Chicago’s Shootings: Socially Conscious Artist Asks “The Question”

FolderChicago’s Shootings:
Socially Conscious Artist
Asks “The Question”

After headlines were made about the number of shootings that took place in Chicago last weekend (including one child, age 7) reports continue about additional shooting deaths. The media talks about gun control, the problems with gangs on the streets of Chicago … but the problem that seems so clear here, the fact that our children are being forgotten, is not addressed enough, if at all.

Enter Kendale Brinson, also known as Doc Illah. When an independent artist commands over 35,000 views on YouTube in less than a month, others take notice. When the same artist sends a message that everyone wants to hear, not only because they can relate, but because they can appreciate the sound of the music – one knows that they have discovered something truly special.

Kendale Brinson, aka Doc Illah

With his track, The Question, Kendale Brinson, also known as Doc Illah, has achieved exactly what he set out to do. He is causing people to think. “Rather than discussing the issues of the week that come and go in the media, I really want us to get to the heart of what is happening and/or not happening in this country,” Illah says. The Question is simple – how did we get here? The answer is complicated only because we allow ourselves to be distracted by the things that allow us to avoid the problems we are facing every day.”

Just last week, Brinson was a special guest on a radio show where crimes and fatalities, just like those that continue to take place in Chicago, were a great part of the discussion. Leaders from education, to music, to politics were all guests – and the consensus was that something needed to change. Through music, which everyone can relate to, Brinson and others believe the message, the true answers to The Question can be addressed. This interview is still available at the link below:

The Question has been the same over the course of the last 20 years according to Illah. In fact, he feels quite strongly that this is his real life’s work. And, in taking the time to write he saw problems unchanged and realized some things about himself. He says, “I started writing my album (Lessons in Life) in the 1990s when I got the first and most important lesson on this project. I had my mother listen to the rap I had written and she really got on me about the cursing and swearing I was doing. She helped me realize that it wasn’t necessary, and more importantly, it wasn’t what everyone needed to hear. What we needed to hear was music that many generations can relate to. If we can relate to the music, we can relate to each other. It is only then (when we can truly relate to each other) that we will be able to start solving the fundamental problems we have in this nation.

So why over 35,000 views already? Perhaps it’s the sound that reminds listeners of Marvin Gaye. Again, it could be the tight flow of rap between Illah, Ang13, and JAdams. It could be the video, directed by Illah and Torrance Smith, that depicts life as it is; the struggle of what is real and what is interrupting our minds. For Illah, it’s all of the above and it is quite intentional. “You don’t work for 20 years on something and then rush through its presentation,” he says. “I knew that I needed to tap into minds young and old; talent that was raw and real. It has worked.”

The Question is actually not the first track released from the album, Lessons in Life. However, just like all of Doc Illah’s work, it is reaching an audience that is broad – ranging in all colors, all ages, and all social classes – and getting to the heart of the matter.

Lessons in Life is available on iTunes, Amazon, and at



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