We play on the internet posting songs and talking about how they make us feel. Usually it feels good, to talk about it and if there is one thing I love about music, especially rap music, isn’t just the challenge to my ‘musical sensibilities,’ my eternal search for new sounds; the experience of difference constantly challenges me to engage with major problems in how I look at the world and how I engage with it. How I learn about myself and about other people and race and class and gender and struggle and how power is used to control and marginalize and feel uncomfortable and sometimes voyeuristic and sometimes like I am doing the right fucking thing. And sometimes there is no right thing.
This is difficult to talk about because, whatever challenges/struggles I’ve had in my life it doesn’t compare, and you can grow up poor and live astride a giant metropolis and never understand what it’s like to live in some neighborhoods and some housing projects; you can see them, the notorious buildings standing stark against a gray backdrop and force yourself to look out the window on the brown line as you pass it by, or on the Chicago ave. bus, or walking down halsted (during the daylight of course) but you can never really understand because you don’t live there and you might meet someone who lived there, and talk, and you know the distance is far too wide, the gulf of experience too braod, and all your good intentions can’t do shit because you are, perhaps, part of the problem. It is hard to do ‘what’s right’ or know what’s right. No one is above it. You’re gliding past the Merchandise Mart and condos, then you count yr blessings and the train pulls past the reds and whites and again you see condos. I have trouble saying what I feel here, except that this is a history you don’t get in books, a history that needs to be seen. And I certainly would feel overwhelmed by this task, to document some of the last years of Cabrini’s existence. In their words and footage:
“Gangsta City is a full length, feature documentary film, filmed for over 5 years (2001-06) entirely at the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago, IL. The movie offers a unique perspective and in depth access into the lives of Cabrini’s residents during their final years living in the complex. In addition, the film details the entire history of Cabrini-Green, from it’s creation to it’s demise. Not just the history that you might find in a history book, but the street history you won’t find anywhere else.
Virtually the entire film has been shot by the residents themselves, and virtually the entire soundtrack has been produced and performed by the residents themselves. This is a movie that is by Cabrini, about Cabrini, and for Cabrini. Something the ex-residents can look at to remember their past. Something non-residents can look at to view a world they’ve only read about or heard about, but never seen. Something political leaders can look at to view the mistakes that past political leaders or even they themselves have made, and the results that have come from those mistakes.
The portrait this film paints is both brutal and sad, yet it is 100% reality. This film is not meant as a glorification of gangs, violence, and street life, it is meant as an education on gangs, violence, and street life. Many Americans don’t even know that places such as Cabrini-Green exist, and those that do know would just assume pretend it doesn’t exist. Yet no solution can be gained by simply ignoring the problem. America must realize that there is 3rd world violence and living conditions in their own back yard. For the last 30+ years Cabrini-Green has stood tall as the national symbol for “ghetto” America. It is considered the pinnacle of all housing projects, and was once widely considered the most dangerous place in all of America. For the first time ever, Cabrini-Green will be seen from the inside looking out. This is Cabrini-Green’s story, as told by the people that lived there.
Please note: The film is currently in post-production and should be completed by the spring of ’06. This film has been produced with virtually 0 budget and no outside backing, funding, or help. This is a true independent film. This film has been shot with a Sony VX-2000, no other equipment has been used in the making of this film… 1 camera, 1 computer.”