Gang culture has been a large part of Los Angeles for decades, but The Game, Snoop Dogg and Minister Louis Farrakhan have had enough, and they’re looking to convince Bloods and Crips to feel the same way.
With a post on his Instagram page, Game announced an event that is “calling all hoods, gangs and sets” on Sunday, July 17, to a meeting place on Vermont Ave.
The event, according to Game’s caption under the event flyer, will, “have the much needed conversation amongst ourselves about our influence on the youth in our respective neighborhoods & how we can serve as better role models to them daily.”
“The sad truth that no one wants to face is, before we can get our lives to matter to anyone else, we have to show that OUR LIVES matter to US!!!” Game continued. “…We will stand as we are, UNIFIED. I’m calling ALL GANGS, of ALL RACES, ALL GROWN MEN affiliated or not & WE WILL STAND UNIFIED SUNDAY!!!!”
The event will be the latest in a mission that many L.A. rappers have taken on to help stop gang violence. The cover for Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning single “i” shows two people, a Blood and a Crip, both making heart symbols with their hands. Kendrick also touched on the need for gang banging to stop in his music, and his partnership with Reebok endorses the same message with one shoe sporting a blue design and the other red.
Game took a similar approach with the album art for both The Documentary 2 and The Documentary 2.5, with the typography on both albums using blue and red. A lot has changed over the past 11 years for Game, who was an unapologetic Blood when he released his debut in 2005.
Snoop came up as a Crip, even naming one of his albums Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. But these days, as a pop culture icon and as the head of a youth football league, he couldn’t be further from the gang lifestyle.
Both Game and Kendrick used respectability politics in their messaging to stop gang violence, claiming that Black people need to care for themselves and each other before expecting police to do the same. Kendrick got slammed for his comments in an interview with Billboard, and Game will likely catch heat for some of what he said in the above caption. But it’s encouraging to see artists speak up against gang violence and use their prominence to help others.
"I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it's already a situation, mentally, where it's f---ked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should've never happened. Never. But when we don't have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don't start with just a rally, don't start from looting -- it starts from within."
The timing of this campaign is equally as important, as it coincides with a slew of noteworthy West Coast gangsta rap releases. YG is breathing new life into the genre thanks to both his renowned 2014 effort, My Krazy Life, and his brilliant 2016 follow-up, Still Brazy, and ScHoolboy Q has done the same thanks to 2014’s Oxymoron and this year’s Blank Face LP. YG and Q have identified as a Blood and Crip, respectively, although Q has admitted he is no longer an active member and has encouraged others to do the same, and in his own way YG has urged unity in the face of oppression.
While music fans love quality gangsta rap, I hope we can all agree that Game, Snoop and Kendrick's mission to stop gang violence is much more important.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Instagram