Gentrified hood or not, Wicker Park is home to some of Chicago's best boutiques; when it comes to hip-hop gear, you won't find a better one than the Bassment, which moved to this location after a few years on the North Side. The store sells fresh clothing, magazines, hats, music, DVDs, designer toys and art gear (specialty spray paint caps, anyone?) all in a small storefront on Ashland Avenue. You can get everything here except for sneakers, but thankfully, St. Alfred and Leaders are nearby to take care of that.
When the weather is warmer, you can often hear the music from The Bassment down the block. The place is a strong supporter the independent hip-hop scene, so don't be surprised if you don't recognize a few of the tracks coming out of the speakers (or the artists whose pictures are plastered on the SUVs that sit in front of the store). Don't be afraid to ask for help here. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will happily answer any questions you may have.
The Bassment also supports the local hip-hop community with frequent store appearances from artists like Lupe Fiasco and a weekly event called Sessions Friday. Every Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., the store becomes a community center with breakdancing performances, open mics, Q&A sessions, networking opportunities and maybe (just maybe) a dance party. Sessions events are all-ages and alcohol-free, so even underage hip-hoppers can get in on the action.
Centerstage Reviewer: Maya Henderson