Since entering the music scene in 2006, Lupe Fiasco has proven himself to be one of the best conscious rappers in hip-hop. Many of the rappers songs are laced with metaphors and double entendres that he uses to tell a narrative of fictitious characters, contrived in his head. However, not all of his characters happen to be imaginary. Lupe recently released the song “Jonylah Forever,” a song dedicated to the life of 6-month old Jonylah Watkins, who was recently killed in a drive-by shooting in Chicago, while her father was changing her diaper. In his song, Lupe conjures up a clever concept of what Jonylah’s life would have been like had she not been slain in this tragedy.
He tells a story of Jonylah growing up to take her first steps, excelling in academics throughout grade school, entering medical school and finally becoming a doctor. After these achievements, she is offered high-paying jobs, but turns them all down saying, “they need me in the hood”. She then decides to works in a free clinic in Chicago. One day, the adult Jonylah comes across a baby that has been shot across the street from her clinic. The child is bleeding out in her father’s arms. She rushes to the baby and manages to stabilize her until the ambulance arrives, consequently saving the baby’s life, which, in an alternative reality, could have been her very own.
Gun violence and murder is not an unfamiliar issue in the Southside of Chicago. Just last year, the people of Chicago witnessed 506 murders throughout the year all due to gun violence. Despite the city’s efforts to control the problem, Chicago’s murder rate is still on the rise. By the end of February, the murder rate was already 16% higher than it was at that time last year. On the radio we hear music from the likes of Chief Keef and other Chicago natives that glorify gun violence and promote the act. Although the song focuses on a depressing issue, it’s almost like getting a breath of fresh air hearing Lupe drop bars in response to the problem. Just knowing that not all rap music has to be violent and misogynistic, but can also be sincere and critical of real life issues is enough to keep me a fan of the genre and appreciative of the few remaining, true Hip Hop artists. Upon releasing the song, Lupe tweeted from his account, “this is not a song but a life. Be respectful…”. I urge you to give the song a listen, pass it along to a friend, and not allow young Jonylah’s story, and the story of many other children in Chicago and across the nation, go unheard.
-Lamar Holmes, Leisure/Music Staff Writer
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