By Nona Tepper
Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate Frederick McCulloch-Burton performed at Lollapalooza on Aug. 2, under his hip-hop stage name, Supa Bwe (pronounced Supa Boy).
Since graduating from OPRF in 2008, Supa has spent nearly a decade making music, working himself into an enviable spot in the Chicago hip-hop scene: He has collaborated with Chance the Rapper, Twista, Mick Jenkins and more. He self-released his first album, Finally Dead, in December 2017, and it peaked at number three on the iTunes store's Hip-Hop/Rap chart, right beneath Jay-Z's 4:44 and Fabolous and Jadakiss' collaborative Friday on Elm Street. Finally Dead boasted more than 15 million streams in under two months, "leading Supa Bwe to be the front-running talent out of Chicago," the Lollapalooza website reads.
Supa grew up in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of the city, where he was raised by a British mother and a Chicagoan father. He moved to Oak Park when he was 14, and told the Chicago Reader that he felt ostracized there and often got into fights.
"When I lived in the hood, I was carefree as [expletive] — I didn't know I was black, I didn't know I was poor, I didn't know I was anything, I was just outside, rolling in dirt — I didn't give a [expletive]," he told the Chicago Reader in April. "Then when I moved to the suburbs, different standards, beauty standards, and all that [expletive] started coming around. You start to care about different [expletive] that you never really cared about before. It kind of chips away at who you are on the inside — I feel like I'm one of the people who came out of that [expletive] weird as hell. I have the voice in the back of my head that's like, an adolescent, white suburban kid that's just like, 'Those are dirty-ass shoes, eww. Why do you fight so much? Eww.' Just calling me ghetto."
His strained relationship with Oak Park is referenced in his song "Down Comes the Spaceman." Follow his work at www.supabwe.com.
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