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Hip-Hop community urged to fight gun violence

Wed, Jun 26, 2013

Some members of the Chicago hip-hop community saw how violence affects youths through an experiment involving an imaginary box. Youth were asked to put “pretend” items into the box. Rather than placing harmless objects, a few children in the experiment wanted to place guns inside. One even desired to rig the box with a bomb.

Rappn Tate, a StreetWise vendor, musician, and ambassador of the Zulu Nation in Chicago, said that what should have been a completely innocuous box became emblematic for how derogatory hip-hop affects youth. It is no secret that violence is affecting Chicago’s youth, said Tate. The hip-hop community, however, says derogatory hip-hop is the cause.

Derogatory hip-hop is a style of music that promotes gun violence and heavy drug use. Conversely, Tate’s coined term “positive hip-hop” provides positive messages that encourage youth to “pull up their pants and put down their guns.”

Although much of this negativity lies with the recording artist, Tate claims that the record label is the main driving force in the derogatory hip-hop movement.

According to a Bloomberg report, a staggering 506 slayings in Chicago last year cost the city of Chicago $2.5 billion. Tate feels that it would be cheaper to help these youths at a young age.
The hip-hop community’s issue over gun violence caught fire after the September 2012 homicide of rapper Joseph “Lil JoJo” Coleman. “The hip-hop community was pretty silent about Lil JoJo’s death. This is why we want to inspire these kids to not pick up these guns in the first place,” Tate said.
Tate said it is not just about creating programs for these youths. It is more about providing positive influences in their daily lives.

“We’re trying to challenge major artists and people in the entertainment industry to adopt some of these communities,” said Tate. “To go out and create jobs for these kids.” These various artists include Kanye West, Common and R. Kelly, Tate said.

Tate said that gang violence is the result of the fracturing of larger gangs across the city. The new splinter groups cover only a couple blocks. This means an even more dangerous environment in the wake of next year’s Chicago Public School closings, because youth will cross so many successive gang boundaries on their way to school.

“We want to fight this problem,” said Tate. “We want to get young adults to help empower these youths. We want them to be mentors that help engage these young people. We want to show them how to be creative and enterprise their ideas into successful futures.”

By Torey Darin
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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