Rise up, young black men, and get education and business on your mind, rather than murder
One of the hardest things to do at times is to face the truth and respond honestly. As someone who has worked with young people for most of my adult life, I get to see first-hand the mistakes and struggles and the impact of a culture off track. I am referring to the current content of the hip-hop culture. As I have said many times, I have no problem with the art form and see it as a wonderful creative outlet that holds so much promise and possibilities to create positive change, yet that opportunity is being squandered by an idiotic and self-destructive quest for acceptance.
While hip-hop holds so much promise, it is currently mired in a most destructive culture. Rappers have drifted into a fatalistic spiral of promoting murder and mayhem in order to be accepted, and in the process becoming the victim of their own lyrics. One prominent example is that of a young rapper from Fort Lauderdale called YNW Melly. He sings the song “Murder on My Mind”; the rapper has been arrested and charged with killing two of his best friends and staging the crime scene to look like a drive-by shooting.
The song became a mega hit, propelling YNW Melly into the stratosphere of the hip-hop game to the point where he was collaborating with Kanye West and breaking records on YouTube and reaching close to the top of the charts. Now it is likely he will either die in prison or be executed for double murder.
Another example is Kodak Black, another young rapper from South Florida. He too rose to fame and fortune only to be derailed with accusations of trying to kill other rappers or being involved in gang activity. He has boasted that he lives what he raps about, which has become a recurring theme with many of today’s rappers. It is not good enough to make music that sells; one must be doing the drive-by shootings, robberies or assaults one sings about in order to maintain credibility. This is sad indeed.
Not only is it sad, it is also a gift to the oppressors of black men. Black men often complain about being left out, denied opportunities or being treated unfairly – and yet rather than using the music as a tool to create opportunities and build their community, they have allowed and perpetuated the notion that it is not authentic unless one is actively involved in gang life or criminal activity.
Is this not a gift to your oppressor?
The oppressor does not have to worry about denying you access to certain platforms because you effectively eliminate your opportunities by being a bona fide self-destructive fool.
This leads me to another example of this foolish pursuit. Tekashi 69, a Hispanic rapper who did not grow up in the gang life and gang world, decided after he became famous and began to make money that he will join the “Bloods” gang to prove his authenticity. He proceeded to pen violent lyrics proclaiming his gang affiliation and sing about harming others and was eventually arrested, and currently remains in jail on charges that could result in him spending up to 40 years behind bars. There is no need for an oppressor to oppress you when you have essentially oppressed yourself with adherence to a fraudulent narrative.
If there is to be a respite from this madness, industry leaders must intervene and encourage or demand that artists move away from this self-destructive quest and focus on lyrics that do not encourage violence and other destructive activities. I have heard the arguments that they are just pawns and victims of an evil system, but the truth of the matter is that someone needs to intervene, otherwise the morgue and the prison system will be the final resting place of a host of misguided artists. Perhaps they should begin by advising that if you are going to come up with a stage name or a song title please leave the word “murder” out of it. If you don’t want to be murdered, or you don’t want your family members to be murdered, a good place to start is to find something else to sing about.
Why give the oppressors the ammunition they need to write you off and to further marginalize you because you have stereotyped yourself to the point where the notions that people have of you are confirmed by your own words and actions? There is a better way. There has to be something more and something better than what we are witnessing today. Rise up, young black men, and get education and business on your mind rather than murder.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.