Watching our President lay down the initial groundwork on major gun control legislation this morning was surely met with mixed emotions across the diverse board of these United States. There is no doubt that the highly publicized mass shootings that have catapulted this discussion onto Obama’s desk will dominate debates about the President’s unilateral legislative action. However, it would be outright ignorant and even somewhat racist to ignore the elephant in the room when it comes to guns in America; urban neighborhoods across this country are plagued by social issues that more often than not end in gun-related deaths. Nowhere is this phenomenon more exemplified than in the city of Chicago. Last year there were 506 homicides in the Windy City, most of which were the result of gun shot wounds. This year the city is on a two-a-day pace, about 200 more homicides than 2012. Needless to say, not everyone has been a victim to this deplorable statistic, some, including Chicago native and teen rap sensation Chief Keef, have successfully homogenized their music with gun violence. His videos and music are a virtual who’s who in the Chicago gang culture and his involvement came to a head when he taunted the death of a rival rapper on Twitter only days after the release of a video calling out Keef and his crew. His music video, I Don’t Like, was shot entirely in his grandmother’s house due to the fact that he was under house arrest for brandishing a gun in front of police officers while resisting arrest, it is riddled with gun references and boasts a hearty 23 million views.
Since the taunting tweet, Chief Keef has secured his major record deal and released his first album, Finally Rich via Interscope Records. No doubt Interscope recognized a pay day when they saw one and the desire to sign a rapper with a violent rap sheet is by no means breaking new ground in the industry. It’s still blood money though, and for that someone over there should sleep less. A new twist to the usual story was the involvement of a media source, in this case music power player Pitchfork Magazine, in the capitalization process. Pitchfork runs an interview series called ‘Selector’ whereby they interview an artist in somewhat candid settings. Pitchfork’s ‘Selector’ experience with Chief Keef took place at a Chicago gun range where a few guns were popped off by both Keef and Pitchfork staff in between some straight up horrendous questions. The interview was virtually unnoticed by most, though plenty of bloggers chimed in on the lack of moral fortitude the publication had selecting the controversial location. Since then, Pitchfork has pulled the video from their archives and issued an apology for their role in perpetuating the Keef experience in light of all these actual murders happening around him. Chief Keef was arrested yesterday in light of that Pitchfork interview, apparently the act of him holding a rifle in the video violated terms of his probation. Pitchfork has also been subpoenaed by the court to hand over the video footage in question.
Nobody gets a pass here. Chief Keef doesn’t get a pass on account of him being 17 years old and/or being caught up in the streets. Interscope doesn’t get a pass for simply being a label focused on music (everyone knows that it’s all about artist development, period), and worst of all, Pitchfork certainly doesn’t get a pass for capitalizing/publishing a highly insensitive video that will result in this most fortunate arrest. These are the players in the gun control debate America, the players you won’t see on CNN.com today, but that do very much drive the pathological problem that is gun violence in our urban centers. You want to do something for this country and our gun problem, start by passing on this kid’s projects and being wary of who your tastemakers are, Pitchfork is on many of your Twitter feeds, unfollow them, take a baby step. Because when media outlets begin dictating your musical preferences at the cost of lives on our streets, that’s that shit ‘I Don’t Like’.