I think it’s fitting that Chicago was one of the locations used for Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, because there is much more to that city that meets the eye. It is a city that is filled with proud citizens of their culture, their sports franchises, and their music. It’s also unfortunately notorious for being one of the most violent cities in the United States; and has been for many decades. From the days of Al Capone to the Gangster Disciples, there has always been the gang aura lingering around the city. Its troubles have also been shown in film; the one that resonates with me the most is Hardball. Inner-city black kids who just wanted to play baseball while living in a rough neighbourhood. Baseball was their escape – not only that, but music as well.
Chicagoans take pride in their jazz & blues origins that branched out to other parts of the U.S. They’re famous for their ‘stepping’, and that’s a tradition that they’ll hold on near and dear. I’m not from Chicago, but what I’ve heard is that it’s a livable city; it’s engaging, and the people there are gracious to those who visit. Also, with the amount of music festivals that happen there, there’s really no reason to go.
This past year has been one of the most deadly when it comes to gun violence in Chicago, and music (for one example) played a toll in it. No one’s a stranger to rap beef, but it’s not often that it ends in bloodshed. In the heat of summer 2012, there was a feud between Chief Keef’s crew (GBE) and Lil JoJo. Diss tracks were exchanged, words were said, and it got personal. So personal that Lil JoJo’s life was claimed. Keef really didn’t make nothing out of it (so it seemed), and there were fingers pointed at him saying that he was responsible. No connections have been confirmed. Just the other day, Lil JoJo’s best friend, a rapper that went by JayLoud, was murdered for wearing a hoodie that had Lil JoJo’s name on it.
The Chicago Hip Hop that I was introduced to in my life never had a heavy presence that would depict violence. Common had his moments, but he was more known for his conscious ways. Kanye West, Twista, and Lupe Fiasco all brought their own dynamics to them, but it was never in a way that promoted violence or even triggered rap beef that’s evident today in the example between Keef & JoJo. The problem is people have forgotten that there are rappers out there that aren’t about the violent raps, but are on their own vibes that try to shed light in a more positive direction. Again, this is only what we see & hear, and that’s the main focus, but there are Chicago rappers like Kembe X & newest member of Maybach Music Group, Rockie Fresh, whom can be the change in perspective on how people look at rappers from Chicago. I’m sure there’s more; I was just using those two as an example.
The beauty of Twitter is that I’m able to talk (or tweet) to people from Chicago, and they support their homegrown talent. Nikki & Sean (he has a few posts on TSB), have sent me a few mixtapes that are a step away from the GBE music that has been taking over in representation of Hip Hop for that city. These are still more underground, but the fact that it’s a change from what’s out there now, deserves some accolades in a sense. Check out the mixtapes below (GETCOMFORTable is the best of the batch), and understand that there’s more than just what’s in front of your face when you look behind what you’re looking at. Enjoy.
That’s My Word & It STiXX