CHICAGO — Just like food and architecture, Chicago has always been a hot bed for music.
The Second City is second to none with the variety of music that has been produced here.
The creative explosion first started with The Great Migration from the South. That led to legends like Muddy Waters pioneering Chicago blues and the city gaining a reputation as a place to play and record music.
Of course, Chicago just isn’t known for blues. DJs here in the late 70s literally invented house music and the city has one of the most influential hip hop scenes since the turn of the 21st century.
Bands here started playing the Empty Bottle, Double Door and Metro and eventually ended up playing international music festivals.
Below are some examples highlighted in a 400-song playlist featuring only Chicago area artists. Any artists from the metro area, or if they spent significant time in the area, were considered.
1950s: Dinah Washington
Dinah Washington got her start by winning a talent contest as a teen girl in Chicago. Known for bending genres back then, her legacy has the title of “Queen of blues” in addition to being one of the most famous female jazz singers of all-time.
At just 39 in 1963, she died from a prescription overdose.
1960s: Muddy Waters
Known as the “father of Chicago blues,” Muddy Waters came to the city in 1943 from the Mississippi delta. Waters first experienced commercial success in the 50s by releasing several singles, but all of his albums were released from 1960 on.
Fun fact — The Rolling Stones got their name from Waters’ hit “Rollin’ Stone.”
1970s: Earth, Wind & Fire
Founded in Chicago as “The Salty Peppers,” Maurice White quickly changed the name to “Earth, Wind & Fire” due to his astrological sign — Sagittarius.
All these years later and through several lineup changes, EWF is still going strong. They’re headed to Chicago in August for a show at the United Center with Lionel Richie.
1980s: Chaka Khan
Raised in Hyde Park, Yvette Marie Stevens, better known as Chaka Khan, started out her career fronting the Chicago band Rufus.
The winner of 10 Grammys, Khan first went solo with the hit “I’m Every Woman” in 1978. Her popularity continued to explode throughout the 80s — becoming known as the “Queen of Funk.”
1990s: The Smashing Pumpkins
One of the most successful bands to come out of Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” provided a soundtrack for lonely young adults as Clinton-era economics boomed.
Frontman Billy Corgan’s presence has never really left the area. After the tragic Highland Park parade shooting, he hosted a benefit show at his tea shop, which was located near the incident.
2000s: Lupe Fiasco
The year is 2006 and “Kick, Push” is all over MTV. Lupe Fiasco, born in Chicago, was one of the pioneers of “backpack rap” and produced two of the best hip hop albums in this decade — “Food & Liquor” and “The Cool.”
Nowadays, he’s still rapping — but also teaches at M.I.T.
2010s: Chance The Rapper
The Jones College Prep administration who suspended Chance in 2011 didn’t know they may have helped launch his career. He got straight to work on his first project called “10 Day” — which referenced the length of his suspension.
Two years later, “Acid Rap” got into the hands of every college kid across the country and the rest was history.
Playlists can’t just be stuff you’ve heard before and this playlist is full of Chicago’s always-budding indie rock scene.
Out of everyone in the scene, the most gorgeous song right now may be Friko’s “Half As Far.” It’s a perfect tune and the young band is starting to get some national coverage. They just kicked off a U.S. tour Friday night at the Empty Bottle.
To add the playlist, click here.
Note: Some songs on the playlist contain explicit content.