects, the most recent being a mixtape entitled “The Pilot.” Though all the group’s members are still very much a unit, they contionusly work on solo projects which leads to our listening pleasure TreStyle’s first solo endevor Dark Days, Bright Nights. As per the artist himself, the musical collection really appeals to “the emotions of everyday people” as well as “the hard issues that need to be highlighted in today’s music.” And I would have to agree that this compilation is driven, fun, and uplifting.

Though the mixtape as a whole is very focused and underground, honing on deep universal messages and a cleverly crafted sound, there were a few standout tracks that I wanted to mention.

*Stand-Out Tracks*

P.O.V.-this is the mixtape’s opening track and does a good job of setting up what the project is all about. If you couldn’t tell from the mixtape’s cover there’s definitely traces of early Kanye West and other local artists like Consequence. It’s a very conscious piece and in my opinion displays where music should have gone after albums like Graduation. This track stamps itself and clearly defines the rest of the project as true hip-hop.

H&H– a very catchy song and the beat does a nice job of supporting the lyrics. H&H, which stands for Hoodies and Headphones, highlights the universal attire among urban music lovers. I especially enjoyed some of the wordplay in the song, lines like “I ain’t say kill yourself/just go take some suicide lessons” are among the humorous, witty hooks that deal with the hating tendencies of naysayers.

What You Sippin–  upbeat but not necessarily a dance song. But, hey, can you really go wrong with a drinking song? The song rings very true to the going out lifestyle but doesn’t make it sleazy. It’s a good song to bob your head to on the way to the club. Guest artists Spud and 3 Tre do a very good job of elevating the sound of the track. It sounds radio ready to spin.

Like Kings– upon first hearing the track I couldn’t shake the feeling that it sounded very familiar to me. After a few replays I pinpointed the sound. In my head, it sounds loosely reminiscent of Drake’s Underground Kings but the beat and song in general hits a lot harder with strong drum tones throughout. Again, TreStyle displays a clever lyricism not seen today. I mean who else has tried to fit The Office‘s “Dundler Mifflin” reference in a song?

The Jungle– this track may be my favorite of the bunch. Once the beat drops you just instantly get the all-too-familiar Chicago custom of bobbing your head while waving your right hand in the air. If someone would have played this for me I would have never thought it was a mixtape. The sound is so professional and clean, especially the staccato drum machine beat which can sometimes sound amateur. The unmentioned singer on the track does a good job of complimenting the easygoing feel of the song.

Struggle Vs. Relief– Now if the previous track, Like Kings, is reminiscent of Drake I’m gonna go ahead and dub this with one of my favorite sayings, “this that Drake shit!” And what I mean by that is it invokes that all too familiar habit of staring longingly out of the nearest window and thinking deeply about your life.The song itself is very introspective and allows the listener to use what music is intended for, which is getting lost in the ideas and sounds which the artist has created for you.

Green Room– a euphoric racy track that comes across almost as hip-hop “trance” music. It really took me to another state of mind. This is what I dub “zoning out” music for those of you who use different methods, both legally or otherwise, at reaching a “high”-er mental state. It’s also a cool song just to chill and ride around exploring the city to.

Bright Night– I thought Green Room was a riding song, but with Bright Night the lyrics are practically a step-by-step instructional for hanging out on an especially chill Chicago evening. I couldn’t help but gush over the retro feel of this song. It was if I had been transported back to my junior or senior year of high school when I didn’t even think about the possibility of clubbing. When riding around the city blocks or general area of your residence in your best friend’s mother’s car that she managed to steal for the night was the highlight of your night. (Or maybe that was just my life?) The Boy Illinois is a great addition for the closing of the song and gave me some Andre 3000 realness.

Overall, this mixtape is a heartfelt and thoughtful piece of work but it’s not without fault. There really should be more upbeat and dancing songs you can bop to but with all the dancy dribble out today I won’t hold it against him. Tre Styles does a good job of not selling us a fabricated, non attainable image of opulent lifestyle but real poignant words. The mixtape gives us what we should expect from music artists, which is a very deep, authentic account of an artist’s life. It calls out to a lot of the great hip-hop we got from artists in the early 2000s while still remaining quite modern. It’s what Chicago music needs, moving forward from violence and injustice by recalling a better day, a better sound. This mixtape undoubtedly gets 4-Star’s gem of approval!

Don’t take our word for it listen to F.A. The Squad‘s artist, TreStyle with his debut mixtape Dark Days,Bright Nights by clicking the link:
http://trestylefa.bandcamp.com/

Support Our Local Aritsts!!!!

TreStyle

http://www.facebook.com/TreStyleFA

Follow On Twitter @TreStyle3

freeatre@gmail.com

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Don’t Knock the Hustle! Hustle*My*Flow Music Showcase

Now as Chicago residents-especially if you’re from either of the South and West sides- you’ve been exposed to some sort of hustle. Whether it be the famous “bucket boys” beating their plastic percussion beats or multitude of “hood vendors” selling anything from candy to cold water on hot days. Or maybe its the Shea Butter man who sells his wares faithfully on the corner of 79th and State. Regardless of the scheme we’ve all been aware of the grinding tendencies of the urban underground. Imagine my excitement when I got a message from comedian/actor Real Shannon D about a place that hosts the ultimate hustle. Rappers and singers from all around the Chicago-area gather in one place to not peddle dime-store products but to distribute their lyrics and skills at Club Jags monthly event Hustle My Flow. Shannon D, who plays host to this frequent event, assures me the event goes hard. The event which is often standing room only let’s artists sign up to perform at 9pm and come 10:30 its showtime! And the last artist to perform is sort of the headliner of the event. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer came out to witness these performers do their thing.

Once I arrived at the location of event I thought I was lost being that the structure of the bar looked very modest. After a short time I ran into Real Shannon D and he was instantly warm and welcoming in demeanor. I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the event before it started.

Vonnie Coleman of 4-Star and event host Real Shannon D

4-Star: How long has the event been going on?

Real Shannon D: The show has been going on about once a month for about ten months now.

4-Star: How long have you hosted?

Real Shannon D: This is my second time hosting so about a month now. I’ve hosted a lot of shows like this before and once I voiced my opinions they liked me. They brought me on the team and now I’m doing a little bit more behind the scenes.

4-Star: Give me a breakdown of the event.

Real Shannon D: It’s a hip-hop showcase. Artists come in between 9 and 10 o’clock to sign up. The DJ begins spinning about 9:30. We give as many artists as we can a 5-minute slot. Each show we have a featured artist and after the featured artist performs we announce the new featured artist for the next event. Whoever is picked to be the featured artist gets a V.I.P. table and gets more time to perform than the other acts.

Ah…what the allure of V.I.P. won’t make some people do. Once my travel companion, Kalise Anderson, and I entered the event I got a chance to get some shots of the performance space.The showcase is actually held in the rear room of the bar and though small it still seemed spacious and tastefully decorated. The registered spin doctor DJ Batman stood reserved as he culminated and transformed songs blending them one into another. As I sat waiting I noticed that I was only one of a few patrons of the event. The host assured me they always got a packed house. I worried if the also vastly popular music event Lollapalooza had not conflicted with the attendance.I also noticed that the dress code was very casual as I sat with high heels and cocktail dress (which is not my preferred attire mind you, I’ve very much a jeans and blazer girl)

Rap Mouth the Genius and manager Lynda Payne

Rap Mouth the Genius Performs

Once the audience swelled and the performers began I noticed the different talent level. The first few acts were very underground….I mean extremely underground….I mean basement party level. And I love my city but some of the artists were very “bounce and break yo back-ish” if that makes any sense. And while that level of music talent is very nostalgic most of us have outgrown it and I for one am not here for it. But every cloud has a silver lining, every rose has its thorn and any other nonsensical idiom you can come up with and for me, there was a rapper who stood above the rest. Local artist, Rap Mouth The Genius, was the standout performer for me. He took me back to a time when a rapper’s words outshone their beats. When there was no gimmicks required but just raw talent and flow. He even killed it A Capella and had the crowd hanging on his words.

Duble “R” Da Great performs as the featured artist of the month

Also very much the crowd-pleaser was the event’s featured artist, Duble “R” Da Great, self-proclaimed greatest Puerto Rican Rapper in the Chi. His set was very rousing and energetic as he took his shirt off eliciting a boisterous reaction from the crowd. But I just couldn’t hold back my surprise at the mention of what he reported was his latest hit to drop a lovely song entitled “Cock You Down.” While the crowd waited between sets I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a great Chicago urban fashion designer Rowan Richards who is owner of the King Lizzy t-shirt and sneaker line and subsequently sponsor of both Duble R Da Great and the Hustle My Flow event.

Rapper, Duble “R” Da Great, and King Lizzy owner Rowan Richards

So what’s the rundown of this event?

-Very casual dress

-Affordable only $5 each event

-You might want to bring something to do because with the Open Mic layout of the event you may be waiting some time before people sign up to perform and start the show. May I suggest beating that Temple Run score?

-Great for true hip-hop heads. DJ Batman does a good job of playing to old and newer music lovers.

-Local Chicago artists should take advantage of this chance to hone their skills in front of an audience without being harshly critiqued.

-Be wary, you have no control over the amount of talent that evening. You might hear the next great hip-hop emcee or….you may get your next headache.

 

Does this sound like an event to remember or forget? I’ll let you be the judge but what I can definitively say, this event is great for city dwellers not interested in the nightlife scene but looking for a low cost, chill night out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jagiellonia “Club Jags”
3634 West Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

 

Support Our Local Talent!!! These People are 4-Star Approved:

Real Shannon D
Comedienne/Actor/Event Host
@RealShannonD via Twitter

Rap Mouth The Great
@RapMouthFlow via Twitter

Rowan Richards of King Lizzy Apparel
rrichards@kinglizzy.com
http://www.kinglizzy.com

 

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