Stranded Civilians have made one of the best Chicago hip-hop releases of 2022

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Chicago rappers Tony Santana and Aubry know that all the talent in the world can’t make a hip-hop duo work if the MCs don’t click. As Stranded Civilians, Aubry and Tony rap off each other like they just hang out and vibe 24-7—and their second mixtape, February’s self-released Obsidian, will make you wish you could be part of the fun. It’s a joy to listen to, powered by a youthful euphoria that makes it one of the best Chicago hip-hop releases of the year. On the hook for “Nobu,” Tony runs through the song’s lilting guitar loop like a tire obstacle course, but the second Aubry picks up the mike, the tone changes dramatically: he treats the same loop as a guide and a friendly challenge, subtly ratcheting up his smooth and speedy delivery without a wrinkle. Stranded Civilians fill Obsidian with easygoing, cheerful R&B melodies that feel as relaxed and hopeful as a Saturday morning before you’ve made any plans—and its tightrope-taut percussion will give you plenty of energy for whatever plans you do make. On the best songs—the reflective “Levitate (Alone II),” the playful “Angels”—Aubry and Tony rap like the simple fact that they’re making art together has opened up limitless possibilities.

Stranded Civilians Mugen! the Human and Linda Sol open. Mon 9/26, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 21+, free

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