Hip-hop: musical genre or social scapegoat for armed violence?

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Another rapper has been killed in the US following the outbreak of gun violence

On November 1, American rapper Takeoff of the hip-hop group Migos was shot and killed in Houston, Texas. The 28-year-old rapper was outside 810 Billiards and Bowling Houston when an argument broke out that led to the shooting.

News of Takeoff’s death spread quickly and left many in disbelief as it looked like he died for nothing. There were no drugs, weapons or anything criminal found on him, which left many wondering why this happened.

It seems like every year at least one rapper gets shot and his death eventually becomes just another statistic.

Unfortunately, Takeoff has been the latest victim of this ongoing crisis.

According a summary of statistics by CNN, in 2018, XXXTentacion was robbed and shot in Florida. In 2019, Nipsey Hussle was shot more than 10 times while helping his community in Los Angeles. In 2020, Pop Smoke was shot during a home invasion in California. King Von was also fatally shot in 2020 during an argument in a parking lot outside a hookah lounge. Finally, in 2021, Young Dolph was shot and killed while buying cookies in Memphis.

However, not everyone feels sorry for these rappers. There are crimes committed in all communities, but when it comes to this kind of music, it is reported differently to the public.

Ben Shapiro is an American political commentator known for his controversial opinions. In 2019, he interviewed a rapper named Zuby and discussed the negative impact hip-hop has on people. “From the outside, when I listen to hip-hop, I don’t hear a lot of family messages. In fact, I hear a lot of messages that degrade women, I hear messages that encourage violence, that denigrate the police.

It seems that people who blame hip-hop for violence in black communities can’t separate fiction from reality.

Hip-hop and rap are a form of storytelling and rappers often talk about their own life experiences and issues, with some exaggeration to make it entertaining.

Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, also known as 21 Savage, is a famous rapper who is respected in the culture. On his 21st birthday, he was shot six times but survived to tell the tale. This year, in August, he sent a Tweeter which faced instant backlash. “Atlanta, we have to do better, put down the fucking guns!!!!!” the tweet read.

21 Savage has been called a hypocrite because his lyrics depict him shooting, killing, and robbing people. He responded and informed the audience of how his music is a narrative of his life. “I never encouraged violence. I just rap about what I’ve been through, or what I’ve heard about, what I’ve seen. I’m not the one encouraging violence,” the rapper posted on Instagram.

While many are campaigning against gun violence, the number of rappers who have been killed this year only seems to be on the rise.

In 2022, Trouble, Snootie Wild, Tdott Woo, Wavy Navy Pooh, Goonew, Lil Devin, Archie Eversole, JayDaYoungan, FBG Cash, Rollie Bands, Young Slo-Be, Earl Swavey, Money Gang Vontae, PnB Rock, Desto and now Takeoff all died as a result of gun violence.

Although these rappers were shot for no reason, it seems that due to who they were, how they looked, and the fact that they rapped, they were expected to die. In reality, there is a gun control issue in the United States that is constantly left unaddressed when someone dies in the hip-hop community.

Graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws


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