Do our musical tastes define our actions? Who is really responsible for violence in the hip hop community? Is hip hop really all about overindulgence, money, violence, drugs and misogyny?
The recent shootings at New York City’s Irving Plaza put the correlation between violence and hip hop in the spotlight once again. Mainstream media is quick to focus and blame hip hop music for increased violence. Unfortunately, due to fear of retaliation or repeat shootings the Mac Miller and Joey Bada$$ shows were cancelled. Venues had safety in their minds but the fans lose out due to ignorance. Hip hop isn’t about violence but based on reinvention and creativity. Yes, there are those that give hip hop a bad name but those random few shouldn’t define the culture and community in its entirety. Its easier to blame the music versus digging deeper into the problem.
During the 90s mainstream media focused on the East Coast/ West Coast and Tupac/ Biggie beef. They reported on the shootings in studios, radio stations and clubs ultimately adding fuel to the fire. Did the media’s focus on their beef add to their early demise? Did it help sell even more records without focusing on their groundbreaking music? Did mainstream media focus on the Drake and Meek Mill beef in the same way? Drake used his music to attack Meek Mill but wasn’t something that you’d find on your local news. However, if there had been a physical altercation between the two it would have been a leading story.
Why isn’t there more focus on positivity in hip hop? Talib Kweli is a prime example of an outspoken artist and social advocate. During an interview with CNN at Ferguson, correspondent Don Lemon didn’t even know how to pronounce Kweli’s name. He probably didn’t even have an idea of what Talib Kweli stood for. Is this because Talib Kweli isn’t known as a stereotypical hip hop artist who raps about getting shot fifty times? Maybe.
Killer Mike is another great example of positivity and activism within hip hop. His music focuses on social equality, police brutality and systemic racism, issues that are important to him and his activism. He became deeply involved with Bernie Sanders campaign for president by delivering speeches at rallies to voice his support. When the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Killer Mike began his Run the Jewels’ show with an emotional speech extending his thoughts and prayers to those participating in protests. Did his speech make it to the front page of the newspaper? Of course it didn’t. Why? He isn’t the stereotypical rapper who is yelling and screaming at anyone who will listen. His words have meaning and should be used to lift up the community, not bring it down.
Violence in all communities happens. Is it fair to blame a genre of music for how someone acts? Hell no. There is more to hip hop than what makes it sell.
Editorial by Mika from The Weekly Drop Podcast & The Combat Jack Show