In the wake of the horrific school massacre in Sandy Hook Connecticut, what is the rap community’s response to gun violence? So far, the most prominent advocates of gun-laced “trap” music have been quiet as church mice.
On occasion, while working with KRSONE and the Stop the Violence Movement, I went on campaigns to various cities speaking on the positive virtues of Hip Hop Kulture while denouncing ignorance and the glorification of senseless violence. Where are the voices which call for that now? People on opposite ends of the political spectrum have begun to address the need for more gun control in politics and have started to choose sides.
Statistically, both liberals and conservatives have shown to be in favor of added measures checking purchasers backgrounds and even banning the manufacture of high capacity ammunition clips, which helped to facilitate the slaughter of 20 first grade students and 6 adults at the school. Still, rappers and more importantly radio hosts, have added little meaningful contributions to the national conversation taking place. Though some may question the place of violent movies, video games and music, no one is advocating we delete the 1st Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees the right to free speech. Rappers should feel free to spit whatever kind of nonsense which passes their lips. However, the public should not continue to tolerate the proliferation of ignorant, violence-glorifying music on the public air-waves. Radio stations should be held to account for the promotion of destructive messages which glorify violence. Ignorant, destructive messages should be segregated to the internet along with other messages which aren’t pg-13, suitable for those under 17 years of age. That is probably the least we can do to counteract the daily ignorance which takes place.
This distinction is key. Artists are artists. They have done and will do, every thinkable and unthinkable display of human emotion. This is not exclusive to Hip Hop however. Is rap more graphic than video games? Is rap more intense than a Quentin Tarantino movie? I don’t think so. Rap is not the problem. Artists will create whatever kind of bullshit comes to their mind and throw it at the wall, hoping it sticks. The radio and whoever promotes it on a wide scale is the real problem. They facilitate the bullshit getting to your ears and encourage imitators to follow the trend. That is the real problem. The mainstream radio.
Negativity, though always discussed, was not usually, if ever, glorified before the era of NWA. After overt, rebellious, negativity crafted by Eazy E and Jerry Heller became successful, the ground was laid for what can be called the After Tupac era (AT,AP). That was a time when thuggery was personified in a Hip Hop rebel named Tupac Shakur. After his death, because of death and how he died, changed the mindset of rappers there after. Everybody wanted to be like Pac.
“4 pac, 3 pac, 2 pac, 1, you’re pac, he’s pac, no pacs, none” – Eminem, 8 Mile vs. Papa Doc
Others might point to possible FBI, Illuminati ties from the Jerry Heller days on back when he first met Eazy E, who was part of a group called CIA, up through Suge Knight, Snoop and Cube. From the West, came a whole different type of gang bangin mentality that the East had actually raised up out of, with the 5% Nation influence. Yet, a cat named, Patrick Hampton, claims Afrika Bamabaataa infused Hip Hop with negativity because he was a former leader of the Black Spades. Even though there could be some Karmic type influences involved, Patrick is not referring to that. He’s on some Christian Youth Minister type shit.
Pat says, ” Hip-hop is compiled of five elements: Break dancing, DJing, Graffiti, MCing and Knowledge. The knowledge is the element that I consider the most dangerous element of Hip-Hop. It’s roots can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, South African Zulus and Black Panthers. All of whom started violent movements for self-preservation and to obtain territory. Although rebellion is not only exclusive to Hip-Hop. Rebellion has has become the most recognizable and consistent fruit of young Hip-Hoppers. I understand that the corporate media glamorizes Hip-Hop’s rebellion against mainstream and uses it as a marketing tool to sell products. It still does not negate the fact that Hip-Hop Artists have a major role in the delivery of that message and must be held accountable for contributing to the destruction and decay of the moral fiber of the African American community. Hip-Hop has weakened our nation and our senses to that which is honorable and right.” – P Hampton
Those are some strong words. Now I can understand his frustration, because rap music in some corners has been that purveyor of negative attitudes in the urban environment. But that is not actually Hip Hop and what Afrika Bamabaataa created. The Zulu Nation has always been about each one teach one. Just Ice told me once, that sometimes, in the past, that lesson was a slight beatdown for educational purposes, true. But overall, the Zulu Natioin has been about Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun. There’s nothing negative about that.
Our problem is actually with the mainstream media’ s portrayal of what Hip Hop is. They see it like Pat and try to transcribe the cause onto hip-hop music. First off, that’s rap music not Hip Hop Kulture and even rap does not invent the violence. People have always been fighting over territory, money, power and respect. In fact, a sizable portion of the violence committed, I presume from experience, was over domestic relationships. In that too, Hip Hop is not the cause. It might be the promoter, but it’s not the cause.
The thing for Hiphoppas to decide, is whether or not continue to promote the dummy-man shit or allow and condone the dummy-man shit to be promoted to them. It may be our biggest task to gain some control over the Hip Hop media or the mainstream media for that matter. Yet, it is the media portrayal of Hip Hop, which is the denigration of its image. Whoever controls that, controls the direction of hip-hop music, otherwise known as rap.