I know it’s been a while but we finally have number 10 of the Top 10 Series, and it brings us blogger, music lover, hard worker and entrepreneur Ryan Chambers ( @iPrezTLKT). The TLKT part of his Twitter handle represents his blog, The Lowkey Truth which focuses on music, fashion and a few other things. Ryan explains his take on success, making connections, dropping out of college, Chief Keef and the violence that plagues Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs. I met Ryan while attending Northern Illinois University. He showed an interest in journalism and came to work with me and others at our independent student run newspaper the Northern Star. He showed himself to be bright and easy going and those are reasons he’s one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.
My questions will be in bold, and his answers will be in plain text.
It’s been a long hiatus for Slightly Factual. Did you think your interview would ever come to fruition?
Honestly no, [lol]. I knew you were a busy guy and thought you may have forgotten about me.
Ha, well I’m glad you were still up for it. Let’s get into it. How would you describe your style of tweeting?
I would describe the way I tweet as a mix of a resume of my work, as well as watching me grow as a person and just general entertainment.
Is your tweeting style different now as opposed to a year or two ago?
Would you care to elaborate?
For me personally I’ve been tweeting for about three years now. When I first started I was a sophomore in college with no titles to his name. Now I am a 22 year old full-time employee in the city of Chicago. You have to tweet according to how people perceive you. If you are a college student you can tweet as such and maybe use a little more profanity and what not, but when you hold multiple titles and use your twitter account to promote yours and the work of others you cannot tweet the same anymore.
What role does Twitter play in your everyday life?
A pretty big one [lol]. For me, I use twitter to promote a lot of different things: people’s music, art, videos, etc and the biggest way to keep people relevant to a mass of people without being face to face is Twitter, so I am constantly tweeting links, trying to link people up via Twitter. One day off could be the one day somebody checks your Twitter for a major opportunity.
You tweet a lot about success and trying to obtain your own definition of it. Could you describe your vision of success for us?
I think you define what your own definition of success is. For me success is measured by goals that I set for myself. I personally set short term and long term goals for myself. If I can see my short term goals all the way through they will inevitably lead me to seeing my long term goals accomplished as well.
Now with success the vision is different for many and so is the road to get there. For some the road includes college for various reason, and for others no college. For you it seems to lie in the middle seeing as how you dropped out, but furthered your career. How did this happened and how has it been going?
I’ve always been sort of a rebel. Once I had an idea of what I wanted to do in life I started taking steps to get to that and for me it didn’t include college. After getting my base and a lot of experience at NIU I felt like I wasn’t progressing in life at the rate I wanted, and I needed more real world experience. So I dropped out, got a full time job doing work similar to my major in college but not quite what I want for a career. I got my own place in the city and after a year I am now preparing myself to quit that job and begin working for myself full-time.
Sometimes it’s about who you know, and you seem to be well connected. How have you gone about linking up with various individuals as well as fostering those relationships?
College! As much as I joke about hating school and being against the traditional education, college is definitely where I established myself and my network. You can talk about how you met this person and that person, but really it all comes down to the desire and want to connect and build with people. I love conversing and just genuinely getting to know new people and thankfully that gift has opened up some doors for me. Its one thing to know a lot of people, but its another to have a genuine relationship with them.
Speaking of relationships many of yours appear to be musically related, and you have mutual friends with Chief Keef. I know you’ve mainly been supportive because you wanted to see him do something positive with his opportunity. What are your thoughts on what he has or hasn’t done?
[Lol,] man I can go on for hours about Keef and his public perception but that’s another conversation. Long story short I feel like Keef is exactly what you would expect from a 17 year old inner city youth who has had his fair share of life challenges and is now a multimillionaire with the nation’s eye on him. You’re going to get a lot of of learning and growing. Just last year he was a broke teen with a newborn! So how can we expect for him to act as a 25 year old grown man? He is going to make mistakes because he is not that far removed from his old life yet. I feel as though in three to four years we will see him learn from past mistakes and establish himself as somewhat of a staple in the hip hop club music/drill scene.
What do you think about his current situation?
I think it was to be expected. Like I said, when you give a Chicago teen a couple million dollars and a lot of fame he is going to think he is untouchable for a while…until reality punches him in the face. He has a lot of good people in his corner giving him advice so this is not the end of the world. But if after these two months he comes out and shows no remorse and nothing changes then that could be bad.
How do you feel about the various reactions to his music and persona, as well as some wanting him, a 17 yr old , to should all of Chicago’s violent ills?
It’s terrible. I think the biggest thing is the overwhelming majority of publications and people who comment and write about Keef have absolutely no idea about the type of life he comes from. To blame a 17 year old for the 30 year challenges of a city is pathetic and a cop out in my opinion. What Keef comes from is a culture, a culture that many in this city completely ignore, yet is the cause of all these violence issues. Stop pointing fingers and fix the communities.
Does it bother you that Chicago’s other musical offerings have been overshadowed in favor of the drill scene?
Not necessarily. I think the public is just more intrigued by the drill scene. It’s a type of music that most people haven’t heard so it’s new, it’s different. I think we can all agree that this nation loves violence and that trickles down to the music scene as well. In the end any exposure is good exposure, so although the drill scene is reigning supreme right now, it has been established that Chicago breeds an array of different types of music and that will begin to show more over the years.
Staying with violence, you are no stranger to its effects. You’ve known those that fell victim to it or were in some way connected to others you didn’t personally know. How has this affected your view on what’s happening in Chicago and some of it’s surrounding suburbs?
Man it’s really just numbing. When you watch friend after friend die and hear about people you knew personally die damn near every month it really numbs your emotions. It makes you not want to care about what’s going on in the world because with every person that you hear dying it brings back the same feelings and emotions from when you experienced that pain. Each situation differs from the other, but a lot of these murders and violence stem from similar issues.
You’re working on a documentary that aims to take a close look at the violence in and around Chicago called “The Chicago Complex“. When did you first get the idea to put this in motion?
Pardon my french, but I’ve been through some shit in my life. I’ve seen people get killed, been close to death multiple times myself, but for me to now have my own apartment, a full time job and most importantly my health just shows you can make it through tough times and challenges in life. I’m not saying I completely know what the problem is for Chicago and all of this violence, but I do understand it. When you take away a man’s means to provide for his family and don’t educate him on alternative methods to provide, you get violence…period. I have always wanted to make a documentary, just was never sure on a topic that would sustain my attention enough for a project of that magnitude, but once I moved home, got my life together and most importantly moved back into the city, I felt that I had to do something to do my part and try to make a change.
You lost a friend, Steven Agee, to gun violence in your presence and at your former apartment. How did this tragic event impact your decision to make “The Chicago Complex”?
Even though it happened in DeKalb it was all too similar to situations I had seen or been through before. You see and hear things and want to do something about it, but for whatever reason it never really comes into existence. But when it happens to someone in your circle that you’ve known for a while it cuts a lot deeper. Makes you want to do something about it anyway you can NOW.
What do you want people to take away from your project?
To just THINK. I want there to be change in Chicago, but before you can change a situation you must first fully understand it. I may not know all the answers, but I can for sure provide you some insight as to what the issue is through the testimonies of the people who deal with it everyday on all levels of the social status. When you know better, you do better.
What do you hope to take away from this film experience?
Personally I want to be able to legitimately make a difference while showing my creative abilities through film. The people I will meet and connect with through this film will be the best part, but also the opportunities for community work and possibly other film opportunities that this film will bring will be an added bonus.
What’s the expected release date?
Putting together a documentary is not easy. A lot of factors are needed for it to go smoothly, so in an ideal world summer 2013. Realistically fall 2013, early 2014.
Was this enjoyable for you, and can we expect you back at Slightly Factual in the future?
Definitely! Demarcus the man, son. Anyway I can help him better his career while also gaining a little exposure for myself is awesome. Thanks for having me!
No problem, thanks for taking the time to do this Q & A.