Greg Kot and Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune –
Police are looking into whether a war of words in the Chicago hip-hop community is linked to the death of an 18-year-old rapper who went by the name Lil Jojo.
Joseph Coleman was riding on a bicycle in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side Tuesday night when a gunman opened fire from a passing tan or gray car, police said.
Police say they are sifting through video and tweets as they investigate whether the shooting is connected to a running feud involving Coleman and rapper Lil Reese, who is associated with a rising star in Chicago hip-hop, Chief Keef.
Coleman recently released a song online, “3hunna K” that mocked Lil Reese, Chief Keef and their “300 squad,” which police say refers to the Black Disciples street gang.
Investigators say Coleman was linked to the Brick Squad, a faction of a rival gang, the Gangster Disciples. The shooting occurred in a area where the Black Disciples and the Gangster Disciples have been fighting.
A day after the shooting, Keef — whose real name is Keith Cozart — took to his Twitter account responding to Coleman’s death: “It’s sad cus … Jojo wanted to be just like us #LMAO” (Internet slang for “laughing my ass off”).
Coleman’s mother, Robin Russell, would not comment on whether her son was a gang member, but did acknowledge that there was some hostility between Coleman and Lil Reese and Chief Keef. “They were feuding in the rap game.”
She said Coleman grew up in the Englewood neighborhood, not far from where he was shot. He moved out about five years ago, and may have been back visiting friends when he was gunned down, she said.
Coleman had been a rapper about two or three years, getting together with a group of friends, she said.
“They just felt that they had talent. They used to all get together and talk, and write down stuff and put it into music,” Russell said outside her home in the Altgeld Gardens housing complex on the Far South Side.
Coleman had two record label offers, but he wanted to take it slow and get some guidance from family members before falling into the business.
“His music was his music,” Russell said. “I didn’t get into what he did. . .when he left my house. I tried to be there, tried to teach my son the right way. But you can’t hold no child’s hand every step of the way. So what he did in the streets I don’t know about. What he raps about, I don’t know about. . .Whatever’s going on out there, I don’t know.”