Music Video

DARYN ALEXUS | “I Ain’t Got It”

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“I Ain’t Got It”

Produced by VAM

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The transition is underway. Whether or not it’s been recognized at-large, the Chicago music scene has quietly asserted itself as the go-to for fresh, musically-informed artists that have taken the nation, and the world, by storm. While many are likely familiar with Chief Keef, Chance The Rapper and the hip-hop side to the Chicago scene, few are as in tune with the burgeoning R&B community. Without the national notoriety of their bar-toting counterparts, the singers are demanding to be heard and at the front of that push is Washington D.C. transplant, Daryn Alexus. Amongst an environment that puts a premium on rap, Daryn has stayed the course and her latest project, GREEN a pop-based collection of tracks investigating the intricacies and power of love and relationships released at the tail end of the summer. Her strongest offering to date, the project should prove to make the 23-year-old a regular both around Chicago and the country at large.

“GREEN has allowed me to see much more success in music than I ever have thus far, and has also given me a lot more recognition from people legitimately all over the world,” said Alexus. “



Photo courtesy of Daryn Alexus


Six years ago she moved here because of Kanye West. Inspired by the progressive sentiments of the city by it’s biggest star, Alexus forwent school at UC-Berkeley to attend Columbia College in downtown Chicago.

“I heard Graduation around that time, which is probably one of, if not the most influential CD of my life,” said Alexus. “Tracks like ‘I Wonder’ and ‘Champion’ really reminded me of my dreams. I said to myself, ‘I have to go to Chicago.’”

Standing in Union Park on the city’s west side Alexus, her hair dyed a wild mosaic of green and purple, turning towards me she expressed that she wasn’t overly excited for Hudson as a guilty look engulfed the gentle features of her face. Hudson is a legend in her hometown, Alexus but a transplant with dreams, not that it matters much. Whereas hip-hop may have a lane wide enough for everyone, singers are a different breed on a more narrow path. 



Alexus knows all about competition. Since arriving in the midwest, she has had to fight to get her name into the public sphere, teaming up with frequent collaborator Dee Lilly to create more nuanced production that toed the line between pop and R&B and working incessantly on her writing. It paid off earlier this year when she was selected as a finalist for the Chicago Red Eye’s “Rock The Vote” competition which played out for a spot at the annual North Coast Festival. While she didn’t win, the experience provided her with a larger presence and newfound confidence and momentum heading into the album’s release.

“It was such a great experience and opportunity for exposure,” said Alexus, peering out from under her oversized yellow snapback. “I really learned a lot about how to move a crowd and what it feels like to win over fans right in front of you.”


Photo courtesy of Daryn Alexus


As she describes the feeling, her eyes wander to the crowds around her that seem to have swelled by the minute. We idly kick around the idea of walking to the Harold’s Chicken truck that set up shop a few hundred feet away, but nix it when we see a group trying to push through the crowd. Having worked on GREEN for the better part of the last year and a half, Alexus knows how to stay the course. 
The project itself is a proper debut for Alexus and one that establishes her as a fresh new voice. 

“Go Wild” one of the standout tracks on the project, possesses a breakdown that would be fast-p ed for Janelle Monae, a frequent comparison for Alexus. The forward-thinking production is a credit to her continued work with Lilly, one of the city’s most eclectic and progressively-minded beat makers who handles a majority of the production on GREEN and has been a consistent driving force behind Alexus over the years.

The project itself is confidently pop through and through, with a few R&B intonations for soulful layering. A stepping out for Alexus, it essentially acts as the ante for what is to come for her career, a sampler platter of what to expect. Tracks like “Me & You” featuring fellow local Nick Astro demonstrate her ability to be the strong, driving force behind a piece while “1990” is a more nuanced, layered vocal rendering that is heavy on ideas and tonal renderings that touch on several sounds and feelings simultaneously. 



Photo courtesy of Daryn Alexus


As the sun set behind us and the festival moved through the lineup, Common took the stage to perform a several songs before passing the stage over to the expected surprise guest, Kanye West, who jumped into “All Falls Down”. As West and the crowd essentially sang the classic in unison, Alexus excitedly spun around halfway through, eyes wide. “Couldn’t afford a Honda, she named her daughter Alexus”. Singing the line she points at herself with a big smile. Slotted snugly between other festival-goers her immensely endearing personality is immediately evident.

Earlier in the day, when asked for a story that she tells others to explain herself, she tells me of a time she accidentally shaved off her eyebrows while removing face paint. Distraught, her aunt drew a pair on for school the next day. As she tell it, the next day after recess her fake brows wiped off, only to have her teacher show no mercy for her predicament. “I just wanted to cry and she made me sit there all day with smudged, half erased, drawn on eyebrows!” As she tells the story a half-embarrassed smile crosses her face and she pulls her yellow hat down over her face. 



 I have huge dreams of going back home to DC eventually but I love Chicago, it’s home away from home,” said Alexus. “I definitely have plans to be in the DC scene sometime in the future, but Chicago is my mentor.” 

Visit Daryn Alexus – HERE