The Irving Plaza Shooting Isn't a Rap Problem, It's an America Problem

"People don't get murdered at Jazz, Classical, R&B, EDM, etc shows. This is a rap thing."
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"People don't get murdered at Jazz, Classical, R&B, EDM, etc shows. This is a rap thing."

Tragic. That’s the best way, perhaps the only way, to describe the shooting that took place inside Irving Plaza during a recent T.I. concert. Four people were shot - three men and a woman, and unfortunately one man was fatally wounded. We send our condolences to the injured and all affected by the terrible event.

The news has scattered across social media - discussions on rap and violence are escalating by the minute. Andrew Schulz, a comedian known for his appearances on MTV2 and popular podcast The Brilliant Idiots, chimed in.

Rightfully, his mentions were flooded with irate Twitter users speaking on the behalf of rap and I will do the same. Andrew is wrong - murder and shootings aren't a rap thing. Murders happen everywhere. Shootings happen everywhere. They happen in churches, they happen at movies, they happen in malls, they happen in small towns in areas where rappers would never perform. Wherever you go, there’s a chance a person will make a bad decision with a gun and harm you along with others. The probability of it happening are slim, but it does happen. I've been to a rap show that ended early due to a shooting outside, I remember watching people fall to the ground like dominoes and how frightening that was. I've also been to 100's of other shows where that didn't happen. One event doesn’t reflect a community or a culture, it’s one event, just one where things went wrong.

Andrew also tweeted that gangster rap inspires gangster activities. To point at rap lyrics and rappers personas for the reason acts of violence occur is to misplace blame. What do you say about the man who was beaten to death after a country music festival in June of last year? There’s no country music equivalent to Chief Keef or 50 Cent, yet, a 30-year-old man died after suffering a severe beating following a Jason Aldean concert. What about the Denver police officer that was killed at a jazz festival? A female officer was shot and killed during Denver’s City Park Jazz festival and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because the band decided to do the jazz rendition of Ice T’s "Cop Killer." There’s a K-Pop band that visited New York and had to cut their set short because of death threats. If you aren’t safe as a Korean pop band, no one is safe anywhere.

As I just wrote about with Bobby Shmurda, I understand that some rappers come from certain backgrounds and lifestyles - it’s reflected in the music. There’s a possibility that crime has a higher chance of surrounding them then, but that’s not a rap problem, that’s a society problem. Inside or outside rap, we live in an extraordinarily violent society where jazz festivals can lead to a cop’s murder, drunk drivers plowing through the streets of SXSW killing bystanders, anywhere the public gathers can turn into a scene from a violent movie.

Growing up, my mother and father wouldn’t allow me to attend house parties. One party got shot up in 9th grade that sealed my entire fate throughout high school. The shooting wasn’t because of rap music or gang-related, just a fight that turned into something more. For my own safety they forbid me to attend any future unsupervised shindigs. Despite being safe, I always felt like I missed out. The actions of one man became the reflection of all parties in the area. I don’t want rap to be seen how my parents saw house parties. Don’t let one shooting be the representation of what rap shows have to offer. Andrew Schulz is wrong in his opinion of rap - disrespectful to the art form and all those that treat it as such. A rapper being in a shooting has nothing to do with all of rap music. Bad people should take responsibility for their bad actions. Not a genre of music. Not a form of art.

Basically thugs that basically celebrate the violence that they live all their lives and unfortunately that violence often manifests itself during the performances and that’s exactly what happened last evening. The music, unfortunately, oftentimes celebrates gun violence, celebrates the degradation of women, celebrates the drug culture and it’s unfortunate that as they get fame and fortune, that some of them are just not able to get out of the life, if you will - Bill Bratton

Andrew’s far from the only one expressing those views. In NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's statement on the shooting he throws around the word “thug” and celebrations of violence as the reason why the events took place. This person happens to be a NYPD Commissioner, someone with real power that shows this goes beyond a Twitter comment. His way of thinking could breed real consequences against rappers and future rap shows.

It’s heartbreaking that despite all the progress we make, all the years that go by, some aren’t able to look beyond the stereotypes and cliches that are attached to rap music. We take two steps forward while constantly being pushed seven steps back. It feels like these people have their eyes closed and they refuse to see more than “thugs,” a limited vision that won't do anything to make anyone any safer. No matter what their favorite rapper does. 

By Yoh, aka Commissioner Yoh aka @Yoh31. Photo Credit to Streetvoices.