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  • Writer's pictureLake Shore Dive

Spotlight On: John Renaissance, 'Empire' Songwriter & Hip-Hop Artist

The multi-faceted artist shares a personal playlist, inspirations, and his recent deal with FOX's "Empire."

With a name like John Renaissance, it's only fitting he's a multi-faceted artist embracing many dimensions of himself. An R&B singer, songwriter, pianist, illustrator, actor and entrepreneur, John is now adding "writer" to his growing resume, after receiving an exclusive writing deal for FOX's hit show, "Empire." 

John's sound is a blend of R&B, pop and trap, his soothing yet sultry vocals are reminiscent of his influences Boyz II Men and D'Angelo. Starting out as an independent contractor licensing songs to major networks, John toured internationally and opened up for artists like Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa.

Once he began getting offers on song placements in TV, that was the moment he knew "art went from a hustle to a profession." In order to collect royalties, he founded his visual arts company Ikhnoic Style and hasn't stopped since starting it 6 years ago. Now, his writing credentials boast major network shows including "The Steve Harvey Show" and "Empire."  

"I wish to portray the beauty in simplicity. I’ve studied every style and I simply enjoy expressing my moods of happiness, wonder, fear, and excitement."

While music is John's main focus, artwork is something that comes natural to him. He implements his illustrations into his music by designing his own album covers, merchandise and more, making his work more personal. "Artwork is easy to me," John says. "I can create a drawing in 40 seconds. It just feels like breathing. It's my favorite gift because it's so consistent - no matter if I'm sick or tired, my fingers will always draw the same." 

John's mission as an artist is to portray the beauty in simplicity. Having studied a wide range of styles, he expresses different moods in his work, whether it's happiness, fear or wonder given it's something everyone can relate to. 

What's next for John, between various shows and distribution deals, is a visual album. He's got 300 songs under his belt and is looking to drop three single before releasing a full-length project. In the meantime, you can catch him in a speaking role on 'Empire.' He also started a fashion line sponsored by Navy Pier and is working freelance with labels on artist merchandise. 

Get to know John Renaissance below and check out his custom playlist here and on Spotify.

What do you love about the local artist community?

I enjoy how diverse every artist is. No one sounds like a “Chicago artist” because Chicago doesn’t have a sound.

Favorite TV show?

'Gotham' is so good. The actors are all so sincere and gifted.

Favorite cocktail?

Frozen margaritas, mango watermelon are the best. 

Favorite Chicago artist? 

Earth Wind and Fire, Sam Cooke, G Herbo and my boy “SoLo The Dweeb”  are my favorites.


Favorite spot in Chicago?

I love downtown 'cause of the architecture, but Bronzeville has always inspired me creatively. Every time I walk up the streets I write my best songs.


"Spotlight On" is a weekly series highlighting Chicago creatives with a twist. We share a slice of their stories and what they love, hoping to inspire and connect.


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