Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are Rappers Targets?

In light of the Yung Berg drama I felt compelled to ask this question..."are Rappers Targets?"

Random violence against rappers is becoming commonplace since I've been following rap music and the culture. There has been numerous attacks, of course the infamous 2Pac & Biggie murders but other than them we've had far to much violence.

Rappers like Beanie Sigel, Camron, Max B, Spice 1 & Fabolous have been shot. Rappers Yung Berg, Trick Daddy, Papoose, Tyga & 50 Cent have been physically assaulted. T.I, Snoop, Shyne, Remy Ma, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Prodigy & Cassidy plus more have been arrested and done jail time. Mystikal, C-Murder, Pimp C (R.I.P), Ras Kass, Styles P & Flesh-N-Bone spent long periods of time in jail (all have been released). Lil Wayne, DMX, B.G, 50 Cent & Young Jeezy have/had drug charges. The Game, Tony Yayo, Da Brat, Foxy Brown, Jay Z, & Styles P have been arrested for assaulting others. Busta Rhymes, Nas, T.I & Birdman among others have/had weapons charges. Maino & Saigon are what we would call "jail niggas" they spent more time in jail than they spent free. Both spent almost theyre entire teenage years in jail. Rich Boy & Gucci Mane have justifiable homicides under theyre belts. Whats my point? Are rappers targets for criminals and law enforcement? Some arrests are justified some are not and some of those assaults are justified others are not. But do people care? I mean to hear a rapper got shot Isn't front page news anymore, hearing one got arrested is as common as the sunrise, so I am going to try to sort through this.

First things first arrests prior to becoming a rap star will be ignored (this eliminates certain people). Lets talk first about murder cases. Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Beanie Sigel (on trial for attempted murder). These are just a few. Beans' case is easily eliminated he was attacked by robbers at gunpoint. In defense of himself people got shot so I guess its somewhat justified. Snoop was supposedly in a shootout wit "rival gangsters" and allegedly killed a young boy, he was found not guilty. C-Murder was convicted of murder. A murder he says was pinned on him because of his stage name...get it? "C-Murder". All 3 are gangsta rappers. They rap about murder so why is it hard to believe they have or would commit one? When I ask "are rappers targets?" I also mean are they targeted by the police as well.

The Game, Lil Wayne & DMX are the most arrested rappers these days from DUIs to assaults to gun possession to animal cruelty these dudes cant catch a break. Are they being harrassed or are they just stupid? I would argue a bit of both. You would have to be stupid to keep getting arrested for the same thing. If the cops know you are stupid of course they wanna catch you in the act, I'm sure they'd like nothin more. I mean shit they rap about violence and brag about coming from violent communities so thus they must be violent people. Lil' Wayne & DMX are junkies (heavy usage of various drugs) how hard could it be to catch a junkie with coke? Especially a celebrity junkie, can't be that hard. A mixture of police harassment and they're own stupidity is at play here.

Getting shot is a rite of passage these days but its a shame cops blame the victims in these cases more than the shooters. Fabolous, Cam'ron & Beanie Sigel were shot during robberies (Cam'ron a carjacking). Neither man cooperated with police. Cam'ron was arrested for refusing to cooperate. Stupid? Yep Cam'ron is a dumbass but he's following a dumbass street code.
In another blog I talked about the difference between snitches and victims. Cam'ron was a victim, but he behaved like a perpetrator and was treated like one. Beans, Fab & Cam WERE targets of violence. Rich rappers in urban cities shining...surely they new better, but to protect the macho image they have they had to "be in the hood" and people have to see them to vouch for them and enhance their street credibility. I can see it now... "Hell yeah my nigga Fab was round here the otha day, he a real ass nigga!" and so the thirsty assailant waited for Fab to come back so they can take his jewels. Thats an easy set up.

Rapper Scarface is always in his hometown and hasn't been attacked because he doesnt wear gaudy jewelry. Problem solved right? Put pride to the side and stop wearing shiny shit and flossing your money around struggling folk and you will not be attacked..simple enough right?

So are rapper's targets? Yes, rappers are targets but only because they make themselves targets. Nobody said you had to chill in the hood. The point of getting rich is to leave the hood!! Leave and stay gone. Who is gonna fault you? Somebody who can't get out themselves? Stop doing dumbass crimes when you know the "hip hop cops" is watching, plotting, waiting for you to fuck up and plaster another mugshot on tv for viewing audience. You can call it harassment but when you make it so easy why shouldn't they arrest you? The easiest way to make a short name for yourself if to fuck over somebody the more well known the better.

Like I mentioned before, fools cant wait to catch a rapper with their guard down. Chain snatching, beat downs, robberies all happen when people looking to cash in on another persons fame. Rapper Tru Life told BEEF (the dvd) he robbed famous rap group Mobb Deep at gunpoint. Truth is he and his goons robbed some little known affiliates of Mobb Deep. So why lie? You still arm robbed some rappers. Point is he was tryna discredit Mobb Deep and add stripes to himself.

If little known rappers do it what do you think Jon Doe's gonna do? An African rapper snatched 50s chain...why? Who knows but I bet he got more attention from that than anything else he does in his life. Sometime that 15 mins is all you need to be seen.

Ironically it was 15 mins of fame that created the huge financial cash cow known as 50 Cent. Through beefing with bigger better known rappers like Jay Z, Ghostface and Raekwon (of Wu Tang Clan), and of course Ja Rule. 50 Cent was put in the limelight and he took advantage. Others however fall by the wayside and copycat chain snatchers take theyre place as the flava of the month.

Publicity comes from high profile artists going through trials and tribulations. Rappers are targets for those who starve for attention. Whether they are writing "tell-all/expose" books (like video hoes...I mean chicks), beating them up, arresting them or attempting to make your bones in the industry at their expense. Attention is usually the common denominator. Rappers are targets but they drew the target on themselves by partaking in foolish acts with no thought of consequence on their lives or public image. So when rapper's whine about aggressive policing, "haters", golddiggers I must remember they did it to themselves.

Poor Hip Hop I hardly knew Thee

As I sit here and think about one of my favorite things on Earth. I say unto myself "boy, things sure done changed" and I say "of course, I know that!!!"

I sit like an old man in a rocking chair on his front porch jus looking at BET I felt like Don Coreleone when he cried for Sonny "Look at how they massacred my boy!" except my boy was hip hop.

I see how these kids have taken the game and flipped it on its ear. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. I sit and think how the "golden era" MCs like Nas, KRS, BDK & Rakim took pride in being a great rapper not hustler.

They worked hard to master the craft but not anymore these new kids don't even try. It's got to the point where I don't watch BET, MTV or listen to the radio. Its pure trash now. Dudes don't even know what lyrics or content or being real or standing for something are anymore.

They don't say what they feel they say what they think you wanna hear. Its all about money, clothes, & being overly sexual and what's the worse thing is the ones that spearhead this are guys who are too old for this immature shit. Examples are Birdman (Brian "Baby" Williams CEO of Cash Money Records who is upwards of 35 years old), Rick "Rozay" Ross (William Roberts popular rapper who is also upwards of 30 years old). Don't you think 40 year olds have more going on or more to say that money, cars, and hoes? If your over 30 and you don't have a true grasp on what life is really about maybe you should quit..LIFE.

So I'm throwing in the towel on these new dudes theres good ones but to few and far between for me to care. Hip Hop as I knew it were there was room for many different types and styles of hip hop is gone now sad to say.

Stop Snitchin vs Start Snitchin

I was watching an episode of Law And Order SVU (a great show by the way) and the case was a string of rapes in murders of underage girls in a black community. And I noticed something in about the middle of the episode, a large group of brothers had gathered outside police station. Ice T and another detective come outside and the brothers start with the ol' "if they was white there would be police everywhere" routine, in which Ice said "we doing the best we can" that was quickly followed by the "if y'all know anything your help would be appreciated" and what happened? They all got that look, you know the look the "i don't know nothing" look.

It was at that point i got kinda salty because here we have a large group of people complaining about the lack of progress on the case....yet nobody wants to help. They kinda defeated the purpose right? Although its possible that nobody knew anything how likely is it that if they did they would step up and say something? I know its a show and all but these types of things happen. Lets apply this to everyday life.

Now would a guy who stood up in spoke out be a snitch? If he trying to protect his community, and make a better place for his family is that bad? "Snitching" is a misunderstood term I'll explain.

The term "snitch" is often misused and misunderstood in today's world. In some circles a "snitch" is ANYBODY who cooperates with the law for any reason. That's not true, a "snitch" is a criminal who cooperates with the law in exchange for something. My grandmother calls the cops on some strange looking people across the street, weird as that is, its not snitching. If you see a robbery and you help the cops identify the robbers you are NOT a snitch you are a WITNESS (a key difference). A snitch would be if one robber blamed it all on the other robber or if one of the robbers gives up another criminal in exchange for lesser time or a "walk"(no jail). So basically if you are NOT part of the criminal underworld you are NOT a snitch and helping catch criminals is a good thing. If you ARE a criminal and you help the law catch other criminals you ARE a snitch and that's a bad thing.

Drug kingpins like Rayful Edmond, Nicky Barnes, and Frank Lucas ARE snitches. They are criminals who helped lock up other criminals some they were even friends with.

The man who gets robbed and is telling the cops who his robbers were is NOT a snitch (he a VICTIM). A woman who sees a crime committed and reports it to the police is NOT a snitch (she is a WITNESS). However a dopeboy that was busted with weed and faces jail time but instead gives up his boss, IS a snitch. It is a very simple concept.

In closing thugs need to stop snitching on each other, be a man take your charge. Ordinary citizens shouldn't be afraid to protect your community, in fact they should be congratulated.

Of course silly hood rules like, "no snitching" or "stop snitching" are created to keep the general public ignorant and most time in fear. Snitching is a crime punishable by death in the street, so it works as deterrent for criminals to keep quiet. Sadly it deters the citizens from keeping their communities free of drugs and crime.

Racism Re-Defined

One of the worst things a person can be called during the span of their life is a racist. The terms racist and racism have been used to describe many people although based on how it's been defined by the user. There are times when something such as prejudice or discrimination is considered racist. The idea behind this paper is to discuss and define racism on its own while not mixing it in with prejudice and discrimination, The reason racism should be defined on its own, is because as mentioned earlier to label someone or something as racist can be very harsh. So harsh in fact being labeled a racist or being party to racism can cost a person their job and it can change the general public perception of that person. The label of racist is not an easy one to escape either. So for that reason racism needs to be defined not as something that can be thrown around so easily. Some of the definitions used within this paper can be viewed as legitimate from many different sources. Including but not limited to the sociological definition of racism, the psychological definition of racism, and the "official"widely accepted definition of racism. The idea being to show the many differences in how racism is defined by the many different fields of study and in the general public. Some may agree and some may disagree but racism is not a term that should fit into this small box. The power that some words have is great and they should be defined with the power of those words in mind. The idea that it's just another word that can be tossed around haphazardly is wrong. The word should be used with the idea that when something or someone is racist or is involved with racism it or they should be called as such while not diminishing the term with overuse.

The universally accepted and often used definition of racism can be found in dictionaries and on basic definition websites like dictionary.com. That definition as quoted from dictionary.com is: "The belief or doctrine that inherent differences among various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that ones own race is superior and has the right to rule others." There are good things and bad things about this definition. The good things in this definition are that racists do often behave as if their race is superior to others. Racists also usually feel that their culture is culturally superior to others. Some of those are usually stating other cultures are or were more primitive or less developed than their own. There are even racists that believe their race was put on Earth to rule others. These types of racists are often more scarce or silent in this belief. Now for the negatives of this definition. First the belief portion is really hard to prove, sense knowing someones beliefs is somewhat crucial to this definition. This implies that you would have to know them in-depth and or they would have to share with you their beliefs. The problem with that is in 2008 getting a person to admit to being a racist is definitely a death knell to both their credibility and integrity and they are aware of that so the chances of getting an admission of this are minimal. As mentioned earlier it is also difficult to find racists that feel that their race was meant to rule others. It was also discussed that one can keep that belief or ideal to themselves and it would be difficult to prove they actually believe that. So after dissecting this definition one can find that this definition is a bit too vague. It requires a lot of intricate knowledge of the person some of the information you would have a hard time acquiring especially sense as mentioned before the label of racist is not a good one. The good points are it gives you an idea of how racists behave and what they could believe. Perhaps a more focused definition is necessary. If the universal definition is too vague maybe one should look elsewhere for a more suitable definition.

One could look to a specific field of study to find a more proper definition. Sociology is the study of society. Surely people who study society can come with a suitable more in-depth definition. Sociologist John J. Macionis in his collegiate study book Social Problems defines racism as: "The assertion that people of one race are less worthy than or even biologically inferior to others" (p76). This definition touches on a different angle the universal definition doesn't and that's assertion" the act of enforcing their beliefs. It makes a lot more sense that a racist would enforce his beliefs without necessarily putting them into words. Also the biological inferiority is interesting angle sociology puts on racism. Especially in situations regarding stereotypes and stereotyping. Stereotyping is based off prejudice and is not always bad but it is rarely good. One such situation involving stereotyping can be saying that Asian males are not good at basketball because stereotypically Asian males are small and fragile. While Black and White American males are usually what some would consider the average basketball players height and have the average basketball player's toughness. An example of that would be NBA player Yao Ming (Chinese) while physically large enough (he's 7ft 3in) was seen as not "physical"or tough enough to play in the NBA. Were the fans and commentators who made this assumption racist against Asian males? No it was a prejudice a prejudgment based on the knowledge they had or believed about Asian males. While still improper to prejudge no one considered them racists. So in the above example it can be proven that a biologically inferior argument doesn't necessarily mean racist. But what about the assertion? Various people would agree that an assertion that a race is inferior cannot really be defended. If someone out to prove Yao's a typical physically weak Asian man by bullying him (on court or off) that can be considered an act of racism. It would imply a level of harassment specifically aimed at making Yao look inferior. This by far one the most detailed definitions one may find on racism. Dr. Feinburg excellently points out specific situations where racism has been viewed and in some areas run rampant. He also accurately points the purpose of racism and what racism has been known for doing. However there is a specific detail that poses a problem. And that is Racism serves to discriminate against ethnic minorities and to maintain advantages and benefits for White Americans. That particular portion of the definition is unfair. This would mean only White people can be racist and only minorities can be victims. While historically speaking racism has been used for this exact reason the definition he uses obviously needs a bit of updating . However Dr. Feinburg's definition is hard to top because of its great detail and the ethos of the author. After dissecting the definitions of specific fields of study and the universal definition of racism if one were asked to define it for they how would it be defined? It would be hard to define a term that's been around for years and has been defined so well by so many. However by reading how different fields of study define it one can see that a proper definition has to be more specific as well as fair. So what would such a definition look like?

Let's try this as a definition of racism: Racism is the systematic assertion of power used to specifically disadvantage, disenfranchise, physically or mentally harm others of different ethnic or racial backgrounds other than their own. Looking at this definition one can see that power is a pre-requisite. Why? Many people hold personal prejudices not necessarily race specific or even if it is one cannot do much about it outside of keeping their prejudices to themselves. But people in power tend to put their prejudices into action. As was proven by Dr. Feinburg's definition. Purposefully disadvantaging other races is a sign of racism within this definition as well. It is because by putting extra roadblocks in the way of other people you are asserting. Of course some would disagree with this definition because it lacks the belief or idea of hatred within a racist these people would probably prefer the universal definition. One could feel it's implied if you are going to disadvantage people or physically harm them you would have to harbor a hatred or dislike of those people. Some would say you don't need to posses any "powers" to be a racist these types of people would favor the sociological definition. Well racists historically put themselves in positions of authority or power in order to oppress those they disliked. If one preferred Dr.Feinburg's definition that racism is found mostly within institutions, it can be agreed that institutions can be racist. However this above definition can also be applied to singular persons. Racism has come a long way. Many different important people have defined it, many more experienced it. The purpose of this paper was to successfully update the term and to separate it from the closely related prejudice and discrimination. One can find that both discrimination and prejudice are parts of racism and racism cannot exist without both of them. However racism has been updated in a way that is specific and if one is charged or labeled as a racist people have a way to prove it was done intentionally. And that was the ultimate goal to show a racists intent.


In Defense OF Hip-Hop

I recently came across an article on the web written by a guy named Thomas Chatterton Williams the article is called Black Culture Beyond Hip-Hop it was published in the Washington Post back in 07 and its made of the kind of things that piss me off. First the guy attempts to make the argument that its hip-hop that causes the stagnation of graduation rates of black inner city kids. Well firstly he has no proof of such a statement its mindless ignorance. Second there is who knows how many factors that play in why drop out rates are so high. It could be inner city arrest/crime rates, drug usage, inadequate education, too high education standards, lack of support, and the newest one a lack of credible institutions. To blame hip-hop for drop out rates is asinine to say the least. He cites a writer in his column that I would much rather tackle his name is John H McWhorter. McWhorter (black guy believe it or not) is a black conservative "intellectual" who has written books and for the purpose of this topic also wrote a negative critique article on hip-hop.

John H McWhorter is on of hip-hops most out-spoked challengers. In his article called How Hip-hop Holds Blacks Back he points the finger of blame at hip-hop for promoting black stereotypes with a few more added gems. He blames hip-hop for misogyny, anti-social behavior, anti-authority behavior, criminality, over aggression and hypersexuality. He views hip-hop as an assault on the black race that should be extingushed. Well I say all the elements he blame hip-hop for is American. America promotes criminality (The Sopranos, Goodfellas etc...) America promotes hypersexuality (Real World, Sex In The City etc...)Yep America promotes misogyny (anyone notice how the media butchered Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin? or how women are greatly disrespected in those old gangster movies i.e Michael Corleone slapping his wife in Godfather 2?) Hip-Hop is a reflection of American culture believe it or not. He says hip-hop provides a fatalistic view of the inner city and assaults the mentality of young blacks. I say no song is worse than actually walking past drunks and crackheads on your way to school. The view he speaks of existed before hip-hop because the people's complaints existed bfore hip-hop.

People You Should Know: Assata Shakur

[Quick word: no relation to Tupac] Assata Shakur was born JoAnn Deborah Bryon on July 16,1947. JoAnn became "aware" in school when she began meeting people who thoughts about Blacks were more positive than she was used to. She began joining many political and social organizations including the Black Liberation Movement, the student rights movement and a movement to end the Vietnam War. She believed being an activist was not only meaningful to her community but also for her it was fun. Joann then changed her name to Assata Shakur [Assata= "she who struggles" Shakur= "The Thankful One"]. Her abilities as an activist brought her some meaningful titles one of which was being the leader of the BLA [Black Liberation Army] and also a high-ranking even perhaps leader of the BPP. But with the titles came targets and in 1973 Assata and 2 of her friends where pulled over by 2 New Jersey state troopers for a "motor vehicle violation". Apparently according to the FBI Assata had warrants in New York for various felonies one of which was bank robbery. At this point the story becomes a "he say she say" tale. The story of the FBI and the NJ troopers is that Assata and her friends opened fire. A shootout began leaving one of Assata's friends killed and a New Jersey trooper was also killed. Assata herself was shot twice, a trooper wounded and her other friend was arrested. The FBI state that the dead trooper was killed "execution-style" and that Assata fled the scene of the crime shortly after the shooting. Assata was soon apprehended were she says she was tortured before standing trial for the death of the trooper. In 1977 both Assata and her friend were found guilty of first degree murder, assault, battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of weapon and armed robbery and sentenced to life imprisonment. Assata says to this day that she isn't and never has been a criminal [she was found not guilty of the crimes in New York]. While in prison Assata gave birth to her daughter. Assata was imprisoned for 6 years, 2 of which she spent in solitary confinement. But on November 2, 1979 Assata escaped from the New Jersey prison [she says she was "liberated"]. Assata resurfaced in Cuba in 1984 where she was given political asylum and was reunited with her daughter. She claims all the tribulations of her life were due to the FBI's COINTELPRO program. And J.Edgar Hoover's racist belief that the BPP was the greatest threat to American security. While in Cuba, Assata has written numerous books and done interviews where she explains her flight from America.

In one such interview she says she was forced to leave feeling she was being falsely imprisoned due to racism and persecution. She still proclaims her innocence of all crimes. She says she chose Cuba because it was close to the U.S so she wouldn't be far from her family, also because Cuba is as she put it "very-principled" in its struggle of "Eurocentric racism" that America and Europe force upon people of color throughout the world. Another reason is because she wanted to see socialism in action and believed the Cuban people were very different from Americans, saying Americans "felt like they were not part of a community, but were isolated units afraid of that interaction, of contact..". She believes in Cuba's stronger sense of community and even with the rumor of the ending of America's blockade of Cuba that she would not be sent back, saying she believes that Cuba is a nation immune to America's "institutional terrorism". Although she's been in Cuba for at least 25 years the FBI still have a standing $1,000,000 bounty on her for crimes such as; Acts of terrorism, domestic terrorism, unlawful flight to avoid confinement and murder. Assata Shakur is considered heroic and even referred to herself as a "former 20th century slave" who ran for her freedom and away from persecution, on the other hand the FBI considers her the mother hen of numerous criminals and an extremely dangerous fugitive. Since being in Cuba, Assata has written her autobiography and even has a song dedicated to her by popular rapper Common entitled "A song for Assata" on his 2000 album "Like Water for Chocolate". In the song Common tells Assata's incredible story [which he learned from her book and other research] which in turn prompted me to do research of my own that lead to this blog. . I consider Assata a heroine, a person of strong convictions and incredible courage.

The Strip Club and Strippers...The Humanitarian Angle

I just came from my first trip to a strip club. The idea of making money off the desires of men [half and some fully naked women, chicken wings, liquor/beer and football/boxing on ESPN] while intriguing and almost guaranteed to make you an assload of money has a side I never noticed until I went there personally.

First let me say I was never a supporter of strippers. I always thought of them of as the stereotypical scandalous, immoral hoes we see on television and movies. And while its easy to view them through that lens I really couldn't.

Before I was intoxicated I watched the girls but not just their bodies but I watched their faces [yeah I know what kinda loser is studying strippers while they're slapping and popping ass all over right?]. But in the middle of all that I just looked at their faces and I noticed a lot of them looked so unhappy and almost bored at what they did.
I noticed that they only seemed to "enjoy" it is when they made eye contact with you [which my homeboy told me is a trap to get money so even that's insincere]. When I got buzzing all of this became irrelevant I mean it becomes all about the ass and tits then.

As I began to sober up I once again noticed the degrading way this is to make money. You have guys literally throwing money at you [imagine being a cashier at Walmart or something and people just throwing money at you instead of putting it in your hand], stuffing money in your underwear for just a dollar or two [same scenario as before your a cashier at a store and someone stuffs one dollar bills in your pants]. I watched an extremely beautiful and incredibly sexy black women prowl around on a stage in a thong like a lion or a wolf and scoop up money guys threw at her.

I couldn't help but think of lions in a zoo after the zookeeper throws meat in the cage. To me it was the same. After awhile I started feeling uncomfortable, I felt like how can people do this every night? On either side of the issue: how can a man watch women degrade themselves in this way? How can a woman do this comfortably every night? Now I won't go into the women are queens who deserve our utmost respect spiel that usually goes here. Its common knowledge, but even if you don't consider every woman a queen, surely she's a human being. And as a human being she deserves better than crawling around on a stage for men who are being fueled by booze and chicken wings...right?

I suppose not everyone thinks like me and while I don't hate the clubs or even dislike them its a great release and a good experience but I suppose one would have to be drunk or he would have to suspend his thoughts for awhile to enjoy it fully. I recognize from the woman's side its just a job like working in a hopsital or a store. It just requires a different amount of nerve, a greater amount to walk around naked in front of thirsty, horny, drunk guys for change.

I suppose the whole ordeal made me pity strippers and made me think about what happened to make them have to do what they were doing. No doubt some of them enjoyed it, and probably could do other things if they wanted but its the ones that hate the job, in the same way you or I hates our jobs what keeps them going? I'm not one to stop a stripper to ask and all but I couldn't help but wonder and to feel a little bad for them.

Another thing is I always said to myself I could never date a stripper [of course sex with one being completely different] because of the nature of their job, I can't say that I have changed my mind but I would probably give it more thought now than I would've before. In closing a strip club to me is a zoo, you feel bad for the animals sometime they're not in their natural habitat, they're given scraps and put on a stage to perform in front of an audience. The difference being of course a stripper could quit, she can just refuse to do the job while a tiger can't just open the cage and go home or put in 2 weeks notice while looking for a new job. So I suppose I have to learn to suspend my thinking and just see it as women working it won't be easy but I'm sure I can.

Jono's Viewpoints