Fredo Santana, founder of Savage Squad Records, is a newcomer on the rap scene. Last year proved to be very momentous for the career of the Chicago MC who released a total of five music projects. This included four mixtape projects (“Fredo Kruger,” “It’s A Scary Site,” “It’s A Scary Site 2,” “Street S**t”) and solo debut album “Trappin Ain’t Dead.”
The rapper, born Derrick Coleman, is increasingly becoming a fixture on the Hip Hop scene as he was able to secure the talents of Hip Hop titan Kendrick Lamar for single “Jealous” and make a cameo appearance in Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” music video.
Fredo, 23, additionally launched a clothing line under his label.
But life wasn’t always promising for the “S**t Real” rapper who hails from 61st and Indiana in South Side Chicago.
Fredo recalled growing up impoverished and being aware of his predicament at the tender age of 10, demanding answers from his mother who could barely support him.
“I was like, ‘Mama, what the f--- is going on,’” he recalled during an interview with Village Voice.
Fredo’s grew to become depressed by his living conditions.
“…I’ve always been happy, but I wasn’t happy with the surroundings. My surroundings,” he told Village Voice. “My aunties and my mama and my neighbors. The community. Just the black community. The culture. How it just keep going and keep going. The poverty. All that. I wasn’t happy with that.”
A 2013 Census Bureau report states African Americans suffer the highest poverty rate of any group at 27.2 percent, compared to 25. 6 percent of Latinos, 11.7 percent for Asians and 9.7 percent for whites.
The statistics for African Americans living in Chicago are much worse.
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.
Child poverty has risen for African Americans in Chicago with one of every two black children being impoverished, according to census data compiled for Chicago Reader by the Social IMPACT research center of the Heartland Alliance.
Fredo Santana, unfortunately, happened to be born into that demoralizing statistic.
Fredo, as an adolescent, recalled wearing the same holey sneakers daily and making the decision at age 11 to sell drugs to support himself.
“People grow up so fast. Real, real fast. By 12, I was buying my own socks, drawers, taking care of myself like a grown man,” he said.
(Fredo Santana’s mugshot, age 12)
The high poverty rate of African Americans can be attributed to inequalities in employment.
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.
The unemployment rate for African Americans in Chicago is 19.5 percent, more than double that of Whites, which is 8.1 percent.
In 2010, the median income of white households at $58,752 was twice that of black households at $29,371.
MyFoxChicago discovered in a shocking new Chicago Urban League report that 92 percent of African American male teens have been shut off from employment.
The eight percent of working Chicago teens is extremely low compared to the nationwide average of 17 percent and state average of 12 percent.
The Chicago Urban League found there are 600,000 fewer jobs in Illinois today than in the year 2000.
The jobs normally given to teens are now being given to adults. This includes fast food, “entry level” retail jobs and paper delivery.
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Listeners might’ve noticed Fredo’s music is frequently laced with harsh tales of street life and drug dealing. Fredo is not romanticizing this life, but shedding light on a harsh reality lived by many in Englewood, Chicago.
It is this bad hand he was dealt in life that angers him. But Fredo uses this anger as fuel for his artistry.
“…As soon as I go into the booth, I’m angry,” Fredo said. “…When I put the mic on and hear the beats, I think about my childhood and think of all the bad stuff. I don’t know. I gotta be rapping about bad stuff.”
Fredo Santana Unhappy With Cycle Of Poverty In The Black Community
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