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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

"WELCOME TO CHI-RAQ"

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 02/06/2015 at 05:30PM

Glass Lux - The New Wave Chicago Italo Connection

Glass Lux At Studio 11

BY ALEX GROSS

Some of my fondest Studio 11 memories date back to the late nineties when studio manager Dan Scalpone and I would embark on our yearly trip to Cannes, France to attend Midem, the world music convention. Here we would meet with labels worldwide on behalf of Chicago musicians to sort out licensing and label deals. Notably, I remember meeting with the Donato brothers of Italy in respect to their Full Time music label and catalog. As innovators in the late wave of disco and early house music, they emphasized that there always stood a unique and deep connection with Chicago and Italo music. Kindly, they had gifted us their entire catalog on CD's notably all "The Very Best Of Full Time" volumes. While building the second recording studio at Studio 11 in Chicago we were limited to a CD Boombox on the construction site. Needless to say, the whole Full Time catalog became the music of choice and I recall hearing the classic "Spacer Woman" by Charlie over and over. Upon attending the early shows in Chicago by Studio 11 friends and musical sensation Glass Lux, I was blown away by their supercharged cover version of "Spacer Woman" and thrilled to hear the fabled Chicago Italo connection come back to life. 

The latest Glass Lux single "I'm A Machine" was mixed down at Studio 11 in late 2014 as a re-release of the bands original demo release. The song is an infectiously catchy ride through an electronic whirlwind. 

GLASS_LUX_IMG_8222


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Onyx_System on 01/15/2015 at 04:47PM

A Strange Brew: Reviewing Spinning Clocks - Spirits in the Juice

artwork by Alex Nova artwork by Alex Nova

Spirits in the Juice indeed. I don't know where the Clocks found the plums for this strange potion, but it left my head spinning after just the first sip!  

Listening to the opening piece of music, Circle Round lays out a rich carpet of organ drone as the bass pattern sets the table. Once the theme is established organs begin to layer and compete, darting and weaving soon they are braiding a gorgeous head of hair! A Big Bopper-styled maestro urges on the proceedings, and are those the sounds of swallows on the hunt as daylight grows scarce? Has the bass guitar's pattern changed at all or in fact has the listener changed within the act of listening?

Silver UFOs introduce some new tones, this time the bass gurgles, the keys ping and glide, and a violin maneuvers gracefully with, through, and around. I believe this tune might be in waltz timing. There is a moment where the tone shifts, a workmanlike mien taking the place of the carefree precedings; a dog barks as the the tumult grows, and just as quickly rainbows of violin part the clouds. Next a somewhat unexpected banjo joins the fray, picking a 'down-home' counterpoint to the violins as the song whirls through the brambles and on to its conclusion.  

The third piece, Lunar Dunes, takes us into the kind of den we've all found ourselves at one time or another. Dim lamplight casts mysterious shadows. Anonymous sorts recline on couches, others across rugs, the air thick with intermingling smokes, a couple engaged in a languid dance. It is hot. Electronics squiggle and bubble, organ and bass guitar keeping time as a theremin tone picks out the tune.     

And finally EP closer Around the Mountain finds the Clocks scaling the proverbial mount, the twilight haze of the previous 3 tracks giving way to definite night, shields and swords clattering, violins lamenting, all to the steady sturm of the bass guitar while the organ takes quill to scroll, narrating the adventure.  

While not quite 15 minutes in length, the Spinning Clocks are able to achieve some transporting effect across these 4 tracks. Given the opportunity of a full length recording I'd be curious to hear where they take us, and to what depths...   -Martin Standish  

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theradius on 10/07/2014 at 11:00AM

Radius PATCH 09: Narrative

PATCH is a series of curated playlists selected from the Radius episode archive. Each playlist is organized around a specific topic or theme that engages the tonal and public spaces of the electromagnetic spectrum. PATCH serves as a platform to illuminate the questions, concerns, and complexities of and within radio-based art practices.

PATCH 09: Narrative

Episode 14: Sara Pinheiro

Quem Conta Um Conto, II is a study in narrative, Pinheiro’s main subject of research. The individual sounds in the piece grow as characters, based on film theorist Chris Vogler’s twelve stages of the Hero’s Journey. Pinheiro juxtaposes sound spaces to join together disparate times and places; she ignores the physical impossibilities of their junction in order to potentiate the conflict that can emerge from their friction.


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theradius on 08/04/2014 at 07:49PM

Radius PATCH 08: History

PATCH is a series of curated playlists selected from the Radius episode archive. Each playlist is organized around a specific topic or theme that engages the tonal and public spaces of the electromagnetic spectrum. PATCH serves as a platform to illuminate the questions, concerns, and complexities of and within radio-based art practices.

PATCH 08: History

Episode 03: Andy Ortmann

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period, hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000-80,000 women were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. In anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the Massacre, Ortmann constructed a three hour piece of electronic music to in some minor way, reflect on and/or interpret the inhumanity and abominable brutality of which humans are capable.


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