If Chicago currently holds the regional crown, it’s reign comes as a result of its diversity. Even the gangsta rappers don’t fall into blood simple binaries. You can accuse Keef and GBE of foregoing lyricism in favor of artery-hardening auto-tune melodies and drugged mumbles, but Lil Durk, Lil Herb, Lil Bibby and Montana of 300 all bomb with the weapons grade plutonium intensity that used to be considered the province of the lyrical spiritual miracled. Or Lucki Eck$, who splits the difference between psychedelic nervous disintegration and forceful rapping. But this is a different world, one where the most popular rappers are often semi-conscious types who would rather sing, scat, shop, or employ the occasional Paula Abdul sample. You have an atomic force like Kevin Gates, essentially trap Ghostface, who has struggled to break out of regional stardom. YG might win the love of the streets, but he’s not about to steal sponsorship money or stand on a Tidal stage.
In Chicago, lyrical gangsta rappers have always been ingrained in the fabric. Everyone forgets that Common used to rep Four Corner Hustlers and then there’s Twista, who pops up on “Come Again,” on the new tape from rising Windy City star, Ty Money. I first noticed him through the Mario Puzo of Speedknot Mobstaz Rap, and everything he’s dropped has been consistently vicious. The video above says it all, a freestyle over Herb’s “Just Bars,” where Ty hops out the Beamer with molly water, Xanax, and the Nina, rapping for the point of leaving chalk outlines — returning back home to cool out and watch cartoons with his young daughter. If you like Lil Herb or wish that Meek Mill had more than one type of song, you’ll probably love this.
The lead video from his blistering mixtape, Cinco De Money, finds him holding puppies, trashing Datpiff mixtape rappers, and smoking joints while making semi-automatic rap hands at the camera. So it is a gangsta rap video in 2015. This is the sort of thing that would be marginal for most, but Ty Money raps with a starving stick-up kids out to tax mania. It puts him immediately in the top tier of Chicago gangsta rappers and reminds you why the nickname Chiraq emerged. And yet Money is shopping at Saks and cradling adorable puppies. Dualities don’t exist. There is a song called “Viet Cong” and the title explains it all. Rap as guerrilla warfare, taking dead aim from outside and closing in quickly.