Hadiya Pendleton was killed more than three years ago, and her murder has become emblematic of Chicago’s plague of violence; Pendleton, a 15-year-old King College Prep student, was shot in the back in Kenwood park a week after she’d traveled to perform at events surrounding Obama’s second inauguration, and her death reverberated throughout the country. Pendleton would’ve turned 19 tomorrow, and that evening her life will be honored as part of the second-annual Wear Orange Party for Peace, a free barbecue and concert at Harold Washington Playlot Park. It’s the marquee event for the Wear Orange campaign, launched last year in her memory. According to the campaign’s site, Pendleton’s friends chose to celebrate her with the color orange, because “that’s what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.” It’s both a tender tribute and a grim reminder of the shootings that cast a pall over much of the city.
The Wear Orange Party for Peace will feature performances from Malik Yusef and Noname, the rapper-poet formerly known as Noname Gypsy (she dropped the “Gypsy” in March because of the word’s racist connotations). Noname recently appeared on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, and I’m looking forward to her forthcoming debut, Telefone. It’s been in the works for a few years—if memory serves, it was originally scheduled to come out in late summer 2013, though in a recent Twitter post Noname said Telefone will drop sometime this summer.
Noname only has a few tracks on her Soundcloud at the moment, including her latest single, April’s “Freedom Interlude.” Against a backdrop provided by a palpitating drumbeat, light hand claps, and mellow keys, Noname steers through a jumble of thoughts about what she imagined the song could’ve been—her first words are “I thought I was gonna write a rap.” Her lyrics ricochet among several topics—Instagram flirting, a woman seeking solace in alcohol—but they’re united by a thread of confusion and ambiguity. Her tranquil, half-sung delivery makes the clutter go down smooth, though, and toward the end of the track she raps, “I know this is a song for overcoming.” Her last words are “Dance with me, I know I’m free.”
“Freedom Interlude” covers a lot of ground, but because it ends on an uplifting note, it’ll make a good fit for a party meant to celebrate life in the face of brutishness.