“My one homie gotta gun In the cupboard…” These are AKA’s lyrics from his popular song Congratulate. In this somewhat carefree but paradoxically narcissistic record, Kiernan claims that one of his entourage own a firearm and the insinuation leads you to believe he might even use if you step out of line!
Gun claiming to push units has been used as a PR tactic since the 90’s. But what happens when lyrics take the form of real life? South Africa has a history of gun violence; this piece was not written to emphasize on the doom and gloom of crime statistics. The situation is something to be cognisant of hence a general mention. It is important to note that American style hip-hoprap is a very competitive sport. While South African artist might argue that they are not emulating the evidence is clear that this behaviour is copied. For example; Tupac and Biggie, were casualties of one of the biggest beef incidences in rap history.
One of the first great indicators that the lines between the music and real life are extremely blurred. Since then several rappers have taken to the tactic to encourage album sales. The 50cent Ja-rule beef is a good example of how these beefs/stunts are often a stunt that could bleed into real life.
“Ja Rule eventually tried to squash the feud with 50 Cent by using minister Louis Farrakhan in a televised interview. However, the attempt at peace lost credibility as the interview was scheduled a day before Blood in My Eye was released. As a result, most fans, along with 50 Cent, dismissed the interview as a blatant publicity stunt.“ *
I guess the last most memorable rap beef between Nas and Jay-Z. The Ether /Takeover beef was huge. A bold move on the side of Nas to attack the big dog Jay, gained him “music industry street cred”. Even though Nas and Jay alleged to gun possession. The distinction between actual street life and studio gangsterism is often not made by the consumer and seems to be mistaken for legitimate underworld respect.
Now gun violence is major problem in South Africa. Outside of the glorified american scenes we’ve seen real incidents closer to home where artist have been victims and sometimes casualties of gun violence. Lucky Dube was gunned down in front of his children in 2010 in an attempted hijacking. Khuli Chana is also a victim of gun violence as well as police brutality. Which emphasizes the current dynamic concerning gun culture in South Africa.
This culture is not something we can support if we historically consider gun violence in SA. As an artist one should acquire critical acclaim on merit. There are no shortcuts. Are rappers liable for these beefs, or do the PR companies have the bigger say when it comes to marketing? Either way there are two main messages that need to be transmitted, the first is hype. Hype is useful for an artist. In many instances it helps catapult an artists career, but violence can not be a consequence of it. The second and the most important is gun violence. This is a local issue and needs to be fundamentally evaluated. As consumers we cannot tolerate this if it has violent inclinations. We have lost talented people because of gun violence. Let us not continue to make the same mistakes.
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*extract from wikipedia *
illustration inspiration: Profile images of AKA and Casper: Twitter
Tupac image from http://imgarcade.com/1/tupac-with-gun/