Black rappers aren’t having the best time in the United States.
The death of Coolio a couple of weeks ago made it evident that something was amiss — Black rappers are being wounded or killed with a higher frequency than ever.
What’s going on with Black rappers?
Recently, rapper Half Ounce was fatally shot, raising a conversation about gun violence and rap culture throughout the United States. Whether or not record labels are responsible for protecting their artists has been a heated debate.
Half Ounce’s real name was Latauriisha O’Brien, aged 32. He was killed in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood Monday.
Weeks prior, rapper PnB Rock had been fatally shot during a robbery in the same city. PnB Rock was similarly aged 30, and his real name was Rakim Hasheem Allen.
He was shot at Roscoe’s House of Chicken ’N Waffles in South Los Angeles after being approached and arguing with the shooter Monday afternoon.
The shooter robbed him, made off with multiple items, and fled in a vehicle.
Furthermore, a trend of fatally shooting at least one rapper every year has been observed since 2018, with many years including far more than just one shooting.
Another high-profile rapper, Drake the Ruler, was fatally stabbed in 2021, and Grammy-nominated rapper Nippy Hussle was shot in 2019 in Los Angeles.
Things in Los Angeles got so bad that Ice-T had to issue a warning to young rappers coming to Los Angeles for Super Bowl-related events earlier this year.
Ice T’s tweet was “Not a Threat, just a Warning.. Young Rappers coming to LA for the Super Bowl weekend. LA has over 50Thousand Active Gang Members.. Make sure you play it SAFE. It’s the Wild Wild West” and a fist emoji.
Gang presence, big cities, and dead rappers seem to be correlated. The underlying issue might be more complex and point to a larger problem with gun violence in America.
Gun violence is intrinsic to the condition of Black people in society, sparked by systemic racism, as per the analysis of Elaine Richardson, a professor at Ohio State University specializing in African American cultures, literacy, and hip-hop.
The first fatal shooting of a high-profile hip-hop artist was that of DJ Scott La Rock in 1987, outside a Bronx apartment complex that summer.
Fans have speculated that some of these killings had been motivated by labels taking out a life insurance policy on the rappers, with the main suspect being PnB Rock’s former record label, empire.
French Montana claimed that the rising death toll of young rappers prompted labels to take out life insurance policies, further shedding light on the situation.
Essentially, these labels prey on artist’s death and make millions by taking out the insurance policy.