Four Chicago rappers — Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp and G Herbo — joined forces Saturday to give back to their communities by co-sponsoring the Year of the Youth peace walk and back-to-school event in Bronzeville.
Following a pre-walk dance party, nearly 100 people chanted as they marched through the South Side neighborhood, with organizers bringing about two dozen children up front to lead the final stretch of the demonstration.
Later, the four artists, along with many volunteers from Chance’s SocialWorks and Mensa’s Save Money, Save Life Foundation, handed out more than 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies outside the shuttered Overton Elementary School at 221 E. 49th St. The event also had a table set up to help people register to vote and tents for free COVID-19 and HIV testing.
Chance, whose given name is Chancelor Bennett, arrived shortly after the march concluded and took selfies with masked fans before going live on a few devotees’ Instagram accounts.
Though he’s been busy this week promoting “Holy,” the new Justin Bieber song and video he’s featured on, Chance said the event was “definitely the most important thing” to him to attend, adding that being with the children and interacting with fans “means everything.”
The hip hop icon also gave major props to the other rappers who helped bring the celebration to life for their boots-on-the-ground work leading up to the event, including Mensa, who said the group felt a responsibility to use their platforms to help their communities.
“The city doesn’t really fund or resource our communities and our schools, and so many schools are shut down, it kind of comes onto us to do the things the community needs,” said Mensa, whose given name is Victor Mensah.
“And it’s like what we’ve been going through, all of this s--- surrounding police brutality and lack of accountability; I talked to the mayor one time, and she was like, ‘I don’t want to talk about police, this is about public safety,’ so I start to look into public safety a bit and the things that really make a community safe, statistically, are education, employment [and] access to affordable housing,” Mensa said.
G Herbo, whose given name is Herbert Wright, echoed Mensa and stressed the importance of making young people in the city feel they are supported.
“This is just about being able to lead by example for the next generation,” said Herbo, who purchased the Overton Elementary School building after it closed in 2013, with the goal of turning it into a multimedia facility to bring in producers, rappers and others to mentor youth.
Herbo said too often the focus on the city and their communities is on the negative, which the event inspired to combat.
“We’re really just trying to change the narrative and lead by example ... and show the next generation that they can do what we’re doing even greater,” he added.
The four artists have plans to additional community events in the future.
“We’re not saying we’re going to see drastic change tomorrow, but if we keep this up, there’s limitless opportunities and it’s limitless where we can go,” Herbo said.