Some Memorable Hip Hop Songs That Address the Issue of Gun Violence

stop the violenceWith much of our attention focused on the gun debate, Newtown, Ct and NRA (National Rifle Association) head Wayne Lapierre talking about how music, movies and video games have caused gun violence, many of us are also talking and asking hard questions.

Earlier today I was asking myself which rap artists would seize the moment and put out compelling music around the gun debate issue.. When I asked this publicly I got a lot of cynical responses, noting that rappers work for an industry that is violent prone and would discourage such efforts.. I don’t buy it. Folks in Hip Hop from day one have long spoke out against violence.

From the days of Afrika Bambaataa doing community center dances in Bronx River projects to promote peace in the early 70s to The Hip Hop Peace Summit w/ the Nation of Islam in the 1997 to Oakland rapper T-Kash running a marathon a couple of years ago to bring an end to gun violence.

In between we had KRS-One launching a Stop the Violence Movement with the Urban League which was accentuated with his landmark song Stop the Violence. In 2001 KRS went to the United Nations to unveil recently the Hip Hop Declaration of Peace.

We had songs like Self Destruction which was a famed posse cut led by KRS-One featuring everyone from MC Lyte to Kool Moe Dee to Ms Melody, D-Nice, Public Enemy, Justice and Stetsasonic speaking to gun violence.

That cut was followed up with the West Coast All-stars We’re All in the Same Gang. That song which featured everyone from NWA to Digital Underground to Tone Loc to JJ Fad was the underscore the efforts that were afoot to bring about a Gang Truce in LA.. In fact during the launch of the song, rival gang members appeared on the Arsenio Hall show to shake hands and call for peace in the hood.

Not too long ago (2005) Snoop Dogg revisited the We’re All in the Same Gang concept by bringing the West Coast Hip Hop community for a Unity Summit..

KRSOne-bfresh2

KRS-One

Three years ago, KRS-One got the Hip Hop industry including Nelly, Redman, Method Man, Styles P, Rah Diggah, Busta Rhymes to name a few, to revisit the Self Destruction project ..There were several songs done to address violence in the hood including the title track  Self Construction.

There are plenty of artists who have always and will continue to speak on issues of the day including gun violence. They may not be covered in the mainstream and many pundits may either be unaware or purposely chose to overlook their efforts, but it doesn’t mean they’ve been silent…It’s up to us to highlight them. Whether it’s the Hip Hop Chess Federation with Adisa Banjoko or artists like DLabrie of Hip Hop Congress, Queen Deehlah of the Silence the Violence Movement or Refa 1 of Aerosoul Movement all doing peace efforts in the Bay Area or artists like Wise Intelligent,  Hakim Green of Channel Live doing peace efforts in New Jersey or artists like I Self Devine, Toki Wright and Brother Ali of the Rhymesayers sparking peace in the Twin Cities to Jasiri X, Paradise Gray of X-Clan and the folks in Pittsburgh’s One Hood . There’s a lot of folks doing good things..

man-with-gunOne of the best and most timeless songs dealing with gun violence comes from Oakland rapper Frank J.. He was a member of a crew called Legion of Une  (Union City) which later became 187 Fac.. The song Brotha Put the Gun Away, was Frank J recounted all his friends who died and how he decided to put the gun away. He talks about real life incidents that took place in Oakland and around the Bay Area including losing his brother.. It’s a powerful song..the lyrics are searing.. I wish more folks would do songs like this..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGJJGFzl7jM

Another incredible and profound song comes from Organized Konfusion..Pharoah Monch and Prince Po drop lyrics that describe the path of a stray bullet..

These lyrics are haunting and all too true is far too many instances
Let the trigger finger put the pressure to the mechanism
Which gives a response, for the automatic *bang*
Clip to release projectiles in single
file forcing me to ignite then travel
through the barrel, headed for the light
At the end of a tunnel, with no specific target in sight
Slow the flow like H2O water
Visualize, the scene of a homicide, a slaughter
No remorse for the course I take when you pull it
The result’s a stray bullet
Niggaz who knew hit the ground runnin and stay down
Except for the kids who played on the playground
Cause for some little girl she’ll never see
more than six years of life, trif-le-ing
When she fell from the seesaw
But umm wait, my course isn’t over
Fled out of the other side of her head towards
a red, Range, Rover, then I ricochet
Fast past a brother’s ass, oh damn, what that nigga say
“Aww fuck it”, next target’s Margaret’s face *bang*
and I struck it

courtesy of OHHLA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNcS5Wl2qlo

We should also note as was pointed out by long time writer Spencer Abbott.. that Stray Bullet was the first of 3 songs dealing with this topic..Pharoah Monch takes it to higher levels with these other two songs When The Gun Draws and climaxed with “Damage“.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ6-FYAngvc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h4jOId8eSg

public Enemy ptAnother cut that deals with Gun Violence comes from Public Enemy… Its called Whatcha Gonna Do.. The song is incredible where Chuck D talks about how we keep shooting each other.. Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Talkin dat drive by shit
Everybody talkin dat gangsta shit

Talkin dat drive by thang
Everybody talking dat gangsta swang

Slaves to the rhythm of the master
Buck boom buck another
Neighborhood disaster
(Drummer hit me one)

A gun iz a gun iz
A muther fuckin gun
But an organized side
Keep a sellout niga on the run

What you gonna do to get paid
Step on the rest of the hood
Till the drug raid

See you runnin like roaches
Black gangstas need track coaches

The white law set you up raw
When you have his trust in killin us..

courtesy of OHHLA

The video which was rarely seen depicts a re-enactment of an attempt to shoot a fictional Black president near the grassy knoll ala JFK.. Great video, but the lyrics stand by themselves and speak to issues of self-hatred and gun violence..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhKqsIe283c

Anothers songto consider and perhaps the most potent is NasI Gave You Power

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJf2q_w7L_8

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An Open Letter to the NRA..Guns, Guns & More Guns Is that the Solution?

Davey-D-purple-frameDear NRA (National Rifle Association) we peeped your press conference this afternoon and lemme make sure I understand the main premise.. What we need in this society as follows; Guns, Guns and More Guns.. We need a cop on every corner and armed guard in every school..

We also got from the NRA, that the reason the school kids died tragically in Newtown at Sandy Hook elementary was because the Principal, Dawn Hochsprung who courageously gave her life didn’t have a gun..

If only she had a gun, then the school kids would’ve been saved..That’s the type nonsense you guys always say, but when push comes to shove, it never rally pans out..Most folks unless they been trained gun or not are thinking about getting out the line of fire, not running around like they in a James Bond movie shooting down assailants packing military style assault weapons..

George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman

Sure you NRA types like so-called neighborhood watch George Zimmerman or gun collector Michael Dunn are quick to kill an unarmed Trayvon Martin or a shoot into a car of unarmed teens and kill an unarmed Jordan Davis for playing his music loud or be like Shawna Forde who shot unarmed Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 9 because she thought they were here ‘illegally’ (they weren’t). Forde and her colleagues in the Minutemen were supposedly ‘protecting the border’.

In these instances and many like them its easy to shoot unarmed folks, but when others are strapped like you are and willing to bust back, you’re doing like everyone else running for cover and then talking smack days later about what you would’ve and could’ve done with a gun.. As the NY Times recently pointed out, there’s been over 60 mass shootings in past 30 years and not one has been stopped by the NRA or armed civilians. You can’t shoot your way out of a problem NRA..So Please Stop all that noise.

Also you all went  and blamed the media and video games for mass shootings. You basically said we need to crack down on that…I’m wondering if you were including the games that your fine organization helped develop like ‘NRA Gun Club‘ or the newest the ‘Medal to Honor‘ video game that our esteemed Navy Seals worked on?

Medea Benjamin

Will the NRA join drone protests since they recruit people who are good at violent  videos games?

Also considering that our military says they need good video game players to operate its new sophisticated equipment which include drones are you suggesting that the protests many of us had against drones is a right? Will the NRA be joining us in that fight against the drone lobby and drone caucus in congress?

Will the NRA hold its criticism when folks speak about violence in entertainment and video games and conclude that our kids have easy access to guns?  Seems like NRA members are usually the first to respond and put down folks who critique our nation’s culture of violence and include in their well thought out solution reduced gun access.. Soon as folks say that then the NRA is out there opposing such critiques. Your solution is we need less violent video games and more guns..

You said that movies are too violent…I guess what you’re saying is that we should be up in arms when favored actor  Clint Eastwood is standing before the world at the Republican National Convention getting the crowd to chant ‘Make My Day‘, a line taken from his violent movie ‘Sudden Impact‘? We’re you guys upset about that? I know I was..

Did the NRA think it was violent back in August when he quoted the Dirty Harry lines or did you cheer along with the other 20 thousand folks? After all it was Clint.. But to hear you guys at the NRA speak today.. Clint’s violent movies led to Sandy Hook..

Dirty Harry..Make My Day

Dirty Harry..Make My Day

When Clint tells folks to ‘Get off His Lawn‘ while holding a shotgun like he did in the movie ‘Gran Torino’, then we should protest and you guys at the NRA will be alongside us..because like you suggested during the press conference, such violent rhetoric is what led to the Sandy Hook massacre..Did I understand that right NRA?

When you talk about violence in music.. You’re talking Toby Keith right? When he tells everyone ‘Cause we’ll put a BOOT in your ass It’s the American way‘ in the song Courtesy of the Red White and Blue?  Is that the type of violence that led to the shootings at Sandy Hook? Was that song ok for Adam Lanza to listen to?

Will the NRA be protesting some of the violent lyrics in NRA member singer Kid Rock‘s songs like ‘Low Life’ and Drinking Smoking where he talks about ‘smacking hoes’, ‘making black music for the white man and how he likes racist jokes ‘ and how his ‘best friend is in the gun rack’? Are those the violent lyrics that led to Sandy Hook..NRA? .

Basically the you guys at NRA wants the whole country to be strapped and once that happens we’ll all be safe according to your logic..Maybe its me, but I’ve been in neighborhoods where everyone is packing and you know what happens? Armed folks shoot other armed folks.. The casualties are usually folks from both sides with innocent people being caught in the crossfire..

Could the NRA have stopped this shoot out at a Reno Casino btw biker gangs?

Could the NRA have stopped this shoot out at a Reno Casino btw biker gangs?

When armed camps go at it we call it gang wars..and whether its Crips and Bloods in Compton going at it or organized crime syndicates like the Gambinos and the Genoveses shooting it out in Brooklyn or biker gangs like Hells Angels and Mongols going at it in Reno, everyone is strapped, guns are drawn and people get shot and killed. Meanwhile you NRA folks are back at the ranch talking about if we had more guns shyt wouldn’t have gone down..To me the outcome is always the same.. Bloodshed..Maybe not mass school shootings but bloodshed nevertheless..

So just so I’m clear, the NRA wants the government to pay for armed guards at every school? You want the government to do this so should we raise taxes? Or cut spending for schools or lower teacher’s salaries? Does this include nursery and day care? What about the fact that we already saw armed guards at school didn’t work when we had Columbine, one of the worst mass school shootings..The good folks over at Gawker pointed this out..You can read about that HERE

If we are going to have armed citizens on every corner as you proposed, does that mean we can bring back the Black Panthers, SNCC, Deacons for Defense, Black Berets, Brown Berets, Young Lords and have them patrol our neighborhoods for folks who misuses their guns and shoot at unarmed civilians? Lemme know whats up NRA so we can get things cracking..

Davey D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZb8EXUrQTo&feature=youtu.be

As We Watch the Trayvon Martin Case, All of Us Should Know Marissa Alexander

As we look at the drama surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, we encourage folks to connect the dots and pay attention to other cases to get an idea on how justice is elusive for some and the working quite well for others.. Yesterday we saw how George Zimmerman was granted bail after giving a half-hearted, insulting, insincere apology to the Martin family for profiling, stalking and eventually killing their son..

What we didn’t hear about was a how an African-American women who in the course of protecting herself from an abusive husband who beat her while she was pregnant, shot a gun that she legally owns into the air. No one was hurt, but she is now looking at 25 years. Yes indeed, you read that right, facing 25 years.. Her name is Marissa Alexander, she lives in Florida, is a mother of 3 and everyone should know her name and her case.The person who prosecuted her case is Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.

Here’s a letter that was written on her behalf laying out the details… As you read this letter ask yourself the following questions:

Where is the NRA on this case? Don’t they have supporters who come to the aid of people like Alexander, a legal gun owner who used a law they designed to protect herself, or was she supposed to actually shoot her husband?

Where’s the folks behind ALEC who pushed for Stand Your Ground Laws, not just in Florida but in other states around the country?

Where are all the folks speaking loudly about the injustice around Trayvon, but silent on Marrissa Alexander, because they choose to see Trayvon in isolation and not connected to the larger system of continual injustices impacting Black people and people of color all over the country?

Here’s the letter….

April 3, 2012

Dear Supporters:

On August 1 2010, my premature baby girl, born nine days earlier, was in the Baptist South N.I.C.U. fighting for her life and I would too be fighting for my life in my own home against an attack from my husband.

My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances.  I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.

Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women.  Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.

In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom.  He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.  After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing.  I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.  For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit.  Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave.  Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave.  Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself.  I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened.  The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me.  In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.  As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home.  Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons.  The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

I was devastated and would continue to be for months following the incident.  I had to appear in court all the way up until trial as I plead not guilty and know that I acted in self-defense.  I believe my actions saved my life or prevented further harm, but preserved that of my husband who was completely irrational, extremely violent, and unpredictable that day.

Florida has a self-defense law and it includes the right to stand your ground.  Below are the facts of my concern with the incorrect way the law was applied and ultimately the injustice in my case.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, under sworn statement in November 2010, admitted he was the aggressor, threatened my life and was so enraged he didn’t know what he would do.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, was arrested for domestic violence two times, once for abuse against me.  The attack against me was so violent; I ended up in the hospital.

·        Prior to my arrest, I told the office I was in fear for my life due to the prior violence against me.  I also told the officer there was a domestic injunction in place to protect me against abuse from the alleged victim.  This information was written in detail by the officer in my arrest report, but ignored for some unknown reason.

·        In July of 2011, a hearing was held, where I along with the alleged victims testified as it relates to the stand your ground law and its immunity from prosecution.

·        After the hearing, Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt denied my motion, citing that I could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door.  The law specifically states: No duty to retreat.

·        My attorney entered a standing objection on the record to the ruling and we proceeded to trial.

·        During that time, Angela Corey, our State Attorney met with the alleged victims.  I also along with my attorney met with Angela Corey, John Guy, and then prosecutor Christen Luikart.  I justified my actions to them and the truth as I have told it has remained the same.

·        Knowing our prior domestic abuse history, Angela Corey was hard pressed for the minimum mandatory, which provisions allow for prosecution to wave those stipulations.  I was not guilty, nor did I believe that was fair and just under the circumstances.  She also allowed for those same provisions in the State vs. Vonda Parker, same charges different circumstances which did not include self-defense.

·        Florida uses a law commonly known as 10-20-life as a sentencing guideline when a felony takes place with the use of a weapon.  Under this statute, my felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.

·        Stand your ground law has been applied in multiple recent incidents, the following is just a couple of incidents.  Carl Kroppman Jr was allowed to use this law to avoid being arrested/charged during a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville, FL in August of 2011.  Marqualle Woolbright of Ocala, FL avoided murder charges due to the stand your ground law when he shoot and killed someone.

I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one.  I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day.  The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?

A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies.  I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.

The threat that day was very real, imminent, and the battery on me occurred minutes before the decision I made to protect myself.  That decision was a last resort, necessary and a reaction to the continued threat on my life.  I am a believer that grace allowed for my response to be carried out in a non-lethal manner.  This prevented the imminent threat and harm a non-fatal tactic, but not against an unknown attacker, rather my very own husband.  That was by far the most difficult position to be in nine days after giving birth to a six week premature infant.  My heart goes out for my two stepsons and always has had a hurt and sincere empathy for them being subjected innocently to that trauma.

The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court.

So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?

Sincerely,

Lincoln B. Alexander Jr on behalf of Marissa Alexander

You can get more info on this case my going to: http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/