When music resonates with people, it’s bound to spread.
There’s no city where this is clearer than Chicago. The artists born, bred, and moulded by the Windy City streets go on to connect with minds across the globe, channeling a musicality unique only to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Mick Jenkins and his cohort are a few of these artists.
After seemingly sprouting out of nowhere in the thick weeds of Chicago’s hip-hop scene, Jenkins has since gained global recognition, recently headlining Australian and European tours.
Spinning right alongside Mick Jenkins is Green Slime, his DJ. Much like Mick, his career and life has been shaped by Chicago’s hip-hop scene. I took a little bit of time to have a back and forth with Slime to discuss the city’s formative traits and his thoughts on the “Chicago renaissance.”
How have your careers been shaped by Chicago’s art community?
I know Mick was shaped by the community from frequenting Young Chicago Authors and going to hip-hop shows while also collaborating with other artists.
My career was built in the same fashion—shaped from every angle by the community.
When I wanted to start battling, I was in Wicker Park—like the actual park—battling on the basketball court and, eventually, I made it in the club battling motherfuckers when I was 14. Naturally, I also wanted to make beats. Kanye made me feel like I HAD to make beats if I was gonna be dope.
Sampling and going to house parties led to DJing. From there I just met different producers, MCs, poets, graff writers, and DJs all the time and started going to a lot of parties and shows and just learning while having fun.
With the influx of eyes on city (due to both arts and the news), how would you describe the current state of the Chicago arts community?
Chicago has a lot of eyes on it right now—and that’s dope because we have been overlooked for a long time, at least a lot of people in the city feel that way. We had a few artists get on forreal back in the day, the “underground” community of DJs, MCs, producers, graffiti writers, and just people of all artistic backgrounds has always been strong and that shit has nurtured a beautiful culture here with some real shit to say.
How do you think an outsider would perceive the community now?
It’s strong. I travel all over the world and people can shout out like 10 new artists from Chicago, producers, MCs, all that. Chicago is global as fuck right now.
Is there change needed?
I can’t think of what I would change at this point. I know a lot of cats complain that they don’t get their shit heard—but I used to be one of those dudes and that’s whack.
You just have to do the shit, make something that resonates with people, and get it out there. There are a lot of people working on their craft throughout the city and new artists are going to keep coming.
What’s the inspiration for the art you put out?
Everyday life is the inspiration. Whether it’s good or bad, at the end of the day everything comes from life. That’s why it connects with so many people.
Do you see a pattern in the Chicago’s art and music?
Chicago’s in a renaissance, so naturally I see the community progressing. More artists, more messages, more fun…more dope shit to the city.
How do you think the art is affecting the community?
I see artists that have already been creating shit for 10 years wanting to work harder. I see new kids hungry to get in the studio and they have some real shit to say. From music to clothes to food to what-the-fuck-ever, I see a lot of creativity. This is really just the beginning of a new chapter and the community is going to keep expanding and building.