(Todd A. Smith)
Many in the African-American community have an unhealthy obsession with street culture and gangsters.
Many in the broader community have an unhealthy obsession with fame clout.
Unfortunately, not as many want to deal with the consequences and repercussions that come with those obsessions.
Just look at the predicament that Duane “Keefe D” Davis finds himself in now after bragging about his alleged involvement in the murder of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur.
The Associated Press reported, “A man who prosecutors say ordered the 1996 killing of rapper Tupac Shakur was arrested and charged with murder Friday in a long-awaited breakthrough in one of hip-hop’s most enduring mysteries.
“Duane ‘Keefe D’ Davis has long been known to investigators as one of four suspects identified early in the investigation. He isn’t the accused gunman but was described as the group’s ringleader by authorities Friday at a news conference and in court. In Nevada you can be charged with a crime, including murder, if you help someone commit a crime.”
To many hip-hop heads of a certain age, hearing about Davis’ alleged involvement with the killing of Shakur on Friday probably equaled the hundredth time that they have heard about what happened the night of Sept. 6, 1996, in Las Vegas.
From day one, many knew exactly who pulled the trigger and why things ended so violently 27 years ago.
But what is surprising is how obsessed the current generation is with gangsta culture and Internet clout.
Back in the day, thugs did not want others to follow in their footsteps.
Real street cats did not glorify the streets or allow their younger associates to follow in their footsteps if they had any input.
Even when a person did resort to the streets to make a living, they avoided talking about their felonious capers.
They did not talk business on the phone.
They did not take pictures.
And besides gangsters like Joseph Bonnano, they did not write books about their underworld shenanigans.
However, since the Internet and social media makes people, without talent, stars, people like Davis seem unable to keep their mouths shut.
So much so that criminals do not even need to worry about snitches anymore because they snitch on themselves.
Criminals now record themselves committing crimes.
Criminals threaten their opps via social media.
And criminals show off the materialistic benefits of their crimes on social media.
While the obsession with street culture is not limited to the African-American community, the obsession has gotten way out of hand in the African-American community.
YouTube is inundated with former criminals and current criminals taking pride in their thuggish past.
That fascination with street culture has existed in Black Hollywood since the Blaxploitation film days of the 1970s into the gangsta rap era that began in the late 1980s with N.W.A.
But when the community constantly sees this gangsta fascination take the lives of our greatest individuals and take the freedom of others in our community, when does the community say that this gangsta “ish” is just the most ignorant thing that has happened to the Black community in recent decades?
Shakur might have sped up his demise because of his affiliation with gang members and moving like a gangster instead of being the artist and activist that God put him on Earth to be.
Yes, people will say that those who came from impoverished and dysfunctional backgrounds are more susceptible to falling prey to gang culture.
But Shakur was a rich and wealthy grown man before he started participating in alleged gang activity.
He had no need to hustle backwards by affiliating with a gang because he had already made it out of his impoverished and violent background.
Nevertheless, the allure of the streets was something he could not get away from.
And his fanbase deserves some of the blame too because I loved the gangsta music Tupac made sometimes more than the conscious and uplifting music.
I liked the character Bishop in “Juice” more than I liked Lucky in “Poetic Justice.”
Gangsta rappers made murder so appealing and attractive, it is no wonder why Davis thought he would get clout by bragging online about his alleged involvement in the killing of Shakur.
But when a rational person thinks about it, what is so attractive about the streets?
I have never been shot.
But I am sure that it does not feel good.
I have never gone to jail.
But I am sure that is not cool to fight for your life or manhood daily.
There is nothing attractive about being separated from family and friends for years to come.
There is nothing attractive about being permanently disfigured by bullets.
And there is nothing more wack than middle-aged men and senior citizen still trying to be relevant in the streets instead of spending time contributing something positive to society.
Unfortunately, many in our community continue to think that gang-banging, robbing or selling drugs is something to be proud of and brag about.
Doing those things does not make a person a real n***a.
It makes a person really dumb and really ignorant.
And most importantly, it makes that person a real danger to the uplift of the African-American community.
I must believe that Shakur would have matured as he got older and hopefully his lyrical content would have changed too.
Look at the maturation in Jay-Z and Nas’ music.
So, if those cats can mature and leave the streets behind, so can everyone else.
Ultimately, the African-American community desperately needs to mature and outgrow its fascination with street culture and crime, or it will continue to self-destruct.