Fake Shore Drive creator takes a cruise down memory lane


Patrick Casey

Fake Shore Drive creator takes a cruise down memory lane

By Jonathon Sadowski

In 2007, Andrew Barber, then 26, turned his passion for music into Fake Shore Drive, a blog focused on all things Chicago hip-hop. Four years later, he left his lucrative advertising job to pursue blogging full time.

Barber is now a major player in the music industry, curating playlists for Apple Music, partnering with Red Bull Sound Select and getting a shoutout from Chance the Rapper at The Grammys.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Barber said of his time watching the hip-hop scene evolve.

Red Bull Sound Select partnered with Barber to throw a 10th anniversary party show for Fake Shore Drive Nov. 4 at Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., which featured acts such as Big Tymer$—an old favorite of Barber’s that reunited just for the show—and Tee Grizzley, an up-and-coming rapper who has been recently featured on Fake Shore Drive.

“[The anniversary celebration] made me feel like I actually did something,” Barber said. “Fake Shore Drive meant something to enough people.”

Fake Shore Drive’s success did not come easily, Barber said. He has posted on the blog almost every day for the past decade and has worked to stay in tune with emerging rappers throughout the Midwest, not just artists with whom he was already familiar.

It paid off. The site is now approaching 78,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook likes.

Barber said he always kept his eye on new artists. He used to buy at least one CD per week, read a collection of rap magazines and watch the television show “Rap City” every day to round out his knowledge of the genre.

All that effort did not go unnoticed. Many young people in the Chicago hip-hop scene look to Fake Shore Drive for musical guidance, and even rap scene veterans follow the blog, said Joseph Cabey, manager for Taylor Bennett, Chance the Rapper’s younger brother.

“Andrew always knew what was going on,” Cabey said. “He honed in [and] definitely had a good grasp on the hip-hop community. He built the community, which is why I think it was important for [Bennett] to get on there early.”

Young rappers greatly benefit from the exposure on Fake Shore Drive, Cabey said. Bennett got a break early in his career when Barber featured the music video for “Rolling With The Gods” on the blog in August 2013. Even now, it is still beneficial to be featured, Cabey noted.

“Every aspiring Chicago rapper’s goal is to be mentioned by Andrew Barber,” said René Valdiviezo, a 2012 audio arts and acoustics alumnus who was featured on Fake Shore Drive in 2014. “Everyone in hip-hop [has] to have that ego: ‘I know what I’m doing is great; I think I’m the best.’ None of that matters locally unless Andrew Barber chooses to put you on his blog.”

Barber, with all his partnerships and now a Sirius XM radio show, said he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon but will continue to grow the brand and expand his horizons.

“People get tired of stuff after 18 months, three years, two years or whatever,” Barber said. “To be able to be here and still be relevant 10 years later is amazing. I’m just so thankful.”