AUBURN GRESHAM — Chief Keef may be locked up, but one South Side business is showing its support for the embattled rapper.
"I do not support the gang stuff, but I support Chief Keef," said Steve W., manager of Exclusive Communications, an electronics shop at 857 W. 87th St., who declined to give his last name. "We support all artists. We were messing with [Chief Keef’s] music long before all this other stuff happened."
Chief Keef, a 17-year old Chicago rapper whose real name is Keith Cozart, is currently serving 60 days in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center for a probation violation.
Shortly after his incarceration, slogans such as "Free Chief Keef," began circulating online followed by "Free Sosa" shirts and hoodies, which Exclusive is selling for $25 and $50. Keef also uses the alias Sosa, the character that orchestrated the murder of Tony Montana in the film “Scarface.”
Steve, 29, added that Chief Keef's music has inspired others to follow their dreams and put their talents to good use.
"[Auburn Gresham] is a dangerous area and a lot of crime happens around here, but to see people like Chief Keef go from a nobody to a somebody is motivation for a whole lot of people," he said. "He has opened a lot of doors for people and that's good especially for 'shorties' living around here."
Since it opened in 2006, Steve said Exclusive has always been a one-stop shop place loaded with deals for everyone. The retailer sells hoodies, gym shoes, watches, t-shirts, coats, hats, jackets and other items.
Chicago rapper King Louie, whose real name is Louis Johnson, said he also supports Chief Keef, one of a number of many talents who are making their mark on the national stage.
"Everybody should come down here and buy a 'Free Sosa' shirt. Much love to my man Chief Keef. I got mad love for him and look forward to him getting out so we can work together," said King Louie, who was hanging behind the counter at the store Thursday.
King Louie, 25, who grew up in North Lawndale on the West Side, added that he and other rappers make it their business to stop by Exclusive because of the things the store has done for the community.
"[Steve] has given back to the community and is trying to improve the neighborhood, which needs all the help it can get," the rapper said. "[Steve] does what he can regardless of all the shootings."