THINKING OUT LOUD: Does Hip-Hop Promote Violence?

I’ve been listening to Hip-Hop music since I was around 6 years old, damn near my entire life. 21 years later & guess what, I’ve never shot, stabbed, or jumped anyone. Hip-Hop has inspired me to be an entrepreneur, follow my dreams, be a positive influence in my community, & contribute to the continuation of the art form that I hold dear. If you’ve been inspired by Hip-Hop to carry out violent acts because of listening to a few violent songs, it’s not the genre’s fault, you just happen to be a complete f***ing idiot.

On Thursday June 26th, Brooklyn Rapper Troy Ave was involved in a shooting at New York’s Irving Plaza venue that left 1 dead & multiple people wounded. Since the incident NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton made the statement “The crazy world of these so-called rap artists basically celebrates the violence” which in turn has started various debates and discussions online as to the nature of Hip-Hop culture & what it represents.

As a Hip-Hop artist myself, I can honestly say I don’t condone or promote wonton violence towards anyone in any form or fashion. In my eyes, the only time violence is justifiable is when it comes to protecting/defending yourself, your family, or your property. The 1st law of nature is self-preservation. I’ve been raised around guns & exposed to weapons my entire life but, that had absolutely nothing to do with Hip-Hop music & everything to do with the global culture of violence that exists today, as well as the need to defend oneself from said culture of violence. My father was a family man & entrepreneur who had guns to protect himself, his family, & his home and my mother was in the United States military so, needless to say, she knows how to handle firearms.

Why doesn’t Hip-Hop get credit when we create Stop The Violence Campaigns, or when Rappers create charities to give back to their communities? Why no huge conversations & debates when Hip-Hop saved thousands of lives when we donated water to Flint, or when we promote healthier lifestyle choices? Hip-Hop is under a heavier microscope than most cultures yet, our positive contributions seem to consistently be ignored or swept under the rug.

Violence has existed since the dawn of man. Have we all of a sudden forgotten about the various wars in medieval Europe? The Spanish Inquisition? The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? The Arab Slave Trade? The Holocaust? The Salem Witch Trials? There is a history of violence that has existed WAY BEFORE Hip-Hop had even been conceived but, all of a sudden it’s the main perpetrator of violence in America? Please spare us.

Hip-Hop is entertainment. It’s no different than the various violent action & thriller movies that come out every year starring actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Tom Hardy, Jason Statham & others. Not to mention television programs like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, & Game of Thrones. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the actors previously mentioned and I love Breaking Bad & Game of Thrones but, you won’t see me cooking meth or getting into a sword fight anytime soon.

Hip-Hop isn’t to blame when bikers start shootouts with the police in Texas, and Hip-Hop isn’t to blame when Dylann Roof shoots up innocent people in a South Carolina church, Hip-Hop isn’t to blame when some lunatic shoots up a movie theatre, but all of a sudden we “celebrate violence”. It’s really astonishing.

So to answer my own question, no HIP-HOP DOES NOT PROMOTE VIOLENCE. At least not any more that any other art form or media in existence. If you had an ounce of common sense in your brain, you wouldn’t even think such a thing. Hip-Hop promotes self-sufficiency, creativity, and turning nothing into something as much as it promotes sex, violence, crime, & anything else. The culture we live in promotes violence. The major label machine & marketing promotes violence. And let’s be completely honest, the masses of people are absolutely fascinated with violence. There are plenty of Hip-Hop artists with a conscious & positive message that tend to get overlooked when discussions like this come about. I believe that Hip-Hop promotes life, exactly as it is & sometimes it’s not pretty but, it’s not Hip-Hop’s job to sugarcoat what life is. It’s Hip-Hop’s job to remain honest & put the mirror up to society, no matter how ugly or beautiful it may be.

Sending condolences to the family of Ronald “Banga” McPhatter & wishes of a healthy recovery to the other shooting victims.

Send all commentary, compliments, & complaints to @STEFisDOPE

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