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Commercialized Rappers Have Become Modern Day Drug Dealers




by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com

I was speaking this morning to the family of Maria Lloyd, the woman who wrote an open letter about her experience of having a father who was given 15 life sentences for drug distribution during the 1980s.   During our conversation, Maria mentioned that one of the comments she saw in response to her open letter consisted of a woman who lashed out at her because her mother was hooked on drugs.

Maria said that she felt the woman’s pain because she herself has lost relatives to drug addiction.  She also stated that in the drug war, the primary culprits were not just the actual dealers, who were primarily young people seeking a way to make money in a bad economy with poor educational opportunities.  An even bigger culprit was the federal government, which made deals with international groups that allowed them to sell their drugs in America, as long as they sold them in the black community.

A narrator made an accurate point when discussing the reigns of drug kingpins Frank Lucas and Nicki Barnes.  He said, “The powers that be would rather see you getting high on heroine than to see you getting high on the teachings of Malcolm X.”

So, the broader point here is that an attack on a community is every bit as psychological as it is physical.  If your oppressor controls your thinking and gets you to destroy yourself, then you are going to do the hard work for them.  Even worse, those in power are more likely to use operatives within your community to get the job done, positioning them as the ultimate scapegoats for negative consequences of devious behavior.

Rappers, to some extent, have become modern day drug dealers.  Grabbing young, hungry kids out of the ghetto who are willing to sign damn near anything to pay the bills, multi-billion dollar corporations provide them with financial incentives to expose a very toxic, insidious message to the African American community.  The message presented on the radio for black men is very simple:  Stay high and drunk as much as possible, you should sleep with everything that moves, going to prison is something to be proud of, kill other black men if necessary, waste all of your money without saving or investing it, and remain ignorant.

Of the messages that black youth receive from hip hop music, almost none of them position that young person to live an empowered and fulfilled existence.  Rather, they are messages that teach a young person to kill themselves before they even begin to realize an ounce of their potential.

As a result, many of the worst hip hop artists have positioned themselves as the delivery boys of psychological poison, destroying millions of black minds in the process.  Like the old men who were sent to kill Jesus as a newborn baby, they drop into the black community like assassins seeking to murder the potential of any young black male who might grow up to become the next Malcolm X.

This is not to say that we should reject hip hop or even reject the men who deliver it.  But it is absolutely essential that we all be educated about the impact of these artistic platforms and remain encouraged to seek a higher standard.  The power of hip hop was designed to build, not meant to encourage self-destruction, even most true rappers know that.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To receive Dr. Boyce commentary in your email, please click here.


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