[Interview] Seven1: I Had To Say Something
“It feel like N.Y., summer time Chi,” Kanye West famously rapped in “The Good Life”. And he did so for good reason. Perhaps nothing beats summer in the windy city, a time when Chicagoans put away their winter coats and spend their days on beaches, at baseball games, and festivals such as Taste of Chicago, Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, and the countless neighborhood celebrations that happen on a weekly basis. There’s a magic to Chicago in the summer months, the air tastes better and buildings on Lakeshore Drive shine a little bit brighter reflecting off Lake Michigan. But there is an ugly side to summertime Chi, one that doesn’t appear in hit records. Nope, you’ll find this side of summer in Chicago on the news and in headlines like, “Rate of Killings Rises 38 Percent in Chicago in 2012″ or “In Chicago, Summer Is ‘Murder Season’”. Violence and murders happen at such an alarming rate in Chicago, that residents almost seem to accept this as normal everyday life. It’s sickening how such a beautiful city, arguably America’s best, can be so violent and hateful.
“We live through so much that when a person dies it’s like, I’m not trying to sound disrespectful, but it goes in one ear and out the other,” says Seven1 an emerging Hip Hop artist from Chicago’s Pocket Town. “It’s wrong, but this is the environment we grow up in.”
I met Seven1 at SoundScape Studios on a hot Friday in the middle of June. Before the meeting, I knew very little about him beyond his song, “The Death of Drillin’”. The record is a harsh critique on the city’s violence and an interesting take on music’s role in perpetuating it. Specifically, Seven1 targeted what is known as the “drill music”, which is going national thanks to the rise of artists such as King Louie, Chief Keef and others. Seven says that the record is not a diss towards any Chicago artist in particular, but his way of addressing Chicago’s youth and drawing a clear distinction between the music and videos they see, and the real life violence that happens in Chicago’s streets.
“You press play on the song and you’ll understand it wasn’t a diss towards Chief Keef, it wasn’t a diss towards King Louie. It wasn’t a diss towards any Chicago rapper,” Seven explains. “This slang that people want to use, ‘Drilling,’ that derived from a certain section of Chicago called Dro City. They used the word in a variety of ways. But the word has spread so much it’s to the point where in my neighborhood the kids want to identify themselves as ‘drillers’ aka ‘killers.’ And they want to say they’re ‘drilling’ aka ‘killing.’ I’m speaking to the shorties. I couldn’t make a song and be PC about it like a “heal the world” type of song because that shit would go in one ear and out the other.”
Seven1 definitely grabbed my attention with “Death of Drilling”, so I set out to SoundScape to find out more about Seven1, his background, as well as his music. In this interview we talk about growing up in Chicago, why he felt the need to speak up, and what’s in store. Enjoy.