Hip-hop isn’t just a genre of music. It’s a culture born out of the Bronx, New York, by African Americans, Latino Americans, and Caribbean Americans in the early 1970s. It also started as an art movement often practiced at parties. Hip-hop soon garnered attention by the end of the decade, around the late 1980s.
Hip-hop is characterized by four major key elements: Rap, Djing, Breakdance & Graffiti.
Rapping, also identified as rhyming or emceeing is a musical form of delivering messages. Rappers never have boundaries on what they can rap about. While today, most successful or commercial rappers usually rap about money, sex, drugs, and love. But the true essence of rap music is that it is used as a weapon for expressing thoughts about the problems of racism, discrimination, bad government activities, gang-related subjects, and rivalry.
The Dark Side of HipHop
Even though rap music was used to spread positive messages by rhyming lyrics about equality or used in form of entertainment purpose to be played on the radio, television, and party venues. Rap music slowly grew its popularity with its dark side. Most of the rappers came from a hardcore background belonging to projects and neighborhoods (hood).
Raised with low education, affiliated in violent gangs smuggling drugs, robbery, fight over territory, carjacking, kidnapping, and involved in murders. Chuck D and Public Enemy were the first few artists to use hip-hop and rap to showcase the hardcore lifestyle from where they came from. NWA is one of the legendary groups to talk about police brutality on a record. With their debut song F*** the Police changed the whole scene of rap music.
More rappers who appeared coming from a similar type of lifestyle gained attention, support, respect, and popularity. Most of them spread awareness to the people and gave them an insight into the lifestyle from where they come from. Rap soon managed to be recognized in major music awards shows. In the year of 1989 at the 31st Annual Grammy Awards, The Best Award for Rap Performance category was included.
Growing popularity truly helped rappers to earn success and fame. Rap music soon became so popular that this music culture is the most active culture since its recognition.
Along with success and fame, rappers face hard times tackling the dark side of it and most of them pay the price with their life or taking others’ life.
Hip-Hop Feuds & Beef
Rap is not inherently violent, rappers’ disputes and disagreements take place from a variety of causes: failed business relationships; geographical alliances; romantic entanglements; jealousy; betrayal; loyalty; honor. Some feuds are petty, some are deeply personal. Some end in hope, others haven’t ended.
One of the most recognized beef in this history of hip-hop rap scene was between N.W.A and Ice Cube. Soon other members from N.W.A left the group and started having beef with each other. The beef between Easy-E and Dr.Dre was the last and ended up with a bad result. Many people believe Easy-E was injected with the HIV virus that ended up Easy’s death. This was one of the cases where the artist was put to death bed where hip-hop feuds and beef was the main reason.
According to a 2015 study, it shows that 51.5 % of murder was the cause of death of American hip-hop artists.
Beef and feuds became common among the rap community leading to tragic deaths of artists mostly who were in their prime.
The beef between Tupac and Notorious BIG was a very clear example of the rap game being violent, political, and influential.
Up to this day, many rappers have lost their lives while several artists are behind bars. It shows that Hip-hop and rap are not only about parties, sex, and love. It rather has a very dark side to it.
Many rappers being affiliated with criminal gangs got arrested or put under government surveillance as they shared their criminal activities. Not only government but rival gangs also make the rappers target to take revenge.
In recent years some of the rising rappers murdered were XXX Tentacion, Smoke Dawg, Kin Von, Nipsey Hussle, and some others listed here below.
Drugs overdose and mental health
“I swear to God I want to just slit my wrists and end this bullsh*t
Throw the Magnum to my head, threaten to pull sh*t
And squeeze until the bed’s completely red
I’m glad I’m dead, a worthless f**kin’ Buddha head”:- Suicidal Thoughts- Notorious BIG.
The lyrics by Notorious BIG in his song Suicidal Thoughts clearly show the stress and shows the bad mental health situation of the rapper.
Similar to this many rappers have lost their lives trying to fight over the situation that made their mental health worse. Just like most drug addicts and substance abusers, many rappers use drugs as an escape from reality.
Rappers successful in their music careers earn a very good amount of money through record labels and live performances. Some even find good success in movies, TV, and reality shows.
Fame and success are the positive sides of rap music. But after taking a deep look, artists often suffer from anxiety and depression.
Not being able to get in touch with the people with whom you grow up, families, and friends. At the same time media and rivals trying to know about the flaws, most of the time spread bad rumors. It eventually leads to drug and substance use. Thus, turning hip-hop, which began as a revolution into a toxic form of entertainment.
Also Read: Great Artists Who Died Too Young