South-Side Rappers, The Real Deal

My original intent to uncovering the root behind the unfavoring demeanor of the ‘typical south side rapper’ has been made almost entirely in vain. I’ve learned there is some validity to the stereotypes, albeit truisms, of this particular breed of artist. I should have listened to my good friend ILLAPhant who says,  “good luck with making a 14 year old boy who raps about guns females and money look good!”

Still, in communities where violent crime, disputes, and retaliation have become the norm, it makes sense for these artists to act out the way they do–most of the time it’s all they know. Another reality to make note of is the fact that heightened criminality in the Chicago area is nothing new, nor is it’s rap influence.

“Violence in Chicago is not a new occurrence and neither is the imagery of violence portrayed in hip-hop,” says TheGrio’s Taleah Griffin.

It’s not the first time rap has been blamed for increased crime waves throughout the country, or even in Chicago. However, it is a phenomenon that has plagued underprivileged black and brown communities for quite some time, and has been the recent topic of discussion as America zooms it’s lense on the greater Chicago area.

The key component in most discussions though, is the rap communities affect on local area youth and how vulnerable they are to it’s so-called turmoil.

In an interview with a Baltimore radio station, Lupe Fiasco had this to say about the (at the time) newly discovered south side icon, Chief Keef:

“When you drive through Chicago…the hoodlums, the gangstas and the ones you see killing each other, the murder rate in Chicago is sky-rocketing, when you see who’s doing it and perpetrating it, they all look like  Chief Keef. He looks just like Chicago…he could be any kid on the street…”

“Any kid” is right. Especially when there exists 14-year-old artists like Lil Mouse, who also considers himself a hard-core, gangster rapper. Like Keef, the rising youngster, inspite of his wide range of criticisms, continues to promote the negative, violence infused misogynistic side of Chicago rap culture. While celebrating his 14th birthday over the weekend, Mouse retweeted:

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However, when asked to shed light on his perspective of the industry (in hopes to give himself what I thought would be a positive image) he refused to give a comment. It’s almost as if Mouse, like others, wants to perpetuate his unfavorable image, or like he wants to have a bad rep.

To their defense, though, Griffin believes artists like Chief Keef & Lil Mouse are just scapegoats for the larger problem at hand.

“Chief Keef is not the originator of gangsta rap nor is he the first gang member to be signed to a major record label,” she says proudly. “What is notable [though] about Keef’s rise to the top is that he emerged from Chicago at a time when the nation is zoomed in to Chicago violence,” she continues.  “He’s emerged as the bad guy, the face of Chicago violence and the voice of a thugged-out culture.”

Your thoughts?

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Logan Square: “Small Town Neighborhood Feel + Affordable Rent”

La Boulangerie (Milwaukee and Logan)

La Boulangerie (Milwaukee and Logan)

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been in touch with a couple of residents of the Logan Square neighborhood and in gathering my list of sources, I wanted to get a diverse group of voices which could speak to the ever changing landscape of the neighborhood. In order to gain a better sense of the good and the bad that comes with gentrification.

One of these voices is Caitlin Berg, a 33 year-old recent college grad who moved to Logan Square just a little over a year ago after having lived 5 years in the Lincoln Square neighborrhood.

Berg originally from Minnesota says she moved to Logan Square because of “how affordable rent is compared to other neighborhoods in the city.”

“After my lease ended in March 2012, I needed to find an apartment that allowed me to both live comfortably while at the same time leave a little extra money in my pocket to start paying off my college loans.”

“I love that Logan Square has that small town neighborhood feel right in the middle of the city, with cute little shops and bars such as ‘La Boulangerie’ which offers fresh baked French bread and Azucar Tapas a small little Tapas bar on Kedzie which is always full of locals.”

Berg says, that after her lease ended in March of 2012, she searched and searched in the Lincoln Square neighborhood and could not find anything within her price range.

She mentions, she had never imagined rent prices would be so high for a one bedroom apartment given she’d previously shared an apartment with three of her friends.

Berg says, she had heard a million different opinions as to whether or not she should move to Logan Square. However, she decided to take the plunge and experience things on her own after she set her eyes on a vintage 1 bedroom apartment on Schubert and Richmond.

“I love every minute so far that I’ve spent here. Location is great, the ‘El’ is near by. There are a ton of restaurants along Milwaukee and best of I am saving at least $300 per month on rent.”

It seems that for newly established residents of Logan Square such Berg, gentrification has actually made it much easier for them to make the decision to live in Logan Square. Offering new residents an array of new businesses that only keep growing and growing.

Now, I am looking to hear what it’s like for long time residents of the area. How have these changes and new businesses affected their way of live?

Stay tuned,as we explore the two side of gentrification within the Logan Square neighborhood.