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Rapper-producer Ausar Bradley excels at being a self-questioning student of hip-hop

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Ausar Bradley started his University of Illinois college career in fall 2014, and he’s devoted his creative energy to rapping for even less time. But on his second mixtape, The 6 Page Letter, he shows the wisdom and humility of someone who’s been at it long enough to know both what it’s like to play a packed house and what it’s like to play only to the other acts on the bill. On “Dirty Laundry,” which places pitter-patter percussion atop a soul sample that sounds like it’s been recorded underwater, Bradley juggles self-deprecation with self-assuredness while seeking out answers for his direction in life: “My hobby should probably be archaeology / Honestly, I just can’t see myself prospering / Off a career I sought out for profiting.” His unassuming personality and expert flow allow him to vacillate between believing in his ambitions and scrutinizing his faults, and he does so with a relatable charm. Bradley dropped The 6 Page Letter at the very end of 2016 and will finally celebrate its release with tonight’s headlining set.   v

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