The city of Chicago has been going through a sort evolutionary movement as we continue to grapple with the tenants of a city on the make that has largely found itself in the spotlight. Whether for positive or negative headlines, Chicago has become a central player to the world at large as it continues to assert itself on an international stage. However, the city will only get to a place of world prominence by dealing with the internal issues that continue to undercut said progress and it's with that in mind that the 'Can I Live Block Party' came to be.
The upcoming party, which takes place July 16th at 58th and Prairie St on the city's south side, is a long time coming for organizer Jennifer Toliver who kicked off her journey to next month's celebration with a monthly series of cyphers hosted throughout the south side aiming to bring together likeminded voices and minds. While far from the sort of pre-eminent events that pace the city's summer months and earn plenty of face time across traditional media outlets, the Can I Live project is the first for Tolliver, herself a native of the south side looking to give back to the neighborhoods and people she grew up around. We here at TheseDays love to support as many people doing progressive things in the city that help us heal the wounds the violence has brought about and in that spirit we caught up with Toliver to find out more about the event and the motivation to take on such a project. Check that all out below and be sure to make it out to the 'Can I Live Block Party' on July 16th and 'be cool Chicago.'
TheseDays • Why take the initiative to start something like this? What's the motivation?
Toliver • There is a necessity for this type of event on the Southside of Chicago. People are looking for Entertainment and wanting to experience live performances but there is a lack of exposure in the urban communities, especially on the Southside. There are festivals that take place, but they are not hip-hop related. I'm interested in presenting material and talking to the youth and adults in a language and culture most can relate too. I am motivated in inspiring and exposing people to the music business so they can learn that they can be apart of organizations that are fighting to make a change. They don't have to be spectators. They can also be the change.
TheseDays • How much inspiration came from the current 'renaissance' we're seeing musically in Chicago?
Toliver • A lot of inspiration is coming from the current renaissance happening now in Chicago. Chicago music scene is gaining more exposure than ever before. We have to be in the top 5 cities with the most musical influence along with New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Detroit. We want to help people understand that music, mostly hiphop, can be powerful. They have to be cautious of what music they listen to and understand that everything they hear isn't true. The Chicago Renaissance means to enjoy the music and spread a positive and relatable message. Presenting the music is a peaceful and engaging way.
TheseDays • How are you using this event to change the narrative of the south side?
Toliver • I am looking to bring a new idea of pop-up concerts on the actual blocks of Chicago Southside. It's all about staying fresh and relative. I am determined to change the culture and providing resources for those interested in the music industry. We want to show people all around Chicago that hiphop is used as an outlet for the South side youth. A gun doesn't have to be the answer. Helping people face their fears of being neighborly, providing more live performance experiences and bringing music into the South side in a expressive way will give the youth hope.
TheseDays • Where did you grow up, how would something like this have benefitted?
Toliver • I am from Chicago. I grew up on the South side in Auburn Gresham community. Later in my college years, I moved to the Washington Park community. I grew up during a time where live events was common. I was able to attend house parties, block parties and more with no problems or fear of dying. I had the opportunity to enjoy living life. I feel like everyone is scared to leave their homes. There is a lack of inspiration & hope. We all need positive energy to keep going in life. Participating in such activities does the brain and body good. I truly believe events like this has provided opportunities for everyone from the event coordinator to the spectators.
TheseDays • What do you hope attendees take away from this event?
Toliver • JODB Productions is looking to enhance the communities in which we live and work in. This Hip-Hop cultural event will showcase the positive aspects of the culture by highlighting Chicagoland artist as an agent of artistic progression, community building and social change. Bringing hiphop in a positive and meaningful way to the people of the South side of Chicago. We are hoping that people walk away with an open mind, motivated and happy. We are hoping residents of the south side are beginning to develop plans and take the necessary action to make their lives better.
TheseDays • How can people get further involved?
Toliver • In order to be the change we must be the change. Can I Live Block Party Chicago aims to reduce the violence on the Chicago Southside. We need the support of the community for the block party to happen. Make sure people check out our campaign online to donate. . We also have a Facebook page called Can I Live Block Party. Be sure to check out our website.