Chicago rapper, Karl Thomas, aka “Chaos Network” takes us into his nuanced world of Otaku Rap, a hybrid of rap and cultural influences from Japan (especially anime). Karl describes his childhood as transient, moving from one Chicago neighborhood to the next with his Mom . While attending different schools throughout the city, he found stability and escape in Anime like Megaman and Naruto. Later after becoming a rapper and sharpening his production skills at Street Level, he found a natural alchemy between his love of Anime and the inspiration of Chicago’s Drill Music that could be heard in the neighborhoods he grew up in.
In this short film Karl visits the Japanese Service Center and discusses the subgenre of Otaku Rap with Chicago musician, producer, and artistic director Tatsu Aoki. The conversation provides an opportunity for us to not only discover the similarities between Karl’s practice and others within jazz, hip hop, and rock but also to celebrate how music continues to evolve through the interests of young people in a way that will challenge, celebrate, and continue Chicago’s musical legacy.
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