The preliminary response to the Nov. 1, 2022, taking pictures dying of Takeoff, born Kirsnick Ball, was to blame rap music and hip hop tradition. Individuals who engaged on this kind of scapegoating argue that the violence and despairing hopelessness within the music are the reason for so many rappers dying.
Even inside hip hop tradition, the continued violent tragedies have led some artists, like Jim Jones and Fat Joe, to go as far as to assert that rap is the most dangerous profession and rappers are an endangered species.
It’s troubling. As Lupe Fiasco raps in “On Fake Nem,” “Rappers die an excessive amount of.”
However as a rap artist and scholar, I at all times really feel compelled to push back on the notion that the plague of American gun violence is unique to hip hop tradition or rap music. As a professor on the College of Virginia, I reside in Charlottesville, a spot that has just lately been besieged by gun violence.
Like many locations throughout the nation, the city has seen an increase in shootings, and on the night time of Nov. 13, 2022, the college campus was locked down for 12 hours, with college students, school and group members sheltering in place as police looked for a gunman who shot five people, killing three.
Through the lockdown and for days afterward, I endlessly scrolled social media for updates. My cellphone incessantly chirped from textual content messages and the college’s emergency notifications.
I discovered myself frantically participating in a ritual too acquainted to far too many People of studying the texts and alerts and scrolling my cellphone for information. A part of this ritual, too, was sending college students a message to allow them to know I’m out there to speak or hear or attempt to reply questions. I shared the numbers and hyperlinks of the skilled counseling companies provided by the college.
The lockdown was lifted Nov. 14, shortly after police arrested the suspect within the campus shootings. On the identical day, one other man was arrested in Charlottesville for “regarding and threatening social media posts” towards the college. The person, a convicted felon, was arrested on a number of weapons prices and possession of a managed substance.
All-American sufferer blaming
Violence is the American pastime.
Gun violence is everywhere, on a regular basis, and as unpredictable as it’s predictable. We People anyplace, together with on the College of Virginia, should not be surprised that it occurs right here so usually. But when we’re stunned, it’s solely as a result of we haven’t been paying attention. In line with the newest statistics, the U.S. murder price in 2020 was over seven times greater than these of different industrialized economies, and weapons accounted for 80% of these homicides.
However when gun violence occurs to rappers, it’s as if folks imagine they’ll’t be victims, too.
After every of the current deadly shootings of rappers, the dialog has predictably veered into blaming the sufferer.
Some mentioned 30-year-old Rakim Hasheem Allen, professionally referred to as PnB Rock, should not have been wearing his jewelry within the Los Angeles restaurant the place he was robbed and killed in 2022.
Apparently, Adolph Thornton, Jr., 36, whose stage identify was Younger Dolph, should have known better than to go back to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, which had 346 killings in 2021, a report quantity.
Some believed the 2020 killing of 20-year-old Brooklyn drill rapper Pop Smoke, whose authorized identify was Bashar Jackson, was a product of him by chance divulging too much information on social media.
Some thought Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, who was 33 on the time of his dying, was lax on taking adequate security measures, which led to his being shot and killed in entrance of his Los Angeles clothes retailer in 2019.
Even after the horrific taking pictures of 27-year-old Megan Pete, professionally referred to as Megan Thee Stallion, who survived the incident, the informal condemnation of her – the sufferer – has clouded public conversation.
On Twitter, she took rappers to activity for utilizing her violent assault for consideration. She implored them to cease utilizing her taking pictures “for clout.”
Particularly, on his new album, “Her Loss,” Drake insinuates that she lied in regards to the incident, rapping, “This b–ch lie ‘bout getting photographs however she nonetheless a stallion.”
An American plague
No matter their social environments or prison backgrounds, all of those younger rappers, 28-year-old Takeoff included, have been victims of a common American fate – gunfire.
Within the days earlier than Takeoff was killed, there have been nine mass shootings in the U.S.. A kind of incidents in the course of the Halloween weekend was a drive-by shooting close to a Chicago park the place youngsters have been trick-or-treating.
Blaming the violence that happens on rap musicians depends on a round logic: rap is responsible as a result of the one that was shot or murdered was a rapper.
The truth in America
All of America resides with the normalization of gun violence.
You’ll be able to’t escape gun violence in America regardless of your occupation or the place you hang around. You’ll be able to’t escape it in school. You’ll be able to’t escape it in church. You’ll be able to’t escape it in a synagogue.
You’ll be able to’t escape it in a park. You’ll be able to’t escape it in a grocery store. And even on the nation’s Capitol building. Wherever you go in America, even on campuses just like the College of Virginia, you might be a victim of gun violence.
Gun violence casts a perpetual shadow over the U.S., just like the star-spangled banner flying excessive within the sky. It ought to be a reminder that the victims of those tragedies, together with rappers whose lives are taken, are additionally threaded into the material of America.