A Thought About Nipsey Hussle.

           Last week Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of his Los Angeles clothing store and an avalanche of praise and loving memorials poured forth. Before the body was even cold, he was being described as a ‘visionary’ and a ‘forward-thinking, inspirational entrepreneur,’ who used the money from his hip-hop empire to improve the lives of the less-fortunate members of Crenshaw and other minority neighborhoods in LA. Here’s what was said about him in The Washington Post, less than four hours after he died:  “He made us believe that we could make it out of low-income housing and succeed in an unfair capitalistic economy that far too often rewards privilege over work ethic.”

              Not to be left behind, Gun-control Nation launched its own series of plaudits for Hussle. I received emails from several organizations, along with a comment from The Trace, which echoed what was being said about Hussle from one end of the politically-correct spectrum to the other, namely, that the gun-control community had lost a good friend.

              The way Hussle has been lionized, you would think he was the Mother Theresa of South Central LA. And I don’t really care if everyone in Gun-control Nation finds what I am about to say both insulting and offensive to the memory of this fine young man, but it needs to be said.

              As far as I am concerned, people who want to do something to reduce gun violence are engaged in what I consider to be a sacred task. Why? Because violence happens to be the only threat to the human community for which we still haven’t come up with a solution that really works.  And it doesn’t matter whether the violence consists of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima or putting a bullet into Nipsey Hussle while he’s standing in front of his store. We don’t and we shouldn’t condone any act of violence, no matter where or when it takes place.

             Think about it. We know how to erase poverty, even though the will to do so often isn’t there.  We know how to reduce global warming, again it’s a question of desire, not a lack of knowing what needs to be done. We have conquered just about every illness which used to reduce the average life-span by more than half. But we haven’t made a dent when it comes to the degree to which human beings are still threatened by violence, whether it’s one-on-one assaults or armies deployed by nation-states.

              What does all this have to do with Nipsey Hussle?  The answer is right here, and I note that in all the effusive accolades that he has been receiving, nobody has mentioned the artistic moment that launched him on his way. This video, Bullets Ain’t Got No Names, may be the single most offensive, disgusting and downright repulsive celebration of violence that I have ever seen.

             The reason we suffer from this particular kind of violence – gun violence – is because a lot of young men walk around with guns. Guns are cool, guns are hip, guns are where it’s at. How do you think this embrace of gun violence occurs?  Do you think it’s because these young people read the latest public health gun research? Do you think it’s because they just can’t wait to put on the red t-shirt given out by Shannon Watts and her MOMS?  Did Nipsey Hussle ever make a video in which he talked about sending a donation to Brady or Everytown and asked his fans to do the same?

             By the way, I happen to be a hip-hop fan; I started listening to Tupac in the early 90’s because his late mother was an early Black Panther activist, and in that respect, she and I had some mutual friends. But listening to any kind of music is one thing, promoting gun violence is something else. So when it comes to anything having to do with gun violence, the last thing my friends in Gun-control Nation should be doing is avoiding what needs to be said.

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Want To Understand Gun Violence? Try Hip-Hop.

              One of the major talking-points Gun-control Nation, particularly now when some kind of gun control law may actually be coming due, is the idea of ‘knowing’ or ‘understanding’ gun ‘culture;’ i.e., why do people own guns?  Because to pass some kind of ‘reasonable’ gun law, we need to make sure that ‘reasonable’ gun owners will go along for the ride. Hence, the term ‘gun culture’ becomes the shorthand for understanding why 90 million Americans live in homes that contain guns.

              I happen to believe this idea to be pure nonsense and just another manifestation of the liberal fantasy which believes that some of the more ‘enlightened’ gun owners can somehow be made to agree with non-gun owners on how to regulate their guns. Did gun violence prevention (GVP) messaging play a role in various Congressional campaigns?  Yes, it did. But did all those House seats flip because gun owners voted blue instead of voting red? Yea, right.

              Anyway, back to gun culture. As far as I’m concerned, if my Gun-control Nation friends want to really understand why Americans own guns, it seems to me that what they need to do is stop worrying about why the average, law-abiding redneck in Kentucky or Pennsylvania keeps some bangers in his closet and get real by asking a question which goes like this: Why do the people whose behavior results in the overwhelming number of gun homicides and gun assaults own guns? This particular population’s behavior happens to account for at least half, if not more, of the total number of all gun injuries which we suffer from each and every year.

              Who are these gun-toting and gun-wielding folks?  They happen to be inner-city residents between the ages of 16 and 34 who listen to hip-hop music all day long. And know who they hear when they listen to hip-hop?  They hear Dr. Dre sing ‘A Nigger Witta Gun,’ or Sticky Fingaz crooning away with ‘My Dogz is My Gunz,’ or Gang Starr belting out ‘Who Gut Gunz.’ And then there’s always the greatest hip-hopper of all time, Tupac, who’s hit ‘Me and My Girlfriend’ was an ode not to a real woman but to the Smith & Wesson revolver which he carried around in his pants. The picture above is of Ice Cube holding what he refers to in a big hit as ‘Man’s Best Friend.’

              I keep hearing how the kids are turned on to guns because they play video games involving guns. In 2017, the video industry generated 36 billion in revenues, of which roughly one-quarter came from shooting games, which works out to $9 billion in gun-shooting video sales. Know what the hip-hop business is worth today? Try $10 billion, okay?

              Of course the quick and easy answer which will allow the GVP to continue ignoring this issue is the fact that most hip-hop songs don’t necessarily evoke guns or gun violence at all. Know who these people are? Yadi Kadafi, B.I.G., Fat Pat, Big L, DJ Uncle Al, Half A Mill, Mac Dre, Blade Icewood? These are less than one-quarter of the hip-hop artists who have been gunned down since Tupac was shot and killed in 1996. And believe me, this is a very incomplete list.

              So tell me. When was the last time any GVP group ever held a candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence like these? Do any of my Gun-control Nation friends talk about coming together with the hip-hop community to discuss issues of common concern? If you don’t think that hip-hop culture and gun culture aren’t one and the same, you don’t know very much about either kind of culture – you really don’t.

              Want to get a taste of what I’m talking about? Just click here and listen for a bit. Then tell me about how all we need to do is contact all those responsible gun owners and get them to line up behind all our reasonable ideas to control their guns.