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Multidisciplinary Chicago artist Mykele Deville brings hip-hop history to the present on Peace, Fam

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On “Unqualified” Chicagoan Mykele Deville takes breaks from rapping about code-switching and cultural colonization to drop in skits that show the peculiar challenges he’s faced as a black person in a white space—or perhaps simply show strangers that he’s filled with multitudes, like anyone else. “Well, look, I wasn’t really just calling myself a rapper—I mean, I rap,” he says near the end of the song. “But I’m a poet and an actor and a curator, like I just think it all goes hand-in-hand, being a full artist.” His multidisciplinary experience enlightens April’s Peace, Fam mixtape—his third full-length, all of them dropped within the last year. Deville’s earnest, empathetic raps about racial injustice are as much about Black Lives Matter as about black life, and they’re set over instrumentals that embrace hip-hop’s history with jazz. But while “Mingus Baby” sounds like something that could’ve lit up the national scene in the 90s, Deville keeps the song grounded—even as he raps about the ways people who look like him struggle to survive, he sounds alive in the present, a multidimensional person building a future for hip-hop as well as for himself.   v

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