The Set List
By Bryan Washburn
Getting Screwed By The Gun
The “greatest rapper alive” is going to have to wait a while to defend his self-proclaimed title. Lil’ Wayne is heading to jail. The 27-year-old rapper got a delay so he could get dental surgery. The multiplatinum, Grammy-winning rapper will be in jail for about a year.
While this is shocking news for fans of the workaholic rapper, it’s not the first time this has happened to a Grammy-winning rapper. T.I. is just now finishing up a yearlong prison sentence at a halfway house.
Musicians and artists have been in the midst of controversy for some. But the charges for Weezy and T.I. — who were both brought up on the same charges — are shining a light on a problem that’s not just occurring with hip-hop/rap artists, but crossing over into sports, business and around the world: the possession of a felony weapon, most notably guns.
The proliferation of the gangsta image is not a new one, nor is it one that popular musicians, most notably rappers, have shied away from in the past decade. In fact, it has only helped to advance the thoughts and actions of other celebrities and athletes who feel they need the same protection the gangstas have, which is portrayed through music, videos and TV.
Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas was recently suspended for the rest of the NBA season for keeping four handguns in the team locker room and even pulling them out in a scuffle with a teammate. The incident was later classified as a joke that had gotten out of hand.
Whether or not having guns in the locker room is the direct influence of the hip-hop culture, it is the sign of what some Americans are feeling: The need to have a firearm for protection or just to be flashy and show off their Glocks or nines to their friends.
Rappers and other celebrities parade around with guns and security most of the time simply because they feel they need the protection. However, the surprise of this statement is a few of them actually do need it, including T.I. and Weezy, who both have gang connections and have been engaged with violence on more than one occasion.
Though some might find the need to carry guns, the perpetrators of these illegal possession charges need to take the responsibility, register their guns and become certified. It might not be the most gangsta thing to do, but it will save lives, keep people out of jail and leave time for what should be the true focus every single day: making music.
When the real need for security is not there and it’s simply “packin’ heat” for reputation’s sake, it’s not only at the expense of the artist’s personal life and legal record, but also sends a wrong message to those who worship the musicians.
Coming from the hard-living streets filled with drugs, violence and gangs is a harsh reality everyone throughout the country should recognize, but promoting carrying guns even in parts of the country that see below-level averages of violence is creating a problem where it shouldn’t exist.
Sure, it can be a seen as a fashion statement in a weird, bizarre scenario. It can be used for protection, in which some cases a gun is a necessity. But the blatant disregard for the most impressionable listeners should be taken into account when these rappers talk about the streets and how they ran it with their nines. It might have been a necessity then, but they need to take a stand against youth and gang violence, like T.I. did before reporting to prison through an MTV reality show.
Weezy and T.I. are still two of the best rappers alive, but their careers took a huge detour when they had to face prison time. It might not be the best impression for their reputation, but taking a stance against guns and violence might be the breakthrough these impressionable listeners need. They need to realize they don’t have a security threat that warrants carrying a gun and carrying one has repercussions bigger than them and the rappers they learn from. The rappers should try to change the hard streets they came from for the better. It affects the world.
Brian Washburn is the founder of DBW and is currently working on a way to revolutionize the music industry.