A History of Violence: The Black Gangs of Chicago

…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


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


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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  • zoe

    If you gonna cover GANGS of CHICAGO make sure you do research. You only mentioned 3 gangs and its way deeper. Break it down like this gangs on that 6 point star or 5 point star. On the 6 point star BGDN run it, on the 5 its VL. Go deeper and you see Bloods is aligned on that same 5pt star. My goodness how could you leave out Latin Kings, P-Stone Nation, let alone the new sects that come from this that Chief Keef and the youngsters is on. Do your homework. Im from Miami and I could done better!

  • Good coverage, at least now we have some understanding.

    • plantfoodman

      this article sucks; it doesn’t say shit about chicago gangs (3 out of 100’s). what about black souls, latin kings, imperial gangsters, latin counts, latin eagles, 26, SD’s, MC’s, and spanish cobras? these are the few i remember from growing up in maywood in the 90’s. If ur gonna write an article then make sure it is complete and not full of holes like this one. gay-ass ‘gangland’ on tv does a better job; could of done a simple google search to do research and written a better article.

      • Should it be a weekly series? Gangs of Chicago?

        At this point, is “All Press Good Press” as is said in showbiz? Does it become glorifying?

        Average dude doesn’t know anything about Larry Hoover, other than a fake rapper thinks he’s him, or Big Meech?

        Different sets?

        I heard about P Stone, & back in the 90’s, them dudes took it serious, but having lived through the Zulu, Ball Busters, 5%, etc., it was nothing like L.A. & Chi. Different culture, maybe the same, but I was never part of gangs, other than WRITERS, and our beef was different, we battled / Beefed with art.

        Break Dancers, graffiti artist, MC’s, DJ’s, Fashion, but not the Kanye West type, sneakers, jeans & a jacket style.

  • This article is like saying there’s only bloods & crips in LA.

    • Matthew McClinton

      But there are. There might be different fractions that think they aren’t but ALL of the gangs become either one or the other.

      • fushoJoe

        confused either what or what??

    • fushoJoe

      i know cause there stones from CHi in LA but no LA gangs in Chi tho. Chi is the grandadd of gangs

  • Im from chi….grew up in Leclaire Courts but runnin down gang cuture gives no solution at all….

    • Terrance Goodman

      I agree I grew up in the Taylor’s n the wells

      • johnblacksad

        I grew up with 2 maids, a butler and a night time doorman

      • Terrance Goodman

        Lol you had it good

  • FYI


  • P Blackheartdent Black


  • Q.

    I’m not sure what the point of this article was. If you want a better history of CHI gangs, you can google the Chicago Gang database… Unfortunately, violence and murder has been a mainstay in the CHI since the 60s. There was a period when CHI gangs were more organized and trying to be positive on a more political level: Black P. Stone founder Jeff Fort tried to take the Nations in a more positive direction. He converted to Islam and linked up with the Moorish Science Temple (that’s why the Stones use the crescent and the star). He changed the Stones to the “El Rukns” and linked up with the Black Power movement on the BPP tip, and even secured a grant from the U.S. GOV’T. But like all other positive Black movements in America, the El Rukns got infiltrated and corrupted. The whole positive angle of the Nations got corrupted by the drug game, which naturally spawned more violence than ever (the FBI had a hand in that too!). Leadership has steadily broken down since most of the OG “kings” got locked up in the 80s. Larry Hoover tried to steer the GDN in a more political direction in the 90s a lá Gator Bradley (“GD = Growth & Development”), but For the most part the young bucks weren’t falling in line–the crack game was too rampant by then.

    IMO, what’s been taking place in the 00’s-10’s is less about gang legacy per se, and more about sheer desperation. The CHI 90s weren’t nothing sweet, but the situation is far more critical now. These kids out here feel hopeless and hungry at the same time. Education has become less promising in recent years due to the breakdown of public schools and the rising costs of education. Of course, the ’08 Depression made everything worse. There are more factors at play, but overall, young cats are moving recklessly and trying to survive hustling at the same time. Like Farrakhan said also, the teens need HOPE as well as JOB opps to alleviate a lot of this violence (at least for the short term).

    (Dear dumb fuccks, don’t try to debate me about this JOB issue anymore OK? Stay in your corny-azz lane, LOL)

    • johnblacksad

      Chicago is the new New Orleans

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  • Matthew McClinton

    The reason gangs exist is because of the overwhelming power of the Democrat and Republican parties that have trickled a very small amount of power to bloods and crips and then it trickles down to other gangs. This is to keep the rise of potential “minorities” coming into power legally.

    • fushoJoe

      blood and crips are new gangs compared to disciples and vice lords that been around much longer So b and C are irrelevant and nobodys in Chi. So no need to even mention them

  • The lethal

    This was a bullshit , pointless,incomplete, somewhat inaccurate article. They could have kept this nonsense to themselves. And EDOGZ818, you said now at least you have some understanding, but that’s why this article is misleading, because as most that live here in Chicago know, the main gangs responsible for the killings aren’t even listed. Trash!

    • chiboi773

      “the main gangs responsible for the killings aren’t even listed.”
      LMFAO, thats exactly wat was listed. GDs make up the MOST murder victims or gang linked to most murders. then comes BPS. 4s make up the most murder victims and gang linked to most murders out west (for instance, they mistakenly Shot killed little Heaven Sutton back in june), but overall, Vicelords(including 4s) dont come close to GDs and BPS when it come to this murder game (Chicago police made a list of everything i mentioned about the GDs and BPS, the 4ch comment is just something im estimating since i stay out west). & why every body keep mentioning LKz? this article is about black gangs since blacks make up more than majority of the murders. we had over 500 murders llast year, hispanics only made up about 120 of the 500+ murder victims(and its probably lower) GDs on the other hand, made up well over a 100 of the 500 murder victims. blacks is the ones drillin shit smh. GDs killin BDs, BDs killin GDs, GDs killin BPS, BPS killin GDs, GDs killin GDs, BPS killin BPS, Vicelords killin Vicelords= the new Chicago. to many renegades and EBKs now, but everybosy can thank them 90s niggas for that

  • Chicago PD …biggest gang of em all

    • Terrance Goodman

      Leo bogus boyss

  • Jocelyn Noelle

    Yes there is a slew of Gangs in Chicago but we looked at the major players. Spoke to what is happening in Chicago now and this is what came up. Every neighborhood gang and turf gang was not the focus of the article it was a HISTORY. Thanks

    • major players you know nothing next time how bout you get a street nigga like me to help yall out there are many major players are you serious

  • fatz


  • Cari jone

    how they gonna say rick ross made larry hoover a household,that is dumb. Larry was well known before the rapper. Mama heard of larry hoover but not rick ross the rapper.

  • grabo2003

    I guess you cannot just wear any color clothes in US hoods

  • damn this was horribly written and put together

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  • Victims nothing to endure saying. Protection of home destroyed self will. Limited interest in general response. Abusing and using external connotations. Criminals would kill anyone why? No respect of social progress. Advocates protecting these worthless. Existence critical why face or apply. Success those not incline become resourceful! Blame Jessie Jackson and Louis power of whom. Not Blacks Hip Hop rules causing. Disparity apathy lack social understanding. Hate among majority trash!