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Chicago Collective Keeps It’s Eye On The Future

21st Century Hip Hop doesn’t want to save hip hop – they just want to carve out a space for themselves that they can call their own within the rap industry.

“Everything is basically about branding these days; you don’t have to be bound to one style of hip hop,” says Absurd, the producer for the collective, which features two lead M.C.’s (Lomai and Braids), a singer (E-FX), and a champion D.J.(D.J. Ceez), plus various satellite rappers and musicians.

Although the core of the collective is usually featured on most songs, the group is always open to outside collaborators such as Max-A-Million (the great Chicago reggae/hip hop artist) being featured on the song “Go With Me.”

“We always feature artists from other groups on our songs. Even within our group, or our collective, people aren’t bound or forced to be a part of this. So there’s no pressure, which makes it fun,” says Absurd.

The group has a six song EP called “Schematic To The Panic,” which is audacious in it’s variety. Over the course of the EP the group covers everything from conspiracy theory, sex, racism, politics, lyrical dexterity and faith, often within the same song. There’s even a song, called “Marching To Oblivion,” that’s about the end of the world.

“We wanted to be able to to talk about important subjects,” says Absurd, “but we wanted to do it in a way where you didn’t notice it until the third or fourth listen. People want substance, but they don’t want to be beaten over the head with it.”

One song, “Douchebag,” manages to dis everyone from Joe Jackson to Rajon Rondo, and exposes the group’s disdain for debutantes, the police, rich white politicians, traffic cameras, fame, and the industry itself. As Lomai, Braids and Aztec Dinero go back and forth over a thunderous rocked out beat, the song recalls Run-DMC, but with a modern twist. The chorus is brilliant in it’s simplicity, as the word douchebag echoes in and out at various volumes; the song would be perfect as the opening to the T.V. show “Tool Academy.”

“That’s why we made it,” Absurd says, laughing.” Everywhere you turn, it’s a D-List celebrity or politician or rapper acting like a jackass. We wanted to say something about it.”

The songs are catchy and infectious, but without sacrificing the lyricism necessary to gain respect from other M.C.’s within hip hop. Absurd says that this is done on purpose.

“We want to make songs people like and want to listen to, but we also want our lyrics to be respectable as well it’s about finding the right balance.”

The group has one ultimate goal; to live up to it’s moniker. Absurd thinks they can do it.

“We want to bring something new to hip hop because we respect it so much. But at the same time, we can’t be so bound to tradition that we can’t seek out new ideas. Otherwise we wouldn’t be living up to what we’re trying to be.”