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Lupe Fiasco, Chief Keef and Chicago Violence

    By: Ural Garrett


    This week saw a heartbreaking emotional breakdown from Chicago native Lupe Fiasco during an interview with Sway Calloway on MTV’s Rapfix Live. The moment started after Sway showed a footage from a 2006 interview with Fiasco during the “My Block” program. In the program, Fiasco (who had just on the cusp of releasing his classic debut Food and Liquor showed Sway a few of his stomping grounds including where he grew up at Chicago’s south side and a skate park that was a nice ways away from his hood. It was an interesting look into Fiasco’s mindset of making sure that his music wouldn’t glorify the glaring numbers of issues in his hood but would inspire change for the better. When the camera came back to Fiasco, he was visibly shaken to tears.

    “Chicago’s the murder capital. The dudes in that video are in prison, a couple of fed cases, and then there’s ghosts,” said Fiasco who appeared uncontrollably chocked up.

    Fiasco got pretty nihilistic when he said that nothing had changed and added that he felt helpless because many of the kids there would simply grow to have the same fate. Hearing one of Hip-Hop’s most outspoken and most controversial figure give an aura of defeat hit rather hard.

    Seeing how Chicago was then and now, it makes perfect sense.

    According to The Chicago Reporter, Chicago has already had 300 homicides this year. Interestingly enough, that was a goal met two months earlier than last year. For those who want to do the math, that’s more than two homicides a day if this keeps up.

    You know what’s happening to Hip-Hop? Whatever’s happening to us” Mos Def – Fear Not Man

    As Chicago’s rate of violence and status as the murder capitol rapidly grows day by day, the art will reflect. Hip-Hop isn’t any different.

    When it comes to Chicago Hip-Hop, there had never been a commercial rapper who came off overtly gangster. Think about it. Twista came off hard but never hood, Do or Die represented themselves as pimps and Crucial Conflict were more hood stoners (before it became popular). Lets not get on Kanye West and Common.

    Outside of Fiasco and the recent signing of Rocky Fresh’s signing to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, the most talked about up-and-comer from the Windy City has to be Chief Keef.

    For those out of the loop, Chief Keef is a 17 Chicago rapper known for his current hit “I Don’t Like.” The song was created while he was on house arrest on weapons charges for allegedly pointing a gun at an officer. Ironically, the video was filmed in his home (since he had that ankle bracelet and all).

    The song would even get the ultimate co-sign from Kanye West and Pusha T with a remix. The came the record deal with Interscope.

    So it makes sense. Use Chicago’s horrific self-genocide as a way to push a seemingly half-assed rapper from the city into superstardom. The labels will win and suburban white kids get to see how good their living is compared their neighbor’s horrendous struggle.   Many of those same white kids will eventually grow up and live prosperous while many of those kids in Chicago’s southside probably won’t make it till their 16th birthday.

    It’s the American Way.

    Doesn’t help that mainstream has accepted Keef as the “next big thing” because of his backstory more than his music. Popular Chicago “hipster” site Pitchfork would even do an interview with him at the gun-range because obviously that was the responsible thing to do.

    Give a 16 year old African American teen from Chicago’s southside a high powered rifle to shoot at the targeting range….And make it look trendy.

    As Chicago deals with being the murder capitol of the nation, Chief Keef is the last thing that’s needed. There is something entirely disturbing seeing young high school kids in Chicago yelling “Bang Bang” in support of Keef and his message.

    Those same kids will probably become victims of violence there, something felt in Lupe’s tears.

    This is something bigger than the music.