Last fall, black dust began to blow through residential neighborhoods on the southeast side of Chicago. Only it wasn’t really dust; it was a fine black residue that clung to everything it touched, including noses and throats. Residents eventually learned that it was an oil byproduct called petroleum coke — petcoke for short — and it was being stored in massive uncovered piles at facilities owned by the Koch brothers. VICE News’s Danny Gold traveled to Chicago to see what happens when clouds of toxic oil dust blow through the Windy City.
In the fifth episode of Chiraq, we step outside of drill music and catch up with Chicago rapper Vic Mensa and the rest of his SAVEMONEY crew. They spend the day gathering cash to bail fellow rapper Joey Purp out of jail, and on the way we chat about the city’s scene. Vic doesn’t associate himself with the Chiraq lifestyle because he feels it’s too negative, but understands the struggles of those who come from that part of the city. He’s also, surprisingly, a really big fan of Rage Against the Machine.
In the fourth episode of Noisey’s Chiraq, we catch up extensively with Lil Durk, the next superstar of the Drill scene and go to a show with fellow 300 / OTF member Lil Reese.
It’s the night of Lollapalooza, but that doesn’t matter because inside and outside the venue, the crowd is packed to the walls. Afterwards, we roll through the South Side of Chicago with Durk and meet his family, learning about the life from which he came, and why he “terrifies the city.”
In the second episode of Noisey’s Chiraq, Chief Keef and his crew head to New York while we catch up with MGS and Global Gangstas Entertainment, two other rap collectives in Chicago. They, along with the Chicago Police Department, speak extensively on the social and cultural challenges faced by the community. Near the end, we’re introduced to Yung Trell, a 14-year-old rapper from Englewood who’s looking for his break.
Video Premiere: SAVEMONEY – “Still Alive,” featuring Joey Purp & Kami de Chukwu
Savemoney, the crew at the forefront of Chicago hip hop for 2014, delivers their video “Still Alive,” an anthem featuring members Joey Purp and Kami de Chukwu (Leather Corduroys) along with appearances by Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, Tokyo Shawn, Caleb James, Dally Auston, Brian Fresco and producers Thelonius Martin and Stix (Greg Landfair Jr). Originally set for release in 2013, the video directed by Chicago’s own Verluxe was forced to shut down production after members were robbed at gun point during the shoot. As their schedules became increasingly difficult to coordinate due tour plans and recording sessions, the video was put on hold. Recently, the crew got together in Chicago to finish the video. Look out for much more music from this collective including a Leather Corduroys LP slated for release this year, Tokyo Shawn’s “Wave Theory,” and a new Donnie Trumpet project.
Directed by: Verluxe Song produced by: Thelonius Martin and Stix
CHIRAQ: EXPLORING CHIEF KEEF, LIL DURK, THE 3HUNNA AND THE CHICAGO RAP UNDERGROUND (TRAILER)
Starring: Chief Keef, Young Chop, Lil Durk, Save Money, the Chicago Police Department and the Nation of Islam.
Noisey presents an 8 part documentary on the music, culture, politics and young people behind Chicago’s current rap music scene.
An access-all-areas pass to some of the city’s most notorious streets, the series examines the personalities, controversies and social forces behind one of the most gang-related, criminally convicted music scenes in recent history.
The Chicago Man Accusing Police of Raping Him with a Gun
Angel Perez’s story about how he was treated at the hands of Chicago police officers sounds like a horror story from the days when crooked cop Jon Burge tortured the city’s citizens with impunity. But the incidents in question happened just 15 months ago—and, Angel claims, the officers who abused him are still out there.
In October 2012, the 32-year-old aspiring documentary film producer says, he was beaten and sodomized with a gun by Chicago police officers until he agreed to be a drug informant. His story received some media attention when a Courthouse News write-up appeared last year after Angel filed a federal lawsuit against his abusers, but VICE is the first outlet he’s spoken to publicly about the incident.
“I can’t have this happen to someone else if I can stop it,” Angel told me, opening up about his experience against the advice of his lawyers, who’d prefer him to only do his talking in court. He has a decent chance of procuring a settlement, but told me, “Money is not justice… I want these guys to be off the job, charged for what they did, and given jail time.”
The first half of episode nine is about Chicago. Chicago has become a war zone. Well, not all of Chicago—half the city is doing great. From the Loop up the Magnificent Mile and into the Gold Coast, you’d hardly think you were in a town with an annual body count higher than Afganistan’s. South of State Street is another story.
This winter, we went to Chicago’s South Side to see how gangs, gun sales, and greed have turned neighborhoods like Englewood and Auburn Gresham into free-fire zones the locals call “Chiraq.” And where more than a Sandy Hook’s worth of kids die every month.
For the second segment we went to Africa’s Niger Delta, where high unemployment, political corruption, and the unequal sharing of oil resources have turned the area into a hell on earth. Oil theft has become big business in Nigeria, costing oil companies more than $7 billion per year while polluting coastal farmlands and fisheries—and wrecking the lives and livelihoods of local residents. We traveled to Nigeria to meet with oil thieves who refine and sell oil in West Africa, and to follow one farmer’s attempt to sue an oil company for poisoning his family’s land.