studio11 (Curator)


Studio 11 is Chicago's premiere music production facility for rap, hip hop, dance, and electronic music. Founded in 1996, Studio 11 has recorded, mixed, and mastered over 35,000 songs. Read more at Studio 11 Wikipedia

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studio11 on 12/29/2015 at 12:57AM

Welcome To Chi-Raq - The Origin, Definition, The Word Of The World Of The Dollar Boyz

Cover Photo - Welcome To Chi-Raq Volume 1


The term Chi-Raq, now synonymous with Chicago street violence has drenched the media with attention following the December release of Spike Lee's Chicago based film Chi-Raq. The meaning of the word Chi-Raq, the fusion of Chicago and Iraq, may owe its origin to the assimilations the Chicago news media furnished in wake of the Iraq war - comparing war statistics to Chicago crime statistics. Moreover, Chi-Raq could have been born from Chicago gang presence in Iraq. In the realm of street poetry anything is game and it is only natural that these words embrace culture and news media. The word Chi-Raq is the street poet's spin on the news media's representation of the Chicago streets -  and the Chicago street's presence in the Iraq war. Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy? We may never know, but the facts are the facts and one things for sure; the word is old - at least 10 years old. Here's the story of the word of the world of the Dollar Boyz. "Welcome to Chi-Raq".

Let's rewind in time to the year 2005. The Iraq war had been front page news for years. With countless troops returning to Chicago a strong connection between the regions existed. Many soldiers returned to find home in just as critical shape as the war torn world in Iraq. A massive overhaul on Chicago's housing projects forced many from their dwellings, opening a new wave of turmoil in the city. Change is rough in light of city politics, media, and gentrification. The term Chi-Raq was an inevitable conclusion in street rap music, born of the streets of Chicago, and best exhibited by the Dollar Boyz series of albums/mixtapes "Welcome To Chi-Raq" first released in early 2006. 

"I remember clear as day the word Chi-Raq spilling out of the microphone at Studio 11 in the throws of the Iraqi war. It may have popped up here and there - as we had a ton of rappers returning home from war at the time, but the real statement came with the Dollar Boyz first mixtape hosted by D.J. Pharris with the powerful 'Welcome To Chiraq' intro. That record is the best early example of the use of the term" - Notes (Engineer/Producer - Studio 11)

In the midst of the recent 'Chi-Raq' clamor we received a call to the studio. "Yo! This is Caine from the Dollar Boyz, we came up with that Chiraq shit in 2005. You guys still got all the files over there?" At Studio 11 we keep a database of almost 20 years of material ranging from analog storage mediums, CD ROMS, DDS tapes, through DVD's - of which total around 7000 pieces. Needless to say, an album is a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, all DVD data is in updated databases. We told 'Caine' we'd give it a look. We had never really considered that the word Chi-Raq had in effect originated at any particular point. But a bit of digging found the earliest Dollar Boyz recordings at Studio 11 to be from 2005-2006. Namely their album/mixtape "Welcome To Chi-Raq" Volume 1 featuring rappers Caine, White, and Cash and hosted by acclaimed Power 92.5 WPWX Chicago D.J. Pharris.

Dollar Boyz

While Spike Lee may have brought the term Chi-Raq to the mainstream in 2015, and King Louie may claim to have coined Chiraq in 2009, the origin of the term Chi-Raq is best exemplified in the Dollar Boyz series of releases, "Welcome To Chi-Raq" Volumes 1-3 stemming from the mid-2000's and the Iraqi war. These volumes are stacked to the CD's edge with hard hitting Chicago beats and street rhymes. At the 74 minute brim of a CD's length they are the reminder that Chi-Raq is about word play and reflection - tales of the world at hand.

Our blessings go out to King Louie in lieu of his recent tragedy. He has been an active recording artist at Studio 11 for many years. We wish him well in his recovery. One of our studio favorites featuring King L can be found HERE. Studio 11 does not condone street violence in any way. Rather we promote artistic expression as the best possible means to channel energy. We wish for a better, safer, and more honest Chicago in the future - clad through constructive, educational, and artistic outlets. 

Dollar Boyz

Covers From The Dollar Boyz "Welcome To Chiraq" Series


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studio11 on 08/06/2015 at 10:30PM

Skate Music - The Dread Thrashes Chicago Rap & Hip Hop Into Overdrive

The Dread

When The Dread emcee Billa Camp hit us up about mixing their upcoming release at Studio 11, We were excited to hear what the new band might have in store. Billa Camp earned his place in Chicago hip hop history as the frontman for the Jazz Funk Ensemble Treologic, whose release "Thank You Lenny" also found it's way onto the Studio 11 consoles for mixing and mastering. Memories of Treologic shows are vivid, highlighted by a 12 piece band laced with Jazz horns, A DJ, and the powerful and energetic lyrical delivery of Billa Camp on the mic. Upon stumbling into Wicker Park's North Bar for a recent show by The Dread, all of that energy was there yielding a powerful and anthematic hip hop vibe. The Dread can best be described as skate music featuring molten distrotions and Billa Camp's poweful rhymes. Be sure to check out The Dread's upcoming performance at Arlene's Grocery in Manhattan, NY.

The Dread Live in New York at Arlene's Grocery (95 Stanton St.). Friday, August 14[email protected]11:30pm. 21+ No Cover

The Dread

Alex Gross of Studio 11 caught up with Bill Camp of The Dread for a quick interview:

The band seems like a unique cast of characters, what brought you together?

The simple answer is....Being in a kick ass band is awesome! The Dread just naturally happened from us collaborating time & time again. We are Nolan Silias, William Silas, Ruin, DJ Alo, Mikey Lightning, Aven Deese & myself, Billa Camp. Nice to meet ya. DREAD!

How long have you been involved in music?

I've been involved in music since the age of 14 & its definitely shaped the person I am today.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences? 

As a band we listen to a little bit of everything and exclude nothing. Personally my influences change all time from The Dixie Hummingbirds to Blues Magoos. Shit... Last summer It was Luke Bryant & Florida Georgia Line. When I was younger I was influenced by Rage Against The Machine, Mos def, & Nas.

What best describes The Dread's sound?

Our sound is often described as a killer mix tape with a hip hop soul. It's like if Bad Brains & The Roots had a baby, it would be The Dread. Seriously though,we force ourselves to remain open to creating all sounds. If we as artist feel the mood & sound we'll make it. Our music has no boundaries.

I especially enjoy the jam "Permission", What's the inspiration for the song?

Thanks, we really appreciate that. The song "Permission" stands as a testament to who we are as individuals and as a group. We don't need permission to be who we wanna be, live how we wanna live or make the music we wanna make. When it's all said and done, we want to be content with our time on this earth. The song is meant to embody the spirit of a maverick. It's inspiration is the freedom of choice.

What are some of the best spots you've played in Chicago?

We've enjoyed venues like Schuba's, The Original Mother's & Emporium. Honestly, it's all about the crowd's vibe, we've had killer shows all over.

What's in cue for Dread in the near future?

We're performing in New York on August 14 at Arlene's Grocery. Also, we're opening up for TECH N9NE on September 25 in Arlington Heights, IL. at Home Bar. The next album should be out early next year.

The Dread

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