On Gaude: Lessons And Laughs From Korporate’s #BlackChicago Series

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As a Black Midwesterner, I was basically guaranteed to have a couple of connections to Chicago. The emergence of Drill was close to home, Chi-town niggas came through to visit family and loiter in downtown Minneapolis, I made friends from the city in college, and followed producers from the area on Twitter. But no amount of Lil Bibby, chicken spot debates, and “woo woo woo”s in my friend’s stories could prepare me for Korporate. This foolishness RT’d onto my timeline was my introduction to him:

Having reached 100K subscribers just 9 months ago, the Korporate Bidness YouTube channel is sitting on 528,630 subscribers as I write this. Despite the absurd growth, Korporate hasn’t received much media attention outside of Chicago and his viewership. With the #BlackChicagoBeLike series as the core product plus a number of 1 to 2 minute comedy sketches peppered into the channel, Korporate, the channel’s owner, dumb funny narrator, and on-screen star, has become the latest must-watch Black male entertainer online.

Much like prolific Black male YouTube comedians of the past like DeshawnRaw and Dormtainment, as well as notable contemporaries such as Nileseyy Niles and Mark Phillips (RDCWorld), Korporate has the kind of unforgettable comedic signatures and perspective that make you bust out laughing in public at the thought of a scene you watched a month ago. But more than having catchphrases that can compete with “But I’m not a rapper,” and Niles’ disappearing act to the sound of PND’s “Recognize,” Korporate’s filmography is a serious accomplishment in social mapping and comes with a valuable conscious angle.

Below is a breakdown of the aspects that I think make Korporate’s #BlackChicagoBeLike series fake decent (lol):

The Lingo

I’m not gon’ Urban Dictionary this shit, but Korporate’s mastery of Chicago slang is dangerously hysterical paired with his vocal talents. While I had enough background info to know what the guy was talking about, there are a lot of terms and expressions that I will always attach to Korporate:

  • On Gaawd
    • Classic.
  • Any variation of “slug” to describe ass
    • Ex: “SLUGbug, you feel me?” “And shorty got SLUGGATRON since the last time I seen her.”
  • fuckutalmbout: Extra funny when he uses it after his classic hyper-emphasis of a word
    • Ex: “On God my hands SERVIN’ fuckyoutalmbout.”
  • Huuuuu: describing a smooth move, usually in or out of a space
    • Ex: “I ain’t want no smoke wit the lady so I huuuuu, slid to the side.”
  • Really any sentence dude speaks where he yells certain syllables
    • Ex: “It was a LOVELY performance to say the least, conTRARY to ha popular opinion.”

Structure

The typical #BlackChicagoBeLike episode starts and ends with a classic “On Gawd.” He narrates episodes as if they are memories (I’m sure many of them are based on true stories) and ends every episode with a moral of the story, ranging from goofy fails to serious ethical advice. The last minute or two of an episode usually presents a plot twist that becomes more important than the previous several minutes (e.g. getting shot at, his cousin singing hood shit at church) which he then draws his moral of the story from. This gives his episodes a believable day-in-the-life feel where anything can happen.

Arriving at this episode structure took some experimentation. Today’s Korporate sketches look nothing like the one-shot phone-recorded joints he did that had off-camera characters:

It took 20 episodes to go from the low-budget #ChicagoNiggazBeLike videos to the more polished #BlackChicago series we know and love. Korporate didn’t even start narrating the episodes until Part 26, and it still wasn’t a consistent thing until Part 32 (#GROWTH).

In today’s #BlackChicago videos, his narrative voice-over is typically the only voice used. The audio from the actual setting stays muted, meaning he does all the audio: sound effects, excessive narrative emphasis (ex: “Tell me why he came in MINIMIZED”), and Korporate-style renditions of songs he says are playing during certain scenes rather than playing the actual song (ex: he sings “Gimme The Light” in Part 38 above, kills me every time). It keeps the viewer hooked on the storytelling instead of watching the episode as if it was in the present.

The only other consistent audio is the instrumental to “Ova Wit,” a joint by Korporate himself (a solid and highly dedicated rapper) that has become the #BlackChicago theme song.

While there are recurrent settings, Korporate tends to take you to a different place in the city in every episode. As you watch the series, even out of order, you start to piece together Korporate’s map of Chicago pretty accurately. The world he depicts in his videos feels more expansive than many comparable comedians because of this.

Collaboration

Just about all the #BlackChicago episodes feature multiple actors aside from Korporate. His collaborators can be counted in dozens, and he explicitly credits them in the titles of his episodes. IG models, fellow Chicago comedians (e.g. Donterio), rappers such as King L and Sasha Go Hard, and various other local entertainment figures have all contributed to Korporate’s vision throughout.

Along with the individuals he puts on through his videos, Korporate involves many local businesses and gives them even better looks. The Stylez & Trendz Barbershop got a whole flyer at the end of Part 70, new chicken spot Jerk 48 gets a number of shoutouts as a recurrent location for #BlackChicago videos, and there’s an episode where he simply smacks a Portillo’s sandwich while telling a story for the entire video.

One of his sketches was a humorous retelling of him getting hit by a car, with the surprise moral of the story being “I shouldn’t have been out there freeballin’ without an Otter Box,” since his phone screen shattered. He then segued into information about a great local iPhone repair shop.

The lifeblood of his comedy is Chicago, and he does well to give its people, places, and brands some shine time.

“I’ma see what’s to that…jerk burRITO fuckutalmbout.”

Self-Awareness

Korporate’s content and persona are funny enough to get by without having to address flaws in his storytelling or character. But he does it anyway, adding real substance to the #BlackChicago series and saying a lot about him as a person/artist without being corny. He criticizes gun violence without being preachy, tells stories to advocate against rape culture, and discusses his own fuck-ups with women.

For instance, Part 69 details a brief stint with a woman that starts out with over-the-top gym flirtation, turns into a seemingly genuine thing (4:20) that leads to Korporate loaning shorty a whole rack (5:02), and ends with Korporate realizing he was being led on (6:39), slapping said woman in anger, then getting arrested:

The episode is more complicated than asshole-smacks-his-girl. But even in an otherwise hilarious story where Korporate is the emotional victim, he’s comfortable using himself to show us where a serious line should be drawn. He’s intentional about giving himself space to be real to people, impressive considering how easy it could be to have his subscribers just swept up in the laughter.

Korporate might not be the next #metoo movement leader (i.e. half of #BlackChicago is him tryna slide on anything with some ass), but there aren’t many entertainers willing to acknowledge their flaws or use them as learning points for others. Knowing he can do that while still being ignorantly funny should be a lesson to all trying to profit off of their life stories.

Additionally, the moments of reflective comedy on Korporate’s channel are used as an opportunity for him to record direct PSAs as well as showcase his musical ability. Part 23 of #BlackChicagoBeLike is actually a two-way debate turned into a song about the commitment to gang violence among the city’s youth:


Korporate’s a damn fool in the best way possible. But he’s a lot more than a caricature, and he puts his many talents to good use throughout the #BlackChicago series. If you already know his work, I hope you feel this write-up did him justice. If you wanna get into his work, I hope I encouraged you to do so. Lastly, I hope Korporate goes somewhere special with all of this.

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