Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rapper on the Rise

Southside Jake succeeds with blue-collar hip hop

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A rap artist recently gave the Southwest Side a weather-related chuckle, but his continued rise to fame and acclaim is no joke.

Southside Jake, a Garfield Ridge resident, lit up local social media with posts about his “Snow Day” video he pulled together with two other rappers—Kidd Russell and Thé Fatman.

The song is a light-hearted romp through the snow—literally—by three men who have learned that they have the day off because of heavy snow.

South Side Jake (right) celebrates a snow day with Kidd Russell and Thé Fatman.

Weather aside, the rise of Southside Jake (officially Jake Tuton) has been steadily happening in recent years—a success he chalks up to keeping his lyrics real and speaking from experience. His best-known rap, South Side Girl, has become an anthem of sorts and can often be heard on digital jukeboxes at sports bars and other watering holes on the Southwest Side.

“The best and shortest way to describe what I do is ‘blue-collar hip hop,’” Southside Jake explained. “It’s rap music, for sure…but I’m from here. I’m from the Southwest Side. My two biggest songs are South Side Girl and City Kids. So it’s very everyday, very blue-collar, very much about the struggles of the ordinary person.”

It’s “catching the Orange Line, going downtown, Archer Avenue, Weber’s Bakery,” he continued. “This neighborhood’s a lot of firefighters, police officers, union workers. I’m living and breathing that every day--so you kind of write what you know.”

Southside Jake, 32, grew up in the Ford City condominium
Southside Jake in action.
His journey from boy to rap artist started early.

“I grew up listening to music,” he recalled, noting that his influences include rockers like the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Metallica, as well as rappers like Jay-Z and Common, I just grew up with everything on the iPod list, so the music just kind of comes from everywhere.”

He recalled that he “was a little kid writing little rap poems; and then hanging out here in the neighborhood, we’d just rap and freestyle at parties and stuff. And people were like, ‘Hey, you’re actually pretty good at this. You need to pursue it, you need to pursue it. So I branded it and came up with it and at first made some really, really bad songs; and you know, like the whole routine.”

Since hitting his stride as an artist about six years ago, he has enjoyed steady success. He has performed at Lollapalooza three times and notes, "We’re on iTunes, Spotify, AMI jukeboxes all over North America…so yeah, the music has some legs underneath it at this point.”

South Side Girl “was something I had it in my head forever, years before I wrote it,” he said. “There’s something special about our brand of ladies down here (on the Southwest Side). You know what I mean? Cuss you out, no nonsense, call it like they see it; but also beautiful, elegant, like a ying and yang thing. And I thought, ‘Nobody captures that, nobody really represents. There’s something special going on, on the Southwest Side and I don’t know if that’s ever been properly captured, at least on the female side of it.’ I wanted to make a tribute song, I had it in my head forever, and I finally said, ‘OK, we’re doing it,’ and it came to fruition.”

While some may express surprise that a rapper on the rise calls Garfield Ridge home, Southside Jake sees a different picture.

“There are a lot of musicians down here (on the Southwest Side), and there’s more vibrant stuff going on here than most people understand,” he said. “There are some metal bands out here that had record deals in like the ‘80s. There are some really good cover bands. There’s a lot of buzz around here. You pop into Lindy’s on a Saturday, and there’s always somebody playing, or at the Twisted Shamrock. There’s good musicians out here, for sure. Just gotta open your eyes and ears a bit.”

Southside Jake’s newest venture is a project called Kildare.

“There’s a rock guitarist from the neighborhood who’s had a high level of success…Matt Szlachta. He’s in this heavy metal band called Broken Hope, super aggressive stuff, way too aggressive for me, way too heavy…it’s like my world meets his world—guitar infused with hip hop. It’s a huge collaboration that’s been going on, and I’m excited about it. You’ll all hear about it soon.”

Kildare just announced a show on March 15 at The Forge in Joliet. For details, visit

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