For Chicago’s creative scene, 2019 is starting off decidedly tumultuous. In the little over a week since the new year, a series of accusations against prominent local artists, creatives and musicians has rocked the Second City. Perpetuated by the conversation surrounding Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries, the allegations have opened a serious and important conversation around the treatment of women, how we in the modern age interact with one another and where exactly we go from here.
Beginning Saturday night and continuing into the week, a cross-section of musicians such as Towkio, Greg Landfair Jr., Joey Purp, Malcolm London and many more have been accused by several women of mistreatment ranging from assault and varied abuse to rape. The accusations were leveled on Twitter and found a groundswell of opposition and support, as is the way for the social media site. While certainly shocking, the accusations underline a larger conversation happening in the country today.
Earlier this year, a contingent of women from the rock and DIY scenes put a stop to problematic local band The Orwells. After the band, which had been faced with numerous accusations from women over the years, announced a show at The Metro, victims and advocates shared their stories of abuse and alleged pursuit of underage girls. The moment resulted in the cancellation of the show, the spiking of their upcoming album and, ultimately; the dissolution of the band itself. Its been cited as a brave undertaking that saw that side of the city unite for the right reasons. Similarly, Chicago’s hip-hop/R&B side has flourished for just under a decade now, spearheaded by artists in and around the SaveMoney camp. While everything in the public domain is still allegation until and investigation is launched, there’s no way this period in time doesn’t seriously affect the city and the art that is made here. It can’t be ignored. The period of creation that preceded this weekend’s revelations has long come to be known as the Renaissance. With circumstances changing and acts rising to new heights, that time had already felt to be waning, but on Facebook, J Bambi may have put it the best:
“You n***as thought the Renaissance was gonna be rainbows and freestyles LMAO. Do you know the Spirtual reckoning ENLIGHTENMENT comes with???? Chicago gotta hit rock bottom so we can REALLY be on top. Clout don’t mean shit to God”
Yes, it would seem as though the Renaissance is over, the innocence has left the once-burgeoning Chicago scene. We still have plenty of positivity to lean back on, still have artists like Saba, Smino, Mick and Noname among others to be proud of, but the city as a place of creativity won’t recover if we don’t take care of the issues that have risen. A lot has happened in the last week, and a lot more is sure to come out in the near future. Everyone in these situations deserves a voice, but none mores than the victims. At this time we all need to take a step back, listen and learn how to heal our community.
Far from trying to play holier than thou, it is important that this conversation continues and has support from the community. We’ll be continuing to discuss this and everything else going on in Chicago and beyond throughout our lineup of shows, including a special conversation this Saturday on the Three Piece Morning Show. Until then, feel free to reach out with any further information, insights or whatever else. Be safe out there and follow the hashtag #SurvivingLoudly to share experiences or support others.