Now that 2018 has concluded and is officially in the history books as I look back on the entire 365 days a lot of cultural contributors died. Whether it was gun violence, disease, or drugs there were almost two deaths every month. From Lovebug Starski to Craig Mack and Mac Miller every generation of Hip Hop felt the loss of someone who contributed to their era of the culture. Losing cultural contributors to gun violence, disease, and drugs is not a new phenomenon within the culture. We lost Jam Master Jay to gun violence. We lost GURU to health complications and we lost DJ Screw to drug abuse. Hip Hop history repeats itself and we still haven’t learned from the mistakes of others. Despite DJ Screw dying from drinking lean or sizzurp it was still glorified to the point where Dipset had a liquor which they named, Sizzurp. Young Rappers name themselves after popular vices like XXX and Xanax.
If you surround yourself with drugs or people who do drugs you’ll fall at the hand of drugs. Even if it’s possession, abuse, use, or sales you will fall. Gun violence is something that has plagued our community for some time after the crack epidemic. Even if cultural contributors haven’t “made it” soon as they get on television to those on the outside looking in, they made it! You become a walking target. XXXtentacion was murdered for money sought in a social media post. Squirrels don’t run through low grass when the hawk is flying overhead. If it isn’t at the hands of someone else disease and a lack of medical resources coupled with years of drug abuse will take its toll on an aging body. Many of us working regular jobs have health insurance to cover our bills but once you reach a certain tax bracket obtaining health insurance isn’t as easy. Then when the revenue streams slow down and you don’t have the same income, you can’t get the same treatment. Health insurance covers mental health services and that could cut the increased drug usage within the Hip Hop community. Constantly popping pills and alcohol abuse is a clear sign of depression and anxiety which could be alleviated or better managed with mental health services.
As a culture and as a community that is consumed and appropriated around the globe we need to cut risky and self-harming behaviors in the New Year. We cannot keep losing valuable contributors to senseless violence or poor self-care. There are people around these contributors that are enablers, leaches, and appropriators and to keep up their lifestyle they have to keep the artist dazed and confused so they don’t question them or their motives. You artists have to clear your mind of all the smoke and mirrors if you want to be free and happy. That means taking care of yourself completely. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Happy people are high off of the life that they have created for themselves and their families…and they could be alive to revel in their own success.
“I thought we was cool, why you want me to die, homie?” – 50 Cent (Many Men)