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For as long as music has come from the middle of the map in America, those that create it have lamented at the general lack of local records labels and high-level imprints that are a big part of the never-ending pull to the coast for midwestern artists. Over the last five years, Chicago bale Closed Sessions has sought to bridge that gap by utilizing careful strategies and developing an in-house situation that is building one of the country’s more impressive indie rosters. The latest addition, Ajani Jones who announced just before the weekend, is a perfect complement to what CS has done to date and continues to establish the crew as one of the most talented rap-forward lineups anywhere.

To celebrate the signing, Jones and his newfound teammates released Cocoons EP, a six-song introductory collection that Jones describes as “about personal growth and placing oneself in an environment best suited for improvement in their life’s pursuits.” Jones joins the likes of Boathouse, Odd Couple, Kweku Collins, Kipp Stone, WebsterX and Femdot over at Soundscape Studios. To be sure its a home he’s become comfortable in over the years, having participated in Columbia College’s AEMMP Hip-Hop course which pairs music business classes with artists for semesters to benefit both ways. The teacher and creator of the program is none other than CS co-founder, Alex Fruchter and the recent signing is in many ways a testament to the supportive pipeline that he has curated and crafted over the last decade or so being around the Chicago scene. Whereas one of the biggest gripes of those label heads and whatnot is the development of artists before they sign deals, Further and his ever-expanding team seem to be doing both simultaneously. Big congratulations to Ajani and the whole team at Closed Sessions, make sure to get into the music above and catch Cocoon streaming on Mild Sauce Radio.

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