Independent Artists Making their Mark in Chicago

In the past, Independent artists had to struggle to get their music heard on a national level. That's not the case anymore. Thanks to the internet, literally, anyone with talent, charisma and a musical flare can make a name for themselves. Enter Alicia 'Ya Yah' Townsend and The20Fours.

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Alicia 'Ya Yah' Townsend is no stranger to music. Actually, you might have seen Alicia performing at the Red Line stop on Jackson a few years back, with huge crowds surrounding her.  She's the product of a strong musical upbringing and years of training in the performance arts. Townsend's passion is strongly motivated as a songwriter and dancer. Her talents as both a performer and writer couple Townsend's two greatest strengths as an artist. Honestly, I feel she may be the world's next Lauryn Hill. In Ya-Yah's songs, you can feel that they're written with heartfelt warmth, sung with an electric sophistication and executed with a certain charm.  Alicia "Ya-Yah" Townsend's debut EP "Just Me" has been released and its more than amazing; it's Grammy worthy. 

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Dubbed in Chicago as the new Salt-N-Pepa, The20Fours are making a name for themselves. Two women, JRells aka Lady J (Jerrell Johnson), 26, and DreDay aka Feelmaslim (Andrea Long), questionably 24, bring a fresh, young and different sound to the music industry. The duo has been performing music and theater, both nationally and internationally, for over 10 years. Their name--The 20fours--

represents the beginning of their quarter life crisis, and their music is an edgy and mercurial portrait of it from a proudly feminine perspective. The 20fours self-penned creative and witty lyrics are made all the more irresistible by their hard hitting hip hop/punk energy and beats. The 20fours describe their up-and-coming mixtape album, set to be released in September, "20four7," as "random, intimate and creative magic." The first single "Skinny Jeans" is the party anthem of the year! It was produced by Chicago's own VYLE and catches The 20fours tapping into their inner-fashionistas. Since their premiere at Rumba in July 2009, they've cemented their status as the "It" girl group in Chicago. There's no doubt that the 20fours are unique, authentic, hip hop/punk hood stars that are unlike anything you will ever hear. And, that's something to look out for.

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