Yung Creatives is a monthly panel curated and hosted by These Days' Jake Krez at Soho House Chicago. To provide added insight on the talented young people taking the stage during the next discussion, we've decided to pair the event with a series of digital features. Over the upcoming weeks, we'll turn the spotlight on each member of the forthcoming panel one at a time.
“We live in a world where we gotta say Black Lives Matter. And then in return they be telling us dog lives matter, thought we was human. Want me to rap and be stupid… I made an oath to myself, speak the truth and it’s lucid.” - Ric Wilson, “Lost Soul”
Ric Wilson will be speaking at the newest Yung Creative's forum, and there's no denying he had a busy 2015. Musically, he was an irrefutable success, blowing the ears off Chicago with his bright Penny Raps and The Sun Was Out projects. Ric Wilson could hit it big in the next year or two and nobody would be the least surprised. What could be more important than that, as a young artist? The bigger picture, as it stands.
Regardless of his victories artistically, the Chicago rapper and activist would not likely describe them as the most important gains of the year, given his passion for civic engagement and recognition of the need for civil disobedience. He’s been participating in a fight in Chicago that will undoubtedly continue in 2016, active in the Laquan Macdonald protests and engaged in a macro pursuit towards racial progress. It’s a struggle that has settled into the bones of Chicago over the course of a century.
Possessing an early interest in politics, Ric Wilson attended his first protest when he was 15. That was an attendance only affair, but experience accumulated as he grew older and would prepare him to lead on an organizational level. Results oriented, this is where it seems Ric can accomplish the most. The impression is that talk is cheap, and as he puts it “activism is just using action to bring the political and social change you want to see.” Accountability from the city shouldn’t exist in a vacuum of what-if’s, but be a tangible end-game.
Last year had Ric Wilson politically engaged with the groups We Charge Genocide and Black Youth Project 100. These groups were critical in the response to the Laquan Macdonald shooting and subsequent demands for justice from a city government that has little experience with the concept. His involvement did not stop there; We Charge Genocide, a grass roots organization addressing the use and distribution of police violence, garnered attention in 2014 when a delegation of Wilson and 8 others from the Chicago group impressively gave record to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland on the state’s illegitimate use of force in Illinois. Tellingly, WCG's submission to the UN was what’s called a “Shadow Report”, a classification of reports received by the UN when the governing body in question (in this case, the City of Chicago and CPD regarding violations of the Conventions of Torture) cannot be relied upon to fully disclose their own actions. Sound familiar?
His work with Black Youth Project 100 took a similar lane on a local level, “a group of 18-35 year olds seeking justice and freedom for all black people.” This group helped organize the Laquan Macdonald protests, and as such had a hand in the subsequent firing of the ex-Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and incoming DOJ probe that Rahm was oh-so willing to accommodate once his move had been forced. Despite the tragic predictability of it all, Ric Wilson has optimism going into 2016. "I think 2016 is going to be a big year for Chicago with the steady rebellion against the Mayor and CPD, a lot of folks can get woke and we can make some big steps in attacking racism and capitalism in this city...the young people aren't folding anymore."
Hear it from Ric Wilson himself, who will be featured at the next Yung Creatives panel, SOHO House on Monday night, January 25th.