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Chandra Gill: Open Letter to Interscope Records about Chicago’s Violence – Chief Keef

Editors Note: The letter below is written by Chandra Gill, Ph.D., to Jimmie Lovine of Interscope Records. In the letter, Dr. Gill discusses the violence and murders of young men and rappers.

Dr. Gill is questioning why Interscope Records is not taking any responsibility for the men that they sign to work under their label.

Interscope Records
2220 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 865-1000

Re: Chicago’s Violence – Chief Keef

To: Jimmie Lovine:
(Founder of Interscope Records)

“The African-American is not a bestial race”
“Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so.” – Ida B. Wells

What are we to say about the recent murder of yet another teenager here in Chicago? What can be said about this alleged rap “beef” amongst those young African-American men here in our communities; communities that inhale hopelessness and helplessness, as it smells of poverty, mis-education and unemployment?

This letter seeks no theoretical framework regarding the varying complexities and debatably learned behaviors of said populace. It’s not a letter of rage with potentially combative elements. This letter is “simple’ and begets this question:

- What foreseen responsibility will your record label have as you continually sign young troubled African-American men to record deals?

Let me be clear (full disclosure): I’m an educator born and raised on Chicago’s south side. I understand the constant dialogue involving parental responsibility, as my parents were present in my life; they raise me and were my first teachers. So I get it. Parents have to be more responsibly involved. However, as I teach, we must as a society soon abandon the either/or position and embrace the both/and philosophy. In that, I insist on individual responsibility and institutional accountability. By example, sure, parents are responsible for what their children wear (ie. 9 year-olds in low-cut shorts with “Sexy Booty” on the back). Yet, we must connect this conversation too to companies that manufacture and produce such items for 9 year-old girls to wear. (Heck, McDonalds is opening up a vegetarian restaurant in India because the market demands it. India’s not known for the consumption of cows and pigs). Corporations can change. Companies can adjust. As people, we must do the same.

Mr. Lovine, I understand business. I’ve debated the, “it’s the American way” mantra often in my quest to be successful, professionally. I know at some point soon we must create a compass of consciousness, as a society of adults. I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know it’s time for us to ask some critical questions. One of which I’ve posed here to you.

When I consider the surge in violence here in my hometown, I can no longer act as if there are no solutions for our children. Just this year, I’ve spoken to over 20,000 students and parents here in Chicago. I believe in our youth. Not naïve or blindly, I too believe in their future, notwithstanding their current realities and conditions.

In reaching beyond a culture of complaining, as if there’s nothing we can do, I suggest the following:

As a concerned Chicago resident and US citizen, I believe Interscope Records should investigate its current policies (and explore more innovative ways) in signing teenaged artists to its label. In step with the NFL and NBA professional leagues, record labels should consider a possible age requirement, entry-level contingencies, etc. for your artist of interest. To place millions of dollars in the hands of troubled teens, thereby creating optimal exposure for youth to glorify America’s biggest failures socially is unacceptable. If high school attendance and graduation is a bottom-line requirement for athletes, why not record labels? Educating our youth to excel beyond one platinum record album is critical to their life as a whole. To think otherwise is to benefit in the moment, monetarily at the expense of our full existence, culturally and globally.

In closing, I side with Ida B. Wells and her words. I write to you with hopes of a timely response. I’m on the side of producing solutions for the sake of our youth in peril. It is my hope that your company will consider the above mentioned and other innovative measures in helping rescue the hearts and minds of our children, our future. I can be reached at 866-496-5667.

Genuinely,

Chandra Gill, Ph.D.
CEO-Blackademically Speaking Enterprises
www.drchandragill.com

cc: Congressman Danny Davis, U.S. Representative – Illinois’s 7th Congressional District
Congressman Bobby Rush, U.S. Representative – Illinois 1st Congressional District
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin

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22 Responses to Chandra Gill: Open Letter to Interscope Records about Chicago’s Violence – Chief Keef

  1. Pingback: Jesse Jackson Challenges Obama on Behalf of Black Americans, Plus Other Black News Headline | Your Black World

  2. Ran Reply

    September 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Great letter, but I’m pretty sure it will fall on blind eyes where the record company(s) are concerned. The destructive nature of some of the music and images are too lucrative for them to abandon for the greater good of the African American community. I love, though, that the author points out all the finger pointing. I see it on this site and so many others where everyone wants to put it all on one group: either blame the parents or blame the teachers or blame the politicians, etc. But no one wants to accept the fact that our children are growing up the way that they are because it took all of those I just named and more to drop the ball and fail the kids. We’re ALL part of the problem but it won’t get fixed if we see it as everyone else’s fault but our own.

    • Danny "Blue" Berhane Reply

      September 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

      While I respect the fact that you are against the the domestication machine that is breeding more and more acceptance to dysfunctional and disruptive lifestyles, I believe that there is a better approach to the solution of that problem. Preventing certain individuals to get money by way of music will only worsen the situation. Reality is uncensored, as is censorship in the ghetto. To deny one to express is to ultimately shun the truth that exist in their worldview. The fact of the matter is positive messages and intellectual/spiritual rappers are censored due to A and R’s who promote the popular images of a “successful” artist or individual in the streets. To heavily promote one of the many talented artist with intellectual and spiritual merit would be more effective. Its better to make it cool to be smart, moral, and functional than to make it “unacceptable” to be otherwise. The youth already feel punished, so to promote more punishment will only promote rebellion to functional society. The rap game is the closest thing to functional society many youth have. The problem isn’t the popularity of gangsta rap, its the lack of incentive to be a positive rapper. Record sales are dependant on promotion money, if positive rappers were given as much or more promotion as the rappers you feel are destroying the image of the black race, then they would probally switch to a more positive message. But they have to eat, they desire sucess in functional society. Would you rather that rapper exclusively sell dope? To put these restrictions on charachter as if they had the same “team” enviroment as a pro athelete is not only irrational, its disillusional. Im tired of people playing “watchdog” when it comes to taking support away from an entertainer, while they rarely ever watch to give support to those who have the message they agree with. If the same energy went to exposing the positive artist as opposed to censoring the negative artist, maybe a movement could have started to gain momentum. But instead of starting a movement, efforts go to suppressing one.

  3. Samdromeda Reply

    September 10, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Do violence to no man or woman in thought word or deed. To do so is to stop being a nurturer and builder. It is one thing to raise a building to the ground so that you can build something better and more useful but it is utterly vain to promote a genocidal mindset that removes the people who will benefit from the new building and bless the world with their peaceful and progressive efforts. Abortion is genocide and is much more violent than the violence in our streets. The only difference is that we have turned it into a clinical procedure similar to police actions and turf wars. The end result is the same….death and sorrow. Good letter. Pray that the recipients will be inspired. A rock thrown in a pond generates waves.

  4. Mikkal Harris Reply

    September 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    This was a great article and food for thought. Love what you are doing sis so keep it up. But you are right people can regulate what they choose. If Interscope wants to address this issue they can. However I wish we would stop buying this trash and that would force them to stop the nonsense. I love your angle and just challenging the system is the start of change. Love and respect you.

    Mikkal Harris

  5. Jay Richmond Reply

    September 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I totally agree with your point here, we as a society need to deal with problems at the source and symptom. Continuing to fight a culture that is constantly fed and sustained by an endless stream of cash is futile. The issues need to be addressed from both angles, and to even watch the evolution of the culture 20 years ago the issue was the lyrics, but the artist were only reporters, no days the music is devoid of substance but the artist themselves are living the lives edified by the music 20 years ago. This is beyond a chicken and egg problem because many of the perpetrators now days couldn’t have delved into the deeper meanings of those words from back then. Its like living and watching a real life movie.

  6. Joel Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Not to nitpick, as it’s a well written letter, but isn’t the founder of Interscope ‘Jimmy Iovine’? Addressing him as ‘Lovine’ probably won’t win you any bonus points.

    • Linda Williams Reply

      September 11, 2012 at 1:07 am

      It seems to me like she said Mr. Lovine

  7. Cholly Che Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Great article. I agree that their need to be some accountability. Plus, considering we live a capitalist society my first thought is to hit them where it hurts, their pockets. Put pressure on radio stations that play music from the label, put pressure on the sponsors that support the radio stations. Make Chicago ground zero for this campaign to readjust the moral compass in music and labels and hopefully other cities will follow. Call me a wishful thinker but I feel you gotta start somewhere even you know it my lead to nowhere.

  8. Cee Dub Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

    The letter that Dr. Gill writes is one that should be published in major news markets across our country. The violence that she outlines is of an epidemic nature, not just in Chicago but around the country. We are losing our children, a core group of citizens that we cannot replace. As parents, we must raise our children. The Bible calls for us NOT to withhold the discipline. You won’t kill them; you will save them (their soul). Excuse my paraphrasing, but I take this to mean that you will raise responsible citizens if you guide them, provide some structure and routine(not beat them). We, as a society, have stopped guiding our children. We leave it up to the media to teach them the values that they cling so closely to…looking for structure in inanimate objects. Dr. Gill, kudos to you for spearheading this dialog. I believe that if we call for the boycott of this foolishness, and stay the course, we will watch that ripple grow. Blessings to you always.

  9. Marques Pearson Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I love Chandra you have been well spoken since I noticed you at U of I . I somehow was linked to this letter via FB. You make good points however the music industry is part of the plan to destroy our values as African Americans so don’t be surprised if this letter goes unnoticed. What I will say is if we educate consumers maybe then when they are affected financially things may change. This is a hard battle to
    Fight and I salute your efforts

  10. TJ Crawford Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I’m with it. Not a lot more that needs to be said.

  11. A.L. Watson Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    This is sound and thought provoking. I hope that Dr. Gill’s request is accepted with a resounding agreement that the record company adhere’s to. The value of money should not overshadow the value of life in our community and our nation.

  12. Aisha Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Great letter. Interesting point you raise about the industry having policy related to some kind of educational accomplishment or age limit. Never heard that argument before, I think it’s valid…because what it does is (although it may not change what people bring to the table) it establishes the idea that the industry has SOME level of standards. It’s an industry, I think that’s similar to acting where people turn to alternative educational options, or decide to return to obtain their educational goals either after their career isn’t successful, or after they realize the benefit of having an education (which can happen simultaneously, or have a causal relationship-i.e. I’m not succeeding here it’s important to advance my education to have something to fall back on). And the realization that it’s a generational phenomenon, that there is a link between the educational attainment of parents and their children’s success. What a reinforcement that would be, especially since our children often look up to and aspire to be like music artists.

  13. Aisha Reply

    September 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Great letter. Interesting point you raise about the industry having policy related to some kind of educational accomplishment or age limit. Never heard that argument before, I think it’s valid…because what it does is (although it may not change what people bring to the table) it establishes the idea that the industry has SOME level of standards. It’s an industry, I think that’s similar to acting where people turn to alternative educational options, or decide to return to obtain their educational goals either after their career isn’t successful, or after they realize the benefit of having an education (which can happen simultaneously, or have a causal relationship-i.e. I’m not succeeding here it’s important to advance my education to have something to fall back on). And the realization that it’s a generational phenomenon, that there is a link between the educational attainment of parents and their children’s success. What a reinforcement that would be, especially since our children often look up to and aspire to be like music artists.

  14. Corey Hardiman Reply

    September 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Dr. Gill,

    I am honored to read such well written letter to “Interscope” as a native of Chicago I feel your pain. I grew up in the “Roseland Community” on the Southside of Chicago and attended Corliss High School. With that being said I have faced many challenges on my road to success. However, with resilience I was able to beat the odds and become a recipient of the infamous Gates Millennium Scholarship, which both of us are recipients of. Now as a junior at Morehouse College I have a passion to one day soon return to Chicago and help fix the community which reared me as a young black man. We cannot continue to watch our young men and women drown in despair and hopelessness. We are the light the community needs in Chicago. It’s horrific to know that companies invest into ignorance, but will not invest in educating our youth.
    Dr. Gill you are representing what it means to be college educated to the fullest. To many times our “intellectual” colleagues confuse what it means to have a college education. The degree only assist in paying the bills, but fulfilling your passion is what transform lives. I encourage you to keep aspiring to inspire before you expire.

    Thanks,

    Corey Hardiman
    Morehouse College
    corey.hardiman1@gmail.com

  15. M.S. Reply

    September 12, 2012 at 1:41 am

    His last name is Iovine, not Lovine.

    • Mz Reply

      September 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      You can’t be serious-you just can’t!

  16. M. Gill Reply

    September 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Dr.Gill your content is great and deals with the morality of our black communities. The questions become what do we stand for? At what cost does inferiority over way integrity? Our African culture has been identified as those who can make something out of nothing but that something only becomes relevant when integrity is at the forefront of our very existence. Meaning the love of money and material socialistic standards will never precede communal love / dedication for our present and future generations. This can never be overshadowed by anything, or anyone. We have a duty to speak for those who truly have no understanding of the destruction that may be caused from their mis-education. I support you dearly, love you, and lets keep an open eye on the blindness at the root of all evil MONEY! Money has no restrictions on who it may hurt or destroy in the pathway of many individuals fighting to get that Almighty Dollar.

  17. Mz Reply

    September 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Ms. Gill:

    While I can appreciate your attempt- for me the letter wasn’t strong enough. The title included Chief Keef however, he was never included. Chicago has always been my home. This young man along with his buddies are a despicable group. There are no gangs in the city of Chicago! Only the debrise of offsprings and wannabee. I have lived in this community all of my life and I can tell you that this kid is not a product of his environment but a self creation of it! We get too caught up in the what they can’t do and don’t concentrate on what they can. There are thousands of kids in Parkway/Atgeld Gardens that are fighting the same battles as this young man and not killing or shooting at people, posting it on Facebook and/or rapping (bragging) about it. This is despicable behavior as well as disgusting. As you know, the City of Chicago is still segregated and racist at the same time. Therefore our mixed income communities are plagued with Chief Keefs. Meaning these problems are more chasing an Interscope deal than a diploma-which can lead to even more “bragging rights” at the risk of innocence. Its not something people should be “rewarded” for because this is exactly what Interscope is doing. I do admit I am biased-I do not like Chief Keef the person at all. I know the damage up close and personal! Interscope is funded by our White counterparts that think walking these city streets at the risk of getting your head blown off is a joke and for that biased or not Interscope ought to be ashamed!!!

  18. http://twitlookup.com Reply

    December 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

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