Chicago Artists

Up and Coming Chicago Artists: the music, the reality, the city

By Savannah Panagos and Claire Crane

Xander Young, an up and coming hip-hop, R&B, electric rap artist, describes himself as an eclectic artist that is on his journey to success. Xander, 25, originally from Maywood, has returned to Chicago to pursue what has always been a passion.

JaZZ relaxing prior to recording at the studio. Photo by: Claire Crane 

Jay Jay Elvir, artist name JaZZ, is a hip-hop and R&B artist. Elvir, 24, is originally from Waukegan but pursues his music career in Chicago. When asked why he chose the name “JaZZ”, Jay Jay says, “It’s the type of music jazz is, smooth and mellow. I think that’s just the type of energy I give off.”

The passion for music comes in different forms, both artists said. For Xander, this passion started at a young age. Listening to his parent’s music, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Although his rapping career didn’t begin until 20.

“I actually started writing music maybe around 20-21, he said. “I would rap freestyle and stuff, playing around. I used to write poetry and stuff so I guess I was really writing a long time ago. It was just never rhythm and poetry, it was just poetry. I started really taking it seriously at the age of 20.”

JaZZ began to write music in his downtime while being a student-athlete at Loyola. What first started as him writing down his thoughts, turned into a passion, which led him to pursue a career in music. The risk was more than worth it to this young artist, who dropped everything to follow his dreams, including basketball.

JaZZ is still an aspiring artist, so when asked what advice he would give to other aspiring artists he said, “It would be advice that I would give myself since I’m an aspiring artist still. Just keep being original and keep creating things that I like and that I’m proud of. Don’t let anyone box you in, and don’t put yourself in a box.” Another admirable thing about JaZZ is his love for what he does, no matter the struggle. He says that the struggle is what “breeds creativity and inspiration,” it makes your music meaningful.

JaZZ at his first performance in Milwaukee earlier this year. Photo by: Claire Crane 

The Reality

When asked about struggle being an aspect of the Chicago music industry Xander did not have much to comment on. He was unable to speak on it due to the fact that it wasn’t part of his journey.

“I feel like struggle, everybody has a struggle, but I feel like the struggle that is branded, I don’t feel like I come from that,” Xander said.

In the cutthroat world of the music industry, and better yet, the rap game, there are obstacles every rapper must face. Especially in a city that is filled with talent like Chicago.

“I would say the most difficult aspect of the industry in Chicago is, there aren’t a lot of DJs that are pushing underground artists that much,” said Xander.

Xander performing at the HVAC Pub this past April. Photo by: Evan Jackson 

“I feel like they (people whose job it is to break and push artists) get to the artist when everybody else has heard of them. There is no point in trying to break an artist everyone’s heard. Also, I feel like a lot of talented individuals are here so you’re not going to just shine cause you’re a really dope artist. You gotta put in a lot of work. A lot of the artists here have strong brands and do well at making music and have a really good image so it’s really competitive so that makes it more fun though as well.”

It is not easy being an up-and-coming artist in such a large city. With all the talent that is in Chicago, JaZZ believes there should be more than what there is now. Although the music industry is growing, it is almost nonexistent in this big city.

Places like LA, Atlanta, and New York are home to many record labels, publishing companies and media outlets. Which is why JaZZ says he will always call Chicago home and continue to work on music in the city, but he will have to branch out and showcase his talent in other places around the world.

With so much going on in the rap industry in Chicago it’s vital for artists to be recognizable. It isn’t always the job of the producer or record label to do this for rappers. A lot, especially up and coming rappers, must do it for themselves. Especially with the lack of record labels in the city of Chicago, you see more independent Chicago rappers doing it on their own, for example, Chance the Rapper.

This responsibility has to be taken on by the artist due to the startup of the career. Artists are afforded with musical platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music to promote themselves.

Soundcloud has been JaZZ’s media outlet of choice. His most popular song, “90’s Baby”, has 50,000 streams and counting. His first performance was early this year in Milwaukee and has since traveled to Texas for another performance.

He says that most of the feedback he has gotten has been positive, but that’s not necessarily what he is searching for. He does what he does because it is what he wants to do. He doesn’t do it for other people’s approval and feedback, although he is always open to opinions and criticism.

The City

Chicago Sun Times Building

Photo From Flickr by: Tony Lau

Chicago is a city of opportunity. Sometimes an opportunity must be stumbled upon instead of handed out. It has afforded many great rappers their careers. If there’s one thing to be said it’s that the people love Chicago.

“Everybody loves Chicago. You go out of state and you tell people you’re from Chicago, they’re automatically interested in you because people love our culture, people love our way of life, people like how we talk, how we make music,” said Xander.



10 Must See Places for Tourists in Chicago

Chicago is home to many famous attractions such as Wrigley Field, Millennium Park, The Chicago Theatre, and more. If you get hungry during your tour around the city you might want to stop at places like Portillo’s Hotdogs and Giordano’s Pizza to grab a bite to eat.

The city attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is known for its delicious food and abundant sites to see. Check out this map to find something to do while visiting the city of Chicago.

Colin Kaepernick’s Decision to Kneel During the National Anthem

Colin Kaepernick was a talented quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but made headlines when people began to notice him sitting during the National Anthem. Kaepernick started off alone in his decision to not stand for the Anthem, but was soon joined by athletes of all different sports and ages. The impact he made changed his career forever.

Kaepernick first started this protest in August 2016 when he sat on the bench during the National Anthem. He made a statement about his decision to sit on Aug. 28, 2016. According to the Google Trends graph, there is a significant increase in Kaepernick’s searches from August 28th-September 3rd, 2016.

Kaepernick’s searches peaked again in September of 2017 after President Donald Trump tweeted about the protests. Trump expresses his feelings towards the NFL players kneeling and sitting for the National Anthem through social media saying that it is “disrespectful” and the players should be fired. With the use of Twitter, the story of Kaepernick gained popularity once again.

Colin Kaepernick states that he will continue to stand with those that are oppressed. He believes the flag does not represent what it is supposed to, so until it does, he will kneel during the National Anthem. Kaepernick no longer has a career in the NFL, but has created awareness and a huge impact on our society.

Aly Raisman vs. Larry Nassar

Aly Raisman, USA Olympic gymnast, told her story to a courtroom full of people on Jan. 17, 2018. Raisman, along with the other survivors, testified against Larry Nassar during his sentencing. Larry Nassar was a USA gymnastics and Michigan State University Doctor that admitted to assaulting and raping over 150 women and girls over the past two decades.

According to the Google Trends comparison graph, there is a spike in searches for both Aly Raisman and Larry Nassar from Jan. 16 to 27 of 2018. During that time period, Raisman and the other survivors testified by telling their own personal experiences of Nassar’s rape.

On Jan. 24, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison, which explains the increase in search results for Nassar on Jan. 25. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina also caused the case to gain popularity on social network sites when she told Larry Nassar, “I’ve just signed your death warrant,” after sending him to prison for the rest of his life.

For years women were coming forward about Larry Nassar’s abuse and rape, but no one listened. Aly Raisman was an important factor in the testimony of Nassar because of her fame and success. Raisman testified on Friday, Jan. 17, 2018. According to the Google Trends graph, Aly’s search results increased on January 20th, which can be explained by her testimony.

Gov. Pat Quinn Fights for MAP Grants for College Students

Pat Quinn photo
Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at It’s been repurposed with permission for this assignment:

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

Continue reading Gov. Pat Quinn Fights for MAP Grants for College Students