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California Dreamin’: From Chicago to LA

February 8th of this year I packed up my car and moved from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

The idea of leaving Chicago had been something I played with for years but uncertainty kept me home, going through the motions. Then in December of last year I was told the bar I had been working at was closing. Soon-to-be-unemployed, single and too close to 30 for comfort I decided “fuck it” and started packing for LA. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is leading the U.S. in population loss for the second year in a row. The publication cites high taxes, state budget issues, crime and the unemployment rate as major reasons for why people move out of state. I left Chicago because I saw a bigger market for my social media management agency AN Social, I’ve never been one to stay put for long and I thought a little sunshine would do me some good. Everyone has different reasons for making that leap and in this piece I talked to three other Chicagoan’s about their transitions to Los Angeles.

Jordan Eversley – Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator / Hip Hop Caucus (@younghustle8)

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Jordan “Hustle” Eversley grew up off 87th and Jeffery on Chicago’s Eastside. His marketing and public relations background came into play while working with King Louie, Jeremih, G Herbo and Dreezy to name a few people. His work ethic and ability to seize opportunity earned him the nickname “Hustle” which is still very much a part of his character.  Eversley moved to LA in July of 2015 for better opportunities and to get away from Chicago’s persistent violence. “The violence is just real. And for me to be safe and working is everything”.  The hardest part of his transition to LA was leaving his family behind. “Not having family, that’s super big,” says Eversley. “You don’t really realize how important family is until you don’t have it”. Getting set up in LA wasn’t easy but he’s definitely made the most of the past two years. Not only is he a vital part of the Hip Hop Caucus team but he is also the National Director of A&R for A3C, one of the largest music conferences/festivals in the country. He says he misses Chicago but moving to LA has given him peace of mind. “Things lined up the right way and I took the opportunity,” he says. “Having peace of mind is so much more important than people think”.

Christina Gray – Chef / What’s On the Menu (@whatsonthemenu_) 

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Tenacity is extremely important when trying to make a name for yourself in a place like LA and Christina Gray has plenty of it. Gray moved around Chicago growing up; from the west side to the 100s to the south suburbs. She started contemplating the move to LA in November of 2014 after a terrible breakup but finally took the leap January of 2015 after her mother announced she was moving. “I didn’t know what my next step was. I didn’t know if LA was the place I needed to be in”, says Gray “My mother moving to Arizona felt like a clear sign it was time for me to leave”.  She saw greater opportunity in LA to expand her brand as a chef and to raise her son in a safer environment. “Chicago is really a harsh city and I didn’t want my son to have to grow up in that. California is a place where u can be free to be whomever u are, almost like a judgment free zone. So that played a big part”.  One of her best friends, comedian Lil Rel (Get Out and The Carmichael Show) was moving to LA at the same time so that gave her somewhere to stay during the transition. Gray is focused on what she came here to do which shows in the growth of her catering company What’s On The Menu. Amazingly creative and delicious dishes combined with Gray’s effortlessly cool personality makes What’s On The Menu a success but she still remains humble and focused on getting to where she wants to be. “Of course people think “oh u made it” when u move to LA but they really don’t understand it’s more of a struggle living here. It’s unfamiliar land. I definitely haven’t “made it” YET. I’m honestly trying to figure it out every day”.

Jonathan McCoy (Pavy) – Artist (@pavyworld)

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Rapper and Chicago Washington Heights native Jonathan McCoy (stage name Pavy) is honest when it comes to why he moved to LA. “I lied and told myself it was for my career but it really wasn’t. I was honestly just running away from a lot of the responsibility I had back at home and I thought somehow being 3,000 miles away would fix all of my problems”.  Three years later he’s adjusted to the west coast and is focused on his social calendar, getting fits off and most importantly, his music. McCoy describes his sound as “upscale rap music” and wants to create songs for people to enjoy every day. Luxury and good vibes are themes that are apparent in McCoy’s rhymes, inspiring people to live their best lives. “There’s no way my music would have improved sonically & topic wise had I not moved,” says McCoy “I’m around so many different cultures now & having experiences I would have never had back at home so obviously it effects my music. I honestly feel like I’m making the best music I’ve ever made right now”. Initially hating LA, McCoy now admits his time here has made him a more well rounded person. He’s nonchalant about missing Chicago but does admit he made the transition too soon. “I felt I made the wrong decision (moving to LA) for the longest time, I actually still feel like I made the wrong decision but more so with the timing of rather than the actual choice”.  He was forced to grow and stand on his own in moving to LA which is something I identify with. Some people leave their comfort zones and crumble but some rise to the challenge and McCoy has definitely risen.

 

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