Praising Violent Chicago Hip-Hop: That’s That Shit I Don’t Like

chief keef1 Praising Violent Chicago Hip Hop: Thats That Shit I Dont LikeHip-hop’s ties to real life violence became increasingly documented and notorious (no pun) during the gangster rap era of the early-to-mid ’90s and, for some, began to fade following the murders of 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. That’s not to say other sub-genres, including gangster rap itself, have ever completely faded. Tough-talkin’ mafioso MCs spittin’ that ol’ bullshit about pushing your wig sideways have been around for decades. And horrorcore has brought out some of the most gruesome rhymes ever. But when the lyrics become an in-your-face hard reality, as with Pac and Biggie, the hip-hop and music community at large tend to take a step back and consider a maybe-it’s-time-to-chill-the-fuck-out mentality.

That sentiment rang out like the very gunshot that killed 16-year-old Chicago rapper Lil JoJo on the evening of Sept. 4. He was yet another victim in the terrifying murder epidemic that continues to spread like cancer through the Windy City. If for whatever reason you’re out of the loop on the gut-wrenching gang violence that occurs there, take a minute to do some research on Google because an essay outlining murder statistics this is not. Rather, I’d like to use this as an opportunity for us—from anyone who truly cares about hip-hop to the indie rock kids who embrace the occasional buzz rapper—to stop celebrating the gun-toting raps of 17-year-old Chief Keef, Lil Reese, and the like.

And it’s not because they’re making “scary music” or because I think we need to bury our heads in the sand about serious issues or any shit like that (quite the contrary). It’s because these kids have not shown even an ounce of remorse for the killing of JoJo, Yes, Lil JoJo talked a load of shit to Keef and Reese prior to his murder, but since when does that warrant a human being’s murder followed by laughter and mocking on Twitter for the world to see?

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