The deadly taking pictures of rapper Half Ounce has ignited a well-recognized dialog about gun violence, rap tradition and whether or not there’s a duty for document labels to guard their artists.
The 32-year-old rapper, whose actual title was Latauriisha O’Brien, was killed in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood Monday, simply weeks after rapper PnB Rock was fatally shot throughout a theft in the identical metropolis. These rappers are a part of a string of artists who’ve died by gun violence, with a minimum of one rapper being fatally shot yearly since 2018. With different high-profile rappers reminiscent of Drakeo the Ruler, who was fatally stabbed in 2021, and Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle additionally fatally shot in 2019 in Los Angeles, there was some dialog on whether or not cities with a prevalent gang presence have grow to be a harmful place for these instantly concerned within the hip-hop group. Earlier this yr, legendary emcee-turned-actor Ice-T issued a warning to “younger rappers” who have been coming to Los Angeles for Tremendous Bowl-related festivities.
However specialists say the issue is rather more advanced than that. Elaine Richardson, a professor at Ohio State College who makes a speciality of African American cultures, literacy and hip-hop, stated it’s essential to prioritize systemic points after we focus on the killings of rappers.
“It’s a mirrored image of the issue of gun violence within the bigger society, and violence basically in America. You must assume critically about oppression and the bigger context we stay in,” she stated.
Gun violence is “part of the situation of Black folks in society, all the pieces that’s harmful and dangerous to the bigger society. There’s at all times going to be a disparity in our communities. It’s all systemic, it’s part of the best way society is structured,” Richardson added.
Within the aftermath of such killings, questions typically swirl about company culpability, significantly claims that document labels push artists to imagine “robust man” personas, whereas failing to guard them from the violence they promote. It’s a query that has consumed the hip-hop group for the reason that deadly taking pictures of DJ Scott La Rock in 1987, thought of to be the primary high-profile taking pictures loss of life of a serious hip-hop artist. La Rock, who was a part of the influential hip-hop group Boogie Down Productions, was fatally shot exterior a Bronx condo advanced that summer time.
Within the case of PnB Rock, whose actual title was Rakim Hasheem Allen, followers speculated whether or not his former document label, Empire, took out a life insurance coverage coverage on the rapper. This declare has not been substantiated by NBC Information. Bobby Fisher, the vice chairman of artists and repertoire (A&R) for Empire, stated the label solely labored with the artist briefly on his hit single “Egocentric” in 2016 and had no important reference to him afterward. Rappers together with King Von and Younger Dolph, who Fisher stated labored with or distributed their music by way of Empire, have been fatally shot in recent times in Atlanta and Memphis, Tennessee, respectively. Fisher stated neither followers nor label officers ever get used to such violence and referred to as the deaths “traumatizing.”
“I believe anybody who indicators an artist, there’s a part of compassion to verify your artist is secure. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to’t handle your artist 24/7,” Fisher stated of claims that document labels ought to do extra to guard rappers.
NBC Information couldn’t verify the precise relationship the aforementioned artists had with the label.
He famous that there’s solely a lot label officers can do to maintain artists secure with out controlling their private lives. “They’re out doing exhibits, they’re going to be with their family members. More often than not, artists come from impoverished neighborhoods that they return to making an attempt to indicate assist and love. You may advise as a lot as doable, in areas of labor, you’ll be able to present safety. However artists have their very own lives exterior of being artists,” he stated.
When information of a rapper’s loss of life makes headlines, a pointy critique of hip-hop tends to comply with. In February, New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams condemned drill rap after two artists, Jayquan McKenley and Tahjay Dobson, who was generally known as Tdott Woo, have been shot lifeless in Brooklyn. “We pulled Trump off Twitter… but we’re permitting music, displaying of weapons, violence,” Adams said then, vowing to induce social media firms to take away movies that includes drill music from their platforms. Final month, The New York Instances confirmed with administration and label representatives that Adams had three drill rappers faraway from town’s Rolling Loud competition over fears of potential violence.
Students like A.D. Carson, an assistant professor of hip-hop and the worldwide south on the College of Virginia, have referred to as out efforts to vilify rap music and use the music style to strengthen stereotypes and mythologies about Black folks. He wrote in an essay for The Dialog that rappers’ show of hypermasculinity and even violence are supposed to sign “a type of authenticity,” including that “those that nonetheless search to vilify rap may do properly to give attention to the sources of the disaster of violence in America slightly than blaming the music that displays it.”
Chuck Creekmur, the CEO of the hip-hop-centered media website AllHipHop, shared comparable sentiments.
“There are quite a lot of nuances that folks don’t essentially take into consideration when taking a look at rapper deaths. I personally imagine it’s indicative of what’s occurring in our communities basically,” he stated. “There’s this prevailing notion that rap artists have essentially the most harmful job, however I don’t subscribe to that.”