Hip-hop and food are not strangers to each other--in fact the opulence and eccentricities of rap music has often lended itself well to cuisine. From Common's classic single, "The Food," to Kanye's classic snark, "What she order?/Fish filet," Chicago rappers have shown a penchant for both the gourmet and the grimy, and, of course, we now have a Tumblr to bring some of it together.
This Here's Overrated, But I Love Your City, Baby is a new Tumblr that calls itself "A Rap Video-Based Guide to Eating in Chicago." The name also references a skeptical Wale lyric about Harold's Chicken Shack, a lyric that got him booed during a 2011 trip to Chicago. The blog chronicles restaurant references and appearances in Chicago music videos and maps them out so you don't have to. We caught up with the man behind the blog to talk about Chicago hip-hop, eating in Chicago and eating in Chicago while listening to hip-hop.
Who are you?
I'm a 26-year-old philosophy graduate student living in Streeterville. I'd prefer to use my Twitter handle, Ted Overrated.
Why did you start the Tumblr?
I started the Tumblr because I needed an excuse to do something besides writing my dissertation during the cold, depressing Chicago winter.
When did you start the Tumblr?
I started the Tumblr in early February. Reading an article in the RedEye that featured the Just Ro/Common video set at Lem's was part of the inspiration, actually. No lie.
What has the initial response been like?
The response has all been really positive. ... Possibly most fun has been the interactions I've had with people on Twitter. I've gotten shout-outs from some cool folks in the rap community, like The Hood Internet, M.I.C., and Visual, who was nice enough to confirm that I'd gotten the location in his video right, as well as clearing up that an unidentified Chinese buffet in his video was not in Chicago. Also, Steve Dolinsky, AKA The Hungry Hound, was into the fact that he shows up in an early Rockie Fresh video. I hope that this connection leads to some sort of further collaboration between these two pillars of Chicago rapping/eating.
Obviously you like hip-hop? Who are some of your favorites, and what other music do you like?
I am definitely a big rap fan, but I'm all over the map in terms of musical taste. My top three albums (in no particular order) are Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," and Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die." I've always been into indie music and recently I've been listening to a bunch of Knife-influenced groups like Purity Ring and CHVRCHES. But rap has been an abiding interest since way back when I bought the Puff Daddy feat. BIG and Busta Rhymes "Victory" single on CD in 1998 or so. ... Right now my favorite Chicago artist is probably Tree, who I think is doing brilliant, genre-expanding stuff; I really hope he blows up. Chance the Rapper is another person I find really interesting coming out of the city right now. King Louie is really great too, as are Common, Kanye, Mikkey Halsted, and GLC. The unsung heroes of the blog are really Chicago area directors like DGainz, who have been instrumental in making Chicago rap a topic of conversation these days, as well as being part of the decisions to put restaurants in rap videos, I'm sure. I've got plenty of rappers I'm a fan of that aren't from Chicago, but there are too many to mention here (I'm a fan of a bunch of stuff from the Bay Area, for example).
Any long-term plans for the blog?
As far as long term plans, I plan to keep adding to it for a while and see what happens. At some point, I'd like to see if any interesting patterns emerge from the project. So far, for instance, Harold's #27 seems to be the most popular location of that chain to feature in videos. And weirdly, I haven't found any restaurants in rap videos in the huge space north of 71st, south of the 55, and west of the Dan Ryan. I have no idea what to make of that; maybe I just haven't looked hard enough and I'll find something soon. But maybe some significant social facts are being revealed. I leave it to others to figure that one out.
At the end of the day, though, any role I can have in encouraging Chicago rappers to share their knowledge of food with the public will be satisfaction enough from the site.
Also, if I can convince any rappers to film a video in Marie's Pizza and Liquors, which is one the most awesome places in Chicago, that would really delight me too. I know that ShowYouSuck and King Louie both like pizza and they both seem like they'd be fun to hang out with. Chris Mille is clearly a pizza guy too. Joint project?