I have marveled in the past few years at the American gang culture that has been popularized by some in the hip hop community and its effect on Bahamian culture. There is clearly an element of this culture in The Bahamas that perpetuates a cycle of death with no positive outcome.
Back in the early to mid-80s, the gang culture was popularized by west coast rappers like NWA, Ice T, Ice Cube and others. At the time, there was outrage and fear over the potential damage this could have on the Black and Latino races because these were the faces of the gang culture. The Bloods and Crips became a household name as rappers declared their affiliation. Many rappers were ridiculed for promoting a culture that they were not really a part of. Even the poster boys for gangster rap, NWA, were labeled as fake or studio gangsters.
During that era, I became friends with west coast gang members Solo, Tik Tok and Chille Baby from the group Gospel Gangstaz. They were real members of the Bloods and Crips who were into the gang lifestyle and culture. They explained the ropes of gangster culture to me and we stayed in touch up until Solo’s passing a year ago. I still have contact with Chille, and Tik Tok is, unfortunately, serving extended time in Atlanta for murder.
Many things we talked about are now coming to pass. Gangster rap has become a monster of its own with a massive increase in deaths both on the streets and in the hip hop industry. Most everyday people only see the end result and decry the violence but do not understand the culture that produces the violence.
In the last few years, rappers have been dropping like flies and there seems to be no end in sight. King Von, Pop Smoke, Young Dolph, PnB Rock and Takeoff are just some of the names on a very long list of rappers who are victims of this killing culture. From gangster rap of the 80s to today, there is a marked and dark turn that has evolved into what is now called “Drill Rap” where rappers rap about killing each other, then do it. After the murders, they go and urinate on their dead “opps’” grave fueling revenge that leads to more of the same. No benefit to society, just mainly Black young men dying senselessly.
Adding to this quagmire is the fact that almost all of the crimes are committed within the Black communities and both the victims and perpetrators are from the same communities. It reminds me of a song written years ago by a friend of mine from the hip hop group ETW that states, “ain’t nobody dying but us”. This culture perpetuates sales of drugs to your own community, robbing the people in your own community and killing each other. Exactly who wins in this scenario but the graveyard and the penitentiary?
The first step in changing a culture is recognizing what exists; the second step is strategic planning to address it. Some would say there is nothing we can do, and that it’s just life in today’s world. One thing I know for sure that we can do is not to endorse or help to promote this culture because it is literally killing us. The second thing we can do is to promote and become actively involved in promoting the alternative. Young people need something positive to look forward to – sports, music, art, church, spiritual things, anything but this culture of death.
What are you going to do?
If you want to be a part of the solution, I will let you know how you can help; just contact me for more information.
• 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.