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The Rap-Up is a weekly round-up of all things hip-hop. Check it out every Wednesday.

Chicago Rap Branches Out With Tree

Rap was born in New York, became a gangsterized phenomenon thanks to the West Coast and has been dominated by Southern players for the last decade-plus. But artists from the Midwest have been quietly yet consistently creating high quality material since the early 1990s, from Michigan’s MC Breed, Eminem, Slum Village and Big Sean to Chicago’s Twista, Common, Do Or Die and Kanye West.

As detailed earlier this year in the Rap-Up, Chicago’s Project Mayhem is among the Windy City’s most promising collectives. Group member Tree has been racking up accolades and just released the impressive, interactive “Sunday School” mixtape. The talented rapper-producer has a distinctively Southern flow and employs a soulful sonic style, combining for an innovative project that adds to Chi-Town’s already rich rap legacy.

1982 Makes Noise With “2012"

Rapper-producer duos from the 1980s such as Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Gang Starr used to be among rap’s elite. Statik Selektah and Termanology, collectively known as 1982, aspire to join this exclusive group.

After collaborating with DJ Premier, The Alchemist and others, Termanology has emerged as a rock-solid artist, while Statik Selektah has established himself as one producer putting a new spin on the Golden Era sound. The pair’s new album, “2012,” features a range of style, from the meditative “Lights Down” to the reflective “Happy Days” with Mac Miller, Bun B and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman. The album release party is set for May 29 at S.O.B.’s in New York City.

Kreayshawn Prepares Debut Album

Few artists have become as popular -- and as hated -- as quickly as Kreayshawn. The Bay Area female rapper exploded last year with the hit “Gucci Gucci," which made her an Internet sensation virtually overnight. But detractors soon blasted the white artist for being a poseur, and her subsequent Twitter activity -- rants, a bitter battle of words with Gangsta Boo and the purportedly racist messages sent from her account -- made her a lightning rod for attention and controversy, helping push the “Gucci Gucci” video to more than 35 million YouTube views.

Now a year later, she’s announced an August release for her debut album, “Somethin ‘Bout Kreay.” Though her buzz has died down significantly in the last few months, Kreayshawn’s forthcoming album stands to be one of the more interesting debuts in rap history. It could signal the triumphant entrance of a legitimate star, or it could mark one of the few times in music when an artist became irrelevant before they could even release their first album.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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