Lil Bibby: The Third World Inside of America

Lil Bibby is the next up-and-coming rapper from Chicago. NBA star Kevin Durant just showed that he enjoyed Lil Bibby’s music by mentioning him in a tweet, and he recently was interviewed by the classic rap interviewer Sway.

Lil Bibby states, ”On Essex wit’ the No Limits“

What makes writing this article interesting for me is that Lil Bibby and I grew up on the same block; I used to live on Essex which he discusses in his song. It gives me joy to see my fellow peers making it into the rap industry. In an interview concerning his upbringing Lil Bibby States,”  “Where I am from, that’s probably one of the craziest places in Chicago. I had seen and did a lot of stuff…I don’t like talking about that type of shit though.”

 In ‘How I Was Raised up,’ Lil Bibby discusses the various trials and tribulations related to being a black man in the hood. Over the hard beat, Lil Bibby states,  ”We some savages, that’s what the hood made us. Bodies droppin’ everyday, they try to blame. I said, that’s just how I was raised up.” Every day, black people find themselves born into violent neighborhoods on the absolute lowest end of the economic ladder. The neighborhoods are divided by various warring gang factions and many youth out of economic necessity partake in the drug economy. And through programming, black youth become trained to perform ‘hits’ on one another.

Lil Bibby states that the hood made him and his peers savages due to the tumultuous nature of their environments; he makes it clear that they were not simply born this way and, hence, cannot be blamed.  Chicago street gangs and the violence are a product of social conditions created by institutional racism. Chicago’s state-sanctioned racism produces “thugs” and systematically strips the morality from people, replacing it with a stone cold heart that is necessary to survive on the careless streets. The constant discussion of “carrying hits” in rap music originating in Chicago is indicative of the low value that human life has in these areas. For people growing up in these violent neighborhoods, they become accustomed to killings; taking a human life is no different than killing a character in a video game. But from whence did this violence come? African-Americans came to Chicago in mass numbers during the ‘Great Migration’ in search of job opportunities.

Instead, they would be segregated from white society, forced into decrepit houses in the ‘black-belt,’ and become the victim of regular attacks of the Ku Klux Klan and other white vigilantes. When black people sought justice after white locals intentionally drowned a black child, the race riots of 1919 took place where whites would bomb and set fire to black neighborhoods. In this environment, blacks were denied opportunities for social advancement. All of this laid the foundation for the drug economy and the formation of gangs.

His line, “They try to blame us,” is an obvious jab at people like conservative news media outlets who feign concern for the plight of black youth while simultaneously marginalizing them as deviants who are lacking in morals who simply need to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.” One conservative news commentator, Bill O’Reilly, who often presents himself as the expert of ‘black-on black crime,’ states the solution was, ”…what they need to do is ‘the surge strategy’ like Iraq…” The fact that this was actually seen as a viable solution to the problem of gang violence in Chicago is further proof that blacks are outside of mainstream America and live in internal colonies. In his neighborhood, Lil Bibby states, ”Its kill or be killed where I came from.” To blame individual people for their participation in violence without a larger critique of the socio-economic system which creates the conditions for that violence only serves to marginalize black youth while keeping the same unequal exchange between whites and blacks intact. Lil Bibby states:

 run up on you, shoot ya face off

Tryna wipe them niggas out like Adolf

The system of white supremacy has created conditions in which gangs of the same color and socio-economic ladder fight one another over crumbs. Having Klan Members come together to wipe out black people became a tiresome efforts, so instead the white supremacist system would create a structural system in which black people themselves would perpetuate a genocide with whites benefiting socially and economically from the conditions of the ghetto. 60 years ago you would have expected to hear statements like ”tryna wipe them niggers out like Adolf” from Neo-Nazis, but the capitalistic system has created conditions where blacks inflict this violence on each other.

 Moreover, black youth live a life under constant police surveillance. Lil Bibby states, ” Operation lookin’ sloppy. The feds tryna watch me. ” He boasts about his ability to outsmart and duck the feds as he carries out his job in the underground sectors I where the drug economy is the only viable way to social mobility. The obstacles that were, and still are, put in place, to halt black socioeconomic aspirations, has resulted in black youth acquiring detrimental social, economic, and political habits that are exemplified in the gangs that roam Chicago’s streets. The gangs that we have in our community, the bloody knives that lay astray on the pavement, the white chalk on our sidewalks, the yellow tape surrounding vacant lots, and the rapid succession of bullets that are fired at one another are the cumulative effects of systematic institutionalized racism. This has created conditions in which, as Lil Bibby states:

It’s kill or be killed where I came from.