Navigating Chicago Part 1: *My Hero Zero, Zero*

Though I consider myself a native Chicagoan, living near the South-side since birth, there’s a secret this self-acclaimed explorer has been carrying around for some time now…I never learned directions. It’s true! For shame! When most urbanites were sent off into the world with a bus card, maybe a map, and the simple directions “find your way back in two hours,” I was unfortunately born to an overattentive mother who wouldn’t let me walk up the block let alone ride a bus. I was thus denied this rite of passage and some twenty odd years later, I was finally getting rid of my “exploring training wheels.” I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer set out find an easy and helpful way to navigate the city. But where to start? Chicago is so vast….bring in my hero zero, zero.

A little history first. Chicago is set up on a grid system that is, streets run like longitude and latitude lines on a map. Some run up and down, some run left to right. In Chicago, major streets are counted at every four blocks or half mile. In the heart of this grid system lies Madison and State, the zero point of Chicago, where all city block measuring is started. Madison running East and West, while State runs North and South.

So what exactly does all that mumbo jumbo mean…is exactly what I was thinking as I was reviewing maps. Which brings me to “helpful tip” number one for navigating Chicago, Do Your Homework. Work with mapping websites, I suggest Google Maps. They have a helpful app that is a lifesaver if you’re ever lost. They even have a walking GPS! Giving you turn by turn walking directions for what I term, us directionally challenged individuals. After perusing some of the major downtown streets I came up with an acronym system to group some of the streets together that almost guaranteed my memorization. I started with State-Wabash-Michigan giving it the oh, so appropriate “Sexy-Wet-Men.” Now I don’t know how your mind works but nothing is more unforgettable than a soaking wet man fresh out of the shower. Now if you’re a fella and that wordplay is something you’d like to keep far from your mind I came up with “Soliders-Win-Merits” for all you Call of Duty fans.

Next was Madison-Washington-Randolph given the phrase “My-Wild-Rabbit.” Then there’s State-Dearborn-Clark-LaSalle with the phrase “Silly-Dogs-Cuddle-Lovingly” and lastly there were the parallel streets Madison-Monore-Adams-Jackson paired with the saying “My-Mom-Answers-John

Once my research was over I was ready to pack up and explore but like the catchy Expedia handle “helpful tip number two” suggests you should Never Roam Alone. If you’re a newbie to downtown directions I would suggest sticking with the buddy system, at least until you have a working knowledge of where you are while near the Loop. Not only is it easy to get turned around in the swell of a crowd but not to mention the safety precautions. With this in mind I called on 4-Star’s interim photographer, Chris Thompson to act as my inside man.

After riding the Red Line up to Monroe we stopped and had a small “awe-filled” moment as we took in the hustle and bustle that is downtown Chicago. The plan? Walk around the Madison and State parameter while collecting useful insights to help the GPS junkies out there LEARN the streets, not just mapquest ’em.

While walking with Chris I learned that there is a “100 block series” measurement system that lets a traveler know their location in relation to another street. For example, If I were waiting for Chris at Millennium Park on Michigan and he was located on Madison and State getting ready to travel towards me, I would in fact be 200 blocks East of State Street or simply I’d be two blocks over to his right. I can feel some of the seasoned Chicago explorers’ blasé stares in my general direction but what is your long forgotten history is my latest revelation.

There is an exception to this, some streets which is the case with the above picture of Garland are counted as half of a city block and thus do not fit into the 100 block series count. Garland Court is in fact placed between Wabash and Michigan but these half blocks, places, and courts are mostly used as alleyways for local businesses.

Continuing my journey, I did whatever I do when taken to a new or scary place that I’m not sure I’ll return from, make mental note of my surroundings. For example, while walking towards “The Lake” or going East on Madison one of the first things I noticed once I got to Wabash was a high hanging Tilted Kit restaurant sign. So, “helpful tip” number three, Peep Your Surroundings urges you to do just that.

After taking Madison, over to Michigan and then eventually walking down to Randolph I tried to think like the average lost out-of-towner. Who is the first person I’d go to in crisis? As I made my way on Randolph past the Chicago Cultural Center, yet another visual landmark, I happened to see a group of Chicago’s finest and slightly less finer police officers and security guards. Of course, as luck would have it I happened to ask the most stubborn security officer of the group. After some time I got him to reluctantly answer some questions on what to do if you ever get lost.

His advice was to seek out policemen, bus drivers, and taxi drivers for directions. “Helpful tip” number four Uniforms Friendly! is a proclamation of our fine fitted workers of the city.These people are put in these position to be able to work with the public. Quite frankly, it’s their jobs to know these streets. And even if you catch a traffic control attendant or the Starbucks guy you’ll get a reasonably helpful and friendly response.

Another oasis for the lost explorer is one of the many Metra Information Centers. Every bus or train at the very least has a mapping system chart with the different city routes carved out. Some of these train and bus stations even have attendants or officers stationed on them which again, these friendly uniforms offer a guide to a helpful direction. Beneath the Chicago Cultural Center, holds one such information center. Boasting one of the more extravagant information centers than most in the city, the Chicago Cultural Center’s Metra Information Center holds six different restaurants and stores for the weary traveler needing to replenish their supplies and achy soles.

While looking around the underground safe haven I noticed a compass Chicago Pedway Symbol and decided to research some facts on this passageway. Constructed since the 50s this underground walkway system is connected to over 40 downtown area blocks, specifically occupying the central business district. It connects to many shopping areas, restaurants, city buildings, as well as different CTA (Chicago Transit Authority works with bus services) and Metra (works with train services for those who don’t know). This tunnel system is a godsend to a lost explorer seeing as many times it can lead you straightway to the business or building you are looking for. So “helpful tip” number five encourages you to Look for the North Star. These compass star designed symbols can be an explorer’s salvation, so keep an eye out for these. And remember a lot of local stores and restaurants are connected to them as well like this picture of the pedway sign on the side of the State street shopping center Block 37.

Wrapping up the trip and all its grandeur would be a cathartic experience for anyone so of course, me being me, I had to go and ruin it by putting myself through what I can guarantee is one of the most terrifying things a person can do; walking blind and being lead by someone around the downtown area. Considered crazy by most, extreme by some, but for us at 4-Star Explorer it’s just a day at the office.  Trust me, there is a method to the madness. I had Chris blindly lead me to different streets in the area to quiz me on identifying the intersection, giving the correct “100 block series count” from Madison or State, and lastly knowing the proper direction of either East/West of State or North/South of Madison.

Once the first of my quizzes was administered after being told I could open my eyes I looked around and noticed we were near the business district. I made my way to the nearest intersection which read Dearborn and Adams. From there I was able to determine that the location was 200 blocks south of Madison and 100 blocks west of State…and of course I was correct. Riding high off my first win I felt a little more comfortable as I closed my eyes again and was spun unceremoniously around then lead to the next challenge. Once again I was told to open my eyes and after peering around the area I noticed the Wabash and Adams sign to which I gave the correct answer of being 1 block east of State and 2 blocks south of Madison. After urging Chris to give me something more challenging and not located on Adams…he spun me around and off we went. After what felt like hours and what must have been countless confused stares I was told to open my eyes and was instantly met with the familiar musings of Millennium Park . I looked up and found the intersection of Madison and Michigan. Being stationed on Madison we were on the Zero Point and thus only 200 blocks east of State.

Soaking in the glory of all three quizzes I inquired on the proper address formation of our last intersection. I was confused because though we were on Michigan the address said 200 E. Madison. Chris filled me in on why that’s the case. When you are at intersecting streets the dominant street, or the street that naturally runs in the direction you are traveling, gets the placing. For example, if you were located on the intersection of LaSalle and Randolph the address would read 300 W. Randolph because Randolph naturally runs East and West whereas LaSalle runs North and South. But LaSalle isn’t completely forgotten with the “300” letting travelers know it is 3 blocks from State.

Well in a day filled with triumphs and terrors (the whole time I had my eyes closed I just knew I was gonna hit a curb and face plant so hard for the whole world to see) I can definitely say it was a trip I’ll never forget and cherish as the first of many Navigating Chicago series. Here’s some of my favorite pictures from our outing, we got a lot of great shots!

Wanna see all of the 70 photos we took on our Navigating Chicago Part 1 Trip? Any suggestions on what we should explore next? Drop us a line at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com or go to our Facebook page facebook.com/4StarExplorer to see extra pictures or leave notes, don’t forget to like us!

Don’t Knock the Hustle! Hustle*My*Flow Music Showcase

Now as Chicago residents-especially if you’re from either of the South and West sides- you’ve been exposed to some sort of hustle. Whether it be the famous “bucket boys” beating their plastic percussion beats or multitude of “hood vendors” selling anything from candy to cold water on hot days. Or maybe its the Shea Butter man who sells his wares faithfully on the corner of 79th and State. Regardless of the scheme we’ve all been aware of the grinding tendencies of the urban underground. Imagine my excitement when I got a message from comedian/actor Real Shannon D about a place that hosts the ultimate hustle. Rappers and singers from all around the Chicago-area gather in one place to not peddle dime-store products but to distribute their lyrics and skills at Club Jags monthly event Hustle My Flow. Shannon D, who plays host to this frequent event, assures me the event goes hard. The event which is often standing room only let’s artists sign up to perform at 9pm and come 10:30 its showtime! And the last artist to perform is sort of the headliner of the event. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer came out to witness these performers do their thing.

Once I arrived at the location of event I thought I was lost being that the structure of the bar looked very modest. After a short time I ran into Real Shannon D and he was instantly warm and welcoming in demeanor. I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the event before it started.

Vonnie Coleman of 4-Star and event host Real Shannon D

4-Star: How long has the event been going on?

Real Shannon D: The show has been going on about once a month for about ten months now.

4-Star: How long have you hosted?

Real Shannon D: This is my second time hosting so about a month now. I’ve hosted a lot of shows like this before and once I voiced my opinions they liked me. They brought me on the team and now I’m doing a little bit more behind the scenes.

4-Star: Give me a breakdown of the event.

Real Shannon D: It’s a hip-hop showcase. Artists come in between 9 and 10 o’clock to sign up. The DJ begins spinning about 9:30. We give as many artists as we can a 5-minute slot. Each show we have a featured artist and after the featured artist performs we announce the new featured artist for the next event. Whoever is picked to be the featured artist gets a V.I.P. table and gets more time to perform than the other acts.

Ah…what the allure of V.I.P. won’t make some people do. Once my travel companion, Kalise Anderson, and I entered the event I got a chance to get some shots of the performance space.The showcase is actually held in the rear room of the bar and though small it still seemed spacious and tastefully decorated. The registered spin doctor DJ Batman stood reserved as he culminated and transformed songs blending them one into another. As I sat waiting I noticed that I was only one of a few patrons of the event. The host assured me they always got a packed house. I worried if the also vastly popular music event Lollapalooza had not conflicted with the attendance.I also noticed that the dress code was very casual as I sat with high heels and cocktail dress (which is not my preferred attire mind you, I’ve very much a jeans and blazer girl)

Rap Mouth the Genius and manager Lynda Payne

Rap Mouth the Genius Performs

Once the audience swelled and the performers began I noticed the different talent level. The first few acts were very underground….I mean extremely underground….I mean basement party level. And I love my city but some of the artists were very “bounce and break yo back-ish” if that makes any sense. And while that level of music talent is very nostalgic most of us have outgrown it and I for one am not here for it. But every cloud has a silver lining, every rose has its thorn and any other nonsensical idiom you can come up with and for me, there was a rapper who stood above the rest. Local artist, Rap Mouth The Genius, was the standout performer for me. He took me back to a time when a rapper’s words outshone their beats. When there was no gimmicks required but just raw talent and flow. He even killed it A Capella and had the crowd hanging on his words.

Duble “R” Da Great performs as the featured artist of the month

Also very much the crowd-pleaser was the event’s featured artist, Duble “R” Da Great, self-proclaimed greatest Puerto Rican Rapper in the Chi. His set was very rousing and energetic as he took his shirt off eliciting a boisterous reaction from the crowd. But I just couldn’t hold back my surprise at the mention of what he reported was his latest hit to drop a lovely song entitled “Cock You Down.” While the crowd waited between sets I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a great Chicago urban fashion designer Rowan Richards who is owner of the King Lizzy t-shirt and sneaker line and subsequently sponsor of both Duble R Da Great and the Hustle My Flow event.

Rapper, Duble “R” Da Great, and King Lizzy owner Rowan Richards

So what’s the rundown of this event?

-Very casual dress

-Affordable only $5 each event

-You might want to bring something to do because with the Open Mic layout of the event you may be waiting some time before people sign up to perform and start the show. May I suggest beating that Temple Run score?

-Great for true hip-hop heads. DJ Batman does a good job of playing to old and newer music lovers.

-Local Chicago artists should take advantage of this chance to hone their skills in front of an audience without being harshly critiqued.

-Be wary, you have no control over the amount of talent that evening. You might hear the next great hip-hop emcee or….you may get your next headache.

 

Does this sound like an event to remember or forget? I’ll let you be the judge but what I can definitively say, this event is great for city dwellers not interested in the nightlife scene but looking for a low cost, chill night out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jagiellonia “Club Jags”
3634 West Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

 

Support Our Local Talent!!! These People are 4-Star Approved:

Real Shannon D
Comedienne/Actor/Event Host
@RealShannonD via Twitter

Rap Mouth The Great
@RapMouthFlow via Twitter

Rowan Richards of King Lizzy Apparel
rrichards@kinglizzy.com
http://www.kinglizzy.com

 

Did you like the article? Any suggestions? Email us at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/4StarExplorer

Just a reminder folks that tomorrow, August 16th, WE’RE BACK!!! 4-Star has come off it’s break, got a little sun, and is back and ready as ever to explore our great city! We’ve got exciting new articles and events for you all to peruse so get your backpacks on and join us to explore the best in urban Chicago. We’ve got pictures up on our facebook page already of the latest event we reviewed and tomorrow you can read the full article, where else other than 4-Star Explorer. Thanks so much for the wonderful birthday wishes! It was truly a blessing.

courtesy of Big Cartoon Database Online

Blessings,

Shavon “Vonnie” Coleman

The Big E-I-C

(Editor-in-Chief)

4-Star Explorer

Now Hear This…Around here you may not know it but majority of the pieces posted are conceptualized and written by our big E-i-C (that’s Editor-in-Chief) Vonnie Coleman. We hope you’ve enjoyed a few of the articles we’ve posted so far. We are dedicated to exploring all that the city of Chicago has to offer for the urban population. But everyone deserves a break at times and nothing can be truer as the E-i-C prepares to celebrate her 25th birthday on August 7th!!! Please continue to send your well-wishes and greetings. While our hardworking Editor is enjoying her special day and subsequent vacation we ask that you remain patient as there will be no posting during that time. We will make a boisterous return Thursday August 16th with a new article! So take this time to do a little exploring of your own and email us those ideas at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com. Wherever you wanna go, we’ll follow. Thanks for all the support and stay tuned explorers!

courtesy of FantasyStock on deviantART

Ten Things to Do in Chicago-Before You Die

Around here at 4-Star this particular blogger will be coming to her 25th birthday soon. With the concept of mortality (not to mention that eligible dating prospects are just about as shallow as a kiddy pool, the fact that everyday my breasts droop down lower towards the Earth, and constant nagging from my Nana about just when I think I’m going to get married and have some children) ever looming over my head I threw around the idea of creating a Bucket List. I got to thinking if the idea of someone who has only been on the planet for a quarter of a century making a bucket list isn’t too preposterous then, why can’t a city have one? Bring in 4-Star’s Ten Things to Do in Chicago Before You Die List.

10. Take It In Deep

courtesy of smartertravel.com

 Whether it’s Giordano’s or maybe Lou Malnati’s is more your drift it is essential to pay homage to one of the official native Chicagoan dishes, deep dish pizza, which is one of the many things we do better than New York. For an added challenge try to make it over to Burt’s Place, located between Lincoln and Capulina. Owned by Burt Katz, who pretty much pioneered awesome Chicago pizza making, try to make it before the 73 year-old closes up for good and this miraculous heavenly slice of decadence is lost to you forever.

9. View from the Top

What is often written off as a silly thing for tourists to gawk at and marvel over, it is 4-Star’s opinion that you just ain’t Chicagoan until you’ve been to the top. So skip, hop or shimmy yourself down to the Sears, I mean…Willis Tower (But seriously, what decent urbanite calls it Willis?) give the stewardess a smile and head on up to the 103rd floor of this almost 40 year-old prominent monument. Just don’t tap dance on the reinforced glass…

8. Don’t Hate the Player…Well Try Not to Hate the Game Either

With a bone crushing football team, a star-studded basketball team, count em’-two division leading baseball teams, two hockey teams, and one fiery soccer team; it’s pretty safe to say that Chicago’s got game. Aim to be a part of one of those history-making moments that have made Chicago’s various sports teams famous. Because nothing says team spirit like rooting on Brian Urlacher in the freezing cold. Go Bears!

7. The City That Time Forgot

Museums are a fun way for visitor and city dweller alike to take in a little bit of knowledge about the place they stay. Many Chicagoans walk around everyday completely clueless on just how influential the city has been. We suggest you visit the Chicago History Museum and capture some of those proud moments in Chicago history. Al Capone, the Great Chicago Fire, and let’s not forget the great institution that was Mike Ditka. All forgotten gems brought back to life through the various exhibits found in our prestigious museum.

6. Keep Both Hands on the Handlebars

courtesy of chicagonakedride.org

Don’t be sheepish. Chicago’s annual Naked Bike Race is one of the only times it’s o.k. to stare. Since 2004, this world event has been cruising around clothing-free on 1025 West Randolph annually. Whether you dare to bare or decide this is purely a spectator’s sport, you can relax, there’s no private pictures allowed. You can bike, skateboard, or roller blade and don’t worry we won’t judge your secret Lance Armstrong obsession.

5. Savor the “Taste”

Weighing in as the nation’s largest food festival Chicago shows what it does best during the Taste of Chicago. You simply haven’t lived if you haven’t gone to this famous event and risked heat exhaustion and indigestion by sampling from over 35 citywide culinary vendors. Make sure you check out 4-Star’s article on this year’s 2012 Taste of Chicago.

4. For Christ Sakes Get the Kid a Hotdog!!!

Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare in your rabid behind mind come into a vicinity of Chicago and not try one of our famous Chicago-style hotdogs. Ingredients so good they need their own song: one beef hotdog, onions, relish, pickles, tomatoes, peppers on a poppy seed bun. And please out-of-towners…don’t ask for ketchup.

3. Our City Has PRIDE

courtesy of chicago report online

Be you queer or ally there’s something for everyone to see and enjoy at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade. Chicago is lucky enough to have one of the most “gay-friendly” communities in the nation. Boystown has been set up as a LGBT cornerstone in the city for years and welcomes residents of all colors and creeds into its welcoming arms as long as you are one for acceptance. I went, I saw, I partied and this single straight girl danced her life away!

2. Where Everyone Knows Your Name…

This past party girl can personally attest to the nightlife mecca that is Rush and Division. These famous intersecting lanes are visited by young party-goers and seasoned nightlife patrons alike. We guarantee you’ll have some of the best times you’ll never remember with bars like Original Mother’s which had so much sound blasting greatness that they had to extend it to their more chill bar Mother’s Too.  How about some booze from Bootleggers? And there’s plenty of shenanigans at She-nannigans House of Beer, oh what with the personal lighted stage equipped with stripper poles that have been used by many a drunk girl and bride-to-be alike. And don’t get caught sleeping in Detention, the school girl clad go-go dancers will not be pleased. With the strip of over 10 bars occupying the street there are plenty of memories that can become secrets that only you and your friends take to the grave.

1. Pick Your Spot and Stand on It

courtesy of chicago detours online

Whether it’s from one of the city’s many beaches, looking on from a neighboring suburb or my personal favorite while riding down Lake Shore Drive, the Chicago Skyline is what makes our city reign supreme. There have been many buildings that have joined the picturesque snapshot over the years but it’s something relaxing and life affirming  about seeing that beautiful landscape all lit up at night.

 

Anything that should have made the list that we forgot? Any special places you’ve been that you want to share? Let us know! Email us at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com. Follow us on Twitter @4StarExplorer and like us at Facebook.com/4StarExplorer

WhoisCHI? An Interview With A Chicago Music Artist

I waited anxiously with my friend and 4-Star’s interim photographer, Chris Thompson. I looked up at the address which read 345 North Loomis. I was suddenly worried about how this artist’s personality may be. I was surprised when not a group but one singular man came out to greet us. It was the artist himself, Diontae Johnson, better known as WhoisChi. The West-side raised Chicagoan greeted us warmly and had an air of humbleness that was greatly appreciated. He walked us up to booth 308, appropriately dubbed as “The Jungle.” “It’s because all kinds of musical animals run through here,” WhoisChi jokes, Chi for short.

Since 2009, WhoisChi has been self promoting and independently releasing his music to the masses buliding a substantial facebook and twitter following. He has managed to network and collaborate with such artists and producers such as BluClown, Young Chi, DGrams, and J Green; just to name a few. He impressed many with his first mixtape self-titled, WhoisChi, seemingly wedging his foot in the door gaining many a music-lover’s attention. Chi, has been hard at work gearing up for the release of his second mixtape, IamChi, which does not yet have a tentative release date. His music covers various topics from grinding to girls to overcoming tribulations to staying real and gaining an understanding of self.

Vonnie taking notes before the interview

Chi offers us a seat and excuses himself before the start of the interview. He and Cruz are working on two new songs today which will be featured on the upcoming mixtape. While sitting on the couch trying to keep busy I got a chance to chat with Chi’s main squeeze, IamPrincezz. She giggles while looking on at her beau rap furiously in the booth. “It’s important to get to know the man behind the music. When I met Diontae, I didn’t know he was a rapper. I was a little worried once I found out but I learned to love Diontae, and be a fan to WhoisChi,” she shares with me. Princezz works with Eminent Phenomena Media she books acts for different events and also promotes for clubs. She believes in the important fundamental that your name, your look, your personality, is all apart of your brand. We chatted a little bit more and discovered a shared love of leopard print!

 

WhoisChi comes out of the booth with the effects of sweat on his brow and undershirt from rapping, almost attacking the microphone. He dries off and though standing is his custom he agreeably sits down and we begin the interview. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer prepared the recorder for questioning.

4-Star: Okay, I know you represent for the West-side, tell me a little about how you grew up.

WhoisChi: I grew up in St. Stephen, which everyone calls a community. It’s not really a project but let’s just say it’s a becoming project building. I grew up in a single parent home. I always had the kind of family that worked to keep me out of trouble…I never got into too much trouble though, because I always found a way to work around the system.

4-Star: Well that’s a good trait to have. How did you start rapping?

WhoisChi: When I was at Illinois Central College, some of my friends used to play around with music. They’d have a mic set up and we’d just make music for fun. Somewhere between the rapping we decided to put together a mixtape on Datpiff website. A mixtape which I suggest you never listen to. Only if you want to compare my growth from then to now. The rest of my progress has just been through word of mouth. Meeting new people and expanding my style.

4-Star: So do you work with any entertainment groups?

WhoisChi: I’m currently part of a group called Tag Team. That’s made of me, WhoisChi, and another rapper named, Young Chi. We both come from the same hood. One day we were just working on a song in the studio and we went back and forth, sort of like some Jadakiss and Styles P. stuff, and we just came up with the name and it stuck.

4-Star: Any other people you collaborate with?

WhoisChi: I also work with BluClown. He produces a lot of my beats and he’s helping me on the mixtape that I’m working on now.  I also work with my friend Joseph who goes by the name of Boobie of Boobie Beats.There’s also Narcotics Beatz. I work with a clique of artists who also put on for the West-side:  J. Green, DGrams, Ace-FlyGuy, and Millzi.

4-Star: What drives you?

WhoisChi: My son, DJ. I call him Lil Boss. My son drives me to do better, leave something for him. Plus he’s a junior so you know he has to be like his dad.

4-Star: So for everything that you do, everything in your music, what’s your overall message?

WhoisChi: That West-side has talent also.

4-Star: So do you think the South-side gets more recognition?

WhoisChi: Don’t get me wrong, the South-side has definitely opened the doors for Chicago artists I tip my hat to them. I just feel like the love should be spread throughout Chicago. I’m here to show what the West-side has to offer.

4-Star: What’s the process for writing your lyrics?

WhoisChi: I really just play off the music. I listen to the beats and I think in my head the story behind the sound. Then I just jot the lyrics that come to mind.

4-Star: I’ve gotten a chance to go to your Sound Cloud and listen to some of your tracks. I just wanted to highlight a few. Can you tell me sort of the behind the scenes of how they were written and made. Let’s start with Testimony.

WhoisChi: That was a song again for Tag Team, the group with me and Young Chi. We really wanted to just do something different from the other “look what we have” song lyrics out there. We wanted to set a different vibe and hopefully reach an entirely different core group of people.

4-Star: And 100 Freestyle?

WhoisChi: That was actually a song done for my friend, Romell, Rest in Peace. At the time he didn’t even know I was taking the rapping thing seriously. He was with me when I made it and I shouted him out in the song.

4-Star: Ok, Spotlight‘s a good one.

WhoisChi: I actually wrote that on the train. We were trying to do a little club theme song, something to get people moving. There’s actually a video on You Tube for it. I really like that song because it’s featuring myself, J. Green, DGrams, and Young Chi. We wanted to get out there and show our faces. We work well together because we’re all diverse, we got different styles, and we’re all from the West-side.

4-Star: So what’s the future look life for WhoisChi?

WhoisChi: Mixtape! I’m just really focusing on my music. I want to get 12 or 13 songs together and make a great mixtape to put out for everyone. And whatever’s left over…I’ma just leave them and release another mixtape! After the mixtape I just want to reach out to different people in the business in the Chicago area.

4-Star: Thanks for giving me a great interview. I guess the last question is do you have any advice for other aspiring Chicago artists?

WhoisChi: Keep grinding. Show your face everywhere. Your appearance is everything. As IamPrincezz would say your name is your brand. My name is my brand. So build yourself. Make sure you act professional then you’ll be presented as professional which will make it easier for you to keep grinding.

How does he do it?

Ay Cruz is a musical wizard turning knobs and switches. Clicking different effects and sound levels. It’s all very reminiscent of the old Disney animated epic The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for me. I am mesmerized by how he takes squiggly lines and spiked pitches and turns them into music. He is a chief engineer with the Audio Engineering group, “The Jungle.”

After the interview we are greeted by Manny, a videographer, fellow member of “The Jungle” Audio Engineering group, and friend of Cruz.We network a little bit with him and he shows us some of his work.

IamPrincezz and Vonnie, 4-Star Explorer’s Editor

I couldn’t shake the feeling of awe as the afternoon spent watching WhoisChi and his cohorts make music and deals wound to a close. We snapped pictures and gave our goodbyes as ended a meeting that was hopefully a wonderful beginning for all of us.

WhoisChi, Vonnie, and Cruz

Check out WhoisChi’s newest single Save Me produced by BluClown by clicking here. Enjoy and stay tuned for his new mixtape, IamChi, coming soon.

 

 

Make sure you support our Chicago talent by contacting the following:

WhoisChi

For full track list click here at Soundcloud

Follow on Twitter @TheReal_CHI

Like on Facebook at facebook.com/WhoisCHI

 

Princezz of Eminent Phenomena Media

Follow on Twitter @IamPrincezz

 

A. Cruz of “The Jungle”

Chief Engineer

ACruz@TheJungleAE.com

Want to see more pics from the interview? You want in-depth coverage of just what “The Jungle” looks like? Head over to our page Facebook.com/4StarExplorer for more pics and don’t forget to like us!

House Heads Stand Up! An Evening at Shrine Nightclub

Facebook can clue you in to a lot of things. You can see who’s in a new relationship. You can get visual evidence of someone making a fool of themselves the previous night. And let’s not forget the all too familiar “I just need to be by myself” status update. And sometimes, you can get actual useful advice. This was the case when facebook friend and sorority sister, Pamela Estwick, hipped me to Shrine nightclub. Now I was no stranger to Shrine. I’d been there multiple times sandwiched into the poorly ventilated “hip-hop” section of the club, but that was mostly Fridays and Saturdays. Those days of course dubbed as “young people” days because majority 21-25 year-olds visit during those days. But the grown and sexy crowd need not break a sweat. They know the score, that Sundays…belong to the “house.

 The Shrine

2109 South Wabash Ave

Chicago, IL 60616

Shrine is an appropriate name for the club seeing that its walls stand practically a mecca to all things urban. From the decor to the beats to the crowd this nightclub gives off a “soulful” glow of ambiance welcoming you in. The club is actually two spaces converging into one. Either side often holding two differing styles of music for club goers to enjoy. A bar on either side as well as two lounging areas each, Shrine muses its guests to stay awhile. And this blogger is not too bashful to admit that the restrooms were first-rate, practically upscale. And ladies, we all have been on the bad end of a dreadful club bathroom experience. Signage saying “Ladies Room” when it’s really anything but. But once again, I digress.

Out on a Sunday! So grown-up lol

When I entered the club I was a little nerved being that I had never ventured into such an establishment on my own before. I was excited once I walked in and saw Pam sitting in the lounging area seemingly unfazed as she vibed to the music while glancing at her phone. We chatted and she gave me some further dish on the customs of the harmonious conservatory. Pam has paid patronage to Shrine House Sundays for a couple of years now. She insights that the best time to come is around 11pm and this was rightfully so as I noticed we seemed to come right before the crowd came to a onrush onto the moderate dance floor. From 9pm to about 11:30 there is a Dee-jay who spins some intriguing melodies. We vibe out to the melody and Pam shares with me that she loves hearing him every week. “I love this DJ and I really get to moving when Terry Hunter gets on the turntables,” she divulges. And I am instantly intrigued. While mulling our last few moments over in the lounge before we pay visit to the opposing side of the club to see how the other half parties, I am gobsmacked by what can only be legs…a pinkly wrapped vessel of legs. She is nice enough to let me snap some pictures of her and I apologize for them in advice seeing as they do her no justice. It is entirely my fault seeing as I let the batteries in my camera die leaving me my camera phone which is only useful for grainy night vision pics. Fellas, if this isn’t your enticement to come then I don’t know what else to wager with.

Is she not like…part Amazonian

We walk around the club within a club format and see that there is a reggae side for the Rastafarian in all of us. I swayed my hips and dutty-wined for a few hot seconds before we noticed that there was a little outdoor clubhouse for partiers to rest and have a quick smoke break.

As Pam and I were resting and gearing up for some two stepping back on the “House” side I spoke to a group of girls that drew me in. Especially, Breezy. You heard right, Breezy and her personality was as such. To be honest with you I have never seen a lady pull of a clean shaven head such as she. She equally impressed me seemingly winning me over by asking me if I wanted to “chill” with them later. She explained she was a concierge and the invite seemed so tantalizing but I told her I was on the job. (The things I sacrifice for you people!)

Once the “House” side was in full swing it was on! The hypnotic beats mixed with the varying purple, blue, and green strobe lights were almost similar to trance music. I got a couple of dances in with some nice overzealous partners but all and all I enjoyed myself and the thrill of being out late on a Sunday night burned deep within me as I made my way to the car.

So how does The Shrine measure  up?

Pros: The Shrine is a seemingly hodgepodge of people, a proverbial tossed salad if you will. (Am the only who thinks that sounded a bit dirty?) Shrine holds my personal meaning of the word “urban” being that they have visitors of different races all coming together under one roof  representing a shared ethnic vibe.

Even if you have been to Shrine often there’s something new for you to see. During those peak days regular customers can’t sit in the lounges at least without purchasing some ungodly priced bottle of alcohol. Sundays all areas of the club are open to everyone.

Did I forget to mentioned its Free…. yep, Shrine is free .99 on most Sundays begging bored singles with Monday off and nothing to do to come out and kick it and maybe sample a nice drink. There are special events though that sometimes charge but the price is never over $5.

Here’s everyone’s favorite Amazon dancing on a speaker. (She’s there every week boys *wink*)

Cons: The music was way too loud. I had to leave a bit earlier than I intended because my ears couldn’t take it any longer…but then again in their defense, I may just have girly ears.

If you are not a lover of House music then obviously this won’t be for you. Also under 25 crowd…this is not the usual bump and grind, juking, bang-bang-bang music you are accustomed to. This is a classy place so if you feel you need constant stimulation this might not be the night for you.

If you enter a dancing agreement…then you are practically locked in. Now it might have been just my amazing outfit or my dancing moves but
I found once a guy started dancing with me I had to almost beat him off with a club. And being that House music beats go on and on sometimes with no end or transition I found myself moving a lot longer than I usually like to.

Shrine House Sundays gets my approval but definitely for the over 30 crowd but I believe I will find myself back there soon on another lonely Sunday night.

What did you think of the article? Love it or Hate It? Similar stories or anything to add? Email us at fourstar.explorer@yahoo.com. follow on Twitter at @4StarExplorer and did we mention we have a Facebook page? Facebook.com/4StarExplorer

***My special thanks once again to my friend Pamela Estwick for being my guide into the club. This piece would not have been written without you.