“We Built It”: South Side Song Writer and Filmmaker Creates Track Detailing How Blacks Built the USA
With everything that 2020 has thrown at us, one thing that I can say is that it has proven comradery between Black people with the shared experience of oppression that we still face. COVID has been a major life taker this year, but law enforcement has also done its share of killing when it comes to Black lives.
Rioting, looting and protesting have been trending topics as many are fed up with the lynching of the innocent and unarmed at the hands of the police. With all of the bad, there are some people who are looking to bring positivity into our lives.
I spoke with writer and creator, Chiest Love, over a zoom call. As a resident of the south side of Chicago he has put together a beautiful music project entitled “We Built It.” The project is very relevant in today’s climate and shows how essential Blacks are in the history of America, as many may know, but still may not want to face.
Corli: How did you get into this line of work within entertainment?
Chiest Love: I think we’ve all been connected to music some type of way whether we’ve pursued it or not…to be honest, true story. My mom, one day, was crying. I was like, man, why is she crying over some dude, again? She played Dru Hill and just her whole mood changed. And so my thought process at that time was I want to do music because I want to make people smile when they cry…I write from a woman’s perspective, a lot of times because I’m speaking from my mom. You know, I’m still fighting her battle through music.
Corli: Talking about “We Built It,” how did that actually come to be?
Chiest: Okay, so I have a 10 year old son. I’ve been back and forth with my son’s mom in court. We got married, I was young. And I got custody last year, September. What happened is, as with everything happening with the injustice of police brutality, and things of that nature, I didn’t want to go and protest. I didn’t want to go march, because I don’t want to risk peacefully protesting and something happening…so I say, you know what, let me find another way to protest because I just got my son.
Corli: What was the process of getting other artists to be involved?
Chiest: I added 20 Chicago artists, three showed up, recorded the song. I see songs as movies, so we recorded the movie. And what started off as a song to protest the injustices of police brutality [became] a song to say we built it.
Corli: Can you explain the film that accompanies the song?
Chiest: What started off as just a protest song became, you know, a song to push for Reparations. And it became a documentary about the process of doing that.
Corli: So who are the actual artists on the track?
Chiest: So we have three ladies. The ladies are DhnieraBlu, Felicia and we have Mys Michelle. And then a producer is Percy Bady, he produced “I believe I Can Fly” by R Kelly, he has some big hits, he’s a Grammy Award winner from Chicago.
Corli: Is the film just a documentary of you creating the song and the process you went through?
Chiest: So yeah, so it starts with the process of who I am, making the song and it goes into why the song is being made. It goes into actually like study groups, we even go to like the red line, walk on the street and interview people. “Hey, could you live without these 10 inventions? Could you live without the doorknob? Could you live without the cell phone? Did you know all these things were built in a Black man?”
Corli: And you’re going to have the premiere of the production at the Harper Theater?
Chiest: November 21, Harper Theater would go into premieres there from 6 to 9pm (I know it’s his answer, but this sentence doesn’t make sense. What is trying to be said?). What’s cool about it is the Harper Theater is it’s not even open, but I knew a person there and they’re gonna open it for me for my private event.
Corli: Is there any significance of hosting it at Harper Theater?
Chiest: It’s Black owned. Hyde Park is a nice place, you know what I mean? They give me things that other theaters wouldn’t, they have a marquee. So literally, my movie is outside the thing on top. They give me a red carpet, everybody not only comes but they get popcorn and liquor, you know? I invited the cast, the crew and media. That’s it.
Corli: When will the public get to see the project?
Chiest: November 21 is the big premiere. And then two months later, January 21 is the actual day we go live. So that’s when it goes live on premiere on Vimeo and the proceeds go to Chicago Public Schools, we are donating $50,000 to Chicago Public Schools and to push for reparations.
Be sure to follow Chiest Love on instagram @ChiestLoveMusic