Those who thought the days of hip-hop blood feuds were comfortably behind us got a rude awakening last Tuesday night, when 18-year-old Chicago rapper Lil JoJo was shot to death in an incident that may have been related to his rivalry with local artists Lil Reese, Lil Durk and Chief Keef. A disturbing reminder that the line between the aestheticized violence of hip-hop lyrics and the realities of America's inner-city streets is blurrier than many of us would like to think, the murder ignited a wave of self-examination among emcee and hip-hop lovers in the Windy City and beyond. The latest contribution to the conversation, DJ K.O.'s Ogre, is a gritty call to conscience, with the Northeastern mainstay looping a bluesy electric guitar sample as the guest emcee Silent Knight attacks the tendency of artists to hide behind the façade of “art for art's sake” rather than taking sides on crucial political issues. Are the collaborators' critiques of the game on-point? I'll leave it to y'all to decide. Either way, you can expect more food for thought on K.O.'s forthcoming EMPBeTheTeam LP, scheduled for release September 18.
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