Musa Reems and David Ashley bolster the lineup for one of the winter’s best Chicago rap showson February 14, 2020 at 8:24 pm

Chicago rapper-singer Rich Jones brought his multigenerational monthly hip-hop series All Smiles to a close in April 2019, but its spirit lives on at this Subterranean show he’s headlining. The bill includes great local MCs who might not otherwise have any reason to cross paths, beginning with up-and-comer Musa Reems. On his recent self-released EP, November’s To Whom It May Concern, he speeds through hard verses atop sleepy synths and snaggletoothed percussion; he enlivens “Zombies” (which features Chicago great Mick Jenkins) by switching between thick staccato bars and quick stanzas of rhymes. I imagine Reems will have more music coming out soon, including what he’s been making with new multi-city hip-hop collective Dumb Intelligence, which also includes both members of Free Snacks. Also on the lineup is gifted storyteller David Ashley; this is one of the first local shows he’s performed since dropping his latest album, Deep Down Inside (Helpful Music), in September. Ashley’s songs combine dry vocals, understated delivery, and flair for grimy, warped instrumentals, and he can impart his briefest narratives with affecting pathos. On his January single, “Plight,” he confronts Black death and drug abuse via raps that corkscrew through dreamy synths, and his performance brings an air of hard-won triumph to an otherwise bleak song. v

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