When I first heard that Snoop Dogg…er Snoop Lion released a song, “No Guns Allowed,” pleading for an end to gun violence I was grateful to finally hear at least one voice from the rap community speak out against this epidemic–whose latest casualty was 16-year-old Kimani Gray gunned down by police just blocks from my Brooklyn street–a source of contention not only in my neighborhood but around the country as the gun debate heightens.
As loud as the gun shots and crying parents may be to the communities most effected by these tragedies, it’s the deafening silence from entertainers that glorify and sensationalize the gangsta lifestyle that is appalling to me. I’m not anti-rap (listening to Eminem as I write this.) I appreciate all art that expresses a culture that may not otherwise be acknowledged and will motivate people to be more socially conscious. However, I don’t see the latter being shown. I’m all for making people dance, thanks P. Diddy. But music, rap music especially has always prided itself on tacking social ills of the ghetto. But, I have yet to see heavy weights Jay Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne or Rick Ross up in arms about gun violence plaguing the very communities they brag about growing up in.
I’m not campaigning for an after school special dedicated to this issue (although it wouldn’t hurt) or even a “We Are The World” joint. And I’m not so naive to think that Jay Z instructing gang members to trade in their guns will automatically change things. Although, I think music manager Michael “Blue” Williams idea of a gun buy back program during Beyonce’s summer concerts are a good start. I’m just suggesting they use their influence to contribute to the change we all wanna see. The change rap legends Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls flawlessly rapped about on “Changes” and “Sky’s the Limit” songs. And how easily they could transition between rapping about causing mayhem in the streets and their desire to see them change.
Now Snoop is doing the same, albeit with a Rhastafarian vibe that channels Bob Marley, and has taken his daughter Cori B, who covers background vocals, and rapper Drake along for the ride. It’s surprising to hear the same rapper who would find any excuse to do the Crip dance and reveal how inseparable he was with his gun in “10 Lil Crips” : they say it’s crazy out here, it ain’t no more fun/ I can’t walk down the street without my gun, gun, would be counseling to stop the gun fire in “No Guns Allowed” : Me don’t want to see no more innocent blood shed/ me don’t want to see no more youth dead.
While this contrast may give listeners the side eye to Snoop’s new found social conscious lyrics–the result of a trip to Jamaica that changed his lifestyle and name–and lead them to shot HYPOCRITE after glamorizing the gangsta life for decades. I think he’s a prime example for what the gun violence debate needs; someone that’s lived that lifestyle, survived it and can pass on what he learned in making it out.
Snoop found inner peace. Let’s hope it’s something he can help pass on to our youth. And make our streets quieter again.