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Your Guide To Understanding This Whole LEP Bogus Boys/House of Blues/Chicago Police Department Boondoggle

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on May 1, 2012 9:20PM


What was slated to be an ordinary hip-hop concert has turned into a mild boondoggle of ‘they said/ they said / they said’ proportions between an up-and-coming rap duo, Near North concert venue the House of Blues, and the Chicago Police Department.

First, the hip-hop duo. L.E.P. Bogus Boys—that’s ‘low end professionals’—released a mixtape last fall called Now or Neva, a well-received underground rap record which they’ve been promoting since. (They even released a new video for the title track last month).

The L.E.P. Bogus Boys, a.k.a. South Side natives Frank “Moonie” Criddell and Robert “Count” Wilburn, were set to open for A$AP Rocky, a Pitchfork-approved rapper, this Thursday, May 3, at the House of Blues. But fate and/or an overzealous Chicago Police Department intervened, depending on who you believe.

As the Boys tell it, they received an email from the venue stating the CPD had threatened the show with cancellation if the group came on stage, because of the duo’s violent lyrics.

L.E.P. Bogus Boys took to WGCI’s The Morning Riot to share their alleged experience, during which the group’s manager claimed they’d performed three previous times at the House of Blues with no incidents.

As a result, the L.E.P. Bogus Boys story was picked by Fake Shore Drive, and the Chicago Reader, among other outlets.

At this point, it should be also noted that L.E..P Bogus Boys have a 2010 song in which they call the Chicago Police Department “the city’s biggest street gang,” and refers to officers as “crooked.” We’re sure that has nothing to do with anything.

Back to present day: The group later shared the House of Blues email, which read “the local authorities” - AHEM - “have come do us after doing some research on LEP and made it clear that we are not going to be able to have them on the bill” before adding “we just need to keep the peace.”

Said research included links detailing the group’s ties to jail time and gang violence, as well as the following description: “With songs about hustling, robbery and the decayed surroundings of some of Chicago’s neglected neighborhoods, the streets are alive in L.E.P. Bogus Boys’ music.”

Loop North News also received word from a House of Blues spokesperson who said the decision to pull the group from the show - which is still set to take place - was solely that of the venue’s, and that the whole thing is just a huge misunderstanding, albeit one resulting in the de facto censoring of Chicago’s hip-hop scene. You know, no big whoop.

“Unfortunately the decision was initially communicated to the artists’ representation via an e-mail that inaccurately cited the reasons and source of the cancellation. We apologize for any misunderstanding surrounding this decision.”

The Tribune follows up with a report Tuesday morning about the show—still set to go on—which cites Chicago police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton, who said the department does not monitor groups, nor pressures venues to cancel shows.

All appears resolved. And yet, as Miles Raymer of the Chicago Reader writes:

Unfortunately, though the House of Blues was at fault here, it's the CPD and L.E.P. Bogus Boys who've been catching the most flak, stoking some reasonably well-founded anxiety in the local rap scene that the city is coming after it as well as accusations that the whole thing was a publicity stunt at the cops' expense.

If you follow Raymer’s hypertext link, reproduced in the quote above, over ‘well-founded’, you’ll find another Fake Shore Drive post about Ald. Joe Moreno’s letter to his community in light of a show at the Congress Theater which featured—you guessed it—Chicago hip-hop.

Specifically, an artist called Chief Keef, who, at 16-years-old, has taken the underground hip-hop world by storm with his latest mixtape called Back From The Dead. The tape dips John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween score in purple drank, then adds exploding grenade-beats in a weed-addled haze. It’s an impressive record, albeit one that owes a lot to Waka Flocka Flame.

Keef has a fascinating biography, one which has drawn attention to hip-hop from media outlets who don’t normally cover it.

But since said biography includes an arrest for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, any time he makes an appearance, it’s panic. In a case last month, that panic resulted in a whole multitude of police officers and cars showing up for an alleged altercation inside the Congress Theatre during the day of Keef's show.

Recall that Ald. Moreno is holding Deleterious Impact Hearings about the Congress Theater, due to the fact that it’s a righteous shit hole. (Wording he’s likely too classy to use, but seriously, walk past the Congress and try not to get douchechills).

That bit of background makes these next reports from local newsletter Chicago Pipeline very interesting indeed.

Given these events, it's no wonder that, as Raymer puts it, Chicago's hip-hop community is anxious about any perception of censorship or cracking down from political authorities.

But that’s an entirely different, ongoing boondoggle. Ultimately, these cases remind us of how powerful music’s impact can be, and how the lines of free speech, community security, and institutional authority all co-mingle for a powerful civic potion. Drink carefully.