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1637 N. Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


Street-Level Youth Media is a non-profit, media arts literacy organization serving Chicago's youth.  We teach audio engineering, mixing, video production, digital photography, online journalism, and more.  If you are between the ages of 12 through 22, all of our programs and services are free.

If you live in Chicago and are between 12 - 22 years old, come take part in one or all of our media arts programs, book a private studio session, use our computer lab or join one of our clubs.  We also host Judgement Day, an open-mic, open-stage on the first Friday of each month.  



Vis-a-vis mentorship, access, and purpose, Street-Level Youth Media gives Chicago youth a place to find and share their voice.  #selfexpression  #communication  #socialchange



...just because these people will tell you a million and one lies, that don’t mean that they’re not going to tell you the truth one day.
— Ben Capo

SL: Hi Ben Capo. Thanks for being the first artist in this new "featured artist segment" on our website. I have to say the privilege of talking with you informally about what drives your art is all ours. To kick this off, when we were recording some stuff in the soundstage in preparation for a show last year, and you happened to be at the studio, we asked “hey Capo do you have anything to drop?”, you said, “yeah, I got something”. And you had this, and none of us in the room were prepared for how profound this text was, so what’s the story?

CAPO: [laughs] Last year when I was in college, I had a roommate situation. I couldn’t get along with my roommates.  In that drop, I was basically talking to myself. I can give myself the best advice in a poem, but I’ll never tell everything to just anybody.  You know what I’m sayin’? I’ll never let anybody hear the complaints. I just let everybody hear what I want them to hear, or what I think they’ll find acceptable.  

SL: Is that a strategy for your poetry? Self advice?

CAPO:  Yeah, sometimes. Not always. You know, I keep waiting to make “good raps” and then hope people tell me they’re good, but then I realized that’s not how it works . . . you gotta work harder.  And I try to be politically correct because a lot of times when I’m arguing with people, somehow someway people find flaws in my logic, even though their logic is flawed too.  It’s not like people are better than others at arguing, but some people are just smarter and faster at giving points and they know how to reverse things and they know how to trigger people quick.  They just know, “If I say this, this guy is going to react like this. Soon as he reacts like that, I’m just gonna come in for the sweep like this,” but they go along with it too.




SL: Ah, the manipulators . . .

CAPO: It’s kind of like manipulation, but just because these people will tell you a million and one lies that don’t mean that they’re not going to tell you the truth one day.  You gotta fight with these people because when you fight with these people, sooner or later when you talk to regular people it’s kind of like a straight road.  When you talk to these people [who give you the runaround], it’s all lines and hills and curves and valleys. 

I want to rap because people understand that.  And I find that those people, they have a solid foundation for support.  I hate to namedrop, and I’m not going to namedrop [laughs], but a lot of people say things without really spelling it out, or they make you think about something in a different way.  They say it in such a way that they didn’t say, yet they make it sound good at the same time.  It’s like someone tricking you into reading a book.  You don’t want to read that book but the way they presented that book to you looked so appealing that you are like, “Well I’m going to read that book because it seems like the right thing to do.”  But also, again, I don’t want to say so many things that nobody understands anything.  That’s the fear.  Saying everything without saying it . . . no one understands it, or everybody understands it and they don’t feel like it’s clever, or they don’t really think far, they just think like, “Oh well I get it.”

SL: Who would you say then, qualify as “good?”

CAPO: The type of people I think are good are the ones who come, do the work, and no matter what type of personality they are they just come in and do  the work, and they aren’t condescending. A lot of times people give you the runaround, and they’re considered “bad” people, and most of the time they are [laughs], and I’m not saying they’re all the way bad but I’m saying that they have a lot of negativity in them, and that comes from them, so it’s kinda like they’re a bigger challenge so it’s like, “Even though we hate those people, just because we hate them, that doesn’t mean we don’t need them."  

SL: Sounds like you have a future in politics?  

CAPO: I can’t say I have a solid plan, and I don’t even have like a clear direction.  I don’t even know where exactly to take my first step, but I know that I'm going to do my research until I feel like, "Alright this is where I’m going to take my first step."  

SL: Word.