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Thursday, March 03, 2005

New York Daily News - Crime File - Stanley Crouch: Hip hop rising on charts ... with a bullet

Hip hop rising on
charts ... with a bullet

It has always been said that you can't take certain people anywhere and then pretend to be surprised if they cause trouble. Gangster rappers are determined to prove that adage true, as we can surmise from the Monday night shooting of one of the members of the entourage that surrounds Curtis Jackson, known to friends and fans as 50 Cent.

The admitted ex-drug dealer's primary claim to authenticity is that he was shot nine times (more a commentary on the marksmanship of the shooter than on his durability). The profits from his "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" have amounted to $50 million, but trouble has followed the young man.

A few months ago there was a mysterious shootout between his bodyguards and unidentified assailants in a New Jersey parking lot.

As of Monday evening, 50 Cent was giving an interview in which he was, as usual, showing less than respect to East Coast rappers when a commotion broke out and bullets were fired from two guns, according to the NYPD. Kevin Reed, one of the bodyguards, was wounded and taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center. And it doesn't stop there, of course. Rapper and self-proclaimed loose woman Lil' Kim is now on trial for perjury concerning a shooting that occurred at the same place in 2001.

What all of this means is that the gangster, an element that never before made it into popular entertainment, is there now. The rock writers thought, at first, that it was all just bluff and show, no more dangerous than green hair and black lipstick, or any other wild posturing in a world where pretending to be bad was more important than actually being bad.

What was learned, however, is there is an element of truth in advertising when one enters the worst of hip hop.

The firing of pistols, the bullying, the violence and the murder are not fake. These people call themselves thugs and they are. They glamorize violence and they use it. They are at the bottom of the evolutionary scale and feel their money gives them the freedom to be just as bad as they want to be.

This is a threat to civilized standards and poses great danger to those naive kids who get too close.

The authorities can handle these thugs. It will not be the first time cops have faced gangsters, sent them to jail or tied tags on their toes when their enemies put them in the morgue.

But even more harmful are the pernicious images that are so common in rap. Coarse, dehumanizing words and videos filled with brutality are hugely profitable. Their misogyny expresses a hatred of black women that is truly appalling - and is now generating a backlash among leaders like Essence magazine's Michaela Angela Davis. These so-called rap artists and their co-conspirators in the recording industry are getting wealthy tearing at the fabric of society by demeaning women. That's a crime that, regrettably, is beyond the reach of the criminal justice system.

Originally published on March 2, 2005

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