World Star Hip-Hop is known for its often violent viral videos, and on Tuesday, the blog made a major statement when it released "The Field: Violence, Hip-Hop and Hope in Chicago," an original documentary that captures the lives of rising rap artists as they try to overcome their grim environment.
Lil Durk, King L, Young Chop, Lil Mouse, Lil Herb, Lil Bibby and Lawless Inc. CEO Larry "Larro" Wilson all appear in the 40-minute online doc, which travels through various broken-down Chicago neighborhoods.
"It was two ways: basketball and the streets," Def Jam's Lil Durk says to the camera as he, his older brother and his grandmother tell the story of his come-up.
While 21-year-old Durk, whose father is serving a life term in prison, chose rap over the streets to feed his family, the transition wasn't easy with the threat of violence all around him.
The documentary, which was directed by Mandon Lovett, first draws the parallel between the aggressively violent Chicago streets and the sound of the music that simply mirrors the harsh realities.
Lil Mouse made major headlines in 2012 when his breakout single "Get Smoked" hit the Web. It wasn't that the world wasn't used to murderous rap singles, it's just that we weren't used to getting it from 12 -year-olds. The track's video has garnered more than 4 million views on YouTube and got a Lil Wayne remix shortly after it was released.
"Everybody got their opinion and some of the stuff that he raps about I don't agree with because of his age," says Mouse's father, who is only identified by his first name, Shaheen. "But most of the stuff is really truth."
The violence in Chicago has been a hot topic for the past few years and earlier this week, Common announced that he will be releasing his 10th studio album, Nobody's Smiling, and says that he was inspired by the dire situation in his home town. "It happens in Chicago, but it's happening around the world in many ways. It may not be to the numbers that's happening in Chicago, but it's happening in the inner-cities all over America. It's really a call to action," he said in an interview segment that appears at the end of his new single, "War."
To close, "The Field" doesn't come to a resolve, but attempts to shed light on certain solutions, by spotlighting veteran MC Rhymefest and his youth mentorship program Got Bars, which is funded through Kanye West's Donda's House.
"We dealing with a new generation, these new kids growing up without mamas or daddies," says Fest. "When your mama gone and your mama don't give a f--- about you, you know what that makes? A killer, because he don't care no more."