Given Name: Chancelor Bennett
Early Life: Chance grew up in the Southside of Chicago and started rapping in high school when he formed a hip-hop duo with a friend called Instrumentality. During his senior year, he was suspended for 10 days “for weed related activities” and he used that time to record his first full-length mixtape, 10 Day, which he released on Datpiff a year later.
Career Highlights: His second mixtape, Acid Rap, which has guest appearances from Childish Gambino, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, Vic Mensa and Twista, was nominated for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards. He was chosen for this year’s XXL Freshman Class along with Rich Homie Quan, Kevin Gates, and August Alsina. In 2013, he turned down an offer to sign with TDE.
Sound: Chance has a gravelly, high-pitched voice that is both energetic and playful. He frequently raps over mellow, unfussy beats and has a stream of consciousness style to his flow. He’s also known for his introspective, revelatory lyrics and has discussed topics like existentialism, morality, feelings of racial inferiority, loneliness, and religion in his work.
Strengths: His unique sound makes him easily identifiable in collaborations and blends well with a multitude of genres, as in the Justin Beiber track, “Confident.”
What’s Next: Chance and Childish Gambino are working on an EP, though the release date is still a mystery.
Latest Track: “I Am Very Very Lonely”
Given Name: Victor Kwesi Mensah
Aliases: Kids These Days, Don Carlito, The Innanet
Early Life: Like every other Save Money Collective member, Vic grew up in Chicago. His earliest music memories are of rock’n’roll and it wasn’t until the fifth grade that he started listening to rap and hip-hop. He describes himself as a rowdy kid who started fights and in high school he was caught shoplifted and dealing weed. In his mid-teens, he was part of a hip-hop fusion group called Kids These Days that broke up in early 2013.
Releases: Straight Up, debut mixtape, 2010; INNANETAPE, mixtape, September 2013; Street Lights, EP, June 2014.
Career Highlights: Vic joined J. Cole and Wale on the What Dreams May Come Tour at the end of 2013 and toured Europe with Danny Brown in early 2014. Both Vic and Chance were chosen for XXL’s 2014 Freshman class.
Sound: Though Vic and Chance have different styles, their voices occasionally sound alike. Both are high-pitched and a bit off, but Vic’s has a harder, more polished edge to his sound. He’s also known for his clever rhymes and acerbic wit.
Strengths: Vic’s latest song, the more house than hip-hop “Down On My Luck,” is a clear indicator that the MC can master more than just rap. He can spit fast, but he can also slow his flow to a drawl, and he’s obviously willing to branch out and try new things with his music.
What’s Next: He’s currently working on an as-yet-untitled album that’s scheduled for 2015.
Latest Track: “Down On My Luck”
Aliases: ½ of Leather Corduroys, Joseph Purps, Joey Purple
Early Life: Joey did not consider rapping until the last few or so years. Rather, he was a student athlete who hoped to play professional football. His older brother was a punk rocker and his dad was in a motorcycle gang.
Releases: Purple Tape, mixtape, August 2012; “Don’t Stop,” May 2014.
Career Highlights: Joey’s feature on Towkio’s Caleb James-produced track “World Turning” and his appearance in the music video (which has over 100,000 YouTube views). Also his feature on the Vic Mensa track “Fear and Doubt” which was released on the INNATEAPE mixtape gave him a leg up.
Sound: Purp’s got a gravelly, low-pitched voice and a sound that falls somewhere between a gruffer, younger version of Dom Kennedy and a toned-down Schoolboy Q. Though some of his tracks are typical stoner rap, not all of his music has such a hazy, drawn-out sound, and he’s more than capable of speeding his flow up and giving it more of an edge.
Strengths: Purp’s got a darker, moodier edge to his music that helps him standout from other Save Money members. He’s also adept at changing the pace and timbre of his voice to sound either stoner-y or gangsta, depending on the song.
What’s Next: He’s currently working on an upcoming album, tentatively called Performance Art.
Latest Track: “Don’t Stop”
Aliases: Tokyo Shawn, Preston San
Occupations: Rapper, artist
Early Life: Towkio grew up in Chicago and went to grammar school with Joey Purp whom he’s known since the second grade.
Releases: Community Service, mixtape, June 2012; Hotchips N Chopsticks, EP, May 2014.
Sound: Towkio’s got an elastic, almost cartoony voice that’s reminiscent of young Eminem. He’s fun and charismatic and there’s a certain energy to his music that can be heard regardless of what beats he chooses to rap over. It’s clear that he’s still trying to settle on one style, but his versatility-- he has crooned, screamed, shouted, or just plain rapped in songs --- is impressive.
Strengths: Towkio’s weird sound meshes perfectly with his unique aesthetic look. His long hair is usually worn in a messy side bun or pony tail and he’s got a septum piercing. Fashion is obviously something that he’s interested in and his bohemian-meets-street look is always a sight to see. He’s obviously aware of himself and how he comes across as an artist.
What’s Next: His debut album, .Wave Theory, will be released later this summer
Occupations: Rapper, producer, singer
Early Life: Caleb’s dad, Steve “Stone” Huff, was a fulltime musician and producer during Caleb’s childhood and he would hang out in the studio with him as a kid. In 2003, at the age ten, he sang the chorus for “Flickin,” a bonus track on R&B artist Avant’s album Private Room.
Releases: Ground Up, debut mixtape, summer 2012; The Jones, mixtape, July 2013;
Career Highlights: He performed with the Oakland hip-hop group Souls of Mischief at this year’s South by Southwest.
Sound: Caleb is definitely the lady’s man of the group, a fact which he’s made glaringly clear in his lyrics and music videos. Braggadocio though he may be, he’s got a youthful voice and his pep and spunk are audible in his music.
Strengths: He tends to gravitate towards old-school, 90’s hip-hop beats, but he never takes it too far and he knows how to keep it from sounding redundant. In “Freddie,” he adds trumpets and jazz melodies to the early hip-hop beats in the track, whereas in “6 AM,” he weaves in the instrumentals to “Gin and Juice.”
What’s Next: The Jones 2.0 mixtape should be dropping later this year.
Early Life: Brian grew up in Chicago and is brothers with fellow Save Money member, Dally Austen.
Releases: Mafioso, mixtape, May 2013
Sound: If you like trap and drill, then Brian Fresco is the Save Money crew member you should listen to. Like Joey Purp, he’s got a dark, sinister streak to his music, but the heavy synths and rolling snares that predominate his music help offset this. His voice is high-pitched and lacks the gruff toughness that you’d expect to hear with this type of music, but it’s precisely this incongruity that gives him such a unique sound.
Strengths: Though he generally raps over bass-heavy beats, his high-pitched voice helps his rhymes come out clear and crisp.
What’s Next: His next project, Casanona, is scheduledto be released later this year.
Latest Track: “Problems,” a Brian Fresco and Dally Austen collaboration.
Kami de Chukwu
Aliases: ½ of Leather Corduroys
Releases: Light, mixtape, August 2012
Sound: Kami’s flow is raw and dense and comes at you full-force. There’s a certain calculated aggression to his sound that helps keep the song in check, and yet the thrill and energy behind his lyrics still remains.
Strengths: Kami’s intensity works well with a variety of sounds, from hazy, mellow beats to bass-heavy thumpers. His directness and flair for storytelling are other strengths.
Occupations: Rapper, graphic designer
Early Life: Dally grew up in Chicago and is the brother of fellow Save Money member, Brian Fresco. He graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art in 2013 where he studied graphic design.
Releases: The Wood, mixtape, 2013; Westside, EP, January 2014;
Sound: Dally’s raspy, crackling voice is deceivingly versatile. He can rap languidly over a hazy, kush-inspired melody, but he can also go full-force and spit at lightning speeds, like in “99 Cents” and “WSGTM.” He apparently also has a reputation for being “the smooth guy” in the group.
Strengths: Dally’s got a way with words and he knows how to pack a whole paragraph into a mere few second set. He’s also good at crafting hooks and adding enough variety to his songs so that they don’t all sound the same.
What’s Next: His project, Roses, is set to be released later this year.
Latest Track: “Problems,” a Brian Fresco and Dally Austen collaboration.
Sound: Sterling has yet to release a substantial collection of music, but from the few songs that are out there, it’s clear he has a penchant for glitchy, trippy beats and a blunt, forceful precision to his flow.
What’s Next: Forthcoming EP, BIGShorty, to be released later this year, as well as a mixtape called Antidepressants.
Latest Track: “Father Son”
Occupations: Trumpet player, producer, poet and singer
Early Life: Nico grew up in Chicago and played drums before switching to the trumpet in sixth grade. He was a member of the live hip-hop ensemble, Kids These Days, along with Vic Mensa.
Releases: Donnie Trumpet, EP, June 2013.
Career Highlights: During the summer of 2013, Nico went on Frank Ocean’s worldwide California Live tour and played in the horn section of his band.
Sound: Because Nico’s instrument of choice is the trumpet, most of his music has a smoky, jazzy quality to it. It’s really the singers featured on his tracks that diversify his music, but blending rap and hip-hop with predominantly trumpet-based instrumentals is easier said than done.
Strengths: Well, how many musicians can you think of that play trumpet solos for rap and hip-hop songs? In other words, Nico’s pretty much one-of-a-kind, not only in his crew but in the hip hop world in general.
What’s Next: Nico formed a new band called Ruby Robot in early 2014.
Familiarize yourself with the Save Money crew helmed by Chance The Rapper.
The Save Money crew is still pretty young to the rap game, but if the successes of members Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa are any indicator (both MCs have appeared on the new XXL Freshmen 2014 cover) it won’t take long for them to become a household name.
The Chicago-based crew of creative, like-minded dudes boasts an eclectic roster of rappers, musicians, artists, producers, directors, and even a trumpet player, many of whom have known each other since they were kids. The crew is so large that we couldn’t list every Save Money member, so we just highlighted the main dudes you should know about for this piece, but there’s no telling which Save Money member will be next to claim the spotlight.
Do you have a favorite out of the collective? Let us know.