Sidewalk Chalk: 90s Rap Redux

sidewalk-chalkFor SF WEEKLY: Sidewalk Chalk is an eight-piece Chicago ensemble that plays a combination of hip-hop and soul. Its laid-back, jazzy approach — horns, keys, soulful singing, unforced rapping — could easily have fit in with ’90s-era groups like Digable Planets, but those same aesthetic choices group Sidewalk Chalk with an increasingly long list of contemporary artists who mine elements of soul (Adele, Aloe Blacc, Pharrell Williams) while channeling ’90s backpack rap.

“People are listening for honest music, and there’s nothing more satisfying than soul,” says Sidewalk Chalk MC Rico Sisney.

When the band performs at Brick and Mortar this week, expect songs from its latest release, Leaves, and the 2012 album Corner Store. But band members will also allow room for improvisation — listen for their earnest cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

Opening duties will be handled by the Jazz Mafia, which has been fusing jazz with hip-hop since the late ’90s and has collaborated with artists like KRS-One, Lateef the Truthspeaker, and EPMD.

Photo courtesy of Sidwalk Chalk

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