If Anyone Would Understand Young Chop, It Would Be Kanye
I was on the train late Tuesday afternoon. I just left SoundScape Studio and was on my way to Columbia College to teach my final class of the semester. I checked twitter just as I hit the Blue Line, and immediately I saw mentions of Chief Keef and the long awaited, “I Don’t Like” Remix featuring Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, and Jadakiss. Living in Chicago and being a part of Chicago Hip Hop, it’s impossible not to be caught up in the movement centered around Chief Keef and Young Chop, one that has galvanized the city’s music scene as well as brought on national attention. Where Keef, Durk, Chop and company fit into Chicago Hip Hop is a whole other article, and I’ll save that for another time. But their energy and enthusiasm is undeniable, and any attention brought to Chicago’s Hip Hop scene is great and severely needed.
That attention increased tremendously, and was also given a serious validation when Kanye West announced a G.O.O.D. Music remix of Chief Keef and Young Chop’s underground smash, “I Don’t Like”. The song became more than just a song. It was a statement on the state of Chicago Hip Hop, and our position in the industry. The remix caused an excitement that rarely occurs, and when it finally dropped via DJ Pharris and Power 92 it took down the Internet.
When class started, all my students were talking about the remix. We played it in the classroom’s sound system, and dissected each verse. On Twitter, the talk on my timeline seemed to focus on the positivity this would bring to Chicago Hip Hop as well as what it meant to hear Kanye shout out acts such as L.E.P. and King Louie. Everyone appeared to be happy with the remix, or at least the fact that it really existed. That is, everyone but Young Chop, the song’s producer. Chop voiced (and is still voicing) his frustration on Twitter, pointing out that Kanye added extra production on top of his original beat, altering the song without Chop’s permission or approval. Chop was also upset that he wasn’t consulted on the remix, had not gotten a chance to listen to it before it was released, and that Kanye had changed something that he created.
Beyond Twitter, Young Chop also called DJ Moondawg of WGCI and delivered a passionate rant about his displeasure with the remix and his thoughts of suing Kanye West. His voice was heated, and the feelings were real. It reminded me again that Young Chop is still just a teenager, a quiet and formally shy kid that is great at making beats. Young Chop has been thrust into the spotlight in the last 6 months, going from relative obscurity to one of the hottest producers in Hip Hop. And there is no instruction manual for that. While many of us saw the Tweets and heard the phone interview and thought, ‘damn, what he is doing?’ or ‘he is fucking his career up,’ it was clear that Young Chop was not thinking about those things. Young Chop was centered on his music, on his sound, on a piece of work that he created with his friend and fellow teenager using home studio equipment. One that has traveled way beyond the Southside, and has put him and all of his friends into a whole new world. “He didn’t sit at the table and make that beat,” Chop told XXL. “He just coulda asked me. He changed what I put my time into. I made it the way how I made it.”
I met Chop for the first time just two days before the “I Don’t Like” Remix dropped. We spoke about the neighborhood where he grew up, his new found success, and how he close he was to quitting right before everything popped off. I was just as surprised as anyone to see his reaction to the remix, not just that he didn’t like it, but that he was so vocal with his disapproval. But, I can understand it. And you know what, if there’s any other artist that would be sympathetic, it would be Kanye West.
Kanye is supremely passionate about his work. Can you imagine someone tweaking part of a Kanye beat and then dropping a remix without him knowing about? “Oh hellllll naw…” I think Chop’s reaction isn’t that crazy for someone passionate about what they do. But, Chop didn’t go about it in the right way, or may not be seeing the significance and importance of the remix that goes beyond the sound of the record and the changes to production. Chop could have kept some of his feelings to himself, and ‘played the game’ a bit better. But again, the game is something very new to him.
If there has been one message that Kanye West has championed his whole career, it is to speak your truth and love your work. That’s what Chop appears to be doing in this case. To me, it’s almost ironic that it comes with this particular song and a larger than life remix from Kanye West. But then again, it’s all part of the story of Chicago Hip Hop.