What nobody wants you to know about the violence in Chicago

I have been in New York on business for the past couple weeks. Every time someone finds out I’m from Chicago, the reply is always something like “Yo… Chicago is going crazy right now.” Then they quote something to me about the latest death toll in my hometown. Honestly, I don’t wanna hear that shit. I grew up around gang violence and poverty. It wasn’t until I witnessed a murder/suicide in the apartment across the hall from me that I decided to save up money and leave the hood for good.

One of my friends who runs a prominent hip hop blog here in New York asked me why Chicago is so much worse this year and why our city is so bad that people like Chief Keef were able to build a buzz by “talking that little kid street shit.” I looked him in his eyes and said “Because people like you publicize it. You helped make Chief Keef a star. People in Chicago finally get to see someone from the block getting fame, and it just so happens the rappers from Chicago who y’all choose to acknowledge are on some goon shit. So don’t talk to me about the violence in my city. You contributed.”

He didn’t have a reply.

People can try to blame artists like Chief Keef (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Lil Mouse) for the recent rise in violence in Chicago streets, but if you really wanna make the point that their “negative message” is the reason for the crime then don’t you have to point the finger at the media outlets that publicize them? Don’t you have to blame international superstar Kanye for hopping on Chief Keef’s song and getting him recognition? Don’t you have to blame the makers of  Pitchfork’s “Selector” series for interviewing Chief Keef in a gun range? Don’t you have to blame all the hip hop sites (whose names I have been asked not to mention) who booked Chief Keef for hella shows and give him prominent features on their site?

Even the major publication that I write for gave Chief Keef a cover story in the paper. They knew about his music’s content but they featured him anyway. There are plenty of talented artists with less violent messages who they can feature. For example, Rockie Fresh is a dope lyricist from Chicago who recently got signed to Maybach Music Group. Rockie is awesome. Where is his newspaper cover? And personally, if I had not become a freelance writer for the paper and was allowed to tell my own story, I might have never been featured in the paper at all! When it comes to rap in Chicago, only the goon shit seems to get the spotlight. If you don’t believe me, ask any rapper from Chicago who isn’t a goon.

If it is true that life imitates art, and entertainment media helps to expose art, then that raises an important question, right? Whose doing more damage here, Chief Keef, who raps about the only lifestyle he knows, or the media and famous people who publicize him and expose his “negative message” to a larger audience?

The same press that publicizes goon shit are the ones reporting the numbers every time the death toll rises. There. I said it.

I have a love/hate relationship with Chicago hip hop. On one hand, if it wasn’t for the fact that I rap I wouldn’t be where I am today. In spite of the fact that I am also a singer and producer, most of my fans knew me as a rapper first. But in my city, I am an abnormality just because I don’t rap about street shit at all. I remove myself from the situations I grew up around. I got abused, I was homeless, I experienced poverty, but I was able to get out. And I work hella hard so that I can stay out. Everybody is not that lucky. Many people in my city, ESPECIALLY people in the age group of Chief Keef and the rapper JoJo who was recently killed, can not get out of the hood because they can’t afford it. And if they are a part of gang culture then it’s hard to leave your neighborhood and start over, there are certain areas they can never live in because there WILL be a problem if a rival gang finds out about it.

Everybody likes to try to blame hip hop for the trouble in urban culture, and now Chief Keef is becoming the poster-child for what’s wrong with Chicago. But let me clue you in… it’s not just young people who listen to Chief Keef who are being killed in my city. People of all ages die over street violence. It’s an ongoing thing that has been an issue in Chicago for decades. I don’t know why the rest of the country is shocked by this, because we sure aren’t. That is why I was not so impressed with President Obama’s video message urging people in Chicago to stop the violence. I mean… how many gang-banging street dudes ACTUALLY heard it?

You can’t change anything here by saying “stop the violence.” You have to stop the unemployment, stop the crackhead parents who make it so kids have to raise themselves, stop the segregation that everybody keeps ignoring, stop the shittier schools in poorer neighborhoods, stop treating teachers like they should do more work for less money. I don’t know how to solve these problems, they have been going on longer than I have been alive and I know that I am too young to understand why. I didn’t even understand what it meant to feel safe until I moved outta the hood, and I am still getting used to it. Much of my family still live in some of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago. I rarely visit. I see how much worse it is there than the uppity area where I live now, and it makes me angry. But I am not so far removed from the hood that I don’t take offense when people say that Chicago is going crazy right now, like we are just wild animals who aren’t just reacting to the cards we’ve been dealt. For many of us, that craziness is all we know. And to most of you, our struggle is nothing but entertainment.


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  • Very on point with this, Nikki! We cannot simply blame Keef; a year ago nobody even heard of this dude, and what's happening now has been happening long before him. Whether it's violence in Chicago, Chief Keef's "music" or Basketball Wives on VH1, negativity continues to get more shine that positivity.

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    Well said!!!

  • "You can't change anything here by saying "stop the violence." You have to stop the unemployment, stop the crackhead parents who make it so kids have to raise themselves, stop the segregation that everybody keeps ignoring, stop the shittier schools in poorer neighborhoods, stop treating teachers like they should do more work for less money."

    You just eclipsed the President for having THEE best words of the day.

    I completely agree.

    Music has become commercial noise with subliminal messaging to get kids to buy True Religion jeans, wear dreadlocks, say "bang bang," quote gang slogans and expressions without knowing it. And then we folks like us question it, radio folks at WGCI or Power 92 say: "It's just art."

    No, it's just corrupt. People say that music does not cause violence but it damn sure creates the atmosphere for it. A song doesn't directly cause a person to be shot but it has an effect on kids who are emotional and dependent on mind altering drugs.

    Kids who listen to Radio Disney don't want to shoot anybody because there's no content on there about "throwing Ls up for hittas" and being a "killa." Meanwhile, slimy record execs act as if it doesn't affect them.

    It affects us all!

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    I wish u could send this article to Interscope, Russell Simmons, Kanye, Radio stations, & Politicans who are staying silent but need our vote.

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    In reply to Kelly Powell:


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    I left Chicago for that very reason, I lived on 72nd May and I had teenage sons that just didn't fit that neighborhood bec my husband and I raised them differently, I had to leave!! They thank me now,but oh they were upset,but now I see how segregated it is there and the ugliness of some of it...however its my city and I know some of the reasons why its happening and I do take offense to outsiders making comments when they never had to live that life. Don't make judgements on others because that life is hard.

  • Wow I am shocked that anybody from a major city has anything negative to say about Chicago when their city has some of the same issues. Sure Chicago is in the news for violence but I can recall when it was New York, Houston, Detroit, LA, Memphis, New Orleans so when anyone from those cities and the others try to crack on Chicago all they have to do is take their ass to the library and read up on the same issues Chicago is encountering.

    I left Chicago years ago right at the time gangs black gangs begin to dominate the cities landscape, my neighborhood as it was for many serious having problems with growth and all the things those that lived in the burbs did not have.
    When I left to attend college the music of the rap sound was not even invented unless you listen to Gil-Scott, I understand the impact of this new sound of music, I see in their lyrics what their life is about and yet I despise how it is celebrated by the media as being the sound of the black life experience.

    Sure even at my age I listen to some rap artists but the ones mention in your article I never heard of. But that does not mean I am lost to the ability of what they say and how it influences the youth.

    I have been around kids who could after one hearing of these sorid tarp records could repeat them word for word yet if you asked them who Harold Washington was they couldn't.
    One thing when the media celebrate and encourage these nitwits music they have no idea how it impacts those that are young and very impressive by what they hear and see and when that type of world is celebrated they rush to be part of it.

    So those who jump on Chicago please try looking at your own cluck ass city.

  • This is so true and I could not agree more. What needs to change is the moral culture of the city itself. How we allow, as you put it, "Goon shit" to be such a footnote in our society is ridiculous. You are pin point right on the fact that the (financial) supporting of crackheads, tolerance for drugs, and acceptance of violence is allowed in our city. How do we oust this? Do we make it difficult and tell people who don't have a job to leave? Something extreme might have to take place because everything seems to be getting extreme too.

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    Well said. Agree 1hundred!

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    i agree with you Nikki is bigger then cheif keef and HIP-HOP, its bigger then a city to. think about all the violence perpetuated everyday in the world. A lot of these rappers r being used as puppets by the beast to perpetuate this culture of violence becuz they know how powerful it is.
    but thats still no excuse to kill people.
    i can see why chicago is so hot right now thou its the new city for sale.
    obamas president, and the city has become popularize for its thugdom.
    but also for its progressive grass roots base which is also being overlooked in the face of deaths , doesnt mean there isnt lots of people working strivin loving for a peace world.
    honestly why dont people complain about obama or the govt pereptuatin violence in iraq everyday !!! ???
    then he's gonna say stop the violence
    ???????? does anybody see the lieing goin on
    ,(i know its not his fault he's treing) its bigger then obama thou to
    i agree with you Nikki to
    Why is it that people make this such a hot issue now????
    this shit is always happening but it was a shorty rapper so its more serious now, people dieing everyday shorties dieing everyday.
    who's to blame gun manufacturers??
    hate to end this with a statistic cuz dats what we wanna avoid but
    every minute someones die by a gun
    its hard to imagine america without this lifestyle and its hard to imagine a life without its very opposite, thats what nations r all about
    peace &war
    rich & the poor
    democrats & republicans
    chaos and order
    its orchestrated that way
    this quote popppped in my head from Guru RIP
    "we can pray for this shit to like cease/
    but until then a brother gonna pack a piece"
    peace yall

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    I can only say THANK YOU! I don't think anything or anyone could and would ever bring forth what you have as well as you have. THANK YOU! for this article!

  • I'm sorry that I don't agree.... As someone who was not raised in Chicago but have lived here for 12 years, I must say that this "passing of the blame" is really the problem. We're going to blame the media for Keef, his message, and his influence on the youth in our community? Problem is that there are too many Keefs in these streets (thousands that you will probably never hear of unless they make the paper, for whatever reason) - uneducated (they didn't attend the schools that are there), fatherless/motherless (we simply need to raise our own kids better), surrounded by violence (in their home before they even hit the streets), etc....
    I was raised hip-hop. I'm old enough to remember when THE ONLY way to get hip-hop was off of a NYC radio station on Saturday nights. And if I hear another rapper say "don't blame me because I'm not influencing "your" kids" I'm going to vomit. Really? You don't have influence? Tell that to Mountain Dew when they want you to sponsor and sell their sodas in the 'hood. Rappers always brag about the fact that when they talk people listen. Whether is what we wear, what we drink, or what we listen to and are brainwashed by, they also have to take the blame for what's in our community (as well as those of us actually STILL in the community).
    We can't pass "the weight" on to the media. They're reporting on what they see. We need to be ashamed of ourselves for giving them something to look at!!!!

  • In reply to JAllenJr:

    THANK YOU JAllenJr - You seem to be the ONLY one trying to see the blame in the mirror, rather than ALWAYS blaming Black people's problems on "somebody else" (in this case - the Media).

  • In reply to JAllenJr:

    I agree, there are far too many Keefs. Just like there are far too many people trying to figure out where to point the finger. If you notice, at no point did I say "blame the media." And if you think it makes sense to overlook the impact the media & celebs had on publicizing a 17 year old kid making goon music, then I am not going to hate. But a 17 year old kid is a product of his community. Did you forget that part? Maybe if we had fewer folks blaming young people and more folks trying to help us then we WOULD have fewer Chief Keefs.

  • In reply to Nikki Lynette:

    ICAM. http://chicago.everyblock.com/talk/sep10-what-else-can-do-stop-violence-5321221/

  • Well said, Nikki! I've lived in or near Chicago for over 20 years and here's the straight dope: Very few people actually care enough to do anything about the violence.
    - The Democrat politicians know that they'll never be voted out of office because they've scared everyone into believing a Republican will stop the welfare and they've fixed the machine so bad that they *always" get reelected. They don't really give a shit about violence because they have plenty of armed guards to protect them. They just cry for gun control so they can tell the media that "they're trying to fix the problem". They ain't gonna help.
    - The media love to sell newspapers and nothing is better for the 6:00 news than stories of another Wild Chicago shootout. They love flashing pictures of bodies, blood, and bullet holes. They ain't gonna help. And you've already proven that the record companies only care about their profits and don't give a shit who it hurts.
    - The teachers might try to help, but the good ones are scared and don't want to go to those neighborhoods, and the bad ones can't be kicked out and replaced because of the union rules, so they get sent in and all the bad teachers want to do is live through another day and get their pay. All the pay in the world won't change that. They ain't gonna help.

    The way I see it, the only thing that will actually help is for the people in these neighborhoods to take the responsability to help themselves. Quit complaining that the government ain't saving you - they never will!! They got to grow up and take responsiblity for themselves. They got to stop having babies without married fathers. They got to throw that trash music and TV out of the house. They got to discipline their kids and put the fear of God into them. They got to tell their kids and their friends the TRUTH about that being in a gang is not cool, that "packing a piece" is not going to save you, that the *only* way to a decent job is to take education seriously, that the only way out is faith in God and hard work. You do need to pray, but you need to act, too. Otherwise, it's only going to get worse.

  • I left West Pullman 4 years ago, had no choice, its shame what has become of our neighborhoods and this music. Its a bigger shame that politicians don't want to address this issue. They do understand that people in those areas vote right? Its like no one wants to acknoweldge what's going on. I live in the suburbs now but I still have family in the those rough areas and its no joke.

    And I've been listening to Rockie Fresh for about a year now, he is truly representing the Chi, has skills and doesn't have to talk crazy to get publicity.

  • Having lived in Chicago for some time, I can tell you that the violence going on in the worst neighborhoods is nothing new. It's sad, but, until the politicians and the wealthy start to care about improving the lot of those in the "bad" neighborhoods, I doubt that anything will happen.

    Although I'm "white" it wasn't hard to see some of the obvious things going wrong there. First of all, the perception is that no one from those areas deserves improvement as they are all "thugs" and, therefore, deserve what they get. Well, obviously not.

    Many of the African-American Chicagoans (from the worst of the South or West sides) who were my former co-workers were just people trying to get along like everyone else. And how could anyone possibly blame a poor kid who got caught in the gang crossfire? Like in many situations, it's the bad 1 percent who are causing the majority of the problems.

    Unemployment is related to poor-preforming schools. Badly taught kids will not get into the best colleges and they can't compete for the best jobs. That's true of both underfunded inner-city and rural schools, too.

    It should be obvious--few "star" teachers from better neighborhoods will commute into a dangerous neighborhood to work. Would you? I'm not saying that there couldn't be some good home-grown teachers there already, but there isn't going to be any competition from the best and brightest to go there--like there are with other schools.

    Unions aren't the problem with the schools. Unions primarily serve to protect good teachers, more than they prevent the bad from getting fired. There are plenty of non-union charter schools that under-preform or completely fail, too.

    My personal opinion is that the illegal drug trade has to stop to end the violence. According to the Chicago police, much of the recent violence has been due to gang conflicts who profit from this. From what I have seen, it's the wealthy who are supplying the money and the poor who then have to suffer the consequences. And it's pretty unrealistic to expect all the wealthy people with drug habits to suddenly just give it up. (The "just say no" campaign didn't really do anything besides give material to comedians, now did it?) So, in my opinion, the sensible thing is to legalize and tax it and get the money out of the hands of the gangs.

    Maybe rap music does glorify violence now, but this stuff was going on long before rap music was popular.

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    I am from Chicago. I grew up near 103rd Halsted. It wasn't "hood" but it wasn't suburbia.

    I went to highschool in Beverly and spent lots of time doing academic activities downtown, on the northside and in the suburbs.

    I had friends and family who lived in rough areas and only visited in the daytime.

    I can honestly say that I had been to englewood twice, robert taylor once and the west side 3 times before I turned 22. There was never a real reason for me to go

    I have no idea who the artists mentioned in the article even are nor do I plan to listen to any of their music.

    I have since moved away from Chicago and most likely will never live there again. When I do go visit I only go select places.

    Its sad because there is so much of the city that is so horrible now.

    Yes crack and other drugs are part of the problem
    Yes education and employment are issues
    Yes gang violence is part of the problem but the biggest problem is that people don't care. They don't care about themselves, their neighboorhoods, their families and especially not their children.

    I do understand that if you are poorer you only have money to live in certain areas and the closing of the public housing has limited where people can live but honestly if you want better for yourself and your family you will do better. You will find a way. And just because you live in a certain environment does not mean you have to be an active participant of foolery!

    Its all about choices and people fail to realize that.
    At a certain age you do realize that you live in a horrible situation but you are aware that there is more to life outside of what happens in the hood. Its up to you to go for that even if no one wants to come with you or help you. Its your choice to live and you get to decide how.

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    Couldn't have said it better. And while completely love my President, a 'stop the violence message' only means something if there is a healthy alternative that's readily available. That's why the insurrection (i.e., political gridlock from the GOP) needs to stop so we can get help in the form of real jobs and programming to millions of families, particularly the ones in the hood.

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    In reply to Darryl Clayton:

    Seriously? You are blaming the GOP for the problems? IL has been completely controlled by Democrats for the last 12 years.....Dem house, Dem senate, and Dem Governor. Chicago's violence is NOT a federal problem. Even if it were a federal issue, democrats controlled everything for Obama's first two years in office. Either you are clueless about politics or are dumb.

  • Nikki,

    Could NOT disagree with you more. Blaming the media, really? Yet most of the people on you blog agree. Which reflects the depth of the problems.

    Who a person is starts in the home. In most of these communities, there is little or no parental engagement. When it is, it is perpetuating chaos from the music they listen to, the movies they watch and more importantly in the dysfunctional relationships they are born out of and see on a day to day basis. Example, according to the Sun Times, the mother of Lil JoJo, said, when commenting on her sons death, that basically, my kid was about to be a star and that is why he was killed, people were jealous. Mind you, the kids goes into a dangerous neighborhood on bike, at night, tweets his location and dares someone to come and get him. This is the acts of a very foolish person. There are very few people who are killed minding there on business, relative to people killed who are engaged in nefarious activity in Chicago. Most of the young men are not thugs, but a large number are. They were raised to be thugs. They were miseducated to be thugs. They development has been left to the influence of who ever they come in contact with, good or bad. I have been at schools with over 1500 students, and on Local School Council meeting nights not a single parents show up. On local school council election day, no more than 5 people vote. These parents are not involved or engaged on a meaningful way with their kids. The media didn't stop them from coming out. In Chicago there are over 100 high schools, and only 14 schools have ACT scores high enough to get you in college. Of those 14, only 4 have a majority black population. Yet, over half the school kids in Chicago are black. The other 90+ schools are more or less failures and are all black a hispanic. The parents either don't know, don't care or both. Either way, the outcome is the same. If people don't want kids, then stop laying around with any Tony and Tonyette and having them. 73% of African American kids are being born by single moms. Most of these moms are 20+ years of age. They are not teenagers. These are grown women dealing with grown men. However, once you do have a child, take care of them. Teach them to read, write and do math, to think. to have morals, to aspire. I have never met anyone who achieved anything from low expectations.

    I have a college age son from Chicago, who I know all of his friends (so I think). In every case of all of his friends in college, they all have an engaged parents, especially the father. Even though most don't live with their fathers.

    The problem is us. Period.

    Nikki, you are entitled to your opinion. However, it is just that, an opinion. Supply some credible facts to what you are saying and it go on to be something more substantial.

  • In reply to MikeJ:

    I couldn't agree with you more. It all begins and IS reinforced in the homelife, or lack thereof. If there is no one to correct them, praise them, encourage them, or communicate with them, the streets will do it. If I recall correctly in "Freakanomics", it was cited that even moving the kids from a poor, under performing school to one that is much better performing, i.e from the worst neighborhoods to suburbia, most of the time
    the students remain below average in grades and attainment. This points directly to parenting. Just moving to a better area or throwing more money or programming at the problem schools doesn't solve the problem.
    The attitudes and behaviors have to change.

  • In reply to MikeJ:

    This blog is about my opinions. If you aren't into that, you don't have to frequent my blog. That's the beauty of free will. Further, I did not assign blame anywhere. I merely pointed out that it people are going to villainize an underage goon rapper and accuse him of being a bad influence on kids in Chicago, then you should also villainize the grown ass influential media and celebs who helped publicize them. Perhaps my blog wasn't "substantial" to you, but it hit home with a lot of people because they agree. So even without all of your facts that point the finger at an ambiguous "us," my blog managed to be substantial and informative to a lot of people. Lucky me.

    Thanx for commenting.

  • Let's get specific:

    1) School vouchers for all. Food stamps work fine. End government monopoly of education.

    2) End the "War on Drugs." Decriminalize, regulate, and tax. The government does not have the right, under our Constitution, to tell me what to do unless what I am doing directly affects someone else.

    3) Ban assault weapons, dum-dum bullets, multi-bullet clips.

  • " For many of us, that craziness is all we know. And to most of you, our struggle is nothing but entertainment."

    Wasn't it Spike Lee who said that Rap/HipHop is nothing more than a minstrel show for the music industry?

    But it's OK...Rap is played out.

    Time to move on.

  • The hip-hop radio stations in Chicago make me so angry--out of one speaker channel they "STOP THE MUSIC" to spend yet another interminable hour listening to the same people from the same organizations talk about the same problems and come up with the same solutions that didn't work the LAST time they "stopped the music"...and when the music starts again, it's right back to heavy rotation with Rick Ross, Chief Keef, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne. Standards and Practices insist that the stations bleep out "bitch" and "ho" and "pussy", but it's just fine to leave in "neena" and "bricks" and "work" and "molly". And of COURSE it's just fine for the rappers to talk about all the diamonds and cars and women and clothes they have--and gee, I wonder if just coincidentally some of those name-brands are advertisers on those very same radio networks? Not that it would be hard to make the target demo want those things anyhow, and it doesn't take a genius to know that the brands and cars and houses and jewels are things no normal hard-working nine-to-fiver could never afford in a lifetime of working for a living. Hell, I'm a 42-year-old white woman, but if I was a 16-year old--of ANY race and ANY gender!--and I'd been raised in this society at this time, even I would think that anyone who got up in the morning, went to work for eight, and came home with $900 every two weeks was a sucker too..

    So if this music supposedly normalizes violence and devalues the "real people's" work ethic; if it fosters an unhealthy materialism and a fixation on items which are out of reach of all but the wealthy...who benefits? If the messages are so harmful to the community, who allows this trade to carry on, and why?

    The an$wer i$ fairly $imple. It'$ quite obviou$ why $tation$ and program director$ and record label$ would be willing to play mu$ic that wa$ again$t the be$t intere$t$ of the communitie$ that $upport them...so we certainly can't expect THEM to take any real action to curb the violence that's now become so much a part of hip-hop.

    My point is, there's been, for many years now, a shocking abdication of responsibility all down the line. Everyone wants SOMEONE to stop the violence; everyone wants SOMEONE to regulate this kind of music. Well, "someone" doesn't seem to be terribly interested in doing these things, and frankly, the notion of letting someone else take care of it falls under "be careful what you wish for:"

    So if you truly believe that the lifestyle and the actions described in today's popular hip-hop are contributing at any level to the continuation of violence in Chicago, here's what we're going to have to do...

    EACH INDIVIDUAL who takes offense to the violence, to the decline of communities, to the perpetuation of the cycle of poverty and unemployment and injustice and all the other ills we're discussing here, and who believes that the music causes them or influences them or merely describes them in an attractive way...EACH INDIVIDUAL needs to take his or her own stand and say:

    I will not buy this music.
    I will not listen to this music.
    I will not listen to stations that play this music.
    I will not purchase products from companies who advertise on stations who play this music.
    I will not patronize stores who sell this music.
    I will not allow my children to listen to this music.
    I will not compromise by accepting "clean" versions of this music, because the intent still comes through.
    I will not buy products advertised with these artists, or using this music, or sold by those who sponsor concerts for these artists.
    I will not wear the clothing brands these artists name, drink the beverages they mention, buy music from their labels....
    You get the idea.

    Would it work? Probably so, yes.
    Will it happen? Welll....I'd love to be proven wrong, but doing all those little things....that's a lot of work, you know, and besides....gotta listen to SOMETHING, right?

    And around and around it goes.

  • In reply to Gladystopia:

    [[EACH INDIVIDUAL needs to take his or her own stand and say...]]

    No, you have to organize. A thousand individuals acting on their own does nothing. A thousand people on a petition, getting media traction, getting advertiser awareness, THAT will make an impact.

    When a CEO hears his company's name connected to gun violence he makes a phone call to the advertising department and says "Get us out of this."

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    Sorry Nikki but your argument does not pass a logic test. If what you are saying were correct that would mean the media only covers violence in Chicago and therefore it increases the violence in Chicago. That is not true. You have to look at situations that are unique to Chicago

  • In reply to Joe Lombardo:

    I started the article by stating that I was addressing someone's comments to me about my city and the death toll here, in Chicago. Maybe you missed that part. It was in the first paragraph. It is hard for me to believe you didn't see it, that just does not pass a logic test.

  • In reply to Nikki Lynette:

    You funny!

  • To your tweet about people not being affected by it. I am affected by it. My kid doesn't want to take public transportation home from school for fear of having to pass a corner store with thugs hanging out, or that kind of danger directly impacting her. So I have to take off work to pick her up to do it. My kid is afraid to go out and enjoy herself, for fear someone will take her bike from her. I am starting a new business and have to worry about investors fearing making an investment in area they perceive as one big gangland, just because its on the south side of Chicago. I have to pay higher auto insurance because more cars get stolen in my zip code according to my insurance agent. I have less places to shop in my neighborhood because people with money and drive have better options than my neighborhood to open their business, at least that is how they view it. I am looking at selling my house and now have to worry about the impact of these crimes will have on the perceived livability of my neighborhood to potential buyers, further eroding my equity. So the impact is greater than hurt feeling for me.

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    Nikki, very well said. You have a beautiful intellect and have cut right through the miasma. Just as at the inception of gangsta rap, it sells because it presents images of black on black fratricide. the label heads at Interscope know this. It's time for a boycott. I miss the hip hop of KRS, Public Enemy, Paris, and the positive teachers from hip hop's golden age.

  • I live in Morgan Park and I have seen my block go from sugar to shit overnight! In addition to the above comments, we also need to look at these slumlords who rent their houses to these crackhead/drug addidcted people who could care less about what a neighborhood/community is! They don't go to school, blast their music all day and night, have these thugs come to the house and sprawl in front of my house leaning on the gate, break into others' homes, don't work (just get government assistance), don't clean up, throw trash everywhere and just sit on the porch selling and smoking drugs - yet they get a house???? A law should be enacted about this!

  • In reply to NOTGivingUP:

    Section 8 housing probably needs to be modified or abolished. You should probably make that your issue and start being an activist, since it affects you directly.

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    I agree with the majority of this article, but I just have to pick it apart because some of the stuff you said, Nikki, is kinda....wrong.

    - "Whose doing more damage here, Chief Keef, who raps about the only lifestyle he knows, or the media and famous people who publicize him and expose his "negative message" to a larger audience?"

    Neither is doing more damage. There is no such thing as one side committing "more damage." They both have an equal amount of damage that they are dealing to Chicago.

    - "I don't know why the rest of the country is shocked by this, because we sure aren't."

    PLEASE don't use the word 'we' because that is a SUPER generalization. I don't know who said to you that they were not shocked by the violence tearing Chicago apart, because I know many Chicagoans (myself included) that are shocked and disturbed by the number of killings and shootings that happen every time.

    - "You can't change anything here by saying "stop the violence." You have to stop the unemployment..."

    I agree that we cannot stop the violence by simply saying it. But what is stopping unemployment going to do? It's not going to stop parents from not raising their kids inappropriately or not at all, and it's certainly not going to stop said kids from gangbanging and killing. Just because they'll have jobs doesn't mean they'll drop their hood mentality.

  • In reply to Michael Pamon:

    There ACTUALLY is a suck thing as more damage. Which does more damage, a firecracker or a grenade? Which is influential, an underage goon rapper making songs for Youtube or the media and celebs attaching their self to the underage goon rapper and make him a national phenomena? Do you REALLY think Cheif Keef is rapping about anything other than what he knows? He isn't even grown. U know who is grown? Everybody who helped him blow up and expose the goon rap to a larger audience, everyone who gave his message wings so he could be more influential.

    And honestly, nobody I know was shocked. Maybe that's because I don't know anyone who has been in denial until now. this is n;t new, it's been going in for years. I grew up in the hood so I am beyond being shocked, maybe it's new to you but it isn't to me, I'm on the "pissed off and looking for solutions" side of the fence now.

    Stopping unemployment helps people find other ways to make money aside from selling drugs. That has nothing to do with a "hood mentality." Pardon me for being pro-employment, but I feel the need to point out that drug dealing is not inherent to the hood mentality, the biggest criminals and mobsters aren't even in the hood. And that's a fact.

    Thanx for commenting.

  • Let the truth be told chicago gangbanger are being protected by the chicago police department because for one this guy lil chief keef point a gun a police and got house arrest wow and the top cop had time to respond to lil chief keef and lil jojo but refuse to sit down with the gang leaders that is calling for peace on the streets.leaders like larry hoover ,jeff fort,these lil gang members know the top cops hate there leaders of the gangs so they say if a gang leaders tell a gang member to put his gun down that little gang member go to the police and that gang leaders will face federal prison time ponit blank just for being a chicago gang leader,but a lil gang member can point a gun at a chicago police and get house arrest you do the math,example in prison if these same guys would have being fighting they both would be blasted for their action thats it thats all but on the street they have the police help them get around the gangleaders order to put them guns down,SO IN OTHER WORDS WE IS GETTING WHAT WE ASK FOR....

  • Nikki,

    If your point is to say that the media contributes. Yes, you are right, the media does contributes. A grenade is far worse than a firecracker. However, we cannot ignore that if a firecracker explodes close to a person, it is as dangerous and even more so than a grenade that is not close. You are right, there is no we. The parents of these kids have to start doing a better job. Many, and do mean many of these parents do not care to do so. Being from the hood or not doesn't change that fact. Most of the mass shooting are from kids from "good" families and school. However, I believe the social implications and direct impact on poorer kids are far more severe. Being poor alone is not the cause. Africans in America have the highest college graduation rates in America. Yes, higher than asians. Most are poor. However, Africans tend to have a very strong family unit. Again, committed parenting makes a big difference.

    For the majority of kids, I would say music, movies, and video games are nothing but social voyuerism. The proliferation of profane music is not new, however the breadth, reach and socially acceptable nature of it seems to be high and growing. Enrique Iglesias records a song called, Tonight I'm @#$% yo$ and it number 1. To me, this speaks to the spiritual deprivation of society. Yes, the media does have an impact on how we see ourselves and were 'we" (insert individual) fit in, if we accept that paradigm that they are putting forward.

  • what do a new york city cop know about chicago street gangs?thats half the problem,these 13,14, 15 year old kids have been making chicago police look very bad we should be having a police strike instead of teacher strike because why are we paying these guys?chicago need a police department very very bad

  • "You have to stop the unemployment"
    [[People have to get off their ass and get a job.]]

    "stop the crackhead parents who make it so kids have to raise themselves"
    [[It's not even the crackheads...the level of parenting in the hood is abysmal. Don't have kids you aren't willing to raise.]]

    "stop the segregation that everybody keeps ignoring"
    [[It ain't about race, it's about income and social class. ]]

    "stop the shittier schools in poorer neighborhoods, stop treating teachers like they should do more work for less money."
    [[Parents have to unite behind a set of goals and get involved in their schools, just like yuppie parents do. Yes, it's a burden and a drag, but no one told them to have children.]]

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    Well Mousekateer Lynette,
    This article/column is so filthy with obscenties, it requires readers to take a shower after reading it - so, in one way you contribute (in a 'round' about way) of having a cleaner Chicago. As for blaming the killings/robberies/crime on a hip-hopper or some media reporting same is just about as obscene.

  • In reply to Thomas Weaver:

    It most be lonely wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy up there on your high horse.

    Thanx for commenting.

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    To isolate the problem to one, two or three things is stupid. First the young man got an opportunity that is obviously supported. Right or wrong does not matter. As crazy as it may seem he is getting paid for speaking the truth, a bitter pill everyone hates swallowing. His challenge will be what is HE as a new celebrity going to do with his new found wealth? Does he have role models that can guide him? Will he be able to create some good amongst all the horror? That in itself is a tall task for anyone, yet a teenager. The downside, if he disappears as fast as his rise. Will his environment kill him? Then he will be nothing more but another statistic of youth violence. In truth he is only speaking about the carousel many are trapped in. The violence is a manifestation of the people's anger of seeing no end in sight or any good. Unemployment just scratches the surface. A common thread here is many posted how they got out and those reasons vary. The anger escalates from those that don't have an option and must find what ever means possible to survive. Everyday, communities are trying to stand-up, face these challenges but they need help. Unfortunately, the help is never long lasting at that is the core issue. Quick solutions will not work. These problems took years to develop and will take the same long term approach to solve them.

  • Bad parents, bad parents, bad parents and bad parents. As you said many kids are raised by crackheads who couldn't care less about their kids once they are no longer babies. Most in the "bad" neighborhoods are absent a father and the discipline he would bring. These kids gravitate to gangs as they get no direction at home. The kids who do have a caring parent, preferably 2, who keep them out of trouble and force them to do their homework, etc. have a chance to break the cycle of poverty and violence. But far too many of those lacking that direction turn to drug an violence. A few months ago Mayor Rahm commented about the gang banger who murdered a little child asking, "Who are the parents?" Like so many other things, Rahm didn't follow up on that, did he? Until we attack the problems of bad parenting, don't expect any change in this cycle of poverty and violence.

  • Excellent comment Nikki. But please emphasize to your readers that this is a global issue with the young males from the African diaspora lest we forgot. Black males in London are lamenting the same as the black youths in Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Vancouver and even Chicago. Yes they are lamenting and singing songs of their daily struggles to eat , sleep and be somebody at the end of the day. The place is called the "Trap" and we know what it means. For the lucky ones who can get out then lucky you but many youths still eat , sleep and die in their neighborhoods not even knowing the street names of Downtown Chicago or the Mellinium Park. Yes many have never been outside that 10-Block area called hood. The "Trap" is the same place titled "The Garrison" in Jamaica. Yes we could blame these youths for singing about real life struggles on the streets but everyone including the Music industry , the media including Radio, Their families and the City adminstration. But scientifically proven just recently MRI on a teenager brain demonstrate that their brain is still developing . A developing brain does developing thoughts. Their brain is just not quite developed as an adult. Why is this important. It is important because you need all the nerve connections for your thought processes and decision making pradigms to function on a daily basis. This is important because as an adult when you make a decision all your cortical inputs should be functioning. A developing brain does developing processes. Remember they are still teenagers. Remember "Yummy" ,Sandifer that is , maybe been before your time but a similar story of youths looking for acceptance and love and found it in the wrong place. Unfortunately many younger youths 11-15 years identify with the lamentations that the younger artists are spitting. Bob, that is Bob Marley for all ,once said the tongue is sharper than a sword and he was criticized during his early reggae days for spewing negativity against the establishment but he woke the monsters in people to fight for equality and justice and better representation from government in the poor areas of Kingston. He eventually unified the opposing party leaders on stage at his concert so that the killings could stop in Jamaica during those terrible unrest. Yes being involved with first the reggae world through my label Manatee Records I heard the same lamentations from artists in Jamaica and Canada as well as Africa about the politicians not fulfilling the needs of the people. Due to my involvement in the Urban music arena in Chicago for many years , I am going through a second cycle of "Lamentations". Yes the same lamentations our forefathers sang on the plantations to get their freedom back then and to get equality after they were freed. Imagine the hype , Chicago is the second largest city in the USA and until these youths signed there major label deals , the industry tastemakers and major labels looked elsewhere to sign artists. Chicago was the last place the major labels came for artists and many artists moved to cities like Miami, Atlanta and NY to fulfill their dreams but most returned to their home Chicago is without deals after spending huge sums of money. Thousands of Chicago artists are still top acts and never got looked on by the Majors. Other cities such as New York, New Orleans, Atlanta and suburbs and Los Angeles got their share of monies from the majors. Yes the Major Labels had Chicago in a bottle neck and one may rarely hear of artists getting signed without even knowing or seeing the artists at any events or showcases. This is how they did their protocol. In the local music scene when Chief Keef and surrounding staff signed their multiple record deals this was a major spike for artists in the music industry in this city. These teenagers were heavily supported by other teenagers who made thousands of comments on Youtube and Facebook to push this artists to the forefront. The social network push gave all of us in the industry in Chicago a wake up calling that if you did not have the youths online and tweeting as well as working the facebook site you will be left behind. It gave other teenage artists the energy to push on with their videos and tweeting. We also must remember that these youths all belong to someone. Some mother ,some father or some grandmother. They are still living in the "Trap" or "Garrison" and are "Trapaholics" . The youths lament of such activities and have become cold and dehumanized with their surroundings and the police. Remember their brain has not fully developed. Any brain without stimulation and nutrients may it be education, food and love will not process as an adult. What about the media?. Do you as an artist wonder why listeners in Chicago, the 2nd largest populated city in the USA has only one large urban commercial radio station inside the city limits but coupled to a second Indiana urban radio station close to the city limits while florida have many times stations as well as Atlanta and New Orleans. The music game continues for many artists who spends monies buying CDs, going to the studios and spending thousand of dollars, Buying tee shirts for promotions, doing their own concerts as the many major establishments have banned hip hop especially rap music from their concert venues. Many of these youths must bring a top act artist from other cities and pay them substanstial amounts of monies just so they can do the opening act thing. When the major acts are gone so is the money. Many of the top Chicago acts also must open for these artists who sometimes charge $5,000 and up to do a show with our top acts opening for them. To many artists this is the frustrating. I know these artists spend hours and money to be seen and heard and many times for naught. I remember artist Beadz aka Beadz Jones performing in 2010 for the Henessey Artistry Showcase in Chicago alongside signed artists including Big Sean. Well clearly everyone in the audience claimed Beadz outperformed Big Sean but that was not televised or written about.

    Beadz just hosted "Coast2Coast" Mixtape #203 as well as the 1st Unsigned Artist to be on the Cover for the "Coast2Coast" Mixtape Magazine. Krystal Meth has been nominated for Top Female Rap Artist for Dj Bigga Rankin "Diamond Awards". GBoy MostRequested Highly anticipated mixtape "Royalty In Flesh" will be released in the upcoming weeks. Money Coach "Diddy In The City" Single is out and banging in the clubs of Chicago. Mr Coppa Hot Mixtape out now.

    Beadz aka Beadz Jones
    GBoy MostRequested
    Kyrstal Meth
    Money Coach

  • To blame the murders on music is ridiculous. There has always been violence in Chicago. The difference today is the criminally easy availability of guns.

  • Wanna know why there is so much violence in Chicago, simple: too many illegal mexicans and legal blacks.

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    I highly doubt music magically motivates others towards violence, just like video games don't its all on the individual. Think that Chi is full of rampant crime cuz peeps are hurting, jobs are scarce and so is honest to goodness wages. Thus, you have shit paying jobs and a high standard/expectation cost of living (e.g. gots to get the latest iphone, ipad, smartphone, etc). Everythings hella expensive, and the idiots we elect to run things just sit around playing angry birds all day thinking of ways to assrape the hard workers of the city. Like the saying goes, the workers never hustle and the hustlers never work.

  • LOL... This is completely insane. NO -- you don't have to blame the media. They're just reporting what's out there. YES -- you blame the people who are small-minded and short-sighted enough to go along with "the only thing they know."

    You say you aren't impressed with Obama's message.... Then why blame the rest of the media? Wouldn't the culprits not listen to BOTH? Seems like you're trying to argue both ways.

    There is a rising culture of violence here. And we should look inward to solve it. Not place blame elsewhere. That's why your friend didn't have an answer: it's a silly question.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    ACTUALLY I didnt ask a question. I made a statement. Ultimately he agreed. Perhaps accountability is a foreign concept to you, but it isn't to him. Go figure.

    And at no point in this article did I say "blame the media." I said if you're gonna villainize a 17 year old drill rapper for his message, then apply similar judgement to the media that publicizes him. Being unimpressed with Obama's message had NOTHING to do with that point. Obama is not a member of the press sweeite. The president isn't an entertainment journalist. LoL

    As I said before, rather than placing blame maybe people should figure out what they can do to affect change. I'm doing my part. Hope you're doing yours. Thanx for commenting.

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