Behind Bars: Rappers in Prison

Art & Music, Featured, In My Opinion

Our good friend, Merc of MERC80.com gifted this article to us. It was originally published on January 4, 2011. We thought it was so good, it needed to be published in mutiple places. Read on.

Just yesterday two famous rapper’s, Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame, were subject to the law.

Gucci Mane was just in prison about a year ago wasn’t he?

Waka turned himself in.

Just before that former Bad Boy artist G Dep turned himself in for a murder that happened nearly 2 decades ago.

Ja Rule is going to prison for 2 years.

Yo Gotti turned himself in.

T.I. and DMX both went back to jail around the same time Lil Wayne just got out.

Numerous other arrests happened and other rappers were imprisoned within the past 2 years, but all these artists above got in trouble all within about 4 months.

All of them have criminal records and have been to prison before, and they’re all looking at one year to multiple years.

You begin to wonder what’s wrong with some of these guys?  Why would they do things to land them back in trouble like this?  Are they crazy?

Well that question is ironic, since Gucci Mane was committed to a mental institution today, claiming “mental incompetency”.

We may have our issues with the fairness of laws and the justice system, but about half of these men turned themselves in.

They say craziness is defined by doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.  But, I don’t know if you can entirely call them crazy, since the different result they may expect now is that their money and fame may help them elude prison.

Clearly, that’s not the case.

Addiction is one thing.  People can somewhat understand addiction.  We all have parts of ourselves that are hard to control, like telling yourself not to eat fast food or sugar.   Alcoholics and addicts relapse to drugs and/or alcohol mainly to escape an aspect of reality.   But the idea of going back and forth to jail, recidivism, is hard to understand.  Why would a person continually land themselves back to a place made for punishment?

“It’s like a cycle.  Niggas come home, some’ll go in.

Do a bullet.  Come back.  Do the same shit again”

-Nas, Verbal Intercourse

I’ve had a few conversations on the idea of masculinity with my male friends lately.  Growing up in a generation largely without fathers and divorced parents, it’s hard to understand what it means to be a male in this society, especially when juxtaposed to the opposite sex, and especially when you’re Black.  From all my conversations with men of different ages and races, even watching films, documentaries, etc.,  there seems to be an understanding that men are arbiters of a certain kind of power.  We’re usually the leaders, aggressors and manipulators of action.  Force.  We approach the woman.  We wield the weapon.   Of course there are the intellectuals, scientists, and artistic minds, but even then there’s an understanding of a masculine power when Jimi Hendrix plays.  It may even be how the masculine power manipulates the feminine power.  Either way, usually, the male provides a large part of a balancing act.  What is feminine in that aspect?  Not sure, but that’s for a different post anyway.

When you think of a man who is hyper-masculine, he usually has a short fuse, and quick tempered.  There’s an aspect of his emotions he can’t control if he doesn’t get what he wants.  This man usually reacts more than he responds.  Does that lack of control still render him a man?  Many consider this behavior animalistic.  Throughout history the Black male is usually considered to be not just hyper-masculine, but not even human.

An animal without control over his mind.

What are all these rappers usually jailed for?  Carrying a weapon (usually a gun), drugs, and sexual assault.

And throughout the lyrics of many of these artists, what are their main topics?  Guns, drugs (selling or doing), and their sexual prowess.  And how the industry especially pushes these images and music?…that’s a longer discussion.

Of course I know these guys don’t represent all Hip Hop artists just like I know they don’t rep all Black men, but these ideas of being hyper-masculine stick in the Black culture.  In cities where resources are limited, it’s the gangsters, drug dealers, pimps, and thugs that get their way.  It’s a means of survival.  So either you move or get moved on.  What do you do with a person who has to be hyper-masculine for survival?  Do we expect that to cease once they’re no longer struggling?

Once you reach a certain level of fame like Waka Flocka, a guy who might have one of the most liked Hip Hop tracks in the country right now, you ask: “What are you even participating in any of this for?”

You look at T.I. and ask “Why were you buying those guns?  And once you got out, why would you participate inanything that would land you back so quickly?”

But even the true gangstas don’t really like what they’re doing.  Plenty of women and men from the hood will tell you that when someone in the neighborhood is doing well for themselves, who’s smart and has a bright future, the neighborhood thugs usually protect them.  They tell them to not be like them, to not participate in what they are doing.  They encourage them to keep doing better.  It’s strange because it’s like they feel their destiny is to be on the streets.  If they have to go to prison they’re not worried.  I’ve had several family members that have gone in and out of jail, and are definitely intelligent.  Why they go back, I don’t know.

So is there a massive mental disorder we are ignoring?  Is that why Gucci got committed?  Is that why DMX can’t seem to find a place to be safe aside from the studio?  Hip Hop is a reflection of reality right?

Are these guys trying to live the rock star life and maintain their street cred by doing things they know they shouldn’t?  Do they just lack discipline?

Do they have any real friends that are trying to keep them successful and from dropping out of that bright future they have?  The more they go to jail, the more likely they can be forgotten about by the time they return.

Tell me what you think.

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