"When Chief Keef broke through last year," begins every single article about a Chicago rapper in 2013. The more talent pours out from the middle of the map, the more ridiculous it seems that the media struggled to see the depth and shading of Chicago's creatively fertile underground. From Chance the Rapper to Vic Mensa to Tree to Lil Durk to Lil Herb and Bibby, the scene has a wide variety of perspectives and talents beyond the breakthrough star who first drew attention to the city.
Herb comes from a similar street context to the kids in GBE, but has more of a technical focus, rapping with a more formal attention to style. He weds the same harsh street edge to a propulsive, rapid-fire delivery. He's gotten a wide array of attention in the industry, Drake Instagrammed himself rapping along to Herb and Lil Bibby's "Kill Shit" earlier this year, and notable Chicago rapper Mikkey Halsted has been helping mentor the young rapper as he prepares his debut mixtape, due out in December.
That release will be a big proving moment for the young rapper, who's dropped a series of notable singles but no official project. (Fake Shore Drive did put together a compilation of Herb and Bibby tracks called Heir Apparents that is worth hearing for those unfamiliar). —David Drake
If You Don't Believe Us Listen To: "Play They Role"