The Olympics are great, but you need to pace yourselves – they’re more than two weeks long. You need to get away from the television for awhile, but, as a side effect of long-term exposure to constant displays of national pride, you may find yourself searching for a way you can use the time to do something active but still satisfy the Patriotic flame that arises from within. It’s simple: Head to the prime Wisconsin summer setting of the Terrace to hang with your peers, feast on some good ole American cuisine (and libations if you’re of age), and jump around to the upbeat hip-hop of three acts hailing from various parts of the wonderful Midwestern US of A. Chicago’s Sidewalk Chalk, UW-Madison rapper Phonetic ONE, and Minnesota-stationed Badger alumnus K. Raydio will take your mind off medal counts and difficulty scores for a few hours.
Sidewalk Chalk is a Chicago octet that creates organic hip-hop featuring the vocals of singer Maggie Vagle and emcee Rico Sisney. Though the brass duo of Sam Trump on trumpet and David Ben-Porat on trombone are also features rarely seen anymore in popular music of today, the most unique aspect of the group is the full-time tap-dancing role of Jumaane “The Bearded Hoofer” Taylor.
In March, after a steady rise to popularity in the Chicago area, Sidewalk Chalk released their debut record, Corner Store. The socially-conscious subject-matter of the LP addresses various issues in American culture, such as poverty and materialism, but maintains an air of positivity and hope, even in tackling such subjects. Through bright instrumentation and determined, unwavering vocals, virtually every track makes you want to get stuff done, even if it’s as simple as expressing yourself through movement or connecting with the people around you.
As a result, their live show is endlessly enjoyable for crowds, which has been a big part of landing them gigs with acts like ?uestlove, Company of Thieves, Action Bronson, De La Soul, and The Budos Band (They’ve also received plugs from a rapper called Lupe Fiasco). To paraphrase a recent Epitonic article that pins Sidewalk Chalk as one of the Chicago acts to watch, the nation’s eyes have recently become fixed on the Chicago hip-hop scene, so take every chance to see stand-outs like Sidewalk Chalk “before they hit the big time.” Check out some of their tunes at the official Sidewalk Chalk website, and be sure to scroll to the bottom of this preview to download an mp3 and watch a music video from the Windy City group.
Leading in for Sidewalk Chalk will be UW-Madison’s own Phonetic ONE, a.k.a. Andrew Thomas, a Minnesota-raised rhymer who got his own taste of national success recently when he made it to the finals of the Chegg College Battle of the Bands. Boasting a list of previous contestants who have been propelled into the national spotlight in recent years, including Local Natives and Mike Posner, the Chegg College Battle of the Bands picks the best college-age acts in each region of the country to compete finals in the Los Angeles-hosted finals. Phonetic ONE, representing UW-Madison, was victorious in the Midwest regional and punched his ticket out to the West Coast as one of five finalists. As a member of UW-Madison’s First Wave program for gifted spoken word and hip-hop artists, Phonetic ONE has released various party-starting, hook-filled tunes and albums to the delight of his fellow classmates. Sample his tracks at his YouTube channel for evidence of his skillful flow.
K. Raydio, kicking off the show at 9, also has roots in Minnesota and attended UW-Madison. After graduating with a degree in Communicative Arts in 2010, Krysta Rayford decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a career in music. The decision has paid off, as she’s released two successful EP’s, Signifact (Other): Parts 1 & 2, both available for free download at her bandcamp. Her music contains catchy melodies and clever lyrics, most notably in the aptly named “Catchy Hook,” where Rayford explains in the song’s lyrics that its infectiousness was designed to get stuck in her head so as to push out thoughts of a failed relationship (The song also has an awesome 3D-like music video). K. Raydio has established herself as a staple in the Twin Cities and Madison hip-hop scenes, sharing the stage and tracks with many of its major players (See: Doomtree members, F. Stokes, Man Mantis, JDante, etc.) and making featured appearances on songs for prominent national artists – notably singing the chorus on Time’s “5th Horseman.” Oh, and she’s been known to collaborate with Phonetic ONE, so don’t be surprised if they share the stage at some point Saturday.
OK, so you may be all info’d out by now. Let me sum this up for you: Come to the Terrace Saturday night for danceable hip-hop that will lift your mood. No matter how you get there – whether you run like Usain Bolt, do flips down the sidewalk like Gabby Douglas, swim across Lake Mendota like Missy Franklin, or bike like… some Olympic biker – just make sure you’re there for the 9 p.m. start of the show. You won’t want to miss a second!
Download “Ten Seconds (feat. Psalm One)” from Sidewalk Chalk’s Corner Store, below, and check out the colorful video for the same album’s “Water Song.”
Download >> Sidewalk Chalk – “Ten Seconds (feat. Psalm One)” from Corner Store.