People With Passion: Andrew Barber

People With Passion: Andrew Barber
Andrew Barber, left, in a screen shot of the L.E.P. Bogus Boys/ Cool Kids music video for "Countin' My Money."

A People with Passion series

Chicago journalism

November 4, 2011: Andrew Barber

In the 14th installment of Jack M Silverstein's Chicago journalism People With Passion series, Fake Shore Drive founder Andrew Barber tells the story of how he created his iconic blog.

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One day, it was October of ’07, I just kind of started it. I’m like, I’m in Chicago, and there’s this crazy music scene. There’s all this stuff going on locally that nobody’s covering. Lupe was getting coverage. Twista. Of course Kanye and Common. If you weren’t one of those four, you didn’t exist. These dudes in Chicago had nothing. The Cool Kids weren’t even getting coverage. They were starting to pop up a little here and there, but they weren’t really popping online at all like that.

Let me cover my town. Let me cover what’s going on here. If nobody else is doing it, I’ll do it. I’ll post events. If I hear about something going on – 9th Wonder is going to be at Abbey Pub – I’ll post a flyer. Wu-Tang Clan’s coming to town – I’m going to try to get a pass and cover it. Or I’ll buy a ticket, I’ll write about it, I’ll take video.

I was sitting in my apartment one day and I was hungover, and I was like, “Man, I want to start blogging. I’ll just do it today.” (claps hands) The name Fake Shore Drive popped in my head. I wanted it to be something Chicago. That’s something people could easily remember. Started a little blogspot, fakeshoredrive.blogspot.com, and I just started going to events, taking pictures, writing, reviewing, just random stuff. Anything I could.

I made a stack of cards. I bought like 2000 cards for 100 bucks, and I was just going to any event that I could and passing out cards. I would go to anything hip-hop related. Any concert. It was crazy. I had my address on them and my phone number, stuff I wouldn’t even imagine doing now. I was just thirsty to get on. I was passing out these cards, and people are like, “What is this? What do you do? What’s a blog? You want me to send you my music for free? Yeah right!” People didn’t know about it here then. It was before mp3 blogs had really blown up, so people were looking at me crazy. But I kept being persistent.

I hit up rappers through myspace: “Please send me something. Send me your videos, let me premier them.” Eventually people started coming around. Some big names. I got a couple breaks. Bump J, who’s now in jail for bank robbery, he got a big deal from Atlantic, a million dollar deal, and he somehow got off his label. I did a post about it: “Bump J is out of his contract at Atlantic. He’s a free agent. We’re happy. I can’t wait for him.”

Somebody in their camp must have been reading the site. They must have been googling him or they found the site somehow. They emailed me. “Yo, can we send you some music? Bump J’s free and we love your site. Can we work with you?” I’m like, “Are you kidding?” So they started sending me music. I was befriended by the most gangster rap crew in the city. These guys are co-signing me. They’re introducing me to No I.D. and Mikkey Halsted and L.E.P. I get to meet the Legendary Traxster through them, and that introduces me to Twista. All of a sudden one dot connects another, one door opens another. Boom! I’m in the door with all of these people. I’m talking to Rhymefest on the phone. These rappers know who I am. This is really cool.

I like being known as a blogger, but you also want to be respected. So you have to be factual. You have to be a legitimate source. Now the RedEye and publications like that can quote me because they know I’m a legitimate source. I may not be an accredited source like a newspaper or whatever, but I’m legitimate. I’m consistent. I don’t post ridiculous, salacious stories like a Media Takeout. I don’t post crazy videos like a World Star Hip-Hop. I do consider what I do journalism, because I’m just not writing crazy, ridiculous whatever. I’m documenting this. I would call that journalism.

Jack M Silverstein is an oral historian working in Chicago. His non-fiction novella Our President about Barack Obama's inauguration is available at Amazon. Say hey on Twitter @ReadJack.

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Enjoy this interview? Click here for a longer -- way longer -- version as Andrew discusses his love of hip-hop, his path to Fake Shore, and his competition with Chicago's "legitimate" news sources.

Check back every Wednesday at Eye on Chi for more of Jack M Silverstein’s People with Passion interviews with Chicago journalists. Coming up next week: Elaine Coorens, Our Urban Times.

PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES:

(NOTE: The dates below refer to the date of the interview. The order is the date they were run.)

October 21, 2011: Jane Hirt, Chicago Tribune, managing editor

September 19, 2011: Andrew Huff, Gapers Block founder

September 21, 2011: Chris Cascarano, Chicago News Cooperative, video producer

September 30, 2011: Christie Hefner, Playboy, former CEO

September 15, 2011: Alden Loury, Chicago Reporter, publisher

August 17, 2011: Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune, editorial board and columnist

September 13, 2011: Kimbriell Kelly, Chicago Reporter, editor

August 26, 2011: Chuck Sudo, Chicagoist, editor

August 17, 2011: Clayton Hauck, photographer

August 18, 2011: Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times, sports columnist

August 15, 2011: Mick Dumke, Chicago Reader, investigative reporter

December 12, 2008: Alex Kotlowitz (re-edited August 15, 2011)

August 10, 2011: Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, columnist

August 4, 2011: Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, columnist

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