When you were in high school, did you ever sneak into a girl’s house after school? And did her dad happen to come home, after being fired from work, in the midst of the action? So you hid in the bathroom, only for him to come in there and poop while you’re hiding behind the shower curtain? Well, Korporate has.
“Aw, you wanted to know how I got up out the jam?” he asks. “I channelled my inner Spidey senses, fuck you talm ’bout.” This is a scene from #BlackChicagoBeLikePart49, and at this point Korporate has somehow wedged himself between the shower walls and pressed himself against the ceiling. But he makes it out alive. And the moral of the story? “If her pops ain’t part of the union at his job, don’t fuck with her.”
You might recognize Donovan Price, better known as Korporate, from your Facebook time line or YouTube feed. He considers himself an all-around entertainer, much like Childish Gambino, but began his career as a rapper. While starting to post his music to social media, he noticed that established artists he followed often posted funny content from across the Internet in between posts about their careers.
“It pretty much came to me, What if that content that I was dropping in between dropping music was me?” Price says. The idea prompted him to start uploading short skits to Facebook in April 2015, but it wasn’t until January 2016 that he released the first #ChicagoNiggazBeLike video and began posting on his YouTube channel, Korporate Bidness. He later made the decision to change the title of his videos to #BlackChicagoBeLike. The name, he says, is not a reference to race. Rather, he has the Black market in mind.
“#BlackChicagoBeLike is meant to show life in Chicago on the other side of Michigan Avenue,” he says. The goal of his YouTube videos is to accurately portray life on the city’s south and west sides, areas that are often disregarded or inaccurately depicted in the media. He believes uplifting Chicago is “one of the most important jobs” that he has, so he’s made it a point to partner with fellow Chicago creatives and consistently promote local businesses in his videos.
His #BlackChicagoBeLike videos are typically short, between two to four minutes long, and they act much like diary entries as he narrates the tales like memories. He writes the scripts, records the videos, and edits them himself.
“I remember what video I posted to YouTube that triggered the algorithm and allowed me to have a consistent flow of subscribers and views,” he says. “I had a young man playing me as a child, and I told a story about when I had my first fight.”
That was #BlackChicagoBeLikePart44, which now rests at 7.2 million views. The video is a two-minute-long skit in which a young Donovan gets hit in the eye by another kid, Pooh Man, while walking home after school eating Frooties that he refuses to let Pooh Man have. When Donovan gets home, clearly injured, his older brother asks, “What the fuck happened to you, boa?” After hearing about the incident, he proceeds to force Donovan to go back outside and defend himself, saying to him, “If you don’t beat his ass, Imma beat yo ass.” The lingo and mannerisms of each of the characters is so quintessentially Chicago it’s hard not to laugh if you’re from here. It’s been two years since that video was posted, and the momentum it created has yet to be interrupted.
“I don’t know why it’s so hard for different people to capture Chicago correctly,” Price says. “I.e., that Chiraq movie. No shade to The Chi, but they don’t capture it well either. Not to take away from it being a good show with good story lines and shit, but if you gon’ call it The Chi, it’s got to be Chicago. And it just ain’t that.”
Seeing shows and movies present such a flawed portrayal of the people, places, and things that make Chicago what it is inspired #BlackChicagoBeLikeTheSeries, which Price started in February. The first season follows Donovan as he seeks revenge after a family member gets shot. These episodes are longer than his #BlackChicagoBeLikeVideos, typically about seven minutes each.
Price says that he’s always had a passion for storytelling and teaching, and each of his #BlackChicagoBeLike videos as well as #BlackChicagoBeLikeTheSeries season one concludes with a life lesson. Some of the lessons are lighthearted—at the end of the video recounting his first fight, he says, “Moral of the story, bro, and I learned this at an early age: Mu’fuckas that do the most usually ain’t on shit. On God.” Other videos have more profound takeaways, like the lesson that runs throughout #BlackChicagoBeLikeTheSeries‘ first season about gun violence and handling the aftermath, contemplating whether retaliating against the initial shooter is really worth it.
Since Price started his YouTube channel it’s amassed more than a million subscribers, and he’s quickly gaining recognition in the city. During our time chatting at the Starbucks on the corner of 71st and Stony Island, it felt as if everyone knew him—several people stopped him to shake his hand and congratulate him on his success. It’s proof that the authenticity of his videos has captured the hearts of his viewers and allowed him to truly impact his audience.
He mentioned a comment he’d received on Instagram not too long ago. The person told him that “they was basically gon’ get down on somebody, cause some type of bodily harm. It was a message in one of my videos that really made them reevaluate what they were going to do,” he says. That made him reflect on the loss of his good friend Zack TV, a local journalist who fell victim to gun violence last year, and the importance of influence.
“Allegedly, when he was gunned down, it was three or four people present,” Price says. “When you think about it, if one of those people had stepped up and took the responsibility of influencing the people they were with like, ‘Nah, we tweaking, bro, we gone,’ he’d still be here today. They could have saved that man’s life. I realize that with these productions, I possibly save lives every day, and that means a lot to me.”
Price’s series has gained the attention of many large businesses and corporations, some of which have reached out to sponsor videos. He’s learned, though, that working with these large entities can be difficult territory to navigate as a Black creative. A couple months ago, he had to remove #BlackChicagoBeLikePart72 from YouTube because of a complaint by the video’s sponsor, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. He’d initially been contracted to do the video by the Cook County Department of Public Health. “They said that my demographic is the demographic that they need to reach to really bring awareness to taking care of yourself and not putting others at risk with sexually transmitted diseases,” Price says. “That video garnered one million views in probably like 30 hours.”
In the video, his character meets a young woman outside of a club, and she gives him a blow job in a car. A week later, he notices that it burns when he pees and his stomach is cramping. His grandma tells him he needs to go to the doctor, but he doesn’t think much of it because he and the young lady didn’t have penetrative sex. He decides to visit the Cook County Department of Public Health, where he tells the doctor his symptoms and says that he thinks “somebody got down on me . . . sexually.” He receives treatment for gonorrhea, and ends the video with: “Moral of the story: Strap up. Don’t guess, get checked. On God.”
Price says that in the video he depicted an organic situation that effectively relayed the message of being on top of your sexual health, and that the people who initially contracted him to make the video were very pleased with the final product. The problem came when the Cook County Department of Public Health’s administrative body got involved.
“Their administrative body, Cook County Hospitals, they didn’t understand it. They didn’t understand the content,” he says. “People tend to fear what they don’t understand.”
Cook County Health and Hospitals demanded that he take the video down—at 1.7 million views. It was a difficult thing for him to do, since this was a major milestone in his career.
“I really felt a way about that,” he says. “My feelings were really hurt about that video. That had one of the strongest messages that I’ve ever delivered in a video, ’cause that’s real.” (Cook County Health and Hospitals didn’t respond to requests for comment.)
While that experience and a few other instances of the sort have made Price reconsider the way that he handles business and what companies he’ll work with, his trials have only motivated him to go even harder with his projects. Earlier this month he released a video collaboration with AT&T for its #CodesofCulture campaign. The video begins with him reading his T-shirt, which says, “It’s not Chiraq, it’s Chicago . . . GOOFY!” He had the same T-shirt on when we met up, and he wears shirts with the same message in many of his videos.
“Bro, you the GOAT, stay with the positive. The world needs it,” reads one person’s comment under that post. Someone else’s says, “Need that shirt bro!!! This is so necessary. Words have power and we can’t keep speaking Chiraq. It’s CHICAGO!!”
Price has also been working on his debut rap album. He’s already dropped three singles, and the latest, “Real Tears,” features his daughter, Brazile Marie, who stars in many of his videos as well. In the song, Price raps about Chicago’s unsolved murders, specifically those of Black women who’ve been killed and gone missing in the city. At the end of the song Brazile sings, “Don’t shoot / I want to grow up.” There’s no doubt that he’ll continue to drop knowledge in the work that he creates, and there’s no telling what the next season of #BlackChicagoBeLikeTheSeries will bring.
“Season two is definitely on the way. I’m working on trying to bring it to a bigger platform with higher production,” he says. “But if it don’t work out, as long as I got YouTube and the latest iPhone, I’m Gucci.” v