As Chicago continues to suffer widespread violence, the city’s hip-hop culture has come to reflect the harsh reality of life there. On Wednesday night however, the violence extended beyond the music, when three men opened fire during an album release party on Chicago’s South Side. Seven people were injured at Mr. G’s Supperclub at around 1:15a.m, including a 19-year-old woman who was taken in critical condition to Christ Hospital.
“[The shooting] may or may not have been caught on surveillance cameras inside this place, as well as outside,” community activist Andrew Holmes told NBC Chicago. “But there was a female who was shot multiple times.”
The shooting started after a fight broke out, but police did not confirm whether anyone was specifically targeted. Local rappers Nino, King Samson and Lil Mouse were among those listed in attendance at the club. According to NBC, police believe that the shooting was a gang-related incident.
One Chicago emcee, Grammy winner Che “Rhymefest” Smith, is ready to take a stance against the city’s rise in violence. Speaking to Ebony, Smith explained the role of hip-hop in perpetuating Chicago’s culture of violence, and the responsibility of artists in the community.
“We know that all forms of media are promoting a culture of violence, but especially in the Black community hip-hop and radio and the corporations that proliferate in it play a huge part in promoting images of the culture of violence as something that is acceptable, cool, or just a daily event — like waking up in the morning, washing up, and going to school,” Smith told Ebony.
“I believe that all young people, all artists, you know, everybody in the new generations needs to be thinking more civically,” he added.
Last year, Smith referred to up-and-coming Chicago rapper Chief Keef as a “spokesman for the prison industrial complex,” because of the artist’s penchant for glorifying violence. Keef, 18, infamously celebrated the shooting death of fellow Chicago artist Lil Jojo via Twitter, and was involved in a dispute with Chicago hip-hop veteran Lupe Fiasco.
Despite Chief Keef’s overwhelmingly negative public persona, he signed a contract with Interscope records that could be worth up to $6 million. However, a $440,000 advance was not enough to keep the artist or his family off the streets. Earlier this year, the artist’s 19-year-old stepbrother Chris Gissendanner was gunned down on the city’s South Side.
“They’re giving huge signing advances, and instead of artist development, they’re putting artists back on the street and saying, ‘Keep doing what you were doing,’” Smith said of corporate involvement in Chicago’s hip-hop scene.
“Why now, when Chicago’s the national face of violence, are young artists are getting these opportunities? I think that this is something the artists have to ask themselves.”