Lollapalooza lights up Chicago every August. As the midwest’s premier music festival, you could call it an exclamation point on summertime. Grant Park teems with teens in Looney Tunes jerseys and glitter as Chicago celebrates the musical solstice. Across town, away from the sail-spotted lake and music drenched airwaves, the South side of Chicago suffers summer a little differently.
Despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent claims, Chiraq (nee Chicago) remains one of America’s murder capitals. This year, on the same weekend that revelers downed lobster corndogs and Bud Light Orange by the lake, there were 20 shootings on Chicago’s South side. 66 people were wounded. 12 died.
And on that weekend, no one was arrested.
Chicago’s atrocious murder rate is never far from the headlines or song lyrics. Chicago rappers like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Twista, Chief Keef and others, use their music to document, lament and yes, sometimes reflect, the violence consuming their hometown. Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label had a strong presence at Lollapalooza, with new signee Valee, Off-White guru Virgil Abloh, and ASTROWORLD acrobat Travis Scott all performing the festival’s opening Thursday.
As their respective DJ’s hyped the shows, with Virgil acting as his own hype man, they played Chicago hits (think Sosa, Po’ Pimpin’) to get the crowd jumping. What they didn’t do was use a traditional rap sound byte, a gunshot, to set it off. The same can’t be said for Lolla performers Post Malone and Gucci Mane.
In a tone-deaf move, Gucci Mane’s DJ, DJ Champ00, and Post Malone’s DJ, who I couldn’t I.D. by print time, unloaded full clips of gunshot sounds over crowds of 10s of 1000s of eager listeners like Vegas never happened.
Post Malone and the new-look Gucci Mane are too big of stars to let this to happen. They wield too much influence over too wide a base to allow themselves or their affiliates and representatives to play into the violence burning through Chicago and plaguing our country.
As their sonic shots rang through the naive festival grounds, real guns and those wielding them were tearing through lives not 10 miles away. Forget 10 miles, think about the recent mass shootings in Vegas, Santa Fe, New York, you name it. Without hesitation, these DJs mimicked gunshot noises in a massive crowd packed in front of the stage like sardines. You can’t make this shit up.
It’s up to the citizens of Chicago to hold their city leaders accountable for the lack of peace and justice in murder-plagued neighborhoods. It’s up to American citizens to hold our national leaders accountable for the lack of peace and justice in schools, streets and cells. It’s up to the consumers; the fans of rappers who play into the violence destroying our communities. Hold your idols accountable for the music they make and the way they perform. Listen. Speak up. Stop the violence.