Cole City Music, a local independent Hip-Hop label, is giving a voice to the rash of violence on the West and South Sides of the city with the recent release of a music video called “Stop the Violence.”
The song and video seek to be a testament to both the city’s unbreakable spirit and a call for a ceasefire in the most violent communities. The YouTube video, posted in March, has already garnered more than 200,000 views.
The video is the result of a collaboration between several of the label’s rappers, including Lil Ray, Paris Beuller, Nate Cal, Shakey Shawn, Yo Boi Bell and eJilla Beat.
Along with the rappers’ message of peace, the video features clips of various Chicago landmarks like the city’s famous skyline and the Cloud Gate sculpture, along with dramatic shots of law enforcement wrapping city blocks in yellow police tape.
The music video also features cameos by several local politicians, including state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th), Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th), Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), state Rep. Camille Lilly (78th) and state Senator Patricia Van Pelt (5th) holding a sign that reads “stop the violence.” Rev. Jesse Jackson was also in the video.
According to L’il Ray, the project started after members of the group and Cole City Music CEO Ray Gregory attended a downtown Chicago protest that took place in the wake of the Laquan McDonald controversy.
“There were several different groups that were protesting the incident and we were all together in our belief that something needed to be done about the violence, but we weren’t all on the same page about the way it should be addressed,” said L’il Ray.
“Some of the younger protesters felt that the older protesters were grandstanding and they were having a hard time building a consensus around a central message,” he said. “We decided to create a song to hopefully unite both segments and let them both know that, we are all in this together and we all want the same thing.”
Rappers L’il Ray and Paris Beuller went to the label’s studio in Calumet City and wrote and recorded the track. According to Gregory, the song was composed in about a day.
“Ray and Paris are just the best,” said Gregory. “They went into the studio with a vision and came out with a really strong community anthem.”
He said that, once the song came together, local elected officials heard it and were more than happy to appear in the video as a show of solidarity.
“I give a lot of credit for the success of the video to its creator [Gregory] he did a great job of uniting many groups and community organizations around the idea of addressing gun violence,” said Ford. “I’m not surprised in the slightest by how well it turned out.”
Ford shot his scenes over the winter in the office of Ald. Scott. He said that one of the most powerful aspects of the video is the fact that each politician communicates the video’s message without saying a word.
“To me, the fact that no one talks and we are all simply flashing a sign of intent speaks volumes for what the musicians were trying to convey,” Ford said.
“It’s as if the video is saying, ‘The time for talk is over; we know what we need to do, now let’s go out there and do it.’ It is effectively straightforward.'”