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:
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.”
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