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Chicago Drill Stars Talk Music, Violence

Zae, Katie Got Bandz and King L

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If you have that platform and the attention an entire community, why do you continue to rap about gun violence and gang life?

KL: That’s like asking why people make movies about being getting killed. It’s entertainment. When the kids in the environment see me, they see me in a nice vehicle, nice clothes and my daughter is taken care of and all that is off music, off being successful. It’s like actors, they don’t get mad at actors for playing gangster roles all of the time. Not saying I’m acting or the stuff I’m talking about is not real, but it’s like you don’t do that to actors.

KGB: It’s what they want to hear.

EBONY: What is your response to people who say artists are being selfish and selling out their community by making music that encourages Black-on-Black violence?

KL: They make movies. Did you see Django [Unchained]? They don’t say movies influence shoot-ups. They say ‘oh, he did some great acting’ and they get Oscars.

KGB: People are going do what they want to do, whether you make a song or not. If they’re into it, they’re gonna kill each or hurt each other.

EBONY: Does drill music, speaking strictly about the lyrics and the message, ever have a chance to develop a more positive community voice?

KL: If you listen to all my music, it’s not all gangster stuff. I got a new song called "Jeep Music" and it sounds quite groovy if you ask me (laughs). Go download the mixtape Jeep Music, check me and (local R&B singer) Leek out. That’s drill music. I’m the one who put on for drill, for everyone who started saying drill music. They can’t tell me what drill music is because I’m the one that has everyone saying it. After Pac, I put on for it and now it’s on Wikipedia.

EBONY: With all the money, designer cars, and clothes he flashes it’s easy to forget that Chief Keef isn’t even legally an adult yet, and with teenagers like Lil' Bibby rapping “I’m trappin, f**k that school s**t” . What impact does this have on impressionable kids considering age-wise they’re actually many of these artists’ peers?

KGB: (raises voice) Why are you askin' us about Keef in our interview?

EBONY: It’s not just about Keef but about a concept, about influences.

KGB: I just graduated from high school in 2011. I was listening to the same kind of music, it was just with a different generation [of artists]. You’re gonna go to school and do what you want to do, whether it’s the music or movies or whatever.

KL: (sighs) If people was getting rich for jumping off of buildings, would you go jump off of a building? Think about it. People are getting rich for this. Katie was right. People are stupid. If you always want to point your finger, you’re stupid.

KGB: People are gonna do what they want to do regardless, whether they listen to Keef, Lil Bibby or whoever. If you wanna go to school and make something out of yourself, you’re gonna do it. Can’t no song impact your life.

EBONY: Rappers talk a lot about their enemies and haters, but without the support of their fans they would not have careers. Have you created or do you support any projects that can uplift people from the communities in Chicago that give you your biggest support?

KL: I do church stuff. They really see me. I’m like god, man. I hit the bucket boys [street performers]  with 50’s and 100’s. The unfortunate and homeless people, I ride down on them and give them my shoes. Throughout the whole community, they know me.

KGB: I’m starting the Kiara Johnson Foundation. I’m giving scholarships for kids who graduated [who are] going away to college and I’m giving away book vouchers for ones going to community college and [also] school supplies. I am human. Outside of music, I do have feelings for other people too. I used to be in the Bud Billiken [Back to School] Parade every year. I danced all the way up until I was 17 or 18. I donate to the dance group I used to dance with and I go back and do community service at neighborhood centers and schools too.

EBONY: Any final thoughts on the issue?

KL: Be productive in life. Stay in school, kids and listen to your parents, it’ll take you a long way. 

Zae of AZae Productions

EBONY: How did the drill video movement begin?

Zae: The first artist I worked with that was part of the drill movement was King Louie. I shot his video first, then I picked up and started working with other artists. I started talking to (Chief) Keef through Facebook. He saw my videos and wanted to work. I went to grammar school with (Lil) Durk and once I started doin videos with them and it took off from there. We just shot