Tuesday night saw more bloodshed in Chicago as the city clocked two more murders making 2012 one of the deadliest in the city’s recent history. This time one of the victims was an up-and-coming rapper, and his murder may have deep consequences for the music world.
Eighteen-year-old rapper Joseph Coleman, known as Lil’ JoJo, was shot while he rode a bicycle Tuesday night; the teen later died on the street. As his mother dealt with the loss of her son, Coleman’s rap rival, Chief Keef, seemed to make light of his competitor’s demise.
A message posted to Chief Keef’s Twitter account read, “Its Sad Cuz Dat N***a Jojo Wanted To Be Jus Like Us #LMAO.”
According to reports, the two rappers have been engaged in a verbal war for months and police are looking into Keef’s tweets, as well as local gangs both rappers claimed to be affiliated with, to help crack the case.
In April, JoJo released “3hunna K,” a track that he rapped “ain’t a diss song, this is just a message” but found him riding Chief Keef’s “Everyday” beat while guns appeared in the accompanying video.
The track was a response to Chief Keef affiliate Lil Durk’s earlier rhymes about JoJo’s Bricksquad crew, which JoJo followed up with an additional track on the subject. A shaky YouTube video uploaded on Tuesday pictures JoJo allegedly driving by Lil Reese — another member of the Keef/Durk crew — and engaging in a profanity-laced verbal argument. “I’ma kill you,” the person claimed to be Reese clearly states in the video. According to the Tribune, police were investigating “whether the shooting was sparked by a gang conflict.” (Read Complex Magazine’s timeline detailing the tweets before and after JoJo was killed.)
JoJo was killed shortly after the video hit the web.
Chief Keef, known for his rhymes glorifying guns and violence, later claimed his account had been hacked after many of his 200,000+ followers took him to task for his seeming insensitivity. But the tweet poking fun at JoJo’s death was never erased; it still remains on the rapper’s timeline.
After Keef posted the callous message, Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco told followers that he was heartbroken over yet another senseless murder in his city.
In an interview with Baltimore’s 92Q last week, Fiasco said Chief Keef, and the culture of violence he represents, scares him.
“Chief Keef scares me. Not him specifically, but just the culture that he represents, specifically in Chicago….The murder rate in Chicago is skyrocketing and you see who’s doing it and perpetrating it, they all look like Chief Keef.”
Amid the controversy surrounding JoJo’s death, Chief Keef sent threatening tweets to Lupe, saying he would “smack him like da lil b*tch he is.” Keef and Fiasco exchanged a series of tweets that culminated in Lupe saying he had lost faith in music and may return to his first love, literature.
Losing Lupe Fiasco’s voice would be a serious blow to hip-hop. These days it seems like gang and gun culture is taking over Chicago (and rap as a whole), despite other rappers like Lupe Fiasco, Common, and Rhymefest offering an alternative perspective.
Many have called out Chief Keef for his violent lyrics and rampant gang references in light of his city’s deplorable murder rate, but the upstart rapper continues to win over fans. Keef earned major kudos when fellow Chicago-bred rapper Kanye West jumped on a remix of Keef’s viral hit, “I Don’t Like,” and the 17-year-old just inked a deal with Interscope reportedly worth millions.
Despite the criticisms many have lobbed at Chief Keef, his buzz, unfortunately, continues to grow.
Chicago rapper Rhymefest, who ran unsuccessfully to be an Alderman in the city’s 10th district, summed up the seemingly lack of concern around the violence in Keef’s music and Chicago’s exploding murder rate.
“I warned you all about this Chicago violence in Hip Hop and I was called a Hater,” Rhymefest tweeted, “now someone else is dead.”