Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"I Killed Off Heaven Now I Live in Hell"

"You ain’t saving them from danger,
you’re keeping danger safe"
Coming from someone who isn't from the streets and doesn't see murder and crime on a daily basis, I feel like I'd be a fool not to talk about all the events surrounding Hip Hop in the Chicago area the past month. The realization and connection to the problem began for me when I saw @RealSway interview @lupefiasco and reminisce over a video filmed back in 2006 that ended up bringing Lupe to tears. It's a powerful video and I'd recommend you watch it if you care about a large scale problem that needs to be brought to light and talked about...

My first reaction after disbelief was "I can't even imagine what that feels like." The that I'm referring to is the ghosts Lupe alludes to that are friends or neighbors in the video who are no longer alive or currently in prison. It's alarming how many teenagers have turned into ghosts in the Chicago area with the murder rate up 38% in the first half of 2012.

Which makes the video above ironic and even more powerful is that less than a month later, a couple rival teenage rappers in Chicago decided to take the guns and violence to the extreme. After weeks of diss tracks and YouTube posts created by two rival Hip Hop gangs, rapper Lil Jo Jo was gunned down. Long story short, new Interscope signee @ChiefKeef (who recently became relevant in Hip Hop solely because Kanye decided to remix his song I Don't Like) decided to take to Twitter to express pure glee in the rival Lil Jo Jo's death. You could imagine how publicly laughing at another teenager getting shot to death in a rival group would ruffle some feathers, but instead of apologizing for his ill time tweets, he decided to continue to fight back by threatening to fight Lupe Fiasco who condemned Keef's celebratory tweets.

So what happens when you have a teenager committing career suicide on Twitter? steps in, by first saying his twitter account had been various times the past few days when the tweets came out about Jo Jo..oh..and Lupe too. In other news there's some oceanfront property Chief Keef would like to sell you in Montana (#SMMFH). Now it seems that Keef is being investigated in the murder and management went a step further and made him apologize and send prayers out to Jo Jo's family. Evidently the "he's just a teenager" excuse works well in this kind of situation too.

To sum it all up, the quote below summarizes the outcome in a very succinct, eloquent way:
"Chief Keef is a bomb. A bomb has no responsibility or blame, it does what it was created to do; DESTROY. - @rhymefest"
Taking it one step further,@gouldmovements of the Independent Blog put it best when he opined and further questioned the state of Hip Hop by saying:
"There are a thousand debates to be had here. Questions about authenticity in hip hop and the essential tragedy of this rich, fascinating counter-culture. The gap between the mainstream and the underground, between the poor inner city and the wealthy establishment, about how Chicago’s music has suddenly become ‘interesting’ for all the wrong reasons, and about how, in roughly five minutes, we’ll all forget about its problems and go listen to the next 2Chainz track about cars and hoes, because it’s all harmless fun, isn’t it? Forget Snoop Dogg’s early 90s criminal persona (and actions) and focus on his current incarnation as a Rastafarian. Deep down, we, the white media, will fetishize the violence hip hop sometimes endorses or reflects, because it’s something we’ll never witness at first hand, and then we’ll all go back to our safe happy homes. Well I’ll say one thing is certain. We can’t just put our headphones in. We have to keep asking questions." - source
So what's the fall out, end game or better yet music in this post you ask? For starters, it seems like any and every Chicago Hip Hop name has pitched in their 2 cents on the issue including producer No I.D., Rhymefest and even 50 cent. The range of reactions go from disgust all the way to support for Chief Keef. I know, I know, it's insane someone would try to rationalize the way Keef reacted. Shoot, after taking all this in I can see why Lupe is wanting to distance himself from the Hip Hop culture as a whole and retire to solve bigger world problems because, in part, rappers like Chief Keef will continue giving Hip Hop and his home city of Chicago a bad name.

If it is true that Lupe is going to walk away from Hip Hop to pursue more meaningful endeavors, I don't blame him and he will be missed. Missed because his last album Food and Liquor II: The Great American Album Part 1 is shaping into a classic because of inspiring and meaningful tracks like his most recent one below. His knack for storytelling in an evocative way is unmatched and even though I've been critical for his at times overly political messages, his expression is about as close to lyrical art as you'll get in Hip Hop. For every 1000 typical rappers, there is 1 Lupe Fiasco who actually fights for and believes in meaningful things that need to be talked about in the world.

If you don't want to listen to the whole track, at least fast forward to the 2:15 mark of American Terrorists (Superheros Part 2) and follow word for word. There's some depth in his message and I'm betting everyone who reads it will find different meaning in his message. Not only is the delivery beautiful with the soft piano lead in, but the infusion of dubstep at the verse's apex is brilliant.
"Last remarks, they did it to themselves
I killed off heaven, now I live in hell
So complicit and they all non-survival
Told them that they biggest rival is inside you
I do possess the power to revive you
But if I did that, I’d just have to fight you
Cause you truly are the hero and the villain
The world stood froze, hearing a truth so chilling
Reporters start filming, somebody shouted, “Kill him!”
He looked back in disgust and flew up to the ceiling
Busted through the roof and kicked over the building
Before it hit the ground, a younger hero flew around
And put it on his shoulders, said you’re naive now
But believe, you’ll believe me when you’re older
Every asteroid you stop and bomb you fly up into space
You ain’t saving them from danger, you’re keeping danger safe"
If this is a part of the last chapter of his Hip Hop career, he truly did leave the best for last...#Sept25

Lupe Fiasco - American Terrorist (Superheroes)(Part 2)
S/O to B*tches and Art for the cover art


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