South Bend music video sparks controversy

A viral video that has thousands of South Bend residents talking is about the city itself.

It's a music video on YouTube called "South Bend, Indiana" that talks about growing up and living in the city.

Since it was posted by local rapper Benzo da Realest Nov. 17, it's gotten nearly 30,000 hits -- many overnight.

"I almost broke down in tears, I ain't going to lie," he said. "I couldn't believe it myself. I was happy."

Benzo is a lifelong South Bend resident who says he loves his city, despite some negative experiences growing up.

"We came up from a rough lifestyle and I'm sure a lot of kids can relate to that," Benzo said. "We trying to show not all of South Bend is good, not all is bad, but we've got both."

But, city leaders say the music video shows a slanted view of the city, only highlighting the bad.

Many of the lyrics make reference to violence and corruption in the city, with phrases like, "You disrespect my city, you might become a target," or "These cops so shady, they want to lock and chain me."

"Obviously, everybody's perception of the same thing is always going to be different because we all see things differently," said South Bend Police Resource Officer Antwon Jones. "Are there bad people in every field? Yeah there are. But, I also think there's a lot of great, great officers in the city."

The video also references shootings, drugs and gangs -- all issues South Bend has, but is working on.

"Not to sugarcoat, I know there's real issues in our community, but I think there's real issues in any city" said Jeff Rea, President and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. "But, it's how we react that matters. What are we willing to do to change the tide? We can all sit back and wait for someone to save us from ourselves, or we all can roll up our sleeves to try and improve this."

Benzo agrees the city needs some improving -- that was one of his goals in making the video.

He wants people to talk about issues the city is facing and work to change them.

"We want some help down in the intercity where we were born and raised," he said. "We want someone to step in and try to help out."

Still, city leaders say they were disappointed when they saw the video and the way the city was portrayed.

Common Council member Derek Dieter told NewsCenter 16 over the phone, "There is a segment of the population that is part of that lifestyle, but I don't think that's the entire picture of South Bend. It's sad they've chosen this opportunity to convey what they think is right."

Click here to watch the full video on YouTube.

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