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Video Thu Aug 09 2012

A 13-Year-Old Rapper Shocks the City with "Get Smoked"

Lil Mouse is a 13-year-old rapper from the Wild 100s. He's already recorded several videos, the first when he was still 12. His latest track, "Get Smoked," has attracted attention for its glorification of popping pills, selling drugs, having sex, shooting people and other activities not usually associated with barely teenaged kids.

In the Sun-Times, Mary Mitchell asks where the outrage is over a child producing gangsta rap. She includes a quote from Che "Rhymefest" Smith, whose first single came out when he was 20.

"This warrants an investigation," said Che "Rhymefest" Smith, a Chicago rapper who ran a spirited but unsuccessful campaign for alderman in the 20th Ward. "This has clearly crossed over into child pornography when you have a 13-year-old child rapping about sex and about violence and drug selling. They are probably already under investigation."

Whether it's child pornography or not is debatable (there are no explicit acts performed in the video, only allusions to sex), but it is rather disconcerting seeing a kid whose voice hasn't changed yet rapping about these topics. Kris Kross this is not. However, is it really all that surprising when one of the biggest sensations in Chicago hip hop is Chief Keef, who raps about the same material at 16? Surely Keith Cozart was coming up with his rhymes three years ago -- he just didn't have the media attention yet. Now that it's here for Chief Keef and his crew, it makes sense that some of the younger members of the scene would get noticed, too.

Mitchell blames the trend on record labels "exploiting the violence," but as far as I can determine Lil Mouse is not yet signed -- and the whole scene has grown up and made it big not through label promotion but through artists self-releasing videos on YouTube.

Smith is trying to turn the tide with "The Pledge Mixtape," a collaboration with the Black Youth Project and Power of Purpose. The album, to be produced by Smith, is a 13-song compilation album of songs from various local hip hop artists "taking back their communal power through music." I'm not sure how much a mixtape that specifically excludes songs with violent imagery will make a difference, but giving opportunities to more positive musicians can't hurt. Investing in schools and extracurricular activities in the Wild 100s, Lawndale and other impoverished neighborhoods would help a lot more.

Meanwhile, the surest way for the pubescent rapper trend to come to an end (or, really, go back underground) is for another city's hip hop scene to rise to prominence. This is Chicago's minute, but the clock is ticking.


Ian / August 9, 2012 3:04 PM

I don't really care that the kid is young.

I just don't think it's very good music. The production is weak, the kid has no flow, the lyrics are trite, it's just bad.

Maybe by the time he grows up he'll have a better ear for what's interesting, but for now, ugh, forget about it.

Andrew Huff / August 9, 2012 3:11 PM

I will be the first to admit, I'm in way over my head with this. I don't listen to a lot of hip hop. Please school me if you disagree with my thoughts here.

JimboB / August 9, 2012 10:33 PM

Whats is the big deal? I see kids his age workin as runners/sellers from the dope houses on the daily.They make good $$ too.Everyday lifestyle. Kids his age smokin' up on the sidewalk everyday.Packin' heaters. Kids on their way to school sharin joints havin. Dope and all kinds, guns, gang bangs..all very mundane in the hood? Kid will make some big $$ with some evil label and probably be dead by 18.
Whatever..ya know.Nadda to c hear.

Nat / August 24, 2012 12:33 AM

What's saddest is it wasn't just a kid and his peers who recorded a dumb song/video and slapped it up on YouTube. There are adults who are backing, even fueling, this behavior. Maybe it's not child pornography, but it's certainly exploitation.

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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

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Wed Aug 20 2014
Propagandhi @ Concord Music Hall

Thu Aug 21 2014
Invaders from Mars & The General w/Live Soundtrack

Thu Aug 21 2014
MC Frontalot @ Subterranean

Fri Aug 22 2014
Ken Vandermark's Audio One @ Constellation

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Jeff Daniels and Ben Daniels Band @ SPACE

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Boulevard Festival

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Deer Tick @ Metro

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The Boulevard Festival

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Robyn & Röyksopp Do It Again @ Pritzker Pavilion

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