Photo: ProbCauseTV

Chicago has held a firm grip on rap. Its hands have chopped and molded the genre into innovative factions, and the results have been nothing short of groundbreaking. It hasn’t come as a surprise either, at least for the locals who’ve known all along the city’s true potential.

Chalk it up to the diverse yet compact nature of the grid, which in all its flaws has created a natural breeding ground for a new type of hybrid lyricist – one that can be just as thoughtful as Common as innovative as Kanye and as polarizing as Chief Keef. Sometimes all within the same song.

Of that bunch, Chicago-born, Evanston-raised ProbCause stands tall. He’s a hard working, grind-it-out MC who’s been paying his dues for years. His grit and determination are a throwback, and indicative of how the city operates. It’s an M.O. that he readily attributes to his predecessors, as seen on “Crown Loyal” from The Recipe Volume 1: [LISTEN]

"Crown Loyal"

“There’s a bunch of artists from Chicago who took me under their wing,” says ProbCause via email. “Psalm One and Longshot were definitely two of the biggest influences and teachers for my music and still are. Also John Basics [of Bonafyde Records] who I work with on all my projects has been a huge help and mentor.”

ProbCause’s work serves as a bridge between styles. He can go from blue-collar (“Motivation;” [LISTEN]) and benevolent (“Chicago 1.0;” [LISTEN]) to downright boastful (“Muffhugger;” [LISTEN]) in a heartbeat – an improvisational characteristic that mirrors his influences in jazz and soul.

His latest project The Recipe Volume 2 is a multi-generational lyricist lounge that reconciles all those moods together into one atypical emotion.

“[It's] a lot about the current climate of Chicago hip-hop and about the collaborative nature of our city’s hip-hop scene,” explains ProbCause. “I have a lot of features on there and I really wanted it to represent this moment in time – at least to the best of my ability.”

The albums best moments come via those collaborations. They seem to inspire ProbCause to reach deeper into his bag – even if it is during a lazy, drug-induced trip down Chicago’s lakefront (“LSD“): [LISTEN]

"LSD"

ProbCause still has a bit of a ways to go when it comes to solidifying his identity. His mixtapes and EPs have shown promise, but still lack veteran refinement. Each, however, has shown progress, and is affirming a slow yet steady growth. If he continues to commit like he says on “Summer Prelude,” then he certainly could be another unorthodox star to rise from Chicago’s fragmented skyline: [LISTEN

"Summer Prelude"