Being a strong advocate and genuine fan of Chicago hip-hop music, I pride myself on recognizing independent talent in the city (I often shamelessly catch them early, and suddenly they are on Pigeons & Planes and DJ Booth. Just saying.) Kai, The Mind has been buzzing around my circle, and was even featured on CBBeatz recent mixtape On My Way – but I’ve never gotten a chance to listen to his solo work. Luckily, through the power of submissions, Kai has hit me with his latest and greatest, freeSOUL. Drill music is long gone, but you’d be surprised how many rappers still incorporate the worst elements of the once popular sub-genre. Xans are somehow a “topic” that has taken over 2017 (despite a hell of a lot of overdose stories,) and some of my favorite artists have adopted the trend.

Luckily a plethora of MC’s across the city naturally venture into much different territory – empowering minds and using actual wordplay to evoke thought and discussion. Kai is one of those talents. He’s been at it for over 2 years, staying true to the sentiment in his SoundCloud bio: “Our duty as beings of this universe is to exist without bounds. Our duty as people of this Earth is to Manifest all that is Truth, in order for people to realize these endless bounds. Our art ties us to this world, but through that we must show that we’re boundless.”

The second volume of his Blue Devil Series dropped this year, sub-titled “Don’t Mind Me.” The EP was a spacious exploration of various mindstates that we can reach on our own if we bring the right energy into our lives. It’s been quite some time since the project dropped, and today we’ve got the follow up in freeSOUL. Kai has grown which you’ll learn about in the LP produced cut.

He admits he has a “new flow” but the Chicago native has also moved from the south side to focus on himself and his craft. freeSOUL is somewhat of an update since Don’t Mind Me, but also a declaration that xans are wack (my words, but a somewhat direct quote) and that moving forward he’s going to “wear his heart on his sleeve” and “put on a cape.” Kai dips and dives in metaphorical and direct bars with more confidence than ever before. He admits he has shortcomings and doesn’t have it all figured out, but tells us he’s taking us along for the ride. freeSOUL is a refreshing listen and a much-appreciated submission. I’m sticking with Kai for the long run. Are you?