"FREDO SANTANA : BLOWHIPHOPTV.COM"
Chicago's rap scene has exploded in the last two years with talent and a common hunger for an alternative to the street lifestyle. One of the groups at the forefront of this movement has been Glory Boyz Entertainment, a.k.a. GBE, O-Block, OTF along with a host of other acronyms. Together they form one of the most powerful and important collectives the genre has seen to date.
At the first glance of any group member in GBE its easy to pass these youths off as troublesome and reckless, but it's their work ethic and dedication that has allowed them to change not only their mentality but the outlook of other chicago kids looking for something else to give their lives meaning.
"Everything's starting to get new, there weren't any real hot Chicago rappers. It aint just GBE now, there's a lot of other rappers, producers and video directors. It's like a big ol' industry. I see everybody feel like they can do something with their lives. They feel like they can accomplish something. They're lives are actually worth something."
With a long history of drug dealing, gun charges and heavy ties to the street, Fredo initially didnt take music seriously. He would continuosly push off studio sessions with numerous excuses and typical distractions. It wasnt until he saw how serious and focused his cousin Cheif Keef was about his craft that Fredo began to see music as an alternative hustle and focus. After his most recent arrest for illegal possession of a weapon, Fredo made a promise to himself to no longer take the opportunity for granted.
"When i was in jail just recently, a lot of people was writing me. They said Keef got this song "3Hunna" and Soulja Boy just did the remix. I said man when i get out I ain't gonna play around anymore, fuck that shit I'm going straight in... Soon as I got out I went to grab a fifth of Remy, a box of blunts and (I) went straight to Keef crib."
Chicago is a city packed with gangs which could unknowingly be seen as a direct cause to the high number of shootings and homicides in the city. Another potential correlation is that so much gang activity and affiliations can also affect the music scene as some gangs purposely don't listen to one another's music and rappers. Yet the GBE crew has been able to rise above the gang embargo and become a voice for the entire city.
"I was listening to Bump J, (and) he's from Chicago, and he was different especially back in the days. Other gangs werent even listening to other gangs. He was a 4 Corner Hustler and the whole city of Chicago was listening to him. That's what makes us different (too), because everyone listens to us no matter the gang they're in or not."
With a career and a movement on the rise, Chief Keef's current imprisonment can be seen as a step back but Fredo reflects back on his time in prison and ironically relates to Keef's position with a positive outlook,
"100 percent I already know what he's going through and he knows it too ... He was just talking to me on the phone and now I'm talking to him and it's kinda weird. (In) Jail, you gonna learn from that more than anything. But when he get home were gonna turn up!"