Has Hip-Hop played a huge part in the latest tragedy to hit the United States? Some people would like to think so.
A week ago, the world was shocked and devastated by the atrocities of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The first act of terrorism on US soil since 9/11 saw the world’s news outlets focus on the city of Boston. As the sole survivor of the two Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar, was on the run, the world’s media went crazy over trying to collect as much information on the suspects as possible. “What was Dzhokhar like at school?” According to class-mates, he was a normal kid. “How did he fit in socially?“ He allegedly smoked weed and liked to party, like a typical teenager. “What hobbies did they have?” Dzhokhar worked as a life-guard and Tamerlan was an amateur boxer. Here comes the killer question: “What kind of music did they listen to?” Hip-Hop music. Uh-oh, shit just got real.
As information was being drip-fed to us via CNN, BBC, FOX, Sky News and other major news outlets, I predicted and anticipated that something was going to be blamed for Boston Bombings. When the information was vague at first, I predicted that video games would be blamed for their behaviour. “Those violent video games Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are turning young Americans into terrorists!” That never came to fruition. Then a high-school chum of Dzhokhar mentioned that Dzhokhar liked a bit of weed, I assumed that this was the go-to direction for the media. “All the weed smoke turned him into a recluse in society and his mind became warped, all due to weed!” Never happened. Once the amateur boxing career of Tamerlan was mentioned, that was another angle I thought they might take. “Maybe being punched out on a regular basis gave him brain damage and his behavioural traits changed dramatically and went crazy ala Chris Benoit.” This never came to be either.
Then, on the same day that the younger brother and survivor Dzhokhar was arrested, a certain media outlet reported that the older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “heavy into Hip-Hop”. They stated that he was a frequent visitor to a site called Real-HipHop.com and even had an e-mail address affiliated with the site. Then, they thought it was important to also point towards the direction of mentioning that “hip hop lyrics are notoriously violent and often degrading to women.” Typical and very predictable from TMZ. Once you see the webpage in question, the agenda from them is extremely obvious and is almost on the verge of “social-bait”.
As you can see from the screen-shot above, T.I. was on the Real-HipHop website. So, TMZ thought they would get in touch with him and bring the subject up.
“T.I. is pissed … telling TMZ he has no connection to the hip hop website frequented by dead Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev … a site that prominently featured the rapper’s mug. T.I. had no idea his pictures were posted — he’d never even HEARD of Real-HipHop.com — and he’s upset that the hip hop genre is now connected to the bombers.”
Why would T.I. have a connection with the website because his face is on there? TMZ are aware of Google Images, right? Why would he know that his face is on a very specific website and why should he care? His face is on thousands of websites on the internet. Does that mean he has a connection with all of them? Then, they go on to state “the hip hop genre is now connected to the bombers.” The only connection that has been made is by TMZ and TMZ only. Other media outlets are reporting that TMZ are using the blaming innuendo. When you read the news posts in-question on TMZ.com you can almost see the shit-eating grin from Harvey Levin.
“Hip-Hop narrates the activity and conditions of our culture. It doesn’t create them.”
– T.I. – TMZ Interview
This statement from T.I. is similar to another statement made in the past by a prominent artist in Hip-Hop.
“I’ve not brought violence to you. I never brought ‘Thug Life’ to America. I didn’t create ‘Thug Life’ – I diagnosed it. It’s like if a doctor says “this is the AIDS virus”. He didn’t make AIDS – he diagnosed it. He won’t be held responsible for every AIDS case. If anything, he’s bringing you information on maybe bringing a cure.”
– Tupac Shakur
Are we to expect TMZ to approach KRS-One and Swizz Beatz for their thoughts? I highly doubt it. They don’t have history of gun charges do they? They might get in touch with Jadakiss who does have the same history as T.I. in that respect. He has also once used terrorism as a subject in his music. His 2004 single “Why” featured the line “Why did Bush knock down the towers?” Bill O’Reilly started his usual name-calling of things he doesn’t understand by branding Jadakiss “a smear merchant”, which is rich coming from the right-wing network. Jadakiss actually meant that Bush was the cause of 9/11 because he failed to prevent 9/11 from happening.
“They didn’t follow up on a lot of things properly. It’s the president of the United States. The buck stops with him.”
– Jadakiss – Associated Press Interview – 2004
On the twitter account of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev he posted a YouTube video of some Russian Hip-Hop. The artist in question (fittingly enough for this very website) is called N1NT3ND0. Maybe he can expect a call or visit from TMZ too.
Forgive me if I am missing some huge portion of the genre but I do not recall the terrorist sub-genre of Hip-Hop. There is “political rap” with the likes of Ice Cube, Common and Immortal Technique. However, raps that promote or condone terrorism? Not that I’m aware of…well, the closest thing we could ever get to that is this particular instance from the movie “Four Lions”:
Maybe, if you want to clutch at straws we can blame Long Beach artist RBX:
“Seven execution style murders/ I have no remorse cause I’m the fucking murderer/ Haven’t you ever heard of a killer?/ I drop bombs like Hiroshima/”
– RBX – “High Powered”
Obviously, if you are level-headed and experienced enough in listening to Hip-Hop lyrics, you will realise that RBX is using metaphors to describe his lyrical skills. Of course he does not kill people. Of course he isn’t confessing to a crime on a song. Of course he doesn’t have access to weapons of mass destruction and intends on using them. However, to outsiders of the genre some can hear those lyrics and go to town on them to benefit their political agendas or to just simply partake in the modern blame-culture.
Hip-Hop isn’t completely innocent though. It is guilty for having a tonne of ignorant lyrics. These lyrics are mostly an attempt by the rappers in question of portraying a certain image. Just have a look at Rick Ross’ recent incident with his date-rape lyrics.
Is Hip-Hop responsible for the Boston Bombings? Of course not. Just like “Goodfellas” isn’t responsible for decades of organised crime. Just like Call of Duty isn’t responsible for Adam Lanza flipping his lid after years of bullying and committing the Sandy Hook Massacre. Just like Grand Theft Auto isn’t responsible for the London Riots. Riots have happened before the GTA series began. Just like cheese sandwiches aren’t to blame for obesity. Just like marijuana and Golden Gloves competitions aren’t to blame for Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev being suspected of committing the Boston Bombings. The act these guys have allegedly carried out goes a lot deeper than simply listening to Lil’ Wayne or MC Hammer.
I am “heavy into Hip-Hop” just like the Tsarnaev brothers. Should the FBI keep an eye on me too, just in case it guides me into becoming a rogue terrorist? Of course not. That’s a ludicrous theory. Playing the blame-game is the easy and very predictable go-to route for the media after an atrocity. Some industry just had to be a scapegoat and sadly Hip-Hop seems to be a favourite.