Chicago rapper Common says hip-hop artists can help reduce violence

Thursday, Sep 26 by User 2 Comments

September 21, 2013 (CHICAGO) -- Grammy-award hip hop artist Common, who has openly worried about the violence in Chicago, was in his hometown Friday to help celebrate the city's music scene when he was confronted with a brutal reminder of what he's been talking about: a story about a hail of gunfire that wounded 13 people.

"It makes me think I got to do more; we got to do more," he said in an interview with The Associated Press after giving a speech as the keynote speaker at the Chicago Music Summit, a conference to help local musicians and music professionals with their careers.

Police say Thursday night's shooting appears to be gang related. For the 41-year-old Common, that underscores concerns that the edgy rap music of the generation of rappers that came behind him is not only providing the soundtrack for gangs, but might just be helping to fuel the fire of gang violence.

"To decide to take someone's life, I don't think they let a rap song determine that," he said, adding that rap artists simply reflect of the violence of the streets, and don't cause it. At the same time, he said, fans of young rappers, whose music provides a window into a violent lifestyle, are "influenced by that energy and take it the wrong way."

Common has thought about it enough to once suggest a "peace summit" with Chief Keef, a younger Chicago rapper whose music includes references to weapons and who was arrested after pointing a gun at police officers and after a video showed him firing a semi-automatic rifle at a gun range.

In fact, rap music made its way into Thursday's shooting. A relative of a 3-year-old boy who was shot in the face said the child's uncle was an aspiring rapper who was fatally shot in Chicago this month.

Such a link is not surprising to Grammy-winning rap artist, Che "Rhymefest" Smith. He said he believes that at the very least aspiring rappers who are living in poor neighborhoods see the display of a violent gang lifestyle as their route to riches and fame.

"What you get with a lot of young artists is if they gang bang on YouTube, pull guns and threaten someone else, this will give them a million YouTube views or 80,000 Twitter followers overnight," said Rhymefest, a Chicago resident who once ran for a seat on the City Council. "They see it as a check, a way to get paid and this way out of poverty."

Common said the key to ending the cycle of violence that rap music has been linked to for years is more educational programs and other initiatives, and that rap artists should help those programs in any way they can.

At the same time, Common, who has his own foundation that exposes disadvantaged young people to the creative arts, said that while he still believes a "peace summit" would be effective, it's only a first step.

"There has to be a consistent follow through," he said. "Young people...some of them may not be in a place where they can say, 'OK, I'm going to stop (violent behavior)'" he said. "It may be a process. You have to deal with that."

Source: Associated Press

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  1. Corey avatar

    posted Monday, January 27

    Greetings Mr. Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr,
    My name is Corey A. Hardiman and I am currently in my senior year at Morehouse College and will be graduating in the spring of 2014 with a Political Science Degree. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, I am known for being a global citizen, visionary leader, and a pioneer for justice.
    At the age of 12, my father was sentenced to prison for 15 years on drug charges. It was at that moment that I realized and knew that I had to create a better path for myself. So, I was awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship which has assisted with tuition and housing while a student at Morehouse. The Scholarship has also allowed me to study social inequalities in South America, and social problems in the Caribbean and Central America. I also serve as a campus-based leader for the Gates Millennium Scholars, President Emeritus of the Morehouse Political Science Association and Director of the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Alumni Association. I have also worked with the Morehouse Chapter of the NAACP and have marched on behalf of Troy Davis, and am currently fighting for justice for Kendrick Johnson in Valdosta, GA. In addition to my educational achievements, I have also interned for Loop Capital Investment Bank, Alderman Carrie Austin of Chicago, Georgia State Representative Ralph Long III, interned in the office of City Councilman Julian Bond in Atlanta, GA.
    With a passion for community and social justice, I birthed a movement known as “Enough Chicago” in order to shed light on the violence that is taking place in the Roseland community of Chicago, the area in which I was raised. Through this movement I mobilize youth in the community to march and speak up against the violence plaguing their neighborhood. I have also created an academic scholarship to help youth from my former high school pay for their first year of books.
    As you may be aware, there is a major epidemic of violence sweeping my home town. To date, Chicago has had over 350 homicides. Watching this via the news and Internet everyday- continues to empower me to act now. When I was in high school- I never felt that my community or city really invested in me becoming great. As an active member of my community, I am leading a group of my brothers from Morehouse College for an alternative spring break trip to Chicago March 10-14, 2014. The purpose of the trip is to interact with the black youth of Chicago and to provide constructive opportunities to interact with residents that are tirelessly helping to bring forth tangible solutions to the violence issues sweeping the city.
    On Friday, March 14, 2014 I am holding a black male summit. The mission of the "Men of Color Summit" is to allow young brothers to be enlightened on their morals, values and how to lead a world with a strong, disciplined mind. The following topics will be covered during the summit: Leadership, Education, Health, and Financial Literacy. I am expecting over 500 (Chicago Public School) young black males to participate in the summit and would be honored to have you volunteer as a special keynote speaker at this event. So, that is why it is my mandate to show these young brothers that they can turn impossible into possible.
    Mr. Lynn (Common), your dedication and commitment to helping advance young men in this global society have been absolutely extraordinary. As an exemplary leader and dedicated mentor to black males- I know your influence will leave these young men in adoration, as they listen to a big brother/father figure who believes in them. It takes all of us as a collective brotherhood, to help decrease the eradication of our brothers at the hands of another brother. So, I ask of you to be a blessing to our community through your time commitment to join us in March. It is my prayer that you will strongly consider speaking at this event.
    If this is possible, I can be contacted by email at

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Corey A. Hardiman

  2. ScriptTease avatar

    posted Wednesday, October 2

    You just continue what you're doing, and if you're able to guide one child in the right direction, then you've done a wonderful thing.
    What is plaguing our community (Black Community) is the lack of LOVE, RESPECT, UNITY, and a whole lot more. Until we get the basics down, there’s not much hope. I’m not saying it will get worse, but it d@mn sure doesn’t have any intentions of getting better.
    We have the power, but until we stop trying to satisfy the massa.... I meant the masses, and enhance our own community, this is our story, this is how it’s going to be and I don’t see a series finale in sight.