It seems that the Chicago music scene has changed alot since I've grown up - I'm 32-years-old now. This whole notion of drill music and trap music has me all very confused about where the music industry is headed. From a guy that listens to Coldplay and Chicago Public Radio daily, it's rare that I hear a group that gets me out of my chair and makes me twerk - yes, I do twerk.
Two cousins banded together by blood have become one of Chicago's hottest best kept secrets to hit the Chicago music scene. The rap-duo, managed by Ray Gregory, former manager for Do or Die, merged at a family reunion, and they discovered that they had "rap chemistry." Meet Rich-an-Yung (right) and Bliggs (left) the two rappers apart of Nex2Kin; they're two guys that you wouldn't normally suspect as being in a rap group but they will prove you wrong once you hear their music and see them live on stage.
"Bliggs was always rapping and doing his thing but I [Rich-an-Yung] always rapped," said Rich-an-Yung. "Alot of our family members, and people were just saying that we should get together and link up. Next thing you know, we started rapping, and now you got Nex2Kin."
While music may have a heavy influence on the violence in Chicago - especially by Chicago artist - Bliggs feels their music can offer a change but it starts at home with the parents.
“I think music can definitely can influence violence, but it also depends on the parents," Bliggs said. "I remember speaking to a parent who said her son is going to be a savage. It’s crazy. It also depends on the media and how they highlight the artists and their music.'
Nex2Kin explains their goal in music is to reach as many kids, adults, young adults as possible. One of the most important things for them was to make themselves stand out, give out positive energy and, make their music more relatable. Growing up in the South Englewood and Wild 100’s neighborhood, Nex2Kin has experienced more than enough teen violence. The solution, the group believes, is happening right now.
“People are tired of it [violent music], so a lot of people are trying to change," explained Rich-an-Yung. "The media and even some of the killers. Just getting the word out. We’re helping build a community...a different community”
Nex2Kin has worked with Chicago legend Twista on their song "Bad Than A Mutha," which became a huge hit. And, most recently, they performed at the Chicago Music Awards.
Just this passed weekend, a South Side shooting left four girls and a boy hurt, and on the Northwest Side a 15-year-old girl was shot while riding in a car as shootings across Chicago Sunday night added to the toll of a violent holiday weekend. Nex2Kin's anti-violent lyrics with their hit song featuring Lil Kemo in "I Ain't Wit It," Chicago’s new anthem to stop the violence, and, it's proving to send a message to Chicago, and around the nation, that the violence must stop. With over half a million views on YouTube, Nex2Kin is definitely changing the rap scene.
"We are carving out our own lane," said Rich-an-Yung. "I feel like we created a new sound called 'wanging music' which is a mix of drill and party."
The local rap group nonviolent campaign speaks closer to home. With losing some of their friends to Chicago violence, the song "I Aint Wit It" hopes to inspire people to put the weapons down.
“This song, is so powerful because of all the violence that goes on in Chicago which is heart wrenching to hear,” Rich-an-Yung said. “When we heard the verdict on Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, we were like 'I Ain’t Wit It.' When Rev. Al Sharpton started with the whole no justice movement we felt that. So, this song is geared towards an anti-violence movement that we’re happy to be apart of. We want to bring positive music and vibes to people because life does matter.”
With an album dropping sometime this year, "Cheeks & Drinks," I know without a doubt that this group will have people thinking twice when it comes to violence. This new direction in rap, which I call, "conscious rap," will set a trend for future artist - and, Nex2Kin has already started the revolution.
Starting soon, you can catch Nex2Kin on MTV, VH1, Revolt TV, and many other music stations to check out their videos. Trust me, stay tuned because these guys are not done yet...they're just beginning.