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 

 

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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CPS School Closings: Student Safety Concerns

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A common theme I noticed came across most stories discussing the CPS school closings is that of parents concern for their children’s safety. DNAinfo wrote a piece called CPS School Closings: ‘I Am Completely Disgusted’ which really caught my attention given it speaks to outrage that exists in the communities affected by these closings. Many of the parents quoted in this story claim a main concern for them in regards to the closing of their children’s schools is that of how far they’ll have to walk  to get to school. Particularly, in neighborhoods with high crime rates in which gangs and violence are just around the corner.

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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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