Bronx rapper Kemba won't be boxed in | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

Bronx rapper Kemba won't be boxed in

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

Bronx rapper Kemba opens his self-released 2016 album, Negus, with a plea: “Don't call it political / Please don't deem this lyrical / These are negro spirituals.” Kemba, who’d previously recorded and performed under the name YC the Cynic, understands how easily his patient, contemplative songs can be pigeonholed as “conscious hip-hop,” but anyone who’d expect him to regurgitate east-coast boom-bap and a selection of preapproved lyrical subjects would be missing the full power of his music. Since Negus, he’s released just a few singles, including this year’s raw, striking “Deadass,” which merges jazz and funk via a limber upright-bass melody. With his confident, dry delivery, Kemba negotiates riotous energy and restrained focus, and emerging with a performance that transcends any defined subgenre.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →