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| February 28, 2006

Sure Fire

When Chicago’s ever-eager Longshot was getting ready to record his third album last year, this MC/poet (legally known as Chad Heslup) made a decision most hip-hop acts would write off as flat-out ludicrous: He put his own album on the backburner to help out his fellow Chicago hip-hoppers. Even while under contract — at the time — to record this solo album; the choice was easy for ‘Shot.

What halted production of the forthcoming album, Addicted, was an ambitious project already in the works, Civil War Pt.2, picking up where 2004’s Civil War mixtape left off. The goal was to unite MCs and producers from different crews and every side of the city — artists who hadn’t all necessarily appeared on the same record together. As if his life depended on it, ‘Shot was determined to disprove the notion that Chicagoans can’t work together. “During the making of the whole project I realized how important it was and I had to up everything and it became personal,” says ‘Shot.

As a youth who bounced around from home to home under the care of the Department Of Children & Family Services (DCFS), ‘Shot, the oldest of six siblings, has lived on every side of Chicago. And for various reasons he has also lived on every coast of this country at one point or another. Despite Chicago’s longstanding segregation, this full-time MC’s experience with all walks of life certainly came in handy when it came time to bridge the gap between the South and North sides for the Civil War Pt.2 mixtape/DVD (released this past October on Ev Records).

“I can relate to all these people,” ‘Shot proclaims of the 36 artists he brought together for the project. “Quite frankly, that’s just how it is. I’m just a poor, gutter, dirty DCFS kid that’s lived in the worst situations — in foster homes living with roaches and all that crazy crap, but then I lived in privilege. I’ve stayed in Winnetka in some of the finest homes on the North Shore [and] went to one of the best schools on the North Shore.”

Thus whether he’s collaborating with the South Side’s Ang 13 on the do-for-self anthem “Put Me On” or rhyming alongside the North Side’s Rusty Chains and Verbal Kent on the playful “Don’t Be Mad,” he sounds right at home. With Civil War Pt.2, he proved he can adapt without losing his identity as an artist. While ‘Shot wasn’t able to get Juice and everyone else he wanted for this project, he says that everybody he contacted showed nothing but love for his vision.

Through determination, this self-proclaimed “rookie” has experienced nothing but warmth from the city, ever since he released his first book of poetry, Scream Of The Butterfly, in 1999. “When it came out and it was well-received, I knew this is what I wanted to do — inspire people with my words. And that’s pretty much what my life as an MC is about.”

After rapping live for the first time at a talent show around the same time the book came out, ‘Shot received such a rush he knew MCing was exactly what he was meant to be doing. But in a somewhat naïve move, he then packed up and moved out to the East Coast to help solidify his position as an MC, being that New York is the birthplace of hip-hop. Living out East, from D.C. to Philly, all the way to New Hampshire, he met underground heavyweights like Ikon The Mic King and Pumpkinhead. What these established MCs told him, however, wasn’t exactly what he was expecting to hear. “They’d be like, ‘Look, you raw as hell, you super raw, but it’s going to be really hard to get on coming out here and expecting people to just snatch you up,'” says ‘Shot. “They’re like, ‘Go home. If you can’t start anything in your own city, in your own home base, then you probably shouldn’t be doing this anyway. If your guys don’t tell you you’re tight and that you can make it, then who’s going to believe you?’ I took that advice, came home, and have not looked back since.”

Max Herman

To find what happened when LongShot returned to Chicago, pick up the March issue of Illinois Entertainer.

Category: Features, Monthly

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