March 6, 2015

Friday night live at Transistor: Chicago rapper Awkh. Sound by Jon Monteverde.

As a second-year student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I’ve finally taken on the task of merging my music with my practice. With the funding of the Idea Generation Grant, I was able to explore what I’m calling rap therapy, and created Politically Correct, a music project that allows me to voice my experience as a young African-American from the South Side of Chicago, and hopefully be heard.

Artist statement for the project:

Being born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a single-parent household, it would seem that I’d have become another statistic, just a product of my environment. However, I’ve always had the curse and privilege of being that “token kid,” the one who was lucky enough to not go to the neighborhood school, and be placed in more diverse environments where I was able to thrive on benefits that were never intended for me.

Living in predominantly African-American communities all my life and only going to predominantly African-American schools for half my life, my first interaction with diversity was very confusing, and it was also the first time that I became consciously aware of the fact that I was black and what that meant through the eyes of mainstream society. As if it wasn’t enough for me to become aware of the ethnic barriers, prejudice, and ignorance I would have to face in life, once I started college I was overwhelmed by a new aspect I hadn’t quite acknowledged yet. Going to SAIC not only furthered my awareness of ethnic differences, but it also brought to my attention social class differences, and the ethnic groups that typically fall into each class.

I went through a series of emotions like rage, hatred, hurt, doubt, hope, false motivation, discouragement and so much more as I realized the system had failed and cheated me, all the way from being born to a mother of a broken system who could only provide me with the limited resources she had, to the terribly structured, jaded, Chicago Public Schools system, and even further to being unable to detach myself from the stigma Chicago has given me as a young African-American from the South Side.

Also available: a previous Awkh Transistor performance from August 9, 2014.

Find more live performance recordings on our archive page.