It only takes a few minutes to find PGF Nuk being described as “Chicago’s rising star” or “Chicago’s hottest new rapper.” His own bio says he has “over 70 million views on YouTube” but doesn’t clarify what that means. Is that 70 million full views start to end, 70 million people who clicked on him for at least one second, or 70 million combined views between his own music and other rappers he has collaborated with? When you’re trying to learn more about a new artist in any genre it can be difficult to separate fact from hype. This is exactly what the entertainment industry is built on. If you create the image of success and enough people buy into it, image becomes reality.
In no way am I suggesting PGF Nuk’s “Switch Music” isn’t worthy of a spotlight. In fact compared to a lot of “rising” rap stars where it’s hard to tell fact from fiction, I feel like Nuk genuinely earned the description. Listening to “Talk My Shit” I was struck by Nuk’s youthful energy over the hard, percussion heavy beat. Reflecting the city he comes from, Nuk’s song has the drill music feel, keeping the background grimy and allowing the rapper’s personality to come to the forefront. As for the actual lyrics they’re largely what you’d expect from a song called “Talk My Shit” — PGF Nuk is bragging about how he and his crew are not to be trifled with.
“Ay bro, we runnin’ shit from 51st to 59th
Every nigga on my block got a pipe, we take a life
Boy we got three stripes, all black, all Nike
I see he tryin to fight, boy if one fight, then we all fight”
Speaking of drill music it’s obvious that PGF Nuk is well connected on the scene since he’s got a feature from G Herbo on the very first track “Hot Summer.” There’s no doubt what motivates Nuk here — making that paper “It’s a hot summer/sun out, guns out/I remember trappin’ all day in the drug house.” When is a trap house not a drug house? It’s far from the only feature on “Switch Music.” Nuk’s PGF family get their own bars on “Spin,” Big 30 cameos on the church bells of the Fatman Beatzz produced “Button Boyz,” and Polo G keeps things just as grimy over his “Waddup” beat. The video is just as dark as the track with Nuk warning listeners “this is not a skit.”
I’m often at a loss to explain how I’m both proud of Chicago for creating a regional style that gained national popularity and depressed by how many of its young creators die in a hail of gunfire. The violent nature of the lyrics reflects the violent reality of the neighborhoods they come from, so drill music certainly isn’t creating the problem, it’s just holding up a very uncomfortable mirror to it most people would rather not look at. Looking away is a mistake because things aren’t going to get better in the Chi or anywhere else when people pretend those problems don’t exist.
The next person who says “racism doesn’t exist any more” to me can get smacked upside the head with a copy of “Switch Music.” Racism is why Chicago is what it is. White people took their wealth and fled to the suburbs, and the tax revenue to pay for education, parks, rec centers and social services left with them. Listen to what PGF Nuk has to say and there’s a message in the music whether you like it or not.