Rap is a relatively young music genre. Rap was created around the 1970’s, when DJ’s started having percussion breaks in songs that were similar to drum solos that were present in Rock music. In these percussion breaks, the Lyricist would start to show off the lingo of rhyming, real fast. They kept the lyrics within tempo, and about their personal life. Rap’s birthplace is most thought to be in New York, in Brooklyn block parties. It is a Black populated genre of music, as it was created by people who knew a common struggle. Rappers wore expensive fashion, high class jewels, and tried to accumulate money. Although a lot of rap is about money, and showing off, Rap was created to share struggles of a lyricist’s past in a poem form. Along with rapping about struggles, and come ups, they rapped about the party scene. Drugs, alcohol, girls, really the Rockstar life. Rap celebrated the life that a lot of them were forced into.
A lot of the big rappers we know today are affiliated with different gangs. The biggest two gangs that were popularized in Rap, are the Bloods and Crips. Now although they didn’t start off hating each other, it has grown into a rivalry. Gangs were created in the Watts era of LA, to protect lower income neighborhoods from violence, oppression, etc. When drugs, and money started to play a role in these slums, gangs took the business opportunity to sell. They kept selling more and more, and the two gangs were always competing for drugs and money. This started the growth of an intense rivalry. Although, with the tragic passing of Nipsey Hussle, rappers are now trying to tie the two gangs together against the common enemy, the Police department. Rap gave light to kids, who otherwise didn’t have any ways of attaining money, or a rich lifestyle. Rap gave possibility to people who were forced into toxic households, or neighborhoods, or families, or countries. Rap was a beautiful culture of power and strength.
This past year has taken a toll on the Rap community. We lost a lot of upcoming young rappers. Bashar Jackson (Pop Smoke) was murdered in a residency in Los Angeles. Pop Smoke was 20 years old when he died of a gunshot wound in the torso. Joshua Galvez (Mac P Dawg) was shot and killed in Los Angeles. He died on the scene at 24. Chynna Rodgers (Chynna) died of a drug overdose. She was 25 years old. Dayvon Bennett (King Von) died in a shoutout in Atlanta. Von was 26 years old. Not only did these young rappers die, but some older rappers who were prolific in the culture passed as well. Daniel Dumile (MF Doom) died on Halloween of 2020. The cause of death is unknown. And the most recent death was rapper Earl Simmons (DMX). DMX died of drug overdose at 50 years old.
The tragic deaths of rappers appear very common. The two big causes of death seem to be gun violence and drug overdoses. This seems to be a systemic problem in not only the Rap community, but the Black community. The Bloods and Crips were created in the Watts neighborhood to fight the white gangs who would come into the neighborhoods and kill black people. Since the invasion of cocaine, marijuana, and guns into these neighborhoods there have been lots more gang violence. Most think the invasion of these weapons were used by the US government to let Black people exterminate themselves. I happen to agree with this. If rappers and people of color are dying from a common theme, that should reflect the society that they are forced into. Since the birth of America, there has been a clear power dynamic in which white people rule, and Black people are the pawns. If our country is built on something like this, it is impossible for us to not have embedded systemic racism in the society. If we were to start being an anti-racist country, we would start with the documents our country was forged upon like the Decleration of Independence and Constitution. These rappers take these pills to take the pain away from what has happened in life. For hundreds of years, America has not put any effort into caring for any of these Black communities and neighborhoods. Then government officials wonder why there are gang crimes, and high rates of drugs abuse. The government feels no sympathy for them being forced into these systems meant to break them down and turn them into the “enemy”. When the country was founded, the founders knew that they couldn’t physically control all these Black people and systems were put in place to break them down and kill them. This has been what our country is based on, and it will be a long time before it changes. That’s why we all need to help our fellow humans and brown people who are forced into these systems. Rap is one of the main genres of music that brings light onto the Black experience in America, and I believe a lot of people need to focus more on that.