Is History Repeating Itself� Are All Our Black Hip Hop Leaders Dead?

When I think about the assassinations of Black Leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and reflect upon the Black Community’s reaction to these tragedies, I’m compelled to question whether the deaths of Biggie and Tupac affected the Hip-Hop Community in the same manner. The length of this comparison begins and ends with the great influence these people had and have on the community they affected. This is not about the content of their moral ethics or message. This is more about questioning what happens to our Black Influential Leaders once they hit a significant level of Power. It seems since the beginning of time the good old “Divide and Conquer” tactic has never failed.

One thing I must get straight before I continue… I consider both Biggie and Pac “MCs.” To me, there is a difference between “MCs” and “rappers.” At one point in Hip-Hop, they were the same, but when Hip Hop went multi-platinum, it seems as though the music broke off into two parts. The first being, “Hip-Hop Music” which to me, keeps the focus on the culture and the love of the artform. The second being, “Rap Music” which to me, is all about making that money. There is nothing wrong with making money. It’s just when you place the money before the music, the culture looses it’s potency… it’s heartbeat.

Is it possible that after the deaths of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, people were forced to make a choice. If they were to remain fighting for their culture, they were risking their own deaths or the possible deaths of some of their family members and peers. On the other hand, perhaps there were others who felt that it was time to start changing their lives by striving to be financially successful. I guess trying to change individually to strengthen the whole. To many, this might be perceived as if one was forgetting their people, thinking only of themselves and selling out. Can this be the reason for the Fall of Hip-Hop? Has the assassinations of Biggie and Pac caused MCs to fall back and steer away from the Hip Hop Culture? Most emcees have not made it to the level of power that Biggie and Pac has. There are many “Million Dollar Rappers” though, but, in my opinion, they don’t possess the Humility and Charisma that “Real Leaders” exude. Are there any more emcees who are willing to step up to the plate and bear the stressful realities of being a leader, which can often mean being underpaid, unappreciated, underrated, criticized, and hated… I believe there are. In fact I know they exist, but unfortunately they are forced to lay back in the cut as the so called Hip-Hop listeners remain blinded by the luster of all the ice, platinum, and gold that infests the sound waves.

Sadly, when I think about the deaths of all these amazing people of power, I ponder on how much positive change has been made since their deaths. I’m not talking about words of gratitude and days of celebration. I’m talking about a significant change in the minds and behaviors of our people. Don’t get me wrong. We have come a long way, but is that way paved with financial glitter and gold as opposed to our love and respect for one another. Are we allowing that part of our history to repeat itself?

Lin Que is formerly known as Isis of The X-Clan. She can be contacted through