The Demonization of Chief Keef and Lil JoJo
A teenage kid drops one of the catchiest records of the last two years and everyone gets pissed at him. Kanye West thinks it's genius and throws his entire roster on the remix for free. My question is: Did you get pissed when you were a teenager and instead of buying Illmatic by Nas, you purchased the new maxi single from Gangsta Larry and the Westcoast Baby Killers?
When JoJo passed I saw several people on social networks verbally bashing Keef and saying how far gone our current generation is. But as I recall, movie theaters in the '90s were getting shot up over gangbanging incidents. People in the '90s lived in fear due to gang violence, and you'd be a fool to think the tone of the music at the time didn't play a part. One of my favorite rappers from that time period talked about eating children in his music. He's one of the coldest cats ever to touch a mic. His first album is very dark and demented but it's also a classic from front to back -- it's musically flawless. We find this type of stuff entertaining because -- let's face it -- we love violence. I want to be clear that I am not advocating senseless violence. I am simply stating some of us are acting brand new about issues such as this and not realizing how much of a role we all have played on some level of perpetuating these problems.
A few of us have grown older and have somehow totally forgot how many of these kinds of rap songs we have committed to memory. Purists listen to Wacka Flocka and screw their face, but I find his music entertaining, and I love his interviews because he's completely upfront and honest about his opinions. He's being true to who he actually is and doesn't care if you like it or not. He's not the most lyrical guy alive but he doesn't claim to be. And there is an artistic value within his music in its own right. In the '90s, the generation before mine gave plenty of people the opportunity to have a career, and sometimes the music was filled with a lack of responsibility and lyrical content. The murder rates in the St. Louis streets had moments when they were higher back then than they are now.
We dance to Keef and Wacka more than we shoot to them. True, there are senseless acts of violence carried out at random and precious lives are lost. I'm not defending ignorance or senseless murders. I am saying don't get holier than thou now that you're about to touch the age of 40. I am also saying hip-hop was founded on principles that are supposed to make less sense to you the older you get. I once saw a local DJ tweet, "This record has too much profanity in it, I can't play it".
I wanted to say, "Didn't your generation make a rap group named Niggaz Wit Attitude filthy rich? Now, I think NWA is arguably the greatest rap group ever assembled. I only used the term "arguably" because I'm a huge Wu-Tang Clan and OutKast fan, and the argument that this title belongs to Run-DMC is always relevant. Ice Cube is one of my favorite rappers and Dr. Dre is such a genius I can't even begin to explain his contributions to not only hip-hop but music in general. But all I'm saying is: what happened to the sudden need to show accountability when you were younger? You enjoyed your share of politically incorrect music that your parents despised. Eazy-E is a god, but he also introduced some of you to profanity as we know it. I'm just saying: slow down before you tread into those waters and suddenly become the old people who don't understand the music so they hate it. I'm also saying don't blame the children, because you guys invented gangster rap and gave it to them. It's not my job to determine whether or not Lil Reese had anything to do with JoJo's shooting.
I don't want to come off like I'm slandering the legends of old, because if it weren't for them and their contributions to the culture, everything I'm living for is pointless. If Dr. Dre didn't take over the world then I'd be mopping floors somewhere. If Eazy-E didn't burst into the industry and reinvent the rules with his street-savvy business sense the industry as we know it would not exist. If Ice Cube didn't reinvent himself as the early '90s equivalent to Macolm X then we would have possibly never witnessed the evolution of Tupac Shakur.
We can never artistically recreate or duplicate exactly what these gentlemen did. Their music is timeless and classic for a reason. I am simply speaking about the tone of the culture and our lifestyle choices from one generation to the next. The Chicago P.D. will investigate this crime and come to a conclusion. I hope and pray for the peace of JoJo's family. I hope they find a way to cope with his death and rebuild their spirits. I am saddened by this incident, and I think it's just a horrible waste of human potential.
I hope Lil Reese and Chief Keef use the incident as a means to gain maturity and maybe even become advocates against youth violence in some way. Do I listen to Reese's mixtape in my Beats By Dre's on full blast? Damn skippy. I hope he hasn't had a hand in repeating this vicious cycle of genocide and senseless murder that is plaguing our communities nationwide. If by some chance Chicago P.D. determines he has played a role JoJo's murder, we still owe it to JoJo and Lil Reese to do better. Once this murder is solved, there will be a new JoJo and this terrible saga continues like it has continued since before I was even born. There will be a new Lil Reese by that time also and we owe it to him to do better as well.
I say blame yourselves if you're going to point fingers. We need to look in the mirror and have the balls to be honest with ourselves about the things that take place in our culture/community. Rap music isn't all about killing, shooting, drugs and disrespecting women. Unfortunately, some people have pigeonholed the music and don't know this. There are artists like Lupe Fiasco, Dead Prez and Common that add plenty of depth and substance to their music.