For a while I refused to write about this, but I now feel like I need to…
The FBI has received information that Baton Rouge rapper Lil’ Boosie played in role in the February murder of fellow Baton Rouge MC Nussie (read more here). Chris Lynell “Nussie” Jackson was a popular artist in the Baton Rouge area and the loss what felt by many. Interestingly enough, those close to the Baton Rouge immediately pointed the finger at Boosie and weren’t surprised when the Feds did as well. Apparently, Nussie was rumored to be involved in the murder of Boosie’s friend Lil Ivy. The comes on top of a report that Trill Entertainment (Boosie’ label) heads Mel & Turk attempted to kill Baton Rouge artist Beelow. Obviously, Trill Ent, home to Webbie, has major issues to deal with.
I originally ignored this story, but the recent murder of Atlanta artist Dolla made me revisit it. Dolla, artist on Akon’s Konvict Muzik, was shot and killed at a Los Angeles mall on Monday. The 21 year old was an up and coming artist who’s buzz was steadily increasing.
All of this has forced me to reexamine not hip-hop culture, but more specifically its gangsta sub-culture. I have been a staunch supporter of g-rap ever since I began listening to hip hop. It has been a major part of my life and has even helped me find a career. I can honestly say that my life would be less without it. As I have gotten older, I have become increasingly frustrated with the violence and death surrounding the culture. Whereas before, I was quick to separate the music from issues in the Black community, I now see it a bit differently. I will never be stupid enough to say that the music creates the violence, but to outright deny the relationship between gangsta rap and Black street/gangsta culture would be foolish and irresponsible. The list of murdered gangsta rappers is ridiculous:
- Nussie (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
- Tupac (Oakland, California)
- Biggie (Brooklyn, New York)
- Soulja Slim (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Fat Pat (S.U.C.) (Houston, Texas)
- Big Hawk (S.U.C.) (Houston, Texas)
- Big L (Harlem, New York)
- Mac Dre (Vallejo, California)
- Fat Tone (Kansas City, Missouri) [retaliation for Mac Dre murder]
- Yella Boy (UNLV) (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Dolla (Atlanta, Georgia)
- VL Mike (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Yaki Kadafi (Outlawz) (New Jersey)
- Camoflage (Savannah, Georgia)
- Half-A-Mil (Harlem, New York)
- Stack Bundles (Harlem, New York)
- Freaky Tah (Queens, New York)
- Seagram (Oakland, California)
- E-Money Bags (Queens, New York)
- Mister Cee (RBL Posse) (San Francisco, California)
- Those are just the one’s I could think of off the top of my head. That’s not to mention all of the artists (C-Murder, MAC, Mac Minister, X-Raided, Big Lurch, Max B) who have been charged and/or convicted for their violent activity. Gangsta rap, which has the capabilities of being a voice of resistance, has become implicated in the violence that plagues its source communities. For me, its both saddening and very personal. All of these guy were murdered around my age. The leading cause of death for black mean aged 15 – 34 is homicide, so I guess its not illogical that it would effect one of the most prominent sub-cultures in young Black America.
- Recently, there has a been a large movement away from gangsta rap in favor or more “concious” or hipster rap. There has been various reasons for this, some I get, others I can’t get with, but I do understand the call for “positivity.” I, however, still love gangsta rap. I love the aggression, the creativity, the rebellion and, especially, the insight it offers into the world of young black men living in the margins of society. I just read a critique of Dolla’s murder and gangsta rap by Earl Ofari Hutchinson (article), and while I agree with some of it, he still presents that same old attack on the credibility and authenticity of gangsta rappers. Rappers’ authenticity is not the issue. What is authentic, is the murder, the death. The violent world surrounding these artists is often criticized, but rarely explored. Maybe if we engage with the music, we could gain a better understanding of this plague on our communities. Another issue Hutchinson mentions is the stereotypes generated and supported by the violent world of gangsta rap. I couldn’t give a damn about stereotypes. That is completely irrelevant when people are getting killed. Instead of worrying about how violence reflects us, we should care about how it destroys our most vulnerable.
- I’m praying for Dolla, Nussie, Boosie, Mel, Turk, and all of their families.