Love is in the air in Chicago. It’s Valentine’s Day, a time when many go the extra mile to love up on their romantic partners, platonic friends and family with gifts, words of affirmation and acts of service. 

This Valentine’s Day, the TRiiBE wants to uplift Black love. We interviewed three recently engaged Chicago couples to highlight their love stories. We asked about their engagement stories, and how they’ve managed to stay together during the shelter-in-place mandates, quarantines and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

MEET THE OOCHIES: A Ghetto Love Story

Juddy rang in her Jordan-year birthday on Jan. 23 with a 2000s-style Chicago juke party at the Chill Spot in Bellwood. That night, her then-boyfriend, affectionately called Big Oochie, proposed to her. 

“She told me she never had a real birthday party her whole life, so I threw the throwback juke party for her birthday,” Oochie, 25, said. “Nobody knew she was the reason for the party. I promoted it as one of my regular parties cause I’m known for having big parties.”

Both declined to give their last names for this story.

Oochie used to go by Big Sexy, and he was known for his dance moves. He created a web series to promote peace in the city through dance. He dropped the “Big Sexy Slide” in 2014. 

Juddy’s birthday party was reminiscent of those packed basement-style juke parties that many young and old Millennials frequented back in our heyday. Although juke parties in Chicago go back for decades, Juddy’s party specifically touched on the 1999 to early 2000s era of the juke party.

As Juddy twerked in front of him on the dancefloor, Oochie opened the engagement ring box. When she turned around, they shared a look. Then Juddy said yes. 

Their engagement video went viral on social media, and popular Chicago media platform What’s the Word TV shared the video on its Instagram page.

The Oochies met in 2015 through mutual friends. They were teenagers, both growing up in Austin on the West Side. The pair hit it off as friends first. They remained friends for the next few years but were sneaky linking, meaning they were together on the low without a title, they said. 

They fell out of touch for a few years but got back in contact with each other in 2020, reestablishing their friendship and confiding in one another. Juddy had a child from a previous relationship. They had their first child together, a baby boy, in November 2020. 

They’ve been in an official relationship since April 2021, and currently live in Iowa. 

The Oochies describe their love story as “ghetto” because it’s not the typical boy-meets-girl kind of story, Juddy told the TRiiBE during a phone interview on Feb. 9. 

“A ghetto love story is a story like ours. It’s not perfect by a long shot,” she said.

Photo courtesy of the Oochies.

Juddy went on to say: “Things didn’t go as planned for us. We had some ghetto situations. We were sneaky linking. We was young messing around. I had a baby by him and didn’t even know.”

Juddy said she was dealing with another man, and Oochie was in a relationship with another woman, when Juddy found out she was pregnant. A DNA test later revealed that Oochie was her son’s father.

“Believe it or not, that’s ghetto sh–, but we found a way to make it work and make it work for us,” she said.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity).

What was your first impression of one another?

Oochie: I ain’t gon lie she had a big a– booty.

[laughs all around]

Juddy: That’s it?

O: I was like damn, she thick as hell.

[more laughter]

J: I was a little fanned out because he already had the Big Sexy Slide. I’m telling my sister that’s Big Sexy, that’s Big Sexy. She like, ‘no, it’s not.’ I pull up the YouTube video and I sent it to her and show her. She like, ‘girl that is him.’ I couldn’t believe that I met one of our so-called celebrities. So, I was kind of geeked. It was embarrassing.”

Who said “I love you” first?

J: It was my cake ass. We was in Houston for his birthday [in April 2021].  You know how you just be looking at a man, and he just looks so good? I saw him in a different light when we went to Houston for his birthday.

What do you love about Juddy?

O: The most important part is we can be friends before anything. Our bond is cold. I ain’t gon lie that sh— raw as hell. I love the way she loves me. She shows me a different type of support and affection more than any other relationship that I’ve ever been in.

What do you love about Oochie?

Photo courtesy of the Oochies.

J: He’s considerate. People might not think it because of his exterior, but he’s soft. He’s like a teddy bear. He lets me hug and kiss on him. He makes me feel safe. I’ve not felt safe with people I’ve been around in a long time, and he gives me that sense of security. He makes me feel like, with him in my life, nobody’s going to harm me or our kids. He’s a provider. We sit up all night and watch movies, smoke and chill. We kick it, we homies too.

Any plans for Valentine’s Day?

J: I don’t know what he got planned. He told me to mind my business.

The couple has set a wedding date for July 1, 2023, and they are actively looking for venues in and outside of Chicago.

is a multimedia producer for The TRiiBE.