Got yourself a gun

This year has been one of the most violent years in hip-hop history to date. There’s been multiple shootings in the hip-hop community, including Obie Trice, Cam’ron, Gravy, Proof, Big Hawk, Israel Ramirez, Philant Johnson, and Slick Pulla. And it’s only July.

Surprisingly, this string of incidents has garnered little attention in the American mainstream. There’s been little public debate about it—certainly nothing on par with the public outrage that erupted during the Death Row era, and the subsequent congressional hearings. 

What attention the issue has received has tended to focus on metaphoric violence as opposed to literal violence. Conservatives use gangsta rappers in general—and 50 Cent in particular—as convenient whipping boys. They remain fixated on the hypothetical question of rappers’ influence over youths’ behavior. Few actually want to explore concrete reasons why real, live violence within the hip-hop community is on the rise. In the States, the dialogue seems to be polarized between hysterical conservatives that attempt to pin a range of social ills on hip-hop, and staunch hip-hop defenders that aren’t willing to acknowledge that violence is an element of hip-hop.

A more nuanced debate has already been sparked in other countries around the world. 

In France, right wing politicians tried (and failed) to link the French riots to hip-hop. Media coverage was quick to point to the conditions in the suburbs of Paris: the poverty, the disenfranchisement and the alienation.

In Canada, Conservative MP Dan McTeague attempted to have 50 Cent blocked from entering Canada last year. But here too, the debate took complexities into account. Toronto filmmaker Richard Budman made a film probing hip-hop’s influence on T-Dot’s exploding gun culture called The Toronto Rap Project. The film dispelled a lot of myths surrounding the topic (without being uncritical) and involved much of the Toronto hip-hop community. My editor Rodrigo Bascunan at Pound, Canada’s hip-hop magazine, is about to release his book on gun culture. He made some crucial comments on the 50 Cent controversy to Dose newspaper last year. When asked: “why do people blame rap for youth violence?” he replied: 

For some, it’s a really easy way to garner publicity, because they know it’s going to be a controversial statement. Then there are people ignorant enough to believe that [of] the tons of factors that go into creating an individual, music is the one that turns them from being good citizens to sociopaths. In conjunction with that, there are people who use hip-hop to distract from the real problems [creating] disenfranchised people: bad schooling, bad health, bad social assistance.

Now a debate about whether hip-hop perpetuates violence is sweeping the UK as well. Conservative leader David Cameron recently blasted BBC radio DJ Tim Westwood for playing music that “encourages people to carry guns and knives.” Observer music critic Neil Spencer and author Patrick Neate (who wrote the thoroughly unreadable Where You’re At) debated the issue in The Guardian newspaper. Spencer’s conservative rant still manages to make some reasonable points, admitting that inner-city violence involves multiple factors, many of which are the negative results of conservative domestic policy. He also notes that many within hip-hop take issue with the morbid fascination with guns and death that pervades the music right now.  ”Let’s not turn this into a moral panic, Spencer concludes. “But also let’s not just turn the other way.”

Similarly, Neate concedes more than a few points to the other side. He notes:

The majority of hip hop is aggressive, oversexualised and materialistic ad absurdum; but so is the culture that spawned it. This is not to say that hip hop artists bear no responsibility for recreating this culture; but their responsibility is no greater (and surely, indeed, much less) than that borne by, for example, politicians.

Obviously, there’s a lot of factors at play when it comes to violence in hip-hop. It’s time for a more complex dialogue on the issue.

  • http://www.trendsettazinc.com DJ Main Event

    nailed it again. youre on a roll.

  • http://www.ohword.com rafi

    “Patrick Neate (who wrote the thoroughly unreadable Where You’re At)”

    Having suffered through most of it, that was my favorite part.

  • http://www.ohword.com rafi

    Ha… late night, sleep-deprived… my comment really doesn’t really read right to me. Pronoun confusion causes trouble. So to restate…

    having suffered through most of that book (not your post), that was my favorite part (of your post).

  • Brother Malcolm

    There was an old column in the Harvard student paper about this that I saw on a hip-hop message board one time. The link is here:

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=506394

  • dj bradley

    Well, there is an air of menace coming from hip hop with both the music lyrics and images.

    The stupid in-your-face hand gestures are getting to be so tired and uniform. (They would get your ass killed in any jail or even on most streets).

    So maybe most of these guys forget they are not in a make-believe studio doing all these unfriendly looking and sounding things. And they do it to one of their friendly “competition” at a party or some such.

    Thus, a weapon is thrown down to defend one’s honor.

    Trying to be cool must be so strenuous. I would bet that most of these glamourous guys and gals are very unhappy.

    love out

  • yakaveli005

    Why are people afraid to look in the mirror?

  • gluvnast

    i prefer that there’s not alot of mainstream attention in regarding of this, because the mainstream media will exploit it to the extreme.

    whut’s needs to be taught is that these rappers need to leanr to be more responsible of their image, if you’re image is that of a thug or a gangster, you reap whut you sow. that’s exactly whut happened to big and pac…they reaped whut they sow, and the entire hiphop community was affected by it.

    in the past, alot of rappers that the media considered them “gangsta” were more responsible. for one they understood the fine line between entertainment and reality, and also their music spoke on all sides of the square, making the message that the reality of the ghetto that they speak about is not glamourous at all. today’s rappers lack the understanding and are pressured to front an image that is not true to them, and leave with no message for the kids, therefore reaping for whut they sowed.

  • http://www.buildthedream.org DGthegreat

    Beanie Sigel was shot too!

  • Che

    bitch you talk to motherfucking much. keep it concise.

  • Che

    I mean where the fuck is the conclusion? don’t get it twisted i’m a fan of your blog but you’re rambling on a little in this post.

  • Che

    i’d still let you give me head though. A conclusion isn’t that important!

  • Che

    unless you’ve actually been fucking with bol and letting him give you head. cuz i don’t fuck with the health like that.

  • TSF

    As to violence in hip-hop, I think Biggie put it best:

    “It make me wann grab a nine and a shotty/ But I gotta go identify the body.”

    Most existential moment in rap.

    Still, shit hasn’t gotten as nasty (in the U.S. at least) as it was during the C. Dolores Tucker years.

  • gluvnast

    ^^^exactly….in reality, the murder rate in urban society pales in comparison to the early to mid 90′s

  • gees dat dude

    Other than proof, r.i.p. yall ever notice how dont none of these bitch ass rap niggas ever shoot back. i mean all these niggas said “come get me nigga” at least once on a record and when niggas come to get they ass they drive off all shot in the arms and shit. when you talkin all that shit somebody bound to pull your bitch ass card thats just how it is. niggas be invitin that type of shit by doin the shit they do and talkin the shit they talk.

  • SCORPIO1970

    No one in politics or law enforcement cares about a rapper BEING shot. Now, if a rapper SHOOTS someone then all hell breaks loose. If a rapper is near a gun because the cops do absolutely nothing to protect them, even when on said rapper’s payroll (Biggie), they try to through them in jail. They will even go as far as to use their lyrics against them in court. Would they use Stephen King’s books and movies against him? Some of this I blame on the rappers and their desire not to snitch. I respect and appreciate that, but don’t then turn around and complain nothing is being done. How many people were at Busta’s video shoot? Howard Homecoming when Cam’ron was shot?

  • Tipper Gore’s Inner Sex Pot

    absurdum!

    Love it.

  • LOL

    Baby Blue from BMF was also shot and killed in an atlanta club this year

  • Belize

    GOOD SHIT…YOU SHOULD TEACH BOL HOW TO WRITE!

  • Affili

    Someone should teach Belize to kill himself

  • Belize

    Affili is mad cuz i didnt kiss his girl, sorry mayne..i dont kiss dicksukaz

  • I Fux

    you forgot Gillie da kid got popped also Beans and I am pretty sure game’s weed carrier also got merked LOL I love hip hop for keeping it real in the streets

  • Mr!Integrity

    THERE’S VIOLENCE IN HIP HOP because the education which fosters self esteem is not communicated truthfuly or in an encouraging manner; also the same media that broadcast these negative images of sex, violence, and drugs should channel way more funding into artists who are creative and inspiring thus giving the fan/spectator/listener an alternative to the bull that’s marketed. ***This country was founded on murder and deciet so it shouldn’t sock every one what’s going on. As the evil system says trough it’s actions cheap labor (prison imates) is good for this economy. Just like war is a satnaic evil our system says it’s good, the diamond trade (modern day slavery), jailing system.. All these things are interwined to k
    eep capitalism prominent. The US represented by henry kissenger put sanctions on jamaica when Michael Manley was prime minister.. They did it to stop the
    Equivalent access to resources tat jamaica was trying to make happen…….How does relate to hip hop….well when you starve the people with lack of education and frustrate tools for empowerment people feeal they only can resort to negativity because “that’s what people want to hear”.

    Solution….get real education not this deciet they teach… then collectively ban (corporations)….The good news is that it is happening.. the medi tries to down play it.. Search for te real news ad avoid the propaganda!!!

  • http://MEANDMYSHADOW MANNYATL

    THIS VIOLENCE WITH THESE RAPPERS ARE THE CHICKENS COMMING HOME TO BITE THEM IN THE ASS BECAUSE ALL THEY RAP AND TALK ABOUT IS KILLING SOMEONE OR WHAT THEY HAVE & U DONT, THEN WHEN THEY ARE IN PUBLIC LIKE LETS SAY T.I. THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE STREETS REALLY DOING THIS STUFF WILL STEP UP TO THEM AND THATS WHEN IT GETS UGLY . IM NOT SAYING THAT ITS RIGHT BUT U DONT C VIOLENCE AT A COMMADORES CONCERT BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PUMPING PEOPLE UP SAYIN “U DONT KNOW ME” OR “KNUCK IF U BUCK” BUT WHEN THE VIOLENCE HAPPENS THEN U DONT KNOW WHATS THE REASON FOR IT. WHY U WANNA GO AND DO THAT!!!!!

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