Investigative journalism is a tale that's as old as time. Call it what you want, undercover, watchdog, or accountability journalism. Just as journalists have gone to Iraq to report, I used "Chiraq" as my story. My primary focus was the Chicago Hip Hop and Rap music movement.
Where are the lines between entertainment and reality blurred more than in the Chicago rap scene? I love the idea of freedom of speech and the idea of a poet expressing reality through their words but, at what point does it get too real for comfort? At what point are we living a movie with no cameras? I started this assignment thinking that the Chicago rap scene all really was just entertainment. I was wrong. The experiences that I went through in the last year were not entertaining, they were terrifying. The guns were real, the money was real, the sex and lies we're all very real.
I think the only part about this story that wasn't real was me. I was a tourist, I never planned to live there in the sub culture that I was studying. In a matter of a few months I had to go from being a "80's goth chick" to being someone that was so far away from what I had known my whole life. I had to listen, I had to watch and I had to learn about a whole new way of living that was foreign to me in my own country. Everything was so different for me, simple sentences were hard for me to understand due to slang but, eventually I picked it up. In the last year I have been able to experience what the other side of Chicago is really like. For better or for worse, this was Chiraq 101:
There is no honor amongst thieves. The people that I have gotten to be around are more like the cartoon idea of pirates than anything to me. They are soulless savages to say the least. They made me realize that I am one as wel,l right there along with them. We are all after the same thing, money. We will all do anything to get it, even if it costs us our life.