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Lupe Fiasco is fascinated by the work of local artist Hebru Brantley

Lupe Fiasco | Ramzi Dreessen~Sun-Times

Lupe Fiasco | Ramzi Dreessen~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 24, 2013 6:21AM



My father expressed to me as a youngin’ the existence of a trio of beings who were to be looked out for with great vigilance and concern: The Gym Shoe Creeper, The Wahoo Man and The Green Man.

These unsavory characters were (and are!) rumored to stalk the city of Chicago, wreaking havoc and striking terror in the ghettos and the not-so-ghettos alike. Now, whether these figures are real or not is irrelevant; the fact is that they indeed are real.

Moving on. Word on the street is that there is a new guy lurking around the city with a penchant for beheading things. He takes the lopped-off heads, paints them, then mounts them to walls for others to see. His weapon of choice is not a messy ax nor a vulgar chainsaw but that debonair gentleman of head removal: the guillotine. Well, that’s what I believe it to be anyway. It seems more visceral and engaging: The image of a tall, soft-spoken psychopath pulling a full-blooded guillotine through the streets and alleys of the city of big shoulders, looking for the perfect victim to join his ever-growing gallery of trophies. And what fine trophies they are.

Admittedly, I have visited the gallery of horrors. I have seen the heads on display. All primed and painted and hung. I’ve been in the friendly company of the elegant Mr. Brantley and have even been shown the workshop where the transformations take place. I have seen the guillotine, soaked in color and dotted with other unspeakable fragments of gruesomeness.

I wish I could tell you that the process of capture, decapitation, preparation, coloration and hanging is all neat and clean business. The reality is that the heads are troubled and doubly troubling. The paramount “trouble” is that the heads are not dead as you may have been incorrectly thinking thus far. No, my dear reader, the heads are very much still alive. Alive and furthermore talking! A cacophony of rambles, chatters, speeches, cries, conversations, prayers, songs, spells, curses, cures, testimonies, poems and screams. Some of the heads are peeled like so many clementines to reveal underlying dreams and stored realities. Some of the heads are left intact but still show the touch of the master. All the heads possess a certain majesty. A profound realization follows that goes something like: The head itself is the crown and that any other crown is not needed to identify royalty.

It begins to dawn on one that the work of the colorful madman has an element of community service woven into it. Salvaging the beauty from amongst the decay. Exposing the complex internal layers of the human mind. Making kings and queens out of the kings and queens with capital Ks and capital Qs.

So if you hear the heavy steps in the dark followed closely behind by the familiar scraping sound of something heavy being dragged, know that it is just Hebru and his guillotine looking for yet another victim to turn into a victory.

Lupe Fiasco donated his fee for writing this column to the Lupe Fiasco Foundation.



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