We here at Reverb LP are very excited today to announce our partnership with charity-focused label Vinyl For A Cause in releasing a limited edition record called VFAC 004 that features Jamila Woods, Kevin Coval, and Tasha.
Proceeds from the record sales are going to benefit Young Chicago Authors (YCA), an organization committed to helping young people from all backgrounds understand the importance of their own stories and create their own narratives through arts education programs in and out of the classroom.
In line with previous Vinyl For A Cause releases, both sides of this 7-inch feature Woods and Coval performing unique interpretations of each other’s work. “Muddy” is on Side A—a rhythm-led track by Woods inspired by Coval’s poem “Muddy Waters Goes Electric.” Side B, meanwhile, features “Snow Day”—a rendition of Woods’ “LSD” (featuring Chance the Rapper) performed by Coval and Tasha.
With Woods writing “LSD” as an ode to Chicago summer, Coval and Tasha set out with “Snow Day” to do the same, but for a different sort of weather. “Our flip was to make it an ode to Chicago winter,” Coval said of the track, which sees him outlining his perfect snow day.
In celebration of this special release, we had a chance to sit down with Jamila Woods at Gramaphone Records in Chicago to talk about her favorite artists and the records that inspired her most.
Kicking off her list is Stevie Wonder, an artist she grew up listening to. Though holding Wonder’s popular 1976 release, Songs in the Key of Life, Jamila told us about the Wonder record her parents used to spin the most often during her childhood, 1995’s Conversation Peace, and how she and her siblings used to choreograph dances to those tracks growing up.
Jamila explains how the classroom interludes in Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill served as inspiration for the interludes on her own record, HEAVN, and how HEAVN’s album cover was inspired by the photo of Whitney Houston on her 1985 eponymous release.
Rounding out Jamila’s list is a fellow Chicago native, Minnie Riperton, who Jamila admires for her penchant for creatively manipulating language and her expansive vocal range.
We also had some time at Gramaphone to sit down with Kevin Coval, who gave us a history lesson on the origins of Chicago hip-hop. As Kevin explains, though a lot of major artists came up in Chicago, from Twista to Common to Kanye, the city’s hip-hop scene didn’t quite kick off with them.
“Like a lot of the way that the music came about, it wasn’t necessarily through MCs first,” Kevin told us, noting how Nick Salsa (founder of Chicago’s first graffiti crew, CTA) brought his art and b-boying to Logan Square. Kevin then goes on to contextualize Gramaphone Records in the Chicago music scene, citing how it quickly became an institution for its reputation as the go-to spot for picking up house, hip-hop, and breakbeat records.