Wednesday, November 30 2022

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There’s an unhealthy obsession with Parkway Gardens in hip-hop culture. Part of that comes from the appeal Chief Keef and King Von have given it for years glorifying their territory and its violence in their raps. It’s similar to fans’ natural curiosity for other housing projects turned into hip-hop landmarks by Native lyricists: Jay-Z and Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, New Orleans with Juvenile and the Magnolia Projects, and Master P and the Calliope Projects.

“Chicago is a hot place to blog because of the national stigma of ‘Chiraq’,” said Rolling Stone hip-hop journalist Andre Gee. The city has given birth to some of the most influential musical and cultural personalities of the past 20 years. Therefore, Gee said, it’s easy for Chicago to become a character in the hip-hop sphere.

“We know gun violence is invading just about every metropolis in America, but Chicago rap has sparked such a buzz all over the world. It gave us the names of their hoods and even non-artists with mere proximity to the rappers have notoriety,” Gee explained. “It’s an easy commitment as fans are eternally invested in the ‘Chiraq’ mythos.”

For celebrities, bloggers, and social media personalities who continue to use O-Block for content creation and engagement, Taylor has high demand.

“When are you going to invest in our community when you make us feel like a circus?” she asked. “We are not a circus act. These conditions were created. And they weren’t created by the folks at Parkway. They were created by the institutions that are paid to serve them. That says a lot about our evil ass system.

One way to hold hip-hop and culture blogs accountable might be to sue them for defamation. This happened recently with rapper Cardi B’s case against blogger Tasha K, who posted “multiple false and defamatory statements” about her.

But that can be difficult because the owners of many of these accounts keep their identities separate and untraceable from the content they produce.

“If the kitchen ever gets too hot, they can just rebrand with a new page. Apart from [DJ] Akademiks or Shawn Cotton, we don’t know the people running these pages, so it’s easy for them to shirk responsibility for a tactless ‘report’,” Gee said.

Another solution, Gee explained, is to teach students how to spot misinformation online. In 2021, Illinois became the first state to require right schools teach media education in curricula at all grade levels, but laws like this are rare in the rest of the country.

“In theory, the best thing to do would be to stop paying attention to those pages, but that’s about as likely as turning an 18-wheeler at full speed,” Gee said. “Schools now need to be more aware of this environment and help children be more discerning and know what to look for before believing what they see.”

What Taylor wants fans and the rest of the world to know is that Parkway Gardens is more than high-profile meme or gang territory.

“These are real families and real people at Parkway who deserve to live in peace and in safe conditions like everyone else,” she added.

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