It was an overcast Friday afternoon when I arrived at Sage the 64th Wonder‘s apartment. Like most parts of Chicago (and all of Illinois in general), construction riddled the surrounding area. Neighbors were outside enjoying the calm before the storm and observing the changes of what nearby homes were turning into.
Once Sage opened up the gates and had us take a seat in the midst of his studio. a presence flooded our veins. Where maintaining professionalism is meant to keep the work-horse going, there’s a genuine point that you can get to with co-workers where you can still goof around and maintain that high-volume, I-need-to-get-shit-done attitude.
With Sage I immediately felt that presence. Humbling and genuine, Sage allowed us to peer into his artistry and indie record label with open arms. The amount of depth and clarity you get from his music is clearly translated through himself. The artist not only speaks through his music, but Sage, the 64th Wonder is without a doubt the full embodiment of new age Chicago Hip-hop.
It was hard to leave stones left unturned when talking to the Chicago native Rapper. Flipping every pebble down the rivers of this interview, we started talking about the physical culmination of how Sage and Onsol Records came to be. “I went to Columbia College in Chicago in 2010,” Sage says, “I actually went there for game design, that didn’t work out too well and I lost the passion for it, then I switched to fiction writing.” Sage goes on to point out that once his friend told him how great his fiction writing was, his path was set in stone.
[Onsol] influence[s] each other…You know, we influence each other differently…
Onsol Records consists of:
8 Kariu, The Gameboy
9 Quote Verbs
The label is a tightly knit group. This isn’t some local meets crew surrounded by coffee and dark rimmed glasses trying to make similar sounds. These guys have grown up with each other, live with each other, and work on their artistry every day. They’ve been living and breathing the creation of Onsol from the start, even if they didn’t know it at the time. “I was always fascinated with the sun,” says Sage on the name of Onsol. “I always felt like it was a deity itself…When you’re young [ideas that are meaningful] stay in the back of your head, and it’s always growing…When they say you snap, you turn back to your imaginative side.” It’s a breath of truth coming from out the mind of the focused MC and Producer. To truly find what you want to do, the mind has an interesting way of keeping highlights of your childhood and giving you the key to the door that’ll expand upon the seed of creation.
Inspired by artists like JDilla and Nujabes, Sage’s previous releases MLNCHLYGLD, THE MUTEN BLVCK, and 64 Wonders truly emulate their sound behind the heavy samples and jazz. As great as these were, the leader of Onsol Records is headed into a different direction.
I’ve been experimenting with a lot of chill wave and everything recently. I love disco funk and french house, and future funk. I love all of that.
Inspired by those influences, Sage’s upcoming project, sage~wav, plans to have multiple sides and is intended to be a very dynamic album. “Chill wave, rap, and rap instrumentals,” says Sage, “Each side is going to have five tracks…and at maximum the whole album’s going to be 15 at most, 16 if there’s a bonus.” The diversity of such a style of hip hop, similar to that of Blue Scholars or the Doppelgangaz, provides a distinct, down to earth roots feel. Sage~wav will provide you with as much capacity for creativity as you choose. Whether it be listening to bars to free-styling with your friends on an instrumental, the project provides what traditional underground albums tend to give you; a complete project and more for the growth within the community. So while the development of his project intends to expand past the norm, you’ll still be provided with a comfortable, and traditional format to vibe to and experience.
It’s clear from the start that music remains very personal to Sage. From the instrumentals that he produces to the lyricism behind his tracks, as a listener you digest a very real and introspective
experience. Talking to the heavily deep voiced MC prior to listening to his music, the medium in which he develops through isn’t some simple emulation, it’s an embodiment of who he truly is.
When it comes to Sage, each recently released project comes with a new vibe so there’s practically something for everyone. Where THE MUTEN BLVCK treats you with relaxed chemistry between JDilla and Nujabes-like instrumentals, 64 Wonders provides you with dirty chops and bass resurrected from gravel. Articulate and poetic, the calculated lyrical precision that he drops on every project matches Aesop Rock and is delivered with that of a braggadocious and aggressive battle rapper.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran once said the stone hidden in the foundation of a temple is no lesser than the marble that eventually gives a temple its defining embellishments. Sage’s work is no different than The Prophet’s temple. Progressive and always seeking for more knowledge, the scholar that left college continues to study the art without asking for the credit. There’s more that we talked about with Sage that ranged from favorite anime and cereal to a freestyle and an exclusive look at an instrumental to his new album, sage~wav, to be released sometime Winter/Spring of 2016. For the interview in its entirety, our extended interview will be released at a later time.
For more on looks inside local music within cities that incubate hip-hop, check out more at Truetoo.co.
TrueToo would like to first and foremost thank Sage, the 64th Wonder and Onsol Records for the warm welcomes and hospitality, 119 Productions, Photography by Trevor Morris, Kyle Nayder for sound, and Floor Lovers Illinois.