With all the talk of violence, city corruption, lies and the like that fill the newspapers and headlines here in Chicago, it’s always refreshing to be able to rally around a local team who makes good on an opportunity. With August coming to an end and Summer(?) coming to an end, one would likely expect that rallying to be done in the South Loop at Soldiers Field as Bears season gets underway. This year, however, it was a squad with an average age of twelve that took the city by storm and had everyone on the edge of their seats until the final out yesterday in South Korea.
To say that the run of wins put on by the members of Jackie Robinson West was impressive is almost not enough. The team from the city’s embattled south side fought their way through the city championship before taking the national title and moving on to the truly big stage where they were bounced yesterday in an 8-4 nailbiter that had crowds of Chicagoans camped out on State St. cheering for baseball in August, a site we’re not all too familiar with here. As ESPN pointed out, the running joke throughout the youngster’s string of wins is how they consistently outdid the White Sox and Cubs in the TV ratings, going as far as to say: Frankly, this is Chicago’s best baseball team since 2008, back when the JRW kids were, what, 6? These kids were barely walking when the Chicago Cubs blew it in 2003.”
Regardless of age, it was an absolute joy to feel even a tiny part of the movement that was the Jackie Robinson West team these past few weeks in Wiliamsburg. Our city may have it’s problems and issues, but Chicago continues to prove that it is a place of perseverance and immeasurable strength. Congratulations to JRW and everyone involved from Leaders 1354!
Chicago rapper YP has had a rough few weeks to say the least. In that span of time the 27-year-old MC lost his child and had several relatives involved in a hostage situation in Harvey, Il which made news last week. Ever one to persevere though, YP is back with his latest visual for “Stop” featuring fellow local, Twista and shot by D Gainz. The loss and hostage situation come at a precarious time for YP, who has been ramping up promotion around his upcoming project, Backwood Jones for the last month and a half. To be sure, his struggles mirror those of the city he represents: gritty and heartless with a penchant at times to take. Yet, just like the city he’s from YP makes a point to continue grinding in the face of adversity. With all that he’s seen in the past few weeks, I doubt he’s sweating the release at all. Shouts out to YP for rocking the Leaders 1354 hoodie in the video below, watch for yourself and pick up Backwood Jones, out tomorrow!
I’ve met Nick Jr. in and around the shop over the past few months or so and was surprised to catch this release over the weekend from the Treated Crew affiliate, the rare Chicago project to sneak under my radar. Nick returns here with a captivating piece of work that upon first listen seems to straddle a sub-section of Chicago hip-hop with tracks appearing to fall somewhere between trap and drill while employing a semblance of thoughtful lyricism that is becoming par for the course for artists coming out of the ‘Go. Nick is one of the more talented up and coming young talents from the city, give him a listen here below.
By Katie Karpowicz
Originally Published on ChooseChicago.com
When it comes to Chicago’s streetwear fashion, Leaders 1354 owners Corey Gilkey (right) and Diego Ross have elevated the playing field. What started as a humble Hyde Park shop in 2002 is now a nationally recognized brand and portal into the city’s music, art and design communities with prime location in the downtown neighborhood. In addition to their primary mens and womenswear shop, Gilkey and Ross recently returned to the Hyde Park neighborhood to open LDRS Skate with its own line of gear and skate team.
Celebrities as far and wide as Jay Z and Tommy Lee have been spotted wearing the brand. This summer alone, the Leaders 1354 store (located at 672 N. Wells St.) has hosted an album release event with Chicago native Common, a pop-up shop from white hot local MC Chance the Rapper and his Social Experiment band and a graffiti session with female street artist turned fashion designer Claw Money.
Chicago Like a Local sat down with Leaders’ owners to get to know more about the brand and how it came to be the staple that it is in Chicago’s fashion scene.
So, let’s start with how Leaders 1354 got its start. How do you two link up in the first place?
Corey Gilkey: I had a business before that was called Crew Sportswear but we failed so I learned from my mistakes. We didn’t know how to run a business. I didn’t have mentors so I learned how to run a business the hard way.
I did some consulting after that and then I got into the sales end of things. I was a Midwest sales manager for brands like Pony and Varsity. What I noticed was that when I would do trade shows we would have a caravan of like 40 different brands within a hotel. Buyers from each city-Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis-would all come to these shows but they would only go to the top five brands so the other 35 guys sat around and couldn’t get any business. They had great stuff. I hated it. I made a little money but it was a tough business.
Diego Ross: We both came up through sales.
CG: And we didn’t like it because our blood is in retail. We like being able to engage with the customer.
My friends and I knew what we wanted to buy. I wanted to open a store. I wanted to call it Leaders and I wanted to sell independent brands that can’t get the exposure these bigger brands are getting. I wanted to start off small. I wanted to buy my friends brands and see how it went. And that was it. Continue reading →
Smoko Ono has been putting in some work throughout 2014. Since linking with fellow Chicagoan Vic Mensa and channeling his style more towards a dance-heavy, house-influenced aesthetic that has helped the ever-evolving Mensa grow into a new area musically. Well, Smoko has been breaking out on his own as of late and yesterday unveiled a brand new track, “Roadrunner” featuring another fellow Chicagoan in Njomza of Most Dope fame. The pair come together here for a frolicking up-tempo track that sees both artist’s strengths on display. Njomza just played out in Los Angeles with Saba and is increasingly upping her notoriety around the city and beyond, often accented by eclectic production, as evidenced here. Check out the full track below.
Well, The Guardian certainly thinks so. The UK newspaper ran a story on Sunday that deemed the British street artist Bambi as the ‘female Banksy’ and went on to question whether the young, rising street artist could take over as the pre-eminent figure in contemporary street-art culture. Like Banksy, Bambi keeps a profile so low, few have seen her face in person, an interesting juxtaposition when you consider that fact that she was the artist behind Kanye’s wedding gift to Kim Kardashian and her work has been picked up by the likes of Rihanna, Brad Pitt, Adele and many more. While handing her the throne that Banksy made may be a bit premature, it is an interesting conversation piece and the art that she is creating on the streets of England is certainly worth a second and third look. Check out some of the work from Bambi, assembled here below.
If you’ve been paying attention to the blog or our moves on social media then you know that we’ve been working closely with our skate team that is assembled from our LDRSK8 shop on 1013 E 53RD ST. Around Lolla the squad got hooked up with RevoltTV where they were featured in a segment that was largely built around several members and last month we rolled out our LDRSK8 Summer look book with the young south side kids prominently featured. For a team that’s mean age is closer to a driver’s license than bar entry, it’s not a bad movement to get going. Well, true to their generation, these kids do more than just skate and here I have the most recent track from one of our team members, Johnathon, who goes by J€. The track is a smooth ride and J€ does his thing alongside it, seamlessly riding the Canis Major production to create “Earth Quake”. Check it out here below and be on the lookout for more from the LDRSK8 team very soon.
Chicago’s own Na$im Williams has been growing plenty over the past couple of years. While most across the country have been talking about Mano’s departure as Kanye’s DJ, another young talented producer seems poised to rise from the Treated Crew ranks. Currently gearing up for a move out of his hometown, hopping for the lights of the coasts, Na$im graced listeners last night with a preview of his latest track, “Sex Me” featuring none other than Sulaiman who does his thing over the flipped R. Kelly sample that is a beautiful lead-in for Williams’ expected R&B-infused project which is reportedly still under construction according to Fake Shore Drive. Stay tuned for more on that, but for now check out the minute-long snippet, available below.