This past weekend I flew out to Chicago to see my friend Reggie and check out a couple of concerts. Although the trip was a little 4 day vacation I would say it was extremely educational. We didn’t go to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry or the Art Institute of Chicago, I saw the city streets and heard hiphop.
What I saw was unbelievable. I’ve been to a couple big cities, mostly abroad, and this was my first real tour of a major American city. It’s 2006 and the segregation was rediculous. The city is cut like a big pizza (mmm pizza puffs) into different races, and the boundaries are very distinct. Hoping on the redline from the southside I was the only white person in what you could call a station, more like some concrete with fences and plywood. When the train approached 22nd street the black faces blended with some asians from Chinatown. Two or three stops later by 35th street my friends were the only non-white people on the train. The changes were so quick I didn’t realize what had happened until somebody pointed it out, and by that time we were almost downtown.
Driving around through Chicago shows it even more. One second there are “Food & Liquor” stores on every corner, and the next minute every sign and billboard is in spanish, with guys selling cotton candy on every corner. When you get on the northside all the cars become nicer and you start driving by department stores and name brand fashion.
It also made me laugh out of disbelief when we were riding through a black area that was particularly poor when I saw an advertisement that said in big bold letters “I SEE BLACK PEOPLE.” It made more sense if you read carefully underneath, in small letters it said “living, loving, learning” it was an advertisement for a black tv channel.
What I heard was amazing. I was exposed to classic hiphop and taught what it meant. I watched music get made right in front of me and it was exciting as hell. Hiphop connects to me on a level that other genres just dont touch. Lyricism appeals to my mind while beats get me tapping my feet more naturally than any rock. My only regret is missing out on the 10 to 15 years of classic hiphop I could have been enjoying all this time. Seeing it happen made me want to express myself, but hearing the real stuff, not the 50 cent or lil Jon, made me realize how much more there is to it than I even know. Common, Big L, Wu-Tang where were you when all I had was a DMX and Eminem album? Now I’m so far behind, but at least I can look forward to getting to know the good shit. Watching Reggie and his friends also amazed me, how rapping is part of them and how they can express themselves so gracefully.
I take comfort in a principle I have recently been able to articulate. Progressive Longevity, constantly making progress towards a distant goal, all the while enjoying the progress and accepting that you havn’t reached the goal. It applies to work, play and relationships and also with my goals of expressing myself. I can’t be a rap star, and thats perfectly fine, I know one day I will be able to express myself to my hearts content and as long as I keep making progress through school, websites, video and even music while enjoying that progress I can stay happy.
Chicago was classic and I can’t wait to go back. Thanks to Reggie, Scott and Fred for making me feel like fam. Peace to Classic Edition keep making that Chicago HipHop!