Max Bell never listened to Wilco  

Occasionally I fear the canonical line has been replaced by the quotable. The former resurfaces as reverent homage in future rappers’s rhymes. The latter usually fits neatly into your tweet and quickly moves to the bottom of the timeline.

That said, it’s always comforting to know some still believe a couple words can turn scripture. Among the some is Chicago’s Max Wonders.

The 17 year-old Wonders is affiliated with Chicago’s Treated Crew, whose members include rapper Showyousuck and producers Nez and Rio. I haven’t kept up with the Treated Crew as best I should, so I’m only speculating when I say he’s probably one of  the crew’s youngest members. However, I doubt I’m far off when I say he ranks among their most promising.

“Pray for Blue Skies” is the latest single from Wonders’s forthcoming project, The Wonder Tape. It’s markedly assured, the kind of single that raises expectations and makes you wonder if you’re witnessing an artist forge his own voice from the eternal flames of his influences.

Wonders produced this slice of the celestial himself. He often works with other producers, but if this beat is indicative of his production skills I hope he steps behind the boards more often. The keys are sun soaked, the chimes the sound of parting cumulonimbus. Atmospheric will be the operative word for most. For me, said atmosphere contains leaning palms and pounds of purple. I live in L.A. Forgive me if I see many things this way.

The rhymes are smooth and carefully crafted, some internal, some imperfect. The willingness to play with style, when done well, suggests artistic growth. That’s the case here.

For some reason, the booms and baps will forever attract contemplative old souls. Even though he’s barely of driving age, Wonders spends much of the track reflecting on years past. The passing of his grandmother and the middle school classmates doing drugs are his trip down memory lane. At times it’s strange to hear someone this young reminisce. Still, Wonders handles hindsight with grace. The lyrics aren’t sacred writ, but they’re a firm step in the right direction.

Wonders’s sophomore tape, Complicated Simplicity, is below the jump. There are also tracks that will ostensibly appear on The Wonder Tape, which drops sometime this Spring. It might be one of the next projects from a young Chicago rapper to wind up on year end lists. It might not. Informed yet tentative conjecture over damning prophecy. Many a blog post has not turned scripture.

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