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Rap Therapy

SAIC Student Maryiah Winding on Rap Therapy and her new E.P.

By Entertainment

Discovering the work of Maryiah Winding


Politically Correct Album Cover. Image Courtesy of Maryiah Winding

Politically Correct Album Cover. Image Courtesy of Maryiah Winding


Maryiah Winding’s Politically Correct is not so much an E.P. as it is a component to an ever expanding body of work. As a musician, Winding performs under the alias, AWKH. Her seven-song E.P. has also manifested itself into a poetry zine, Because I’m Black, Because I’m from Chicago, Because I’m Black and from Chicago. In the future, Winding plans on creating both paintings and a video piece to visually compliment the project.

A recent recipient of the Idea Generation grant from the SAIC Student Government, Winding is also working on developing rap therapy as an emotional outlet for kids and teens who identify more with hip hop culture rather than traditional counseling settings.

“I proposed to them the idea of breaking down the line between fine and commercial art. Music is definitely seen as commercial art by most people unless it’s like, experimental sound. I was always doing music outside of school and I really wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my practice so I thought rap therapy was a good way to bridge those gaps,” Winding says.

As the title suggests, Politically Correct expertly inhabits the musical and artistic G spot of poignant: a series of politically charged lyrics coupled with a solid beat that could soundtrack any Friday night. Winding worked with fellow SAIC student, Ethan Kaplan to produce some of the tracks. Lyrically, Winding is a powerhouse with astute observational skills. She’s also inspired by fellow Chicago based rappers like Chance the Rapper and Kanye West.

“I figured that in order to make people pay attention I would need to make content that mattered. I’m from the South Side of Chicago and I came through Chicago Public Schools, I just figured I would do it from my perspective as someone who is now at this really prestigious institution. It just talks about how it feels: the adjustment of being black and from Chicago. I can never detach myself from that stigma. I want to grow, I want to see my people grow, I want to see the community grow,” Winding says.

Stand-out tracks include For My City, and Blame Chief Keef, which are equally scathing in both the lyrical and rhythmic sense. The hook of Blame Chief Keef is incredibly catchy in addition to being thought provoking. Winding raps “whole world wanna blame Chief Keef/ for their fuckboy sons goin’ ape shit freak” calling people to “deal with the shit that your system created.” The sheer ferocity of her lyrics drives most of her tracks.

In For My City she raps, “Homie I’mma start a movement/ pushing for improvement/started with this rap shit/ toss it in my practice.” and it becomes clear that the project as a whole is completely passion driven.

As a rapper, Winding is mostly lyrically driven, “It definitely starts out with the words for me. I do these observation writings in my journal where I try to write down everything around me in the most intricate way possible while still doing it creatively.”

On February 27th Winding partnered up with the Pilsen-based retail space, Maybe Sunday, to celebrate the release of Politically Correct. Her partnership with the space was the result of a friendship formed with co-owner, Jason Guo, who is also an SAIC alumn. The space is also owned by former SAIC alumn, Mackenzie Thompson. Together, the duo sponsors Winding by letting her use their space for performances and sending some free Tshirts her way.

Aesthetically speaking, Maybe Sunday cultivates a unique retail experience while also functioning as a performative space. They ripped out the carpet and replaced it with astro-turf, giving the space the feeling of a perpetual summer. The clothes hang from off-white racks made of PVC pipe. One wall is completely covered in small, colorful foam dots giving it the appearance of a life-size sheet of candy buttons.

On the night of the 27th, AWKH stood near the front entrance of the store ready to go. As a performer, Winding is bursting with energy. That night, she brought the crowd to their feet, smiling as she encouraged them to let loose.

Rather than have fellow musical artists open for her, Winding chose to have fellow SAIC students, Shelby Anderson, Natasha Estevez, and Hank perform their own original pieces of spoken word poetry. All of the performances were incredibly powerful, once students were in front of the crowd some chose to abandon their notes altogether. Winding’s support of her fellow artists and students is unwavering, “there’s a lot of talent here they just don’t know it yet,” she says.

As an artist, Winding is not only passionate about promoting her own work, but promoting the work of her fellow students. Her artistic practice is collaborative in nature. It speaks to how music, specifically rap — can act as an agent of togetherness within the art community.
Overall, Politically Correct is more than just an EP, it’s an ecstatic participant within the wider Chicago art scene.

One Response to Rap Therapy

  1. Duff Norris says:

    The grant maryiah received is called the Idea Generation Grant and it’s awarded by Student Government, not Studant Programing Board. Thanks.

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