Youth poetry competition Louder Than a Bomb wraps up its 17th season this week—the individual finalists compete Thursday evening at the DuSable Museum, and the best teams square off Saturday night at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre. But while these big Louder Than a Bomb events happen just once a year, many of the best young artists in Chicago’s hip-hop scene carry the festival’s lessons with them every day—not least among them the importance of expressing yourself clearly, developing insight, and challenging arbitrary or unfair authority. Femi Adigun, the rapper better known as Femdot, honed his skills at Wicker Park creative-writing hub Young Chicago Authors (which gave birth to Louder Than a Bomb), and a recent feature on local hip-hop site These Days says that he made it to the LTAB semifinals the first time he competed. On Sunday night he dropped an EP called (U)no., which demonstrates his gift for precise, vivid writing.
On “Goodcops,” Femdot describes the systemic oppression that young black men face in this country, and he directs much of his ire at law enforcement, retaining a steely composure all the while. He packs so much into each stellar line that it’s hard to pick favorites, but at the moment I’m stuck on this verse: “These streets and the police both try to kill a nigga / You got degrees, but best believe you still a nigga / Ain’t no fronting up in the hood, tear down the buildings in it / Tear down a black man, you can’t even build a nigga.”