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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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