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A History of Violence: The Black Gangs of Chicago

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…It’s a war going on outside we ain’t safe from/I feel the pain in my city wherever I go/314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago…” - Kanye West, Murder to Excellence

Money, Power, and Respect three key ingredients to cooking up the perfect story, be it a gritty street novel from Donald Goines, or street dreams of a corner boy trying to be the man. The allure of the street life has been synonymous with hip-hop since the days of Kool G. Rap and Slick Rick.

Hip-Hop’s obsession with gangs, crime and tales of rise to power keep us hooked. Look at how many rappers who’ve been influenced by films like Scarface and Paid in Full.  However, there is a big difference when the violence you see on TV or hear in song is played out in real life and the both the victims and culprits of children.

The city of Chicago is under attack! Not by insurgents, or terrorists but by misguided youth who have no remorse for gunning down another human being in cold blood.

Chi-town has a rich history in the arts and culture, but there is also a darker history that Chicago is known for — Violence.

Black Gangster Disciple Nation

hoover

Leader of the Gangster Disciples

“Supreme Gangsters” was the name 12-year-old Larry Hoover and his friends adopted as they ditched school riding the trains through Chicago. In the late 1960s, The Disciple Nation lead by David Barksdale (pictured below), and the Gangster Nation lead by Hoover merged to form The Black Gangster Disciple Nation. Under the leadership of both men, an array of other gangs formed. Hoover adopted the moniker  “Prince Larry.”

History of The Gangster Disciples:

David Barksdale

Also Known As: Folk Nation, GDs, BGD’s

Colors/Symbols:  Major symbols include a three-point devil’s pitchfork pointed upward and a heart with wings. The use of several colors, including black, gray, silver and white.

Known Rivals: Vice Lords or The Almighty Vice Lords

Rapper Rick Ross made Larry Hoover a household name with the chorus of his song “(BMF) Blowing Money Fast” off the Teflon Don Album.

Vice Lords

Vice Lords

In the late 1950’s in the Illinois State Training School for boys, the Vice Lords came to be a full-on gang running in the west side of Chicago. Before coming the “Almighty Vice Lords” or “Conservative Vice Lords,” they were an athletic club called “14th St. Clovers”. The Clovers began getting into trouble which led to incarceration.  There, they united with others from Northside, Westside, Southside Lawndale Boys to form The Vice Lords under by Edward Pepilow Perry. It wasn’t until many of it’s members were released from prison that the gang began to wreak havoc on the citizens of Chicago making it the most violent gang of the mid-1960’s.

Also Known As: People Nation, ACVLN, VL’s, Unknown, Traveling, Insane, Conservative and Four Corner Hustlers.

Colors/Symbols: 5 Point Star/Bunny with a bow tie/ Tophat and pimp cane/Crescent moon/Champagne Glass/Ring of Fire with a pyramid around it. Colors include black, gold and red, as well as Pittsburgh Steelers/Pirates attire.

Listen to the “One Blood Remix” with just about every hip-hop notable from Nas, Styles P, Jadakiss, Bun B, Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg), and more.

4 Corner Hustlers

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The Four Corner Hustlers was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1969 by King Walter Wheat and Freddy Malik Gauge. The violent gang became a close ally of the Vice Lords in 1977 and began extorting area drug dealers in Chicago’s west side. As hundreds of the gangs members found themselves in state prison, the gang decided to alliance itself with the All Mighty Vice Lords Nation in 1986 as a form of protection against its rival, the Gangster Disciples Nation. The gang remains small in prison but is known for its brutality and organized gang structure on the streets of Chicago.

Also Known As: All Mighty Vice Lord Nations

Colors/Symbols: 4CH logo or a black diamond. Colors are black and gold.

These gangs were at the forefront of the changing Chicago over from a heavily Mafia run city to one overrun by young black gangs. As the years passed, their direction and tactics may have changed but their impact on the young men and women of Chicago continues to grow. Reports of young murdered kids in Chi-town have begun to fall on deaf ears but. However, there is no way to ignore the problem if we first acknowledge its origins.

ALSO READ: The Creation of Chief Keef: Fixing Chicago’s Teen Murder Culture

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