Yes, we know the soul and funk world of the glory days, big labels, radio shows and bands amid a social context of segregation. A context that starts becoming less important when this music genre enters the mainstream in the late 70’s to eventually fade away at a fast pace in the 80’s until its complete disappearance in the 90’s and beyond. This time though, we dive a bit deeper into the hoods, because the social context of today ain’t no greatly different and it has its very own music, deeply rooted in the sounds of the early days, although more immediate and dense of beats and urban feel.
We are in Chicago, a place where every 2 hours someone is shot, and every 14 hours someone is murdered. It ain’t no Iraq or Afghanistan but one of the biggest and most sophisticated cities in the world. In the city’s west and south sides, which are considered the heart of Black America, gang rivalry is tearing its people apart. It has become so brutal that both police and perpetrators agree that this urban warfare is out of control. I started this release process after Yann sent me an heads up on this song and it took me most part of last year to build some mutual trust with Lay Lemons aka Biggz from North Lawndale, main area in the west side of the city and one of the most dangerous places in the world. When I first contacted him, Lay was having a hard time (and still does) as his daughter Raven was caught innocent in a gang shooting crossfire.
After the following investigation, the FBI (yes, big gangs are federal business) arrested and charged some members of The Four Corners Hustlers, yet Raven’s murder has no responsible and Lay suddenly lost his daughter overnight in the summer of 2017. He simply couldn’t concentrate on music, and the silly requests from a mad Italian with his crooked english were probably sounding to him like aliens speaking from outer space. I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Lay’s cousin, sound engineer and recording studio owner living today in Detroit, so accept my gratitude Mr. Tony Amos.
Lay Lemons has never been involved with gangs nor was Raven, nowhere near that business. They are people of music, family and religion trying to survive in one of worlds toughest places. This song, its vibe, the beats, the voice… Are coming straight out of their hood, written around a fire bin on the side of the street and put together with 3 instruments. It has no chorus, it’s verses all the way through, it is a kind of prayer to the unknown in the hope of salvation through everyday strength.
Lay Lemons I salute you.