story • Jake Krez
photos • Frankie Skrapka
After sliding into a generations-old booth across from Chicago rapper Loren in a tired old Irish pub on the outskirts of the Loop, one thing became immediately evident: he’s as real as they come these days.
At a time when authenticity appears perpetually undervalued, the Brighton Park native is out to prove the idea that hip-hop means more than following fads and a manufactured image.
On his latest project, Fake Deep, Loren offers up a series of journal entries showcasing. Culled from endless studio sessions aimed at the creation of a proper full-length, the 11-track release serves as a breath of fresh air and a turning of the page for an artist that has learned plenty in his twenty-three years. Following an uncharacteristic hiatus, Logan has re-emerged as Loren and Fake Deep finds him out to prove himself amidst a facade-laden contemporary hip-hop scene.
“At first I was working on this project called Today & Tomorrow and nothing was pleasing me. I re-did that project at least four times within like a year and three months. So I was like you know what, I’m overthinking this, forget it, scrap everything and we did,” explained Loren between sips of a PBR tall boy at Emmitt’s. “We had like 40 songs, hella songs, I just kept changing my mind. So we scrapped the whole idea and then one day I was just looking at everybody who started poppin and I was like ‘man bro, all this shit isn’t even that serious, why are these people tattooing crazy ass shit on their faces, why are they going that extra mile to get on, why are they portraying this super sad persona, none of this shit is that serious and I can see it because I know, I can see that it’s bullshit, it’s a gimmick you know?”
Throughout his headlining show at Reggie’s September 24 celebrating both his 23rd birthday and release of Fake Deep, Loren left little room to breathe between songs. Taking the stage around 8:45 for the all ages affair, he offered a brief introduction, thanking everyone for coming out before offering up his refrain for the night: “I just want y’all to listen to me right now.”
With that, he tore into a list of singles that have hit the public with increasing attention over the course of the last month. Stopping briefly after “Never Forget” which featured an absent Femdot, he made sure to remind those in attendance of his intentions for the evening, “Just listen to me bro, listen to what I have to say.” Immediately, it seemed obvious Loren had something to get off his chest.
Typically, Loren’s releases come in a dense flurry. Like a mid-January Chicago snowstorm, his singles, videos and assorted projects can pile up for even the most seasoned blogger. The output is both a testament to his committed work ethic and at times raw offerings. When asked why he puts so much out so often, what the catalyst is for the never-ending approach, his answer is ironically deep.
“I know it sounds wrong, but I’m not thinking five years ahead right now, I see where music’s at right now and I know I have a lot to say and a lot that’s on my mind that if I don’t make this music and put it out I may drive myself crazy,” he explained. “So this is all therapeutic for me to get through all that this is right now. Its moreso for me and not really for anyone else. I’m just trying to get these ideas out. I’m hoping it draws enough attention to where people care enough to keep up.”
To be sure, Loren’s story is much more dense than he’s let on thus far in his rhymes. While across the country and beyond rappers regularly participate in chest-thumping comparisons of bravado, the slight frame heavily covered in tattoos from the city’s southwest side tempers how much of his own life to allow into the public sphere. Raised in the periphery of gang life and occasional violence, he’s seen firsthand the experiences that find their way to the city’s newspaper headlines and national talking point. It’s those experiences that shape who he is and the music he makes. A little over a year ago he was in a car that was shot at on the highway. Sitting in the passenger seat as he drives through the cities streets can be a harrowing experience for both people, his head on a never-ending swivel throughout conversation. You don’t have to talk to him long to realize he means what he says and vice versa.
Meanwhile, rappers in Florida and across the Internet where a surge of “mumble rap” rhyming paired with frenetic hairstyles and face-art has exploded in the last year tend to fill bars with moans and hums, linking together their self-deprecating raps to redundant choruses. Much of the sound and aesthetic has been credited to the artists here that have come up with Loren. Acts like Supa Bwe, Warhol.SS and more have seen their styles pimped to fads with increased frequency, a fact he brings up often in conversation. The scene has come under fire for the long-argued quality of authenticity in hip-hop, but its something that Loren has never worried about it.
“Nowadays bro, I guess credibility and theose strifes that people go through, they don’t really mean shit no more. You got guys like XXX that are just straight up fuckin’ weirdos man, straight up, that’s it. He’s a weird ass person, he’s middle-class but he’s always sad as fuck “, said Loren. “You might hear some shots in the projects to come, I make take some subtle shots but if I’m saying anything I’m saying your name.”
Since emerging in 2013 alongside a slew of fresh talent in Chicago, Loren has established a name for himself locally that is growing by the day. While most would see that as a positive result of years of work, its appropriately a gift and a curse in a city known for such juxtapositions. Because, the attention that inches him closer to the ultimate goal of making it on a national scale and being able to leave his neighborhood also make his day-to-day reality all the more tricky, from where he goes to what he wears.
“After you get shot at a couple times and almost die, you gotta carry your homie into the hospital and you see his eyes rolling back. You kinda don’t take that unnecessary move on a Friday night just for the fuck of it anymore. You kinda want to lock in and go to the studio and you want to cut the fat in terms of the people around you,” he explains with a decided degree of nonchalance underscoring the sentiment. “. Is somebody trying to pull up on me lacking because I fucked their bitch? Or because I didn’t do this song with them, or beat them up in high school, I don’t know. They just killed four people, quadruple homicide by my crib two days ago. You get shot at just for wearing baggy clothes, I might have to tighten these jeans up a little bit and make my shirt a little shorter. That’s a real thing. I liked to dress how I used to dress back in the day, but you know, I wanna live.”
If anything, Fake Deep serves as an opportune break from the young rapper’s first act. By retiring Logan and re-emerging under the new moniker, he’s also attempting to take that next big step forward, before it’s too late.
Back at the show, dressed in all black which made his heavily tattooed arms appear as extensions of his t-shirt, Logan finally pulled back from the crowd a bit, offering some air after rattling through a series of new full-figured singles. As 9:30 ticked by on the all-ages affair, Loren called for his slew of friends to join him onstage, remarking at their similarities as the crew of eight or so jumped up and down, thrashing across the stage. “You see my brothers up here? Long hair and shit, we all look the same because we really brothers”.
Loren has made mistakes in his career, this he knows. But he’s also strong enough to admit them. What became obvious at the late September set, was that he possesses a thick insulation from the world by those directly around him. Unlike the artists comprising Soundcloud rap or the one-off internet stars of today, Loren embodies the true tenants of hip-hop, and has in turn earned the respect of those in the streets on a daily basis, of his friends and family who place respect above all else. When describing his fans, he mentions that most don’t have Twitters or Instagrams, that most “still have rubber bands on the bottoms of their jeans.” What’s obvious is that win, lose or whatever else, in his latest incarnation, Loren is prepared for whatever will come his way.
“Am I ready to burst or anything like that? I wasn’t ready for my Dad to go to jail, I wasn’t ready when my homie got killed in 2013, I wasn’t ready when three weeks later they killed my other homie, I wasn’t ready for when I dropped my tape and a lot of people were expecting me to pop and I didn’t, but I popped within Chicago, I wasn’t ready to sell out a show; I wasn’t ready for a lot of shit. You’re never ready for what life got for you, but you gotta be able to handle it.”