While Chicago officials continue to investigate the nightclub stampede that killed 21 people last month, other Chicagoans are planning a party to help the families of those who were lost.
On Friday night a benefit will be held at the Biology Bar to raise money for those who lost a loved one in the E2 nightclub on February 17. The event will be hosted by Talib Kweli, and local radio personality Mike Love will DJ.
While the event is meant to be a celebration of safe clubgoing, local rappers Carona and True Enuff will add a serious note to the evening when they perform their tribute track, “Heaven, So Far Away.” The song, recorded just days after the tragedy, details the horrific events of that night and has become a hit on Chicago radio.
“It’s like 9/11, just minus the planes,” Carona rhymes. “I was standing right there, right in front of the place/ People jumping the gates, see the pepper spray burning their face/ A breath of air on the dark staircase, where some won’t make it [out] safe.”
Elsewhere, True Enuff rhymes, “They went out that night to party/ Never thought they’d be picking up a lifeless body,” while the chorus calls out, “Heaven, so far away/ So I really made this song to say/ In this time of need, Chi-town, let’s depend on we/ And give the families a shoulder to lean [on].”
Though True Enuff’s rhymes are in response to news reports following the incident, Carona speaks from firsthand experience. The rapper told MTV News that as a regular at E2, a popular hip-hop spot on Chicago’s South Side, he was eager to get into the club that night. But because he wasn’t abiding by the club’s dress code — Carona was wearing a do-rag and an athletic jersey — he was denied entrance.
While he waited out front, a fight was breaking out inside on the second floor. As two females and their friends scuffled, witnesses say, one or more security guards sprayed some type of pepper spray or mace into the crowd, sending panicked clubgoers rushing toward the front staircase (see “What Happened On Night Of Chicago Club Tragedy? One Club Patron Explains” ). The flood of people pushing their way down the narrow stairs caused a deadly crush, while others inside were dying of cardiac arrest.
In addition to the 21 killed, more than 50 people were injured. Already, numerous wrongful death suits have been filed against E2, which had a history of violent incidents and code violations, and the city of Chicago, which allegedly did not enforce an earlier court order to shut down the club.