(Todd A. Smith)
It happened again.
The murder of another rapper should make many in the Black community realize that we need to clean up our own house despite trying to pass judgment on other homes.
In 2019, it happened to rappers like Nipsey Hussle from Los Angeles and Feis Ecktuh from The Netherlands.
In 2020, it happened to Pop Smoke, Mac P Dawg, Huey, Marlo, FBG Duck, King Von and Mo3, who hailed from Dallas.
In 2021, it has happened to Baby CEO, Gonzoe, Young Kece and Young Dolph, who came from Memphis, Tenn.
What is it?
Rappers, mostly Black men, gunned down in the prime of their lives often by another Black man.
Often, the murders happened to Black men who rapped about the violent streets, the dope game, prison life and other stereotypical descriptions of the Black experience.
When I grew up, I thought listening to ghetto stories and tales of gang life did not have much impact on anything.
After all, entertainment could not cause that much harm, could it?
Sure, fame provides it challenges.
But once a person made it out of a violent environment, a happy ending had to follow.
And as far as the violent messages in the music, art simply imitates life, right?
Unfortunately, for many rappers, life has begun to imitate art as countless rappers, year after year, get taken from us in a hail of gunfire.
Often, the rappers find themselves killed at the hands of someone from their own town or their neighborhood, jealous at the superstar’s success and fame.
Other times, the violent lyrics and the beefs lead to murders as well because although some see hip-hop lyrics as just entertainment, others see it as real life with real life consequences.
Because of the violence that surrounds hip-hop, because of the neighborhoods that many of the stars come from and the violent lyrics, it is time for young rappers to learn from the mistakes of the past 25 years and hit reset on their messaging and their lifestyles.
Hip-hop started to give people an opportunity to escape the violence in their neighborhoods and to provide another avenue for people to deal with their frustrations instead of resorting to violence.
Now, the rap game has become one of the most dangerous professions in this country.
And if the hip-hop community does not correct itself soon, we will only see more carnage and more Black lives taken from us in the prime of their lives.
Honestly, as a creative, I usually totally support free speech and artistic freedom.
But as a Black man raised on hip-hop music, I believe it is time to stop glorifying the streets because year after year, we see countless young Black man taken too soon from us after finding success in the rap game.
On Nov. 17, rapper Young Dolph, 36, lost his life in a hail of a gunfire at a Memphis, Tenn. cookie store.
While I knew the name Young Dolph, I must admit I did not know his music or much about him.
However, from all accounts Young Dolph ran a successful company/brand and tried to do good for the hood.
Like Nipsey Hussle, Young Dolph understood the entertainment business and the need to own publishing and master recordings, a knowledge that many young urban artists now have, thankfully.
But like Nipsey, Young Dolph found trouble in his own hometown.
It did not matter that the young man tried to help his own community and tried to provide an example of how to find success in business, he could not escape the streets that raised him.
What would have become of brothers like Nipsey and Young Dolph if their careers had continued the trajectory it had traveled before haters took them out?
My generation dealt with the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.
And one of the biggest what-ifs in entertainment history is what direction Shakur’s life would have taken if he did not succumb to gunshot wounds in Sept. 1996?
Although Shakur became known for his gangsta lyrics, the brother had much more to offer than that.
Shakur’s lyrics had political commentary, social commentary and some songs that uplifted women.
Additionally, he had the power, charisma and leadership traits to change a generation because people listened to him and looked up to him.
The brother had the power to bring rival gang members together like he was trying to do with his Thug Life movement.
Furthermore, growing up in a Black Panther Party family, he had the revolutionary spirit to totally change the system for Black Americans.
As a potential record company owner, he had the chance to take brothers off the streets and change their lives, and their family’s lives, by giving them a chance in the music industry.
But because of violence, at the hands of another Black man, all that potential disappeared.
On a song called “White Man’z World” from his “Makaveli,” album, Shakur said it is not the White man knocking us off.
It’s us knocking us off.
And unfortunately, Black America must come to terms with the fact that most Black people get killed at the hands of another Black man.
Yes, all races kill each other more than other races kill them.
We understand that.
But we need to pay more attention to our own dirty laundry before we worry about other people’s flaws.
There is a hatred so strong in the Black community that success is often met with murder.
Like rapper Boosie told Vlad TV, most rappers get killed in their hometown because their peers are often hypnotized with hatred.
While Black Americans, rightfully, protest the hate we receive from others like racists and the police, if we do not learn to love and protect each other, our cries to others will always fall on deaf ears.