This year has seen the rise of another crop of talent from Chicago’s deep coffers and the latest is a refreshing voice from the high-performing west side collective of Pivot Gang in Joseph Chilliams. The eclectic, entertaining MC took a major step forward Friday with the long-awaited release of his full-length, Henry Church. For a kid who came up through the increasingly familiar poetry and music scene that has paced the local Renaissance of late, the impressive proper debut is a city-wide family affair, a musical embrace from Mr. Chilliams.
As the local scene has evolved into a national affair and beyond, one act after the next has looked to emerge as the next up in a city brimming with talented wordsmiths and musicians. What sets Chilliams apart is his ability to seamlessly be himself in an environment that at once encourages and chastises the practice of doing so. For him, it’s not a worry as his authentic self appears well in-tune with the contemporary understanding of life’s subtleties. This is reflected in his work throughout, which eschews the typified hip-hop motifs for more inward-facing manifestos that search more than dictate and explore rather than lead. It’s this interpersonal narrative that manifests itself with inspired live performances and an endlessly endearing sensibility that comes through on the project ten-fold.
With the likes of Saba, Supa Bwe, Kiara Lanier, Jamila Woods and DinnerwithJohn who passed away earlier this year, the project comes together as exactly that: endearing. While Joseph has long proven an ability to be a good person, he similarly proves he can make a solid full-length as well. Get into Henry Church streaming above and everywhere else at long last.