Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dolla: Hip Hop's Ugly Face

This post can be found at VLAD TV, it's my debut article over there. This story touched me because as much as I love hip-hop and love how real it can be, I hate when we lose lives over bullshit. Check out the site and as always, Thanks for your ongoing support:

The day before Dolla flew to LA to record the rest of his album, he was killed on May 18, 2009 at approximately 3:10 pm. Along with Scrapp DeLeon and DJ Shabbazz, they were waiting in the Beverly Center's VIP valet parking and auto detailing lounge area, in Los Angeles after a shopping trip. The area was located is behind the P. F. Chang's China Bistro pictured to the left.

The three entered the mall's valet parking lobby located by the Macy's Men Shop via the express elevator that runs from the 7th floor directly to the 1st floor. Shots were fired. The majority of panicked witnesses fled and hid in two of the Mall's sidewalk restaurants on the La Cienega Boulevard side � P. F. Chang's China Bistro and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Those that ran into the latter restaurant screamed to the manager to lock the door.[6]

"The customers were yelling 'close the store, close the store, because somebody is shooting,' " said Elsa Hernandez, general manager of the Chipotle restaurant.[7]

L.A.P.D. Police officer Karen Reyner said the victim and the gunman had been arguing before the attack. This incident was said to be leading from a prior altercation that happened at a strip club in Atlanta 3 weeks before. After the shooting, the gunman fled in a silver Mercedes-Benz.

Brother man was arriving in town to finish recording his album! So who knows what could have come from that, we will never know. And I write this piece as someone looking in and not knowing much about this young man's life or plight.

In a world so concerned with young Black men being "thugs" we ask our Black entertainment artists to be the same. How much credibility would Jay-Z have gotten if he didn't drop seven straight albums talking about selling drugs? Up until just a few short years ago, in most circles the two greatest rappers of all-time were Biggie or 2Pac, both gangster rappers. And how did that story end? Tragically. When your image meets reality. Biggie and 2Pac were entertainers and pulled into the reality of guns and violence, their lives taken so early.

Do you remember the first time you heard C-Murder was going to jail for attempted murder? You sat there and you said to yourself, when you have the world in your hands why are you acting like a knucklehead. Well it's because we see a public image that doesn't really ever show us how deep the rabbit hole goes. As it pertains to Dolla, what went on in that strip club in Atlanta? Whatever it was, it followed him all the way to Los Angeles, and involved miscreants who have the balls to shoot and murder a public figure in broad daylight in a popular shopping mall. Was it an argument over a chick? An argument over some money owed? Or maybe an argument over whether Dolla had sold out?

I'll tell you a secret; I commend artists who sell out because in reality, they rarely completely do. Real talk, why are we so convinced that people change when they get on? I don't think that you can automatically change overnight. I look back at times when I was 19 working in a studio as an engineer and the local talent who would come in to record would actually be selling drugs and living a life of crime. Now, tell me what you would do if your whole life all you did was sell penny weight, and now some Record executive gave you 250K and said, go and be merry. Don't worry, I'll wait. In my mind, when you make it you will have a hard time leaving all you've known behind and trying to step up into a new world. So in reality we don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes with Dolla and his connection in Atlanta.

And in closing, do we ever learn? Do we look at what the past has brought us and make some changes? Nope. We continue to see rappers going at each other's crews, money, family and baby mothers, doesn't this sound familiar? It's these unfriendly reminders every so often that remind us, that life is fragile, and we are not invincible, and it's not fair to the families of these artists that we continue to allow music to get so misconstrued into violence.

So as Talib said, "Nowhere to turn, nowhere to run and there's nothing new, Where do we go for inspiration? It's like pain is our only inspiration."

As I was writing this story, the following incident occurred:Ortega Henderson, a 25-year-old up-and-coming rapper, died from complications of gunshot wounds sustained in a shooting that took place on May 16. Ortega Henderson succumbed to his injuries last week and died in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

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