Rap industry leaders say hip-hop should not be the ‘scapegoat’ for the growing violence

The recent shooting death of Migos rapper Takeoff has ignited a new conversation among artists and industry leaders about how to disrupt the violent cycle and find possible solutions.

It’s a cycle on repeat: A beloved rapper is murdered. Family, friends and fans react online. The case is investigated yet typically goes unsolved. The hip-hop community calls for change, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the violence. 

The recent shooting death of Migos rapper, Takeoff, on Nov. 1, has ignited a new conversation among artists and industry leaders. In order to disrupt this violent cycle and find possible solutions, they say, society must first stop blaming the hip-hop community, acknowledge that systemic issues have helped create the existing violence, and provide better options for Black inner-city youth to advance from broken systems. 

“Hip-hop is culture,” said dead prez’s Stic, whose new book “The 5 Principles” touches on hip-hop’s journey toward well-being. “Hip-hop is BBoying breaking, emceeing, graffiti, knowledge of self, peace, love, joy, unity, having fun. That’s what hip-hop actually is. The violence we see in society is a product of the society. So I think hip-hop is the scapegoat for a lot of things.”

Greg Yuna and Lenny Santiago.Courtesy Lenny SantiagoSince 2018, there have been at least two or more rappers per year killed as a result of gun violence. Studies looking at the life expectancy of rappers estimate that murder has been the cause of death of over 50% of dead rappers. They also show that their average age at the time of death was between 25 and 30 years old. 

Some of those murders are now being explored in a new WE tv’s docuseries “Hip Hop Homicides,” which looks at the shooting deaths of rap artists including Pop Smoke, XXXTentacion and King Von. Van Lathan, one of the executive producers of the series, told NBC News that even though he feels rap has become “more violent,” it’s also important to note that “violence has become more accessible.”


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