GARFIELD RIDGE — Southside Jake isn't afraid to sing about his hometown.
The rapper from Garfield Ridge has found success with songs such as "Southside Girl" and "Southside Irish Remix." Southside Jake — whose real name is Jake Tuton — also just finished six new songs that will debut this summer.
"I basically wanted to pay homage to how we live, and how we grew up," Southside Jake said.
Southside Jake, 31, had some success leading up to his two latest hits with the single "City Kids." The song pays tribute to middle-class families raised in Chicago.
This led to open for rapper Twista as well as hippy rapper Mod Sun. He's also performed on one of the side stages at Lollapalooza the last two years, which doubles as a how-to area for aspiring hip-hop artists.
Southside Jake, a Whitney Young Magnet High School graduate, was raised in a modest condominium just a stone's throw from Ford City Mall. His father owned a pizza parlor and later worked as a grocery store manager. His mother stayed home with Jake and his older brother Jason.
He has always been musically inclined and recalled performing his first rap son at age 6. It was about the month of February.
He later began to excel in sports and played baseball and basketball at Rockford University. He graduated with a marketing degree and landed a job in the industry. But he kept going back to music, including freestyle rapping at parties and among friends.
It was about seven years ago that he decided to act on his musical leanings and began writing songs in his free time. This led to small performances at bars in the city and suburbs.
He recently collaborated with Matt Sxlachta of Broken Hope. Southside Jake said working with the guitarist from the Chicago-based death metal group proved fascinating.
"It meshed really, really well," he said.
He's hoping fans embrace the new music like they have "Southside Girl," where Southside Jake said he pays homage to the women in his life. The song plays like a love letter, listing many of the rapper's favorite attributes of Chicago girls, including a "freckled nose" and a backward White Sox cap.
"I wanted to write a song about our girls," he said. "In my eyes, they are this perfect yin and yang of rough and beautiful."
He believes much of the success of that single has been fueled by the video, filmed at a backyard barbecue in Garfield Ridge. So far, the video has 18,000 views on Facebook, Southside Jake said.
Meanwhile, the more recent track "Southside Irish Remix" is meant to offer a new twist on the classic tune so many grade school students are taught before St. Patrick's Day.
The rapper, who compares himself to a young Kid Rock, also just signed a deal with jukebox provider AMI BarLink, which he's hoping will introduce his music to even more fans on the South Side and beyond.
"This is the first time I have heard that strangers are hearing me and now tweet at me," he said.
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