Since its inception in the late 90s, the Chicago hip-hop collective called the Family Tree has been dominated by All Natural, the duo of MC Capital D and DJ Tone B. Nimble. They've released a pair of acclaimed albums; last year's excellent Second Nature, on the rock-oriented Thrill Jockey label, helped them reach beyond the hip-hop underground. But in the last year other Family members have begun to make waves too. Most impressive of a recent flurry of releases on All Natural Records is A Close Knit Family, a seven-track compilation that demonstrates the depth of the crew's talent. Capital D lays down some of his trademark positivity on the cocktail-piano-sprinkled groover "No Doubt" ("I try to take each day as a blessing / Study lessons, thank God for his investment"). Bam-Ski the Bigot does some singsongy rhyming on a nostalgic survey of youthful pleasures, "Candy Store," while on "Mr. Greenweedz" the eponymous rapper boasts of his sexual charms and verbal skills in one breath: "Canaries may chirp with words unmatchable / Chicks wish my dick was detachable / I conjugate with phrases from these chapters / And concentrate like the African diaspora." His rugged flow rides on a dense groove crafted by producer Dug Infinite, who produced several tracks on Common's third album; he's also produced recent offerings by Bam-Ski and fellow crew members Iomos Marad and Daily Plannet. Those include Daily Plannet's new "We Like to Party" 12-inch, which takes a detour from the crew's favored old-school style with a reggae-fueled cut capped by a Musical Youth sample. When the whole gang gets together, as they will for these gigs, their energy is hard to resist. Friday, June 21 (with the Molemen and the PACIFICS), 10 PM, Rooster Blues, 811 W. Lake; 312-733-6577. Tuesday, June 25, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.