Friday, April 28, 2006


The New York Post is usually far too sensationalist for my taste, but with the recent string of hip-hop violence, it's becoming increasingly difficult to convincingly make the argument that hip-hop does not in fact incite violence (assuming that hip-hop is directly responsible for such is far too simple of a direct assumption). Read below for the Post's most recent commentary on it all.

April 28, 2006 -- Ho-hum. Another week, another rap-related violent episode or two.

Rapper Gravy was shot on the sidewalk outside New York radio station Hot 97 yesterday before an on-air interview. Alas, the "interview/shootout" is rather a Hot 97 tradition, as "feuding" rappers show up to "beef" about a rival - with gunfire the usual result.

Meanwhile, star gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg and crew sparked a melee at London's Heathrow Airport.

It seems that a Snoop "associate" was denied entry into the airport's first-class lounge. As hip-hop has no greater sin than a public "dissing," a melee broke out involving 30 people.

When the bobbies showed up, another scuffle broke out - this time with the cops. Seven officers were hurt.

Snoop and five members of his entourage were arrested. After posting bail, they headed to a weekend's worth of concerts in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela can hardly wait.

No, Snoop Dogg isn't the first celebrity with arrogant pinhead hangers-on who think they rule the world. And he's certainly not the first one to have a run-in with the law.

But rap radiates violence. And it luxuriates in disrespect for common decency, disdain for innocent life and contempt for the law.

Rapper Busta Rhymes' bodyguard was murdered in Brooklyn three months ago, and the performer still refuses to talk to the authorities about it. It's a disgrace.


Brother Spotless said...

First, I would caution against lumping Hip-Hop (the culture) with rap (the music). Hip-Hop is far more diverse and goes far deeper than the one brand of music that tries (and fails) to represent the entire culture.

Episodes like this is why I shudder when Tallness defended "Inner Bamma" as a viable way to act that should be embraced. To me, "Inner Bamma" is precicely what drives the community's negative image. To take it a step further, these actions are championed and often times taught by parents to their children, holding the entire community back.

We should be progressive, and promote such. People are killed based on stupid beefs between rival rappers, which takes the actions beyond simple entertainment. At one point, I was proud of rap music as being the sound of (and a positive representation of) the community in which I resided. But I've grown up, and rap music hasn't. It's still the 7th grader upset that someone step on his new Nike's.

Brother Smartness said...

The rap component of Hip-Hop is at its core a form of entertainment. You can be conscious or demeaning, but the end result is that you are trying to entertain some larger audience.

I think the same can be said about the other components the culture: b-boy, graffiti art, scratching. The all serve to entertain.

I’m going to be honest with you all, watching Robert De Niro beat a guy over the head with a bat in The Untouchables is just as entertaining as hearing some of the stuff we hear in rap. When we watch movies, we temporarily envelope ourselves in what I'll describe as a false reality. Once the movie is over and the lights come on, we return to a life that is a little less exciting. The problem with rap music is that we never return to a reality that is far enough away.

The issue must be tackled at its core, i.e. those kids who watch this stuff and try to emulate it.

Just as we need to stop looking for the next African American hero, we also need to stop expecting so much out of Hip-Hop. Embrace it for what it is…strictly entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Hip-hop, and Rap, have had a long long journey from its seedling beginnings. How did we get from "The Message" and "Rapper's Delight" to "Ante Up" and "I'll whip your head, boy"? The answer is simple. Hip-hop has always been about venting rage and anger and commenting on real-life experiences in an effort to create inner peace and tranquil community.

To chant down our own self-inflicted Babylon state (in which we perpetuate visious cycles as a peple) in one thing. But to say that a music insights an action is something that the FCC has been saying since the "race records" of the 30s-50s, since Elvis, and Jimi, and the Beatles and NWA, and KISS. It's a joke. It dismisses the one thing that supposedly separates man from all other animals: the ability to use individual intellect and judgement when making decisions.

Let Hip-hop and Rap live...and evovle as everrything does. Perhaps our people will get on the evolution tip as well.

Brother Michelin

Brother Afrocan said...

Spotless, 'best believe I will bust a cap in yo a$$ if you scuff my new AF1 white on whites, I'm gangsta!, I keeps it real!'

Brother Smartness said...

Brother Michelin,

I'm elated that you've provided us with your insight. I have to disagree with you though when you speak of how much Hip-Hop has evolved.
Rapper's Delight:
"well, im imp the dimp the ladies pimp
the women fight for my delight...
I said he's a fairy i do suppoose
flyin through the air in pantyhose
he may be very sexy or even cute
but he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit...
He cant satisfy you with his little worm
but i can bust you out with my super sperm

Current rap has plenty of similarities with this type of boasting. I bring this up because its more important for the people who dictate the culture to change rather than the artist who reflect it to a greater audience.

Furthermore, I also believe that music is far more powerful than you might have us believe. It's powerful and is a remarkable conduit for the message; a message that can either liberate or enslave a people.

RAK said...

Maybe it's because I'm in the Philly radio area not NYC, but who is Gravy? It's like the story in LV about an "aspiring rapper" who was then exposed to actually be a gangbanger who made one demo cd. But, of course, to the press, he's a "rapper".

The disturbing aspect is that as violence gets mainstrem press, violence becomes more and more central to hip hop as a sign of cultural authenticity to both mainstream and hip hop media and people, thus perpetuating its creep towards a monopoly of the culture.

Hip hop is neither completely innocent nor guilty of inciting violence. Hip hop is a response to the structural location of its creators: you want it to lose its violence? Figure out how to make violence less real (for example: if there were real gun control, rappers couldn't rap about how they've got so many glocks, cuz they wouldn't have them) and the raps either become about their new actual experience or more abstract. The rappers who don't rap about violence don't live violently and thus don't write about violence. The casaul loop is too easily attributed one way (hip hop leads to violence) instead of the self-reinforcing and much less easily demonized loop that it is (violence begets hip hop which reinforces violence through its heroization).

For a tangent: I recently was witness to a suicide by cop brought on by the man's mental problems and recently having been evicted from his business and home due to gentrification. Without gentrification, this man would not have aimed his gun at a cop. But gentrification is not getting much press as at fault for the tragedy.

Of course these are two very different issues, but I argue that much of what's happened is that as hip hop via rap has been more and more defined by its connection with the violence of the backgrounds of many of its artists, it becomes easier and easier and easier for people like the post to call the "interview/shootout" a "tradition" after only a few incidents, and using a bizarre chronology (reread the paragraph: the tradition is about AFTER getting aired out, yet this happened before the interview...hmm...). At best its just sloppy writing and journalism. At worst, it is racial thinking rearing its ugly head.

Similar questions can be raised about the story about Heathrow.

btw, if anyone gets this far: for some quality non-violent rap, check out Tanya Morgan's new LP. good shit (and Tanya Morgan's not a girl, it's three guys: just so you aren't surprised when you first play it)

jay said...

If someone were to tally up all the deaths/ violent outburts/ 'run-ins with the law' that have occured in the last century where the assailants were remotely assocaited with an entertainer it would be increasingly evident that the the modular 'episode' in not connected with hip hop or rap. Violence is a problem, violence in the black community is also a problem, but if one were to censure the entire population of rappers in America(even the skinny white kid from the 'burbs that thinks he's the next BubbaSparx) I would not feel safer walking the streets.
Yesterday I had the walk past a group of white teenagers on a dark street who more than likely listen to Snoop more than I do, but I assure you, this is not why I gripped my keys in the my coat pocket and put on my 'intimidating' walk. Violence, and more importantly a fear of its manifestation appeal to more complex ideas of who we are than what one utters over 8 bars. Equating it to an artform or (if you are to believe JayZ)- to a 'hussle', is not only shortsighted-- it's dangerous because it belies the reality that it won't stop with something as simple as censureship. We ought to focus less on what is 'holding us back' and talk about what moves us and open ourselves to the possibility that something that can do both.