Chicago has been a hotbed of musical influence for nearly a century, contributing genre-defining blues, jazz, house music, soul, and hip-hop acts throughout the decades. In the last five years, however, Chicago hip-hop has undergone a massive renaissance that continues to surprise us with new manifestations of what the genre is capable of producing.
Among the artists ushering in a new era of hip-hop is Ohana Bam, who first appeared on our radar last September, with the somehow simultaneously bouncy and somber “Rest,” off his impressive debut Tree Up.
While some might be scratching their heads, wondering how a city in the Midwest has produced some of the most expansive, exciting hip-hop across the country, Ohana has a simple explanation for the phenomenon:
I know growing up in Chicago, a lot of us were raised on good music. We heard our parents playing artists like Luther Vandross to R.Kelly to Biggie. Also, Chicago is known for breeding some of the best musicians there are. That on top of the different stories and experiences we all go through create the sounds & waves of today.
Despite the love Ohana has for his hometown, a love that is shared by Chance The Rapper and countless other Chicago-born, new school torchbearers, the Booth-approved buzzmaker has always had aspirations that transcend the Windy City, which ultimately led him to take his talents to Los Angeles.
“I just felt that there was more opportunity in LA for me,” explained Bam. “Even though there's a great music scene in Chicago, there's not much of a music business. LA taught me way more about the business side of things.”
Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie & Earl Sweatshirt: Best of the Week
Freddie Gibbs, Saweetie, and Earl Sweatshirt, among others, had the best new songs on Audiomack this week.
One of the invaluable skills Ohana and his team have learned is the art of opportunism, which helped the young Chicagoan land a placement on the star-studded Madden 2017 soundtrack for his current single "Blow Your Mind."
“Again, giving credit to my team for making the right moves at the right time. It took a day to make ‘Blow Your Mind’ in D. Phelps basement. He said he had an idea and I felt where he took it. We wanted to make this song stadium size. Something we could hear being played at sports arenas.”
One listen to the single and it's clear Ohana has more than just exceptional musical talent going for him -- he’s also got a sharp business mind and a relentless work ethic. Those three attributes have definitely set him on a path towards a long and prosperous career, and if you ask Ohana, this is just the beginning.
“In the next 6-12 months there's gonna be a lot coming," said Bam, the excitement in his voice evident. “I plan on landing way more placements. We also plan to get more visuals out. I have two projects that I'm working on. One titled Orientation is just about finished. Super excited about this project. You'll see why when it drops. Super top secret.”
With the sounds Ohana has been sending our way for the past year, we’d be crazy not to be just as excited as he is for the release of more music.
Get ready to have your mind blown.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.