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Hip Hop & Violence

Elijah Powell, Staff Writer/ Opinion Editor

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Queens emcee Chinx was murdered this past Sunday May 17th. He was leaving a venue he had just performed at when, according to police, at 4:04 a.m., a car drove up and whoever was in it shot up Chinx’s car, riddling him and a friend with bullets. Chinx was reportedly shot fifteen times. This is especially sad to me because hip hop is supposed to be an escape from this particular type of street violence, and I mean that literally, not figuratively.

 

Afrika Bambaataa, who is known as the godfather of hip hop, was originally a leader in a New York street gang known as the Black Spades, but after a trip to Africa changed his perspective on life, he came back to heavily influence the early development of hip hop with an anti-violence approach and music promoting peace and unity for the black community, and to all other races who may have been listening. By forming the Zulu Nation in the late seventies he vowed to help troubled black youth get out of such situations that Lionel Pickens, known in the hip hop community as Chinx, became a victim of. This would be the first but certainly not the last time hip hop was used as a catalyst for peace.

 

The second coming of this movement came in the late eighties when KRS-One banded fellow emcees together to create the Stop The Violence collective. However, this did not last long as more and more gangsta rap groups were introduced and promoted on higher pedestals than fellow hip hop musicians hoping to spread a more positive message. There are many theories attempting to explain why things happened this way in the late 1980s and early 90s, but the result is a mainstream rap machine centered around a deadly cycle of misogyny, drug use, and senseless violence, known to many of today’s adolescents as “turning up”.

 

Nevertheless, Chinx is not the first and will certainly not be the last emcee to fall victim to murder. This is disheartening for someone who considers hip hop to be his life saviour, and I know for a fact that usually people trying to transition into hip hop culture from a violent and bleak lifestyle have no control over their past following them. Chinx is an example of a man seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but then being consumed by the monsters in the dark before that light can embrace him. The very violence he most likely was trying to escape caught up with him and it paints a picture of hopelessness for anyone trying to achieve the same goals. All we can do now  is keep using the culture and its art forms to spread intelligence rather than ignorance, rebellion rather than conformity, and love rather than hate.
Peace.

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
Hip Hop & Violence