Chicago rapper Qari packs an emotional punch on “Step by Step”

In the mid 2010s, Chicago hip-hop artist Qari was known for being one third of the eclectic group Hurt Everybody, where his abstract lyricism and chaotic deliveries found a perfect home over producer Mulatto Beats’ psychedelic, genre-bending production. 

In more recent years, as Qari has embarked on a solo career, he has softened his tone and stripped back his sound.

On his 2022 project Stronghold, produced by jazz extraordinaire Eddie Burns, Qari explores the many forms of both grief and loss over a series of nocturnal, barebones instrumentals, making for a moody listen that never runs short on emotional potency.

Back on November 28, Qari returned with his new single “Step by Step,” where he sticks to a very similar formula, yielding himself a result that feels every bit as satisfying.

Qari opens “Step by Step” with a question: “What’s in it for me if I keep running?” The themes of angst and uncertainty that have carried over from Stronghold are ever-present here as Qari searches the ends of the earth for a sense of emotional resolve. 

Qari’s verse plays out as an inner monologue, his soft spoken delivery meandering around a set of chunky, watery synth chords. 

Despite Qari employing his trademark abstract, open-to-interpretation lyrical style, there are glimpses of his emotional headspace that are more concrete: “Never forget we blessed, stay fresh/I wasn’t living with love on my breath,” he raps in the track’s opening seconds.

Stream “Step by Step” Here.

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