For Hip Hop’s thirty-plus-year history, gun violence has, for good or ill, become intertwined with the culture. As 2016 kicks off, 2015 proved a disastrous time for guns in the zeitgeist. Matter of fact, nearly every major metropolitan hub found themselves on the headlines relating to some shooting. In Los Angeles, My Krazy Life emcee YG was shot three times in the hip. Tour buses for both PARTYNEXTDOOR and Lil Wayne were shot up in Atlanta. Fairly notable Houston emcee Doughbeezy fatally shot a perpetrator in an attempted armed robbery. French Montana associate Chinx lost his life under a hail of gunfire on a New York night. Then there’s urban America’s favorite hotbed Chicago. By the end of the year, Lil Durk’s manager Agina and Young Pappy were murdered while King Louie thankfully survived one bullet to the head in late December.
Of course, those violent events only reflect a harsh reality for the rest of the nation. Those following the 24-hour news cycle understand how rampant mass shootings have become. Leave it to some reports, there’s nearly one for every day of 2015. Mass shootings in San Bernardino and Charleston all represent the worst of America’s fascination with guns. Recent talks of gun control and new approaches to firearms policy is an ongoing topic that isn’t going anywhere soon. Just last night, CNN presented a town hall meeting special with no other than President Barack Obama. This was of course following a speech regarding his plans to enact executive order regarding gun control. Considering the amount of gunplay popular in many rap lyrics, the culture’s voice in firearms control debate could serve as an interesting perspective. With that in mind, here are five reasons Hip Hop needs to be a part of the gun control discussion.
Most Rappers Have Conservative Notions Of Gun Control
Gun violence was the main reason legends including Tupac, Biggie, Soulja Slim, Mac Dre and Big L were taken from this earth before their time. Most rappers find themselves brandishing weapons nonchalantly, either in music videos or various Instagram posts. It’s safe to say Young Thug’s various social media antics are great examples in that regard. On the other hand, one of Hip Hop’s elder statesman Killer Mike has always pushed for responsible gun ownership. The same goes for Dead Pres, who have historically taken an approach more in line with The Black Panthers. Whether ratchet or revolutionary, Hip Hop loves their guns.
Obama’s Proposal For “Smart Guns” May Change The Game
An interesting idea in his executive order for more gun control involved the inclusion of fingerprint technology. Dubbing them “Smart Guns,” these would be firearms that won’t fire unless the proper owner’s fingerprint is correctly matched to the weapon. This could possibly reduce the amount of gun violence from both stolen and highly exchanged guns. However, older, non-smart-guns would still be around. Reports have already mentioned the ridiculous expense of these special firearms and considering materialistic Hip Hop’s love of excess, there may be a market for them within the rap community.
Mass Shootings Are Seen As Common In The Hoods Of Most Coastal Hubs
Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and Aurora have all become synonymous with mass shootings, which surprise most Americans. For most of the coastal hoods that most emcees come from, it’s almost an everyday occurrence. A staggering 2,986 shootings took place in Chicago in 2015 according to The Chicago Tribune. Not only a month out of the year, the same reports have already counted 57 shootings. The LA Times reported 434 gun homicides in Los Angeles county alone, last year. From the perspective of most rappers, gun violence is an everyday occurrence.
Could Force More Responsible Gun Ownership
NRA Has Done A Poor Job Of Outreach Toward Minorities
T.I.’s 2007 arrest on gun charges stemmed from him illegally attempting to buy firearms as a felon. Seeing his best friend Philant Johnson murdered in front of his eyes led him down the road that almost sent him to prison for over a decade. Lil Wayne, Gucci and numerous others have received weapons charges. The typical “stop the violence” call is always helpful in attempting to curb homicides, but what about those wanting to protect their own legally?
“Even though I don’t fuck with the NRA / Cause the CEO Wayne LaPierre, yo what he say / Man he try to blame violence on rap music and video games,” rhymes Crooked I “Apex Predator (My Gun Go).” For years, most musical endorsements of the National Rifle Association come from Country and Rock artists. If the organization wants to reach out toward minorities and get them on board with responsible gun ownership, both Killer Mike and Nelly have named themselves members of the right’s organization.
Ural Garrett is a Los Angeles-based journalist and HipHopDX’s Senior Features Writer. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @Uralg.