Chiraq, Drillinois: Violence, Hip-Hop and Hope in Chicago

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World Star Hip Hop has just released a self-produced documentary focusing on the dynamics at play between music and violence in America’s third-largest city, featuring interviews with local community organizers, police veterans, and major players in the drill music scene, from 14-year-old rapper Lil Mouse to Kanye West collaborator Rhymefest. “It’s no secret that Chicago’s nickname is Chiraq. It’s called that because in one year, the murder rate was lower in Iraq than it was in Chicago,” explains one of the interviewees in the film. In 2012, the FBI recorded 507 murders in Chicago, making it the murder capital of the United States.

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In the midst of the city’s rising violence, “drill music” emerged as the defining sound of hip-hop in Chicago. Drill music gained national exposure through local artists King Louie and Chief Keef. Characterized by dark synths and violent storytelling, the genre soon garnered the attention of major record labels, as well as local law enforcement. Currently, the Chicago Police Department bans the city’s most popular drill artists from performing in Chicago due to increased violence and gang tension.

See the full documentary below.