West of The Chicago River, Dally Auston Paints a Picture

Westside Chicagoans live by a certain code.

It’s called “get the money,” and walk up the street and you’ll probably run into someone hustling, says Dally Auston, of Chicago’s SaveMoney Collective, whose music paints a picture of what’s west of the River.

“When you work for something, you save that, so you can have a brighter future,” he says of the collective's name, whose umbrella covers artists from Chance The Rapper to Vic Mensa.

Currently, he’s roving between studios as he works on his latest project, Roses (although he frequently calls his mother, to make sure he doesn’t forget his roots).

“It’s simple, you live and you die,” he explains. “As a rose, you blossom. You can be an ugly rose; you can be a beautiful rose—but there’s always going to be thorns.”

One of these thorns was the death of Auston’s friend and SaveMoney member Damo, whose passing last year contributed to one of several revelations Auston had while developing the project.

“It was a defining moment. It made me realize that life does keep going and you have to make the best of it,” he says. “It’s really what you leave behind.”

Eager to share his new music, Auston has teamed up with Chicago producer BoatHouse at SoundScape Studios. He wakes up every day and writes, as, “It’s an artform that needs to be continually polished,” he says.

He’s also experimenting more with storytelling, harkening back to his days as a young poet.

Auston’s friends in high school used to call themselves ‘The Young Diplomats,’ after Cam’ron’s group, thinking themselves cool because they could rap. However, they picked on Auston because he started off writing poetry rather than emceeing.

“They were like, ‘You can’t rap, you’re not really rhyming,’” says Auston. “It was something that really made me want to prove to them I could be good.”

Although ‘The Young Diplomats’ ultimately disbanded, Auston started to record with his cousin, over remade beats of his favorite artists’ songs, like Kanye West, Common, OutKast and Lupe Fiasco. The latter taught Auston the importance of staying independent, after the fiasco surrounding L.A.S.E.R.S. with the label’s stifling creative approach.

SaveMoney started to gain momentum in 2009, during the formation of Kids These Days, Vic Mensa’s former band. At the time, Auston had been putting his music on MySpace, and through a mutual friend linked up with Kids member Greg Landfair. The artists that showed up for the Kids These Days audition at the Music Garage that year would act as Auston’s support.

So far Auston is resolute in his pursuit of independence. No matter what happens this year, he says he’s going to stay the course.

“A lot of artists need to ask themselves,” he says, “if they weren’t aiming for something, would they always be doing music just because?”

Love Chicago music? Check out Green Label Live in Chicago on 02/22 featuring Casey Veggies and Flat White, as well as Rae Sremmurd.

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