WorldStarHipHop, the website best known for knock out videos and general ratchet-ness, decided to bring their cameras to Chicago for a special video special titled The Field, detailing the in and outs of not only the Chicago hip-hop scene, but the social and socioeconomic ramifications that surround it as well. Shot by Sher Toor and Jonathan Hall, the doc is an interesting take on the issues facing the Second City, from those who have become rhyming reporters to explain what is happening around them.
The documentary delves deep into the “drill” movement, focusing on the record 2012 murder rate as the major catalyst for the rise of the haunting beats riddled with gunshots and stories of surviving with little and trying to find a way out. Upon first hearing about the documentary and it’s publisher, I was immediately skeptical. Although named better than Vice’s “Chiraq” documentary done earlier in 2013, The Field digs beyond the surface issues by going to the sources for the answers.
I found it interesting to hear artists like Lil Bibby, Lil Durk and Lil Reese talk about the stress from the success they’ve realized lately, what it potentially leads to. Hip-hop today has become such a game of numbers, it’s interesting to hear some of the artists at the top of the game here talking about how far they’ve come with almost a semblance of regret, not unlike a star athlete that doesn’t especially like sports. Music may be a passion to many, but to these young artists from the rough neighborhoods, it’s more than that; it’s a way out. Toor and Hall do a tremendous job organically demonstrating this through first person accounts and careful storytelling.
What the documentary really does is hone in wholeheartedly on a specific location in the country and demonstrates how hip-hop music is largely seen not as a way to get famous, but a vehicle to escape their current environment. By highlighting the likes of Bibby, Reese, Durk, King Louie and Katie Got Bandz, the filmmakers did an excellent job in drawing the very thin line between the artists and those around them. Given more time with the subject, the video could have possibly been the hip-hop Hoop Dreams.
The project is both inspirational and upsetting, casting a light on not just the murders that plague the landscape, but also the catalysts that lead to the current situation. It’s a surprising production for WSHH, an interesting take on the rise of drill through the violence and crime of the south and west sides of the city. Riding through the streets, talking to the people that live there, it perfectly captures a very certain period in the history of Chicago by highlighting the good and the bad, and the unexpected.