Bilingual Chicago rapper-singer Ryen puts his ambitions on display with his debut EP | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Bilingual Chicago rapper-singer Ryen puts his ambitions on display with his debut EP



Bad Bunny not only helped Latin trap cross over in the U.S., he also established a new beachhead for Spanish-language hip-hop here— and the spike in visibility of these genres undoubtedly helps artists such as Chicago’s Ryen get a little closer to their dreams of mainstream success. He started out as a member of local pop-rap trio the A.S.A. Project, and since going solo in 2017, he’s been polishing a pristine pop style that borrows from EDM, synthy indie-pop, frictionless rap, and any  other glistening sound that aims to pluck the heartstrings of the masses. Ryen’s music and ambition have won him at least one remarkable local supporter: rapper, educator, and former Molemen member Navarro (previously known as Scheme) began managing Ryen after the rapper made a guest appearance in the middle of Navarro’s set during Red Bull Music Festival Chicago’s daylong celebration of local Latinx artists. On his self-released debut EP, last year’s 24, Ryen raps and sings in Spanish and English, and trying out different instrumental and vocal combination as though to see what sticks; on “Tu Droga” he interpolates the melody and a line of lyrics from Frank Ocean’s “Nights,” delivers an Auto-Tune drenched hook in Spanish, and grafts blustering horn samples and stuttering bass drops atop minimal hi-hat patterns.   v

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