As gun violence on Chicago’s South Side continues to make national headlines, one high-profile hometown native is looking to offer a helping hand. Like most observers, Grammy-winning music star R. Kelly has been troubled by what many views as a seemingly endless cycle of shootings. Last week, the list of victims included recovering three-year-old victim Deonta Howard, who was shot in the head, along with two teens among 13 people in an apparent gang-related attack at Chicago's Cornell Square Park. On Thursday alone, three individuals died and 23 were wounded in a spate of shootings that has left many locals feeling hopeless.
“Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what song can I write to heal the ‘hood,” Kelly said when asked about his thoughts on the violence that has left pockets of his beloved South Side in utter turmoil. “Eventually that song will come to me, and I believe when it does it’s going to help crack down on a lot of the violence going on in Chicago. It’s got to be done right; it’s got to come to me and it’s got to be something spiritual. It’s nothing I can force. The only thing I can do is pray about it like the next man or woman because it’s definitely turning into Chi Raq. [We want to] get it back to Chi-Town.”
Indeed, while there has been a 25 percent drop in shootings and 14 percent drop in overall crime, Chicago’s South Side is still living up to its dubious Chi Raq (Chicago/Iraq) nickname. Which is why Kelly is envisioning more than just one song. The singer-songwriter believes it’s time for the music world to step up to the plate.
“I honestly think that 20 major artists could get on a plane and come to Chicago and have a seminar right there in the ‘hood somewhere,” Kelly says. “Not a concert…no singing, just talking. This ain’t about singing or selling no records. This is about talking to these young people and getting some respect.”
Kelly also believes an up close visit from the Leader of the Free World could also have a profound impact. “Then [President] Obama could make a call and show up and say some things,” he adds. “If something like was to happen I think it would change and help a lot of things going on in Chicago.”
Kelly is set to release his upcoming album Black Panties on November 11th.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)