FSD Feature: Segregation Nation [Part II]

FSD Staff

Words by Marisol “Pinqy Ring” Vélez (@PinqyRing)

For Segregation Nation Part I click here.

I recently saw a play at Victory Gardens Theater called “…And The Whole Train Was Like”. It played poetically with the idea of our transportation system in Chicago, and highlighted how many stories go unheard and unraveled amongst travels. It made me think of how advanced that CTA infrastructure is, how meticulous it was built and how, technically, it’s supposed to allow for us to become more fluid in the city. More easily traveled. Knowing that, it seems to be silly that we’re the most segregated city in the U.S. But, borders were formed from before we were born, and that isn’t denied.

Still, with easy access to different color “lines” of trains, why don’t we make a change? How do we function in a system designed to keep us separate ethnically, financially, and musically, and how do we use agency to become more fluid in crossing those lines? Interviewing four music industry professionals for part two, my conversations with King Louie, Malik Yusef, DJ MoonDawg and Scheme were held in hopes of tackling and unpacking the idea of Chicago’s infamy in again winning the title of “Most Segregated City,” and how that invariably affects its budding music scene.

King Louie

King Louie, a Chicago rapper who recently inked a deal with Epic Records, was the perfect interviewee for this particular article because he had traversed borders before he even knew they were present. Born on the West Side of Chicago and moving to the East around the 7th grade, King says he “didn’t even know about the East Side” until he moved there. He knew about out South because he would take trips to visit relatives on 63rd and Ashland, but admittedly he “didn’t know anywhere else.”

He literally had to be transposed physically in order to bypass the borders of Chicago. When asked how being from two sides of the city and opening eyes to our city’s diversity affected him, as a person and musician, King Louie felt strongly that it bettered him. It helped him learn more about the city as a whole, and put on more affectively because “if Chicago is on, it will broaden the audience as a whole.” Still, the song sung for many people in this city lies in the safety of their side. Some people never get to move around or venture into the enlightenment that Louie attained, so how do they become better if their own city is foreign to them?

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  • Show Comments (31)

  • Kenlo Key

    dope post!

  • PinqyRing

    Thanks, Kenio!

  • Jessica Jade

    Wow I never realized how prominent the segregation is! Great article, very informative, and I’m glad you’re are slowly bringing attention to this issue! Keep up the good work.

    • PinqyRing

      Thank you Jessica. I hope, through writing, to shed light to a lot of things that are known and just not spoken of.

  • zyg jab

    Very well written…..Its about time someone sheads light on this subject. Hopefully, one day there will be no “hood” boarders and this wonderful city we call home will be put on the mapa as it should be!

    • PinqyRing

      Agreed. I like that “mapa”, btw. Spanglish swag! :)~

  • Raulo

    Everyone interested in exploring the roots of segregation (globally and locally) should check out the book “Segregation” by Carl Nightingale. I was born and raised in Chicago, went to college in Florida, and live in D.C. and most places are segregated by race and socio-economic barriers. To understand people that you assume to be different you have to talk to them with an open mind, and you will probably find that being human- we have inherent similarities.

    I talked to one of my grandmothers some years back when I was writing a paper on segregation, and I asked her about the food that white people ate in the Jim Crow South. She told me white people ate the same food as blacks, as blacks cooked for whites. However, if you listen to traditional media outlets, look at old caricatures of blacks, etc. it almost appears that “Soul Food” is demonized and white people didn’t find out about it until 1996 when the movie came out. We are no longer isolated through Jim Crow policies in the South, but the mentality is still there- among some of us, as most blacks in Chicago stem from migrants that came to Chicago during that era.

    The new generation locally and globally has the tools to move into a more integrated society, which is happening via the internet, the reversal of white flight, global trade, etc. We just have to keep having these discussions and follow them up with exposing people to: different neighborhoods, sides of towns, suburbs, cities, and countries. The more you know, the more you grow, and education is the true perpetrator of segregation.

    I’m down to get the movement moving faster, and believe food and music are two of the easiest universal languages to transcend barriers.

    • PinqyRing

      Word. I took a course on Urban Chicago at UIC. We read “Black Metropolis”, “Land of Hope” and “Making The Second Ghetto”, amongst others. That’s definitely what enlightened me to the purposeful borders, and what birthed the idea for this article. I agree, wholly that “education is the true perpetrator of segregation”. What people don’t know they can’t fight against. Thanks for being a soldier in this struggle!

    • Twitter.com/djallstyle

      True>>>> I found out everyone in the south ate “soul food” when i went to a popular restaurant in Montgomery Ala. It started to make me view things differently.. This is America.. either you want to work your ass off for what you want to achieve or become stagnant focusing on racial divides & etc. I wouldnt trade our worst hoods for the worst hoods of many of our close countries. Shut the Eff up & #LetsWork is my motto OTW!!!!!

      • PinqyRing

        Agreed, except stagnant isn’t just focusing on racial divides. It’s common knowledge that we’re not post-racial. At least, common to those with their ears and feet on the streets. Speaking on it is crucial in the battle.

  • my humble opinion

    but who are some north side rappers?

    • PinqyRing

      The fact that you don’t know shows the problem. They’re not nonexistent. There are plenty. Myself, 108, Scheme (interviewed here), Astonish, Reap, BDB, Visual, Viru, Molemen, etc. The North spans all the way to Wilson St. and such. I don’t think they get proper exposure, for reasons mentioned in this article.

      • Jrock1

        I think some of the problem with exposure on the North Side is that artists seem to be grouped in the more “indie” or “underground” scenes. You might find more kids from Evanston at a northside hip hop show than from Edgewater or Logan Square

  • CB

    There are a few N.Side rappers and most of em have been on fakeshore before. off the top of my head u got

    cabrini mob
    Ace mac
    ec illa
    the molemen

    I was gonna say scheme and chi-ill but theyre from humboldt park and I never really thought of that as the North Side but more so “out west”.
    BUt the N. side is overlooked. Hell I think the burbs get more attention now than up north

    • anonymous


  • Chicago2012

    Nice article, and we all know 35th (Sox) is where the last White people get off the train at.
    And, shit, I have to go all the way up North just to go to Tiger Direct or Micro Center. If you’re gonna spend your cheque, you will probably spend it all – on the North Side. Lol…

    • PinqyRing

      Thank you! Business and capitalism have a lot to do with segregation. That’s key in gentrification, they trying to kick us out of our spaces, but – HELL NO WE WON’T GO! 😉

      • Chicago2012

        PinkyRing, your music is nice, btw.

      • PinqyRing

        Thank ya! 🙂

  • Kean Wolcott

    It is funny how nobody knows anything about Up North when most of the music venues everybody goes to are on the Northside off Milwaukee Ave or North Ave and Damen (Congress Theatre, Subterranean, etc). EC Illa was definitely the voice of the Northside when he was running it, and hopefully somebody of Up North breaks out but I challenge everybody to just go explore what the Northside has to offer. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe and Las Islas Mariscas is the shit though lowkey!

    • PinqyRing

      Scheme mentioned that in our interview, about North Side venues being the way people finally made it to this side. Even King Louie was familiar with Funky Buddha. I also challenge, eff that, IMPLORE a North Side artist to put on. And LOL @ those restaurants. 90 Miles is flame, though, I was there on Monday. And BYOB! 🙂

      • anonymous


  • anonymous


    • anonymous


  • dream chaser

    Theres segregation everywhere

    • PinqyRing

      Right, but it’s more prominent here. We are THE most racially segregated city. We have that title.


    I appreciate this article, personally I LOVE music and travel all over the city to listen to good music and you would surprise how different the music is 20mins away from the last venue you where at. I go to plenty of places on the North side just as easily you can find me in the wild hundreds hanging out with a whole different crowd, but when if travel out of the city for example Philly, it is crazy how artist view Chicago. I tend to hear a lot about the South side of Chi as appose to the North side of Chi. as someone stated earlier its almost none existent and let me tell you I am a HUGE fan of Scheme especially his TWO TURNTABLES AND A MIC with DJ Scend. I love those tributes to DJ’s. if you guys haven’t seen some of their videos you should definitely check out at least one. again thanks for writing a Great article and hopefully this will change some minds and help the music aspect of things in Chicago

    • PinqyRing

      Thank you for reading!
      People outside of the Chi LOVE us.
      When we gon’ love ourselves?
      ALL of us.
      Including all sides.

      • Danaya Azure (@danayadd4u)

        Chicago needs to learn to support one another rather than constantly trying to one up each other. We will never be able to grow if we just worry about ourselves. No one who is a major artist made it on their own. Let’s learn to build and encourage each other. Support Good Chicago Music and Businesses #CSOO ChitownSupportingOurOwn I started this this because I have been taught to support local business and artists because if we don’t then they potentially leave.

  • Joey Clark

    Their is probably even more division and segregation in other big cities such as L.A., but they still managed to put good music out-there and get recognized for it due to their talent and grind. Chicagoans, imo just like ”segregation” as an excused for why they have not had alot of commercial success as whole.

  • yung nation

    Yung Nation Interview with Say Cheese TV about YN ALL FREESTYLES 2! … We finally get the first sneak peek to Yung Nation’s new YNAF2 tape that drops this

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