For the most part, I’ve remained quiet on Chicago’s inexplicable murder rate. At least, in public. The City of Wind remains a place close to my heart for two reasons. One being I used to live there. The second being several of my friends, including one of my best friends, Will (and his girlfriend Crystal), still do. It’s also the exact reason why Lupe Fiasco’s recent emotional appearance on RapFix Live hit so close to home.
First and foremost, if you’re a “Laser” whose sole intention is to defend Lupe blindly for whatever decision he’s made throughout the years, feel free to exit stage left. And if you’re one of those people who harbor the belief Lupe is nothing more than a fraud, please show yourself the same courtesy. The fact of the matter is Lupe’s music hasn’t done much for me in years – pretty much since The Cool. In any event, there’s a certain raw human emotion which comes from seeing another person expose their most genuine feelings, specifically when the result are tears.
Yesterday on MTV’s RapFix Live with Sway, Fiasco witnessed an interview he and Sway did in 2006 when “Kick, Push” all but ushered in a new style of rhyming and lifestyle to Hip-Hop. From there, things turn much more intense and authentic when Fiasco invited Sway back to his West Side Chicago neighborhood where Lupe openly admitted to seeing the worst the Windy City had to offer while those around him pleaded to make something of himself and leave what was then referred to as – and is especially now – a war zone.
David referred to Chi-town as “America’s third world” nearly 10 days ago. And truthfully, it was the most honest and accurate description coined this year. With over 250 homicides already in 2012, that figure marks a 38% increase from the same point last year. The city’s presence in national news for record setting killing sprees has done more to paint the city in a negative light than its rich artistic and cultural history does to preserve its standing. It’s exactly why witnessing Lupe break down into tears was so gripping. The majority of us hear “x” amount of people were killed over the weekend, say “damn, that’s messed up” and continue moving forward with our lives.
In reality, however, that person/people who died are someone’s best friend. Someone’s heart. Someone’s lifeline. Someone’s inspiration to get up every morning and go to work. The love of someone’s life. These are real life people, with real life connections and real life social security numbers. Take seven-year-old Heaven Banks for example. She was struck in the back from a stray bullet while selling Hot Tamales, Lemonheads, Gummi Bears and other candies with her mom outside her house. Once he regained some of his composure, Fiasco admitted several of the individuals seen in the 2006 clip were either locked up or, as he referred to them, “ghosts.”
People are dying so quick in Chicago that by the time Derrick Rose returns from injury he’s going to be playing in front of a half-filled United Center. Not because the city will have lost interest in the team, but because half of the fans will be in body bags. Is that an exaggeration? Of course, but it is more of a testament to the current socioeconomic climate of Illinois’ most popular city. And that’s not said to be funny, but it’s developed from a stand point there is a heart-piercing issue of violence in Chicago either those in power don’t care about or simply have yet to do enough to educate themselves on.
Pusha T’s powerful, yet simple line from earlier this year, “Ask Steve Jobs wealth don’t buy health” is symbolic. In this case because it doesn’t purchase a do-over on life either. Lupe’s tears weren’t deliberately placed for album promotion purposes. They weren’t to win his detractors over. It was bigger than music. A deep rooted issue with no real remedy on the horizon was more than apparent. Lupe was simply a kid hailing from America’s murder capital.
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