Lil Jay, an aspiring rapper, hails from Englewood, Chicago, one of the most impoverished communities in the nation.
The Fly Boy Gang rapper has been fortunate to survive the streets. But his life’s journey was surely not a cakewalk.
He was the victim of an ambush and shot near a McDonald’s at 95th and Dan Ryan in June. His injuries were non-life threatening.
But close associates of the “Bout That” rapper were not as lucky.
Lil Jay, oftentimes an animated figure on social media, provided fans somber details of his harsh reality.
Lil Jay took a moment on Twitter to remember friends he has lost since 2009.
“RIP TOOKA DALE JOJO TYQUAN DOC MODEL LILJEFFERSONINSANE MARCUS OJ WALE TUTU ZAEL DIRTY RELL EJ JAJA BOSS TRELL LIL 4 WE GO CRAZY FOR YALL
“THEM THE PEOPLE I LOST SINCE 2009,” he wrote.
Jeffrey Morgan, known to friends as “Lil’ Jeff,” was killed in cold blood during a house party. The 21-year-old member of the Fly Boy Gang rap group died at the scene.
Jeffrey ‘Lil Jeff’ Morgan
Lil Jay regarded Lil Jeff as his twin and was deeply distraught over his murder.
“REST IN PEACE TO MY BLOOD TWIN BRO @LiljeffSoinsane IM TURNIN UP FOR BRO U KNO WAT IT IS BALL IN PARADICE SEE U WEN I GET THIER TWIN #99
Tooka, born Shondale Gregory, was an Englewood teenager who was shot and killed on Jan. 12, 2011 while awaiting a bus. He was 15.
Friends formed “Tooka Gang” in his honor.
Shondale ‘Tooka’ Gregory
Aspiring 18-year-old Chicago rapper JayLoud, born Joshua Davis, was murdered on Christmas Day 2012 for allegedly wearing a picture of his best friend Lil’ JoJo on a sweatshirt.
Joshua ‘JayLoud’ Davis
Davis was tragically killed following an argument with several men on a CTA bus. The men chased Davis off of the bus and shot him several times in the torso and once in the head.
Carlton Archer, known to friends as TuTu, was gunned down and left for dead Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood. The 17-year-old boy’s body was discovered behind some garbage cans in an alley around 10 p.m.
Carlton ‘TuTu’ Archer
Rodney Stewart, known to close associates as Boss Trell, met his demise Nov. 9, 2012 following injuries he sustained from a gunshot wound to the head. He was 17.
Rodney ‘Boss Trell’ Stewart
Lil JoJo’s tragic death made national headlines.
Lil JoJo, born Joseph Coleman, was murdered in a hail of bullets Sept. 4, 2012 as he was riding on the back pegs of a friend’s bike. He was 18.
Joseph ‘Lil JoJo’ Coleman
Hell on earth best describes the genocide occurring in countless urban ghettoes across America.
Gun violence has plagued the city of Chicago for decades. Many residents have renamed the Windy City “Chiraq” for its high rate of violence. Chicago, according to statistics, has a higher homicide rate than Kabul, Afghanistan.
Chicago has been under the national spotlight after ranking number one in the number of homicides recorded in 2012, according to a report released by the FBI.
There were 506 murder victims in the Windy City last year. There are currently 347 murders recorded in the city thus far in 2013, according to DNAinfo.com.
Chicago has long recorded devastating numbers over the past two decades.
Chicago recorded its highest peak of homicides in 1992 with 943 murders, according to statistics compiled by the Chicago Police Department.
Since 1991, there has been an estimate of 14,463 murders in Chicago to date.
Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who hails from the Englewood neighborhood, described the gun violence issue plaguing his hometown as having roots in “poverty.”
Chicago has one of the nation’s highest African American unemployment rates. In 2011, African American unemployment in Chicago ranked third highest in the country, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute.
Huge disparities continue to exist between black and whites as it did pre-Civil Rights era.
The poverty rate amongst African Americans in Chicago stands at 34.1 percent, more than triple that of Whites, according to statistics compiled by Chicago Reader. For Whites, the poverty rate is 10.9 percent.
The unemployment rate for African Americans in Chicago is 19.5 percent, more than double that of Whites, which is 8.1 percent.
“People just surviving and people just trying to really get out,” he explained. “If you look at the world we’re living in today, everything is just getting faster. You want success faster, you want the Internet faster… so of course with you being human, you want a lifestyle ever more faster. You seeing people getting famous off YouTube. You think you can be that next person. That creates havoc, but at the same time, it creates different ideas and different subjects.”
Rose has been very vocal against the murders occurring in Chicago and has offered financial assistance in funeral costs to victims of high-profile killings.
The 3-time NBA All-Star paid the funeral cost of 6-month-old murder victim Jonylah Watkins.
Rose took to Twitter to comment on the tragic murder.
“I’m sitting here just thinking how sad it is that my city got to go through this. I love my city and everyone in it even my haters!
“I don’t like that fact that OUR kids are not in school and that’s the only thing we have to SAVE these kids.
“I pray everyday for US for real. I know I shouldn’t be saying this because I hoop and it’s not my lane but I feel like ppl should hear this,” he wrote.
At only 6 months old, Watkins was shot as she was getting her diaper changed by her father Jonathan Watkins, who, too, was shot.
Jonylah was shot five times in the lung, liver, leg, shoulder, and bowel, The Chicago Tribune reports.
Rose also paid Lil JoJo’s funeral costs.
Another root of the violence is turf wars amongst the city’s notorious gangs over the distribution and sale of drugs.
This stream of drugs into Chicago’s inner city communities can be attributed to Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera.
Guzman, who operates the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, floods the streets of Chicago with 80 percent of the heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, according U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as reported by Business Insider. The drugs have a street value of $3 billion.
Guzman is reported to be based in the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico.
Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina church in South Side Chicago, attributes the dire circumstances Chicago is facing to a “perfect storm” of joblessness, poor education and guns.
Pfleger said violence occurs in neighborhood where there are “high unemployment rates.”
“You have poor education, poor schools, infrastructure that has been withdrawn; you have mental health centers that have been closed up. And where’s there a lack of businesses, you create a perfect storm for violence,” he said in the “Murder to Excellence: Life & Hip Hop in Chicago” documentary.
Plefeger explained there is easy access to guns in downtrodden Chicago neighborhoods.
“Then you have the whole gun issue. We have more guns than computers in our neighborhood,” he said. “And you have easy access to guns that the NRA and gun manufacturers realize that more access to guns the more money they make. So they can care less about what the result of it is. They can care less about the carnage in the streets. But they’re making money.”
Plefeger said urban Chicago resident are living in a “desperate situation.”
People in a desperate situation, he said, are going to make desperate choices.
“The perception is it’s the fault of individuals rather than what brought them,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away personal responsibility for the decisions a person makes, but unless you are also taking away personal responsibility for the decisions a person makes, but unless you are taking a look at the things that are creating that perfect storm, it’s only part of the picture.”
Pfleger said many of the brothers on the streets want better for themselves, but aren’t valued in the eyes of others.
“Part of the other reason is we have written off some of these brothers on the streets. Every Friday night we’re are talking to some of the brothers here and these are brothers who want better, who want better opportunities, who want jobs, who want education,” he said. “They feel like they’ve been told ‘you’re disposable.’ If you’re consistently told you are not valued, you begin not to value yourself or anybody else.
“We gotta see every life as valuable. Every single life. I hate when I hear the media talk about ‘Well, the police say he was gang-affiliated.’ As if that’s some kind of okay that he was shot and killed,” he said. “Nobody deserves to be shot, nobody deserves to be killed. We can’t get used to yellow police tape and yellow teddy bears and sirens at night like that’s the norm. That’s not the norm. That’s not a normal community.”
Lil Jay Remembers Friends Lost Since 2009
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