Natural Born Killaz: Hip-Hop and the Gangsta Gene

AllHipHop Staff

"I am a nightmare walking, psychopath talking/King of my jungle just a gangster stalking"-Ice T on "Colors"Back in '94 Dr. Dre and Ice Cube did a video for "Natural Born Killaz" that gave the viewer a glimpse into the mind of a psychopath. While Hip-Hop fans were bobbing their heads to the beat, little did they know that the homicidal rantings were mirroring scientific research?Earlier this month, news reports surfaced that scientists are suggesting that gangsta-ism is not solely based on socio-economic conditions but genetic abnormalities.According to a study conducted at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, "Boys who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), sometimes called the "warrior gene," are more likely not only to join gangs but also to be among the most violent members and to use weapons."I can just imagine the scientists chillin' in the lab with the Geto Boys' "Mind of a Lunatic" pumpin' over the intercom while they wrote their research papers.The data for the report was gathered from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that gathered the information from "a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year," according to the organization's website.And all this time we thought the fascination with gangsta-ism started when Snoop Dog first did the Crip Walk at the Source Awards.Although, the linking of genetics with gang bangin' may be new, the efforts of white folks to try to use science to justify things such as racial superiority goes back more than a century.There are many who have used Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution as proof of the Caucasian's superiority over other races.In his book "The Ice Man Inheritance," Michael Bradley argues that while Darwin's work may have been published too close to the end of slavery to have made an impact he writes ,"I have always considered it a sobering thought that had Darwin's "Origins of Species" been published a decade earlier, the US might still be afflicted with slavery today."There have also been studies trying to link genetics with criminal behavior dating back decades. As far back as 1968 there was an article in Time Magazine, "Chromosomes and Crime," that discussed the issue of criminal behavior and genetic abnormalities.Harriet Washington, author of the book "Medical Apartheid" explores an earlier study to link XYY syndrome with criminal behavior. While she discounts the theory of the criminal gene, she writes that even if there is such a thing as a XYY chromosome indicator for criminal behavior it is "a white one; not a black one found more commonly in white men then blacks."But we must be very clear, the current discussion of the warrior gene is not about what makes white men sell other races into slavery nor what makes some of them put on white sheets and terrorize black people, this study is about a gangsta culture that has been mostly attributed to black and Latino youth.So we are not talking about scientific facts but a public perception and its link to popular culture and life in the hood.It has already been discussed, at length, how violence and misogyny in Hip-Hop may contribute to methods of social control such as the disproportionate incarceration of black and Latino males but when you throw genetics into the mix, you venture into the ugly world of eugenics.As Washington writes in Medical Apartheid, "eugenicists promulgated the weeding out of undesirable elements by discouraging or preventing the birth of children with bad genetic profiles."In a time when cities across the country are, desperately, trying to find ways to stop "gang violence," this could easily lead to calls for genocide for the common good of the community. Desperate people do desperate things.But this may already be happening.Could the easy access to firearms, the crack epidemic and the brainwashing of black youth by commercialized Hip-Hop all be part of plot to remove undesirables from the planet?History has recorded plots just as evil.If there is such a thing as a "warrior gene", could not that gene have been present in those who joined "gangs" to fight against slavery and injustice from Nat Turner and Toussaint L'overture to Malcolm X and Huey P Newton? So, the study could be killing two birds with one stone.We must realize that Foundations do not donate millions of dollars without rhyme or reason. They do it to supply information that will be used to develop public policy. These policy makers are not trying to analyze the minds of white men who tie black men to the back of pickup trucks and drag them down the back roads of Texas, they are trying to come to a scientific conclusion as to why "O Dog" blasted the Korean grocers in Menace II Society and how to prevent it from ever happening again.If innocent "inner city" babies perish in the effort to stop gangs; so be it.Even as you read this, there are those who are meeting to discover ways to get rid of gangsta fetuses before they become OG's.Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at