Chicago’s Neak Brings Back Old-School Hip-Hop On Track “Elevation Everything”
Written by ∆³
Around ’02, a Canadian emcee named k-os released a song called “Superstar.” It truly was and still is a slept on Hip-Hop gem. Its beat felt like a fine-tuned early 90’s Hip-Hop song, and its lyrics were ridiculously lit. The part of that song that stood out to me came by way of the first few lines of the intro. It read: “It’s the end of the jiggy era…” The jiggy era was a time in Rap that Sean Combs, the late great Notorious B.I.G, and others mainstream rappers talked about living lavishly. All in all, k-os’ song denoted a shift in the most influential musical genre on the planet. Now cut to 2019, I sense an extension of a possibly similar shift in Hip-Hop on my first listen to Neak’s “Elevation Everything” from his Hip-Hop LP, Kwesbaar.
Neak is a Chicago native, who likely had musicianship spawned into his DNA; His father is Robert Kelley of the R&B/Gospel Group “The Kelley Brothers,” who played alongside Soul legends like James Brown and Sam Cooke. At a young age, Neak began experimenting with music, and at around age 17, he and his brother released their first underground project.
Since then, Neak has released a slew of projects while securing an indie deal with Big Cartel. He cites his music as his “definition of the American Struggle.” Artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Common, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, and more inspire his fuel to uplift the rap world by fusing together tunes based on reality while enhanced in excellence. Neak’s music can be streamed on Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and YouTube Music.
“Elevation Everything’s intro rings in with what sounds like a pleasurably modified sample from DeBarge’s, “All This Love.” After about a minute into the song, saxs sing in and we hear Neak’s silk-laden flow on everything from the perils of fame to his own motives in Rap music. Lyrics like, “say you want it all, / ever thought what that would come to, / God(’s) dream can’t control it or simply undo…“ He then continues with lyrics like, “the media tell us your music gotta be poison for us to bump it, / what I’m looking like feeding people I love knifes, / cuts are running deep, and I ain’t paying that full price.” With verses like these, Neak, elicits mic power unadulterated by typical Rap-Pop themes. The relentless beauty of lyricism and sound tight production mode variably superior throughout “Elevation Everything” in its entirety.
“‘Elevation Everything’ is the introductory track for this album, and the lyrics and production personify the truest form of my present emotional state, feelings, and vulnerability as an artist/producer,” says Neak. “This song gives listeners a complete synopsis of where my life has been, where it is going, and how exposing my soul/displaying my humanity is not a weakness; it is my greatest strength as a writer/producer.”
Lowkey, Neak’s “Elevation Everything” is a welcomed breath of fresh air for Hip-Hop, if Hip-Hop (or all fans of its genre) realized that it just needs to breathe. Creatively, all genres desire a break from its newly established norms, so why not Rap?
As writers we have the gift of being able to articulate the craft and power of lyrics, and I truly wish that such were more of a tradition for all fans of any genre of music. I am as much of a fan of party tracks, as I am of the music you vibe out to on the way home after the shindig, but there’s an essence of understanding that charmingly underlines a song’s writing. That to me is where “Elevation Everything” takes off past a new sound into a symbol of some sort of defining purpose for Hip-Hop’s future. Who would’ve thought that the ‘19 underground Chicago Rap scene would script up some likely needed upliftment for the culture? All in all just do yourself a fav, and get up on Neak’s latest Hip-Hop release, “Elevation Everything.”