Between celebratory quaffs of Hennessey, Rich Jones addresses the crowd.

“This is the most family affair I’ve ever had. My whole life is here . . . This is a group effort, Chicago’s a good place for that.”

And much like a warm pull from a bottle of Henny, that’s just a taste of the forceful spirit that is Rich Jones. To understand the rest, you just have to listen to his music.

Photo by Katie Levine (@katie_levine_)

Chicago got just a dose of the hip-hop artist the past weekend at the sold out Lincoln Hall show where the self-proclaimed “life enthusiast” celebrated the release of his new EP, VEGAS.

The EP showcases the Chicago-based rapper’s flexibility and artistic growth in the years he has spent shaping and being shaped by the Chicago DIY scene. It’s also the result of a collaboration between Jones and rising Las Vegas producer, Ryan Lofty, who also came out for the release show.

VEGAS demonstrates, more comprehensively than any of his previous releases, Jones’ melodic sensibilities, with bouncing synth lines, infectious hooks, and conscious lyrical reflection.

I first had to pleasure of meeting Rich Jones when he visited my college town during my undergrad. At the time, Jones was grinding on the Chicago rap circuit in a more boom-bap incarnation of his musical expression. I grilled him about favorite MCs, and even showed him my Soundcloud—all met with patience and friendly demeanor.

It made sense then when I later discovered how he’s been able to foster close connections all over the city. Whenever I engage with another Chicago musician, the conversation most often ends with, “Of course you know my homie, Rich!”

Photo by Katie Levine (@katie_levine_)

The reason for the magic, the growth, and the fierce connection to what seems to be the whole entire city, can be understood best via the word most readily associated with Rich Jones: hustle.

He’s one of the hardest workers in Chicago, championing  the city’s blue collar, hustle-oriented work ethic. You are likely to see the musician staying busy inside and out of the studio, posturing, gigging, shaking hands, and kissing babies in the name of his music.

Follow Jones on Soundcloud, where you can keep up with new releases and also find 2016’s loosies and features you may have missed!

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