Uncle_EL is a producer from Chicago who has been making music since the late ‘90s. More recently, he has been instrumental in some of Chicago’s best instrumental showcases, Open Beats and Push Beats. It’s been two years since his last release, the R&B-flavored All Love Vol. 2. Now he’s back with a brand new project, Now U C Me?

A couple of things hit me as I listened to Now U C Me? One is that it really helps instrumental artists to play live, to have audience feedback, and to have feedback from other artists. This album plays out like a live set, flowing perfectly from start to finish, with each track transitioning into the next seamlessly. Another key aspect of Now U C Me? is just how Chicago this album sounds. That’s because Uncle_EL is not just bringing in downtempo or other hip hop influences, he’s bringing in a little bit of jazz, and a whole lotta house music. Sometimes the album is strictly hip hop, sometimes it’s strictly house, but even more exciting is when EL hits that sweet spot in between the genres. It’s not exactly what I’d call juke, but it’s not not juke, either. The real point, though, is that EL is delivering some absolutely gorgeous songs with undeniable grooves. It’s the type of music that you can just get lost in and let it dance around your head, and just absorb the beautiful melodic work that EL is doing, or you can get out of your seat and move your feet to all of the great rhythmic work that EL is doing. Or, even better, you can listen to it multiple times and appreciate something new each time through.

Uncle_EL is a veteran of the Chicago scene, and his work on Now U C Me? is of the high quality you’d expect from someone with as much experience as he has. It’s innovative, it’s accessible, it’s gorgeous, and it’s just a lot of fun to listen to.