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?

Follow Me @AllieLyke

Can We Talk?: Interviews w/ Lil Mouse, Joe-Ski & Mr. G’s Supper Club

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So I’ve been in contact with a few sources. One is Lil Mouse, the 13-year-old rapper who performed at Mr. G’s Supper Club in March before their gang related shoot out that same evening. Since the shooting, aside from his recent videos, the young star has been receiving quite a lot of backlash from Chicago parents. I spoke with one of his representatives and while he cannot talk about the shootings in particular, he may be able to shed some light on how is experiences as a young, south side rapper are different from ones up north (Wicker Park).

I’ve also reached out to another south side rapper Joe-Ski, the cousin of another good friend of mine in the industry, who seems very eager to talk about his experiences as a rapper as well. I’m sure his own experiences as a self-managed hip-hop artist from the south-side will be interesting, to say the least.

Next, there is the possibility of getting in contact with TheGrio‘s Taleah Griffin who’s done a few stories about hip-hop in Chicago. One in particular was about Chief Keef’s portrayal of the violence in Chicago.

Finally, I’m working on speaking with the owner of Mr. G’s Supper Club, Gene Linton (or someone from their staff) to speak on changes that have taken place since the shooting to tie in with the Congress theatre case. Basically, what are they doing, or not doing, to make sure things like this don’t happen again? Does this mean no more hip-hop shows?

Welp, looks like I have a lot of work to do. Let’s get to it!

Follow me @AllieLyke 

 

What Now?: Next Steps in Hip-Hop Discussion

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Last week I touched on the differentiating perspectives of rappers from Chicago’s north side and rappers from the south side. The one that stands out the most is the emphasis on criminality. While I do believe that the “thug-life” mentality is an aesthetic all rappers use, when it comes to Chicago, I think it affects south side rappers more than it does north side ones.

At this point, I want to delve into this negative perspective of south side rappers and shed some light on just how different their perspective is.

Here’s a list of some references/articles I’m building off:

Chief Keef Arrested in Atlanta

Party Police

Seven Shot at Mr. G’s Club in Gresham Neighborhood

Chicago Parents Condemn 13-Year Old Rapper, Lil Mouse, Appearance at Nightclub

The plan is to speak to at least 2 of the rappers mentioned in these articles so that I can generate their perspective and report on it. I know it may seem outdated, but this aspect of policing and criminality can be translated to a lot of injustices in Chicago, not just hip-hop music; especially CPS school closings (I won’t go there today). Whether we like it or not, every experience in Chicago can have either a negative or a positive effect just by simply being in a specific “side” of town. I think that looking at hip-hop trends in Chicago is one of the many ways we can address this everlasting elephant in the room and may be a creative way to come up with ways to resolve those problems in perspectives.

Follow Me @AllieLyke

Hip-Hop Wake Up Call: North vs South

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Chicago tends to split views once you take into question how certain issues affect specific areas. As it relates to Chicago crime, there is a huge gap in perspectives between the North Side and the South Side.

Where I live in Uptown, there are always police officers, very little instances of crime, and when there are incidents, there is usually a quick response from the police department. A similar perspective can be felt in the Wicker Park area–at least before you walk into Humboldt Park territory. A lot of my friends argue this is due to the amount of white people who live in the area. No matter the reasoning though, the crime rate is still noticeably better.

Then there are areas like the Wild 100s and Washington Park, where police officers are scarce, resources are few and far between, and the death tolls are increasing daily–most of which are Black and Latino. It’s only Wednesday and the area has already reported five homicides according to the Redeye Homicide Tracker. All were African American males.

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The Fuel, Not The Fire: Aerias & The Clyde Project on Chicago Hip-Hop & Crime

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Local hip-hop band Aerias & The Clyde Project address Chicago crime and how their musical maturity transcends it’s negative influence on hip-hop music.

“I don’t think hip-hop music causes violence, it may be a consequence of it though,” says Josh Luis, lead guitarist and composer for the Chicago-based hip-hop band Aerias & The Clyde Project regarding concerns of Chicago hip-hop having an affect on the city’s crime and venue interests.

This is due to  reports of Congress Theatre being shut down due to drug-related and other alleged violations at the popular venue, which may, or may not, pose a negative threat to Chicago’s hip-hop industry and how other venues tighten up to avoid potential suit.

But when asked if there were any noticeable changes in the Logan Square’s concert/venue community, the band was soft-spoken. As a matter of fact, the band considers the area their best venue and credits their success to fans in the area.

“The shows that we’ve done so far are shows that I’ve only dreamed of doing..[and the] wicker/Logan Square has always been a bit of a ‘hot spot’” says trumpet player, Tyree Williams, the band’s newest member.

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Violence & Crime w/ Aerias & The Clyde Project

Hello All. Today I took the liberty of catching up with some cool dudes of mine–A hip-hop band called Aerias & The Clyde Project.

These Chi natives have opened up for some of the greatest old-school, New York hip-hop artists of all time: RZA, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man.On Thursday, May 9th, they will be opening for Mobb Deep at the Double Door in Wicker Park. 

My intention was to gather their thoughts about violence in Chicago and how it may affect the city’s hip-hop community. I also wanted to see if it has affected (or facilitated) interest with regard to their business & and if popularity is more important than social responsibility. 

But unfortunately, time got the best of us, and I had to reschedule the interview for another date. Sorry guys. 

But, what I did manage to get is a quick sample of their upcoming set. The song is untitled for now (it doesn’t even have lyrics yet), but I’m sure it will turn into a classic chill tune. 

If you hurry, you might be able to still get tickets

Aight, it’s back to rehearsal. 

I hope y’all didn’t think I was gonna give up a free show? lol. 

 

Wicker Park Gangs & Hip-Hop

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While working on my assignment about Chicago hip-hop shows reflecting the city’s rise in violence, the topic of gang violence and affiliation came up.

It’s obvious that the Wicker Park area is no stranger to gang violence– the area’s Alderman, Scott Waguespack, recently announced his plans to combat gang violence in the community, in spite of Rahm Emmanuel’s “business as usual” plan.

While I don’t want to sound stereotypical, it is true that a lot of hard-core rappers from Chicago have some affiliation with gangs. Maybe they have a friend that’s a gang member, they were former gang members, or they themselves are still gang members. The two that I’ve come in contact with the most are Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords.

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