Ric Wilson proves he’s a rising star of Chicago with ‘Sinner’

A few weeks ago, CHANCE THE RAPPER’S breakout mixtape, Acid Rap, celebrated its fifth anniversary. Of all the achievements that mixtape propelled Chance to realise, perhaps its most proudest and robust legacy is how its generous approach to collaboration and championing of life in Chicago opened up a singularly new hip hop dialect for the region, propping up and fostering the careers of homegrown emcees and artists who have gone on to become exciting new voices in their own rights. One such artist is RIC WILSON, who hails from the Southside and has just shared the second single off his upcoming EP, BANBA, ‘Sinner’. But Wilson’s connection to Chance rides deeper than geography, with the 22-year-old community activist and artist finding his start through the same storytelling and poetry organisation that also helped launch the careers of SABA, JAMILA WOODS, VIC MENSA, MICK JENKINS, NONAME and Chance himself.

Like much of the work to come out of Chicago since then, Wilson’s ‘Sinner’ balances the hard-won realities of life in the city with a palpable sense of optimism and joy. Of the message behind the track, Wilson said, “No one’s perfect. We’re all a shit show, trying to be better people everyday. This song is about trying to get there.”

The production oozes with a sticky groove and a buttery bass line, while some squelching, syncopated synths and jazzy flourishes of live trumpet dance around one another to give the track an uplifting bounce. Wilson, meanwhile, details how he’s “trying to get there,” expressing remorse for past mistakes, pleading repentance for his sins and asking not to be defined by those mistakes. After reflecting on the virtue of perseverance and the value of rejection (“Fuck rejection, every runaround give me more direction”), Wilson comes out the other side with a radiant, wide-eyed sense of optimism, rapping playful references to Yo Gabba Gabba and the children’s nursery book, Llama Llama.

‘Sinner’ is also a generously homegrown and soulful affair, with Wilson employing his fellow YCA-graduate KWEKU COLLINS to provide the track’s closing verse. On his decision to recruit Collins for the track, Wilson said, “Me and Kweku have been friends for years and have always been talking about doing a song together, I finally reached out and sent a track that I thought made sense. That’s usually how stuff goes in Chicago.”

Despite nimble contributions from RANE RAPS and some heavenly neo-soul vocals from NICK KOSMA on the hook, the stacked posse cut formula does little to detract or divert attention away from Wilson, who uses the track as a canvas to showcase his increasingly well-defined artistry. In a sign of his burgeoning maturity, Wilson commands control of the track’s structure, ensuring lyrical and thematic continuity across the guest verses, particularly Collins’, whose contribution espouses the quality of quietly striving to be a better person throughout your daily grind (“Still the shit that I’m guilty of… All you need to know is that I’m working on it”).

‘Sinner’ is not coincidentally Wilson’s best and most refined track to date – and if the rest of the EP continues to travel in this vein, then you can count Ric Wilson as yet another star shining out of a post-Acid Rap Chicago.

BANBA is out Friday 18th May via Innovative Leisure and Inertia Music.

WORDS BY KYLE FENSOM

IMAGE: Supplied

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