Today, 20th January 2018, Chicago rapper Fredo Santana unfortunately passed away at the young age of 27. A CEO of his own record label – Savage Squad Records – and a favourite in the drill scene since it’s inception, Fredo will be sorely missed by family, friends and fans alike. One of the most creative, interesting and original artists around Fredo had the ability to make any track he featured on shine and dropped a plethora of a legendary mixtapes and albums. Sadly, Fredo’s music genre limited his audience due to preconceptions from a lot of people who didn’t want to pay attention to the music due to the infamy surrounding it which included gang violence and the death of several young artists.
But it is just that that should make people want to listen, a number of the artists who have passed were friends or family with others in the scene. Take Chief Keef for example, a close affiliate of his Capo was killed, same with his cousin Blood Money and now another of his cousins in Fredo. The pain these guys must feel is incomprehensible to most people, imagine losing so many people close to within such a short span of time must be ridiculously hard to cope with – and it’s not as if they don’t rap about it.
“”So much pain inside but it’s so hard for me to cry, I done gained a lot of money but I done lost a lot of guys” is a lyric from Fredo Santana’s Fuck the Other Side, how can people not see there’s emotion behind this music?. Another song to look at from him is Turnt They Back off of his last mixtape Fredo Krueger 2…
“Man I miss them guys, swear to god I miss my guys
Every time I think about it I wanna get high
Thinking to the lord like why you take my guys?
And every time I think about it I just wanna cry”
There’s real pain behind their lyrics, granted you may not take any substance to get high but this is one of their coping mechanisms, they don’t want to have to do it but if it helps ease the pain that is a constant build over the years who are we to judge? There’s immense pressure put on these artists to just survive, Chicago ones especially. 2017 saw 3457 shooting incidents and 650 murders (stats from CNN) in the Windy City alone, genuinely jaw dropping statistics when you think about it. They’re products of their environment so of course their lyrics contain profanity and elude to violence. Some of them don’t know any other way than this due to being ostracised in the grand scheme of things due to socio-political constructs. Illinois ended 2017 with America’s highest black unemployment rate (from IllinoisPolicy), why isn’t this talked about? Why isn’t more done regarding these two statistics, as there must be some correlation.
These musicians are just voicing their emotions and day-to-day lives through a cultural medium that can be heard by millions worldwide, so why should their genre be shunned whilst other artists with no lyrical substance can rise to the top? It’s not as if drill artists aren’t respected by other successful artists either… A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Travi$ Scott and Mac Miller just to name a few have all worked with artists from the scene.
This subculture of Hip-Hop is incredibly diverse and sparks waves across the genre on a whole which then means other people take from this culture and profit, a lot of the popular fads in music come from Drill, it’s undeniable. Why glorify Biggie, Tupac and Big L etc if you’re not willing to give these guys a chance? Listen to their music and when you do, really listen to their lyrics because there’s more emotion, more realness and more creativeness than a lot of what you hear now. Support their struggle, as it’s a way of helping people make it out of the misery surrounding them.
R.I.P to Fredo Santana and all the others who have lost their lives due to gang violence.
words by Rohan Parmar