James Eagan Holmes

Chicago, Colorado and Compton: Do Movies or Rap Music Make Murderers?


“But still my story ain’t over/ ’cause I got one more to tell/And the people of Colorado, they know it well” – “Jus Lyke Compton”, DJ Quik

During a recent debate on a Chicago radio station, community activist Kwabena Rasuli got into a heated argument with Hip-Hop artist, Krazy Keith, blaming his new song , “Murda 4 Fun”, for the rising murder rate in his the city this summer. Just like a game of chess, for every point Kwabena raised about rap music and violence, Keith hit him with a counterpoint defending his music as only entertainment. After an hour of arguing, Kwabena made his power move and pulled out a long list of murder statistics. But Keith countered with, “At least we don’t dress up like comic book villains and murder people in movie theaters!”

Checkmate.

According to Hip-Hop apologists, rap music gets unfairly blamed for every social ill in America , whether it be drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, or violence. And you can bet 20 years from now, they are going to use the recent, tragic murder of moviegoers at The Dark Knight Rises showing in Aurora, Colorado by some kook dressed up like “The Joker” as part of their defense of the violent lyrics that plague much of commercial Hip-Hop.

For years, we have heard the excuse from rappers “y’all don’t say nuthin’ when ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Rambo’ kill a hundred people in their movies…” Yeah, but I don’t recall Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone shootin’ at each other across a strip club parking lot, either. But I get the point.

Truth is, in some ways they are are right. But in other ways, they are dead wrong.

Since The Sugar Hill Gang dropped “Rappers Delight” 30 years ago, America has had a love/hate relationship with rap music. They love the songs; they just hate the singers. Even when a Hip-Hop artist amasses a fortune and moves from Harlem to the Hamptons, some still feel “you can take the boy out the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out the boy.”

Even before the first gangsta rap CD was made, the threat of potential violence hampered many of the first Hip-Hop tours. In many cities, the media acted like one of the Fat Boys was gonna jump off stage and beat some kid, unmercifully, for his hot dog. Sometimes the violence did happen. Most of the time, it didn’t.

Some may, also, remember a time when the threat of violence prevented the first rap movies from being seen at any theaters outside of “urban” areas. As if Shelia E’s wack performance of “Hollyrock” in Krush Groove was gonna make outraged Hip-Hop fans start a riot at the concession stand. Despite the hype of the era, I was able to watch The Dis-orderlies, and enjoy my popcorn just fine.

It wasn’t until the ’90s when ‘hood flicks became cross- over blockbusters and movies like Boys in the Hood started peakin’ middle America’s fascination with gang violence in Compton that the films started playing in Peoria.

Despite the contradictions between the public perception of violence in movies and murda music that some Hip-Hop fans attempt to expose, there is a difference.

First, there aren’t thousands of people across the country walkin’ the streets dressed like Dr. Doom, but you can go to any ‘hood in the USA and see kids lookin’ like clones of their favorite rappers – with artist “Cash Out” braggin’ about “ridin’ around with that nina (nine millimeter)“ blastin’ thru their Beats by Dre headphones.

Secondly, we still live in a world where the young Black male is the usual suspect. Just ask the brotha sitting on death row because of a case of “they-all-look-alike mistaken identity.” Or the high school honor roll student who gets trailed by a gang of rent-a-cops as soon as he enters the food court at the mall. In many cases, the Hip-Hop image has made it easier for young Black men to be guilty until proven innocent.

Also, many people in this country follow the classic line from The Godfather – “they’re animals anyway so let them lose their souls.” So, while shootings at Columbine or Virginia Tech are forever mourned as tragedies, seven-year-old girls getting shot on the streets of Chi-Town are written off as “that’s just the way those people get down.” There is a big difference between random acts of violence, and children gettin’ caught up in drive-bys being viewed as a normal everyday thing.

Back in ’92, DJ Quik asked on “Just Lyke Compton,” “How could a bunch of suckas in a town like this have such a big influence on brothas so far away?” In retrospect, the song seems like a spooky premonition of how gangsta rap was going to impact the world.

But since 99 percent of the violence in rap music is Black-on-Black, few folks outside the ‘hood seem to care. Out of site, out of mind.

If there is any common denominator between rap music and the murders in Aurora, it would be that the movie’s maker, Warner Brothers, also makes Hip-Hop music. While the company cannot control the actions of every sicko with a gun who decides to shoot up a theater showing one of their films, they can control the music they choose to release. If Warner Brothers can cancel Dark Night movie premiers in countries around the world because of the Colorado tragedy, then they can put a moratorium on the music that promotes the Black-on-Black violence happening in Chicago and every ‘hood in America.

A few years back, Wyclef Jean said on “The Industry”:

“Black on Black crime needs to stop/y’all can’t blame it on Hip-Hop”

Sometimes we can’t, Clef. Sometimes we can….

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott ‘s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached via e-mail at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website, NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

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  • Hmm, not Sheila E, but yeah, Krush Groove caused mad riots, because people couldn’t get in, even though they wanted to pay.
    Point taken though, seen a pic with the Dark Knight shooter, the caption read:

    If I were Arab, they would call me a terrorist. If I were Black, they would call me a thug, but since I’m white, they call it mental illness.

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  • That’s the truth edog

  • Aaron Davis

    good article but I have to take the side of Hip-Hop. As blacks, we came from the struggle and still are a part of it. No1 questioned the authenticity of NWA,Biggie or Pac when they were popular becuz alot of blacks could relate and were happy. To see that we could make it out da hood and tell our story. Should we encourage young teens to not listen to NWA? I’ve never heard of any1 saying that becuz they were just telling their stories through music. These stories were violent and gruesome, but America needed to know what was goin on. This was the only lifestyle they knew and they shared it. It jus influenced alot of what rap is 2day(whether it be real or not). Hip-hop isnt all negative and we do have rappers like Common,Lupe,Talib & others that tell a whole different story. We can’t ban any1 from their freedom of expression because of the influence it could have. Young fans jus have to know that the lifestyle rappers flaunt in their music is jus entertainment & there’s two sides to it. U can be the gangsta but jus know dat it isnt pretty. U can get killed,beat up,locked up and jus experience alot of pain from living that lifestyle. Maybe dat should be preached more tho

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  • That guy said he hate Lil Wayne, which is strange because weezy new video has alot of subliminals in it.

    • Daniel Davis

      PEOPLE WERE GETTING KILLED, MURDERED, RAPED & THE WORLD HAD SERIAL KILLERS AND MASS MURDERERS BEFORE MOVIES AND HIP-HOP WAS AROUND.. IT MIGHT OF ACTUALLY BEEN MORE VIOLENT ..

  • Hip Hop nor movies make murderers, piece of sh#t parents who don’t raise their kids produce f%cked up individuals. You can buy kids everything and take them on punk azz family vacations all you want, if you’re not instilling any core values in them, their gonna be f%cked anyway.

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  • RichFromBX

    Hip Hop music makes murderers like Madden on Xbox makes Hall of Fame Quarterbacks…

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  • hoeyuno

    Don’t get me wrong I will defend hip hip till I’m dead but if u grew up in the 90’s its kinda hard to shake the rising number of raider jacket wearing street gangs after nwa came out. and do yall remember the summer after get rich or die tryin came out. It seemed everyone was a tad more reckless ha ha. On the other hand when u got poor people coming from nothing from every corner of the globe(like it or not hip hip is a global art now) supporting there families through music that’s a pretty positive thing right there..

  • BoldSpice

    So now a white boy shooting up a movie theater is somehow being blamed on hip hop? Sick of these cats with this nonsense. If Obama don’t win again they gonna be in here blaming it on hip hop. Airplane crash? Blame it on hip hop. Unemployment up? Blame it on hip hop. It’s called weak azzz minds, low self esteem and shiitty parenting. It’s not the medias responsibility to raise kids. If you don’t start getting at the real problem and quit hating and knocking your own people you wont ever find a solution.

  • JimJames29

    You can’t hold artists accountable for real life drama. What you can hold them accountable for is their content. Do they offer both sides, or just glorify? Like, you hear waka on a song with chief keef, a 17yr old presumed gangbanger:’16 he gon’ murk somethin’, 17′ he gon’ murk somethin’. I mean, just mindlessly glorifying ganglife like its what you should aspire to be, to me thats a little messed up, you can always check the artist for that. At the same time, if kids really do that ish, don’t blame it on the artist, cause, the influence is always indirect. Theres always schools, parents, economical circumstances, and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to look at. At the same time don’t just give ignorance a pass because its ‘just entertainment’ or even ‘art’. Cause some entertainment is just stupid and in bad taste. But saying ‘this is stupid’ is something else entirely than saying ‘you’re responsible’.

  • Mental instability is to blame. A crazy nigga watching a violent movie or song will act because of it but it’s not the song or movies fault. It’s their brain. If the Colorado massacre happened at a Hip-Hop show, the artist would have been blamed immediately. I have yet to hear someone blame The Dark Knight for this shit. Unbelievable. They only focus on dudes mental instability because it was at a blockbuster hollywood movie screening.

  • SteadyB

    Mental disorders and bad parenting is what makes killers.

  • JaymezDeuce

    Inspire, Not Make…

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