Dr. Boyce: TI, Snoop and BET Discuss Gun Violence, but Are They Serious?

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2013 BET Experience - BET Revealed Seminars

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

One thing that always bothered me about church are those who preach one thing and do another.  It’s all too acceptable for the pastor to drop the name of Jesus to his fifth extramarital baby’s mama, or for a woman to leave her bible in the car while she’s twerking it up at the club.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has some kind of gap between the person that they want to be and the person that they are.  Every time I swear I’m gonna get a body like LL Cool J, I’m usually talking with a doughnut in my hand.   So, none of us is above the handicap of simply being human.

But one thing that we have to do is hold ourselves and each other accountable by encouraging one another to at least try to speak up about blatant, avoidable contradictions that might confuse impressionable kids.   Talk is cheap, and we live in a world that accepts the idea of people saying good things, even when their actions are in the opposite direction.

I thought about this when I saw Snoop Lion and TI speaking against gun violence during the BET Experience LA Live event.  The event was part of a series of gatherings to promote the BET Awards.  Yes, these events are designed to make money for Viacom, but making money isn’t a crime, as long as your corporate greed doesn’t hurt too many people.

The goal of the event, from what I understand, was to talk about gun violence and find ways to stop it.  There’s no one better than TI and Snoop to get the point across, since they’ve seen this violence on too many occasions.  BET is a network that sometimes seems to be working to rehabilitate itself, but has done so much damage to the black community that it might take 50 years of reparations for them to correct all they’ve done to destroy us (even BET co-founder Sheila Johnson admits that the network has increased the spread of HIV in the black community).

With that said, I hope that TI, Snoop and BET take seriously the solemn task that lies in front of them. I am quite familiar with TI’s music (I find myself to be able to more effectively critique hip-hop by listening to it), and actually believe that he is one of the most talented artists in history (not just today).  Anyone who isn’t convinced that TI is a genius needs to only try to replicate his swift, cutting lyrical ability to find out that his neurons fire at a rate that would put any Nobel Prize winner to shame.

I also hear in TI’s music an internal struggle between what he was taught and what he knows to be true.  He’s like Neo, living in the Matrix and suspecting that there is more to the world than he’s been led to believe.  He has just enough Malcolm X in his blood to tell him that he shouldn’t waste his life trying to hurt the people that he loves so much.  This is where I separate TI from his counterpart, Lil Wayne:  TI wants to be a better man, and Lil Wayne enjoys showing you that he just doesn’t give a f*ck about anyone but himself – that’s why I was more than happy to help convince Mountain Dew to drop him.

After these events are over, there should be conversations about how to make it more than just another publicity stunt.  It’s hard for an artist to say that gun violence is wrong, and then spit a bunch of lyrics that glorify the idea of unloading a clip into someone’s head because he disrespected you. Marketing does work, so the same young man who appreciates BET’s message against gun violence is also affected when BET gives an Artist of the Year Award to Lil Wayne.

If anyone should be deeply concerned about and unified against the gun violence epidemic in America, it should be our hip-hop artists.  They’re the ones most likely to rap about friends who’ve been killed and relative who are locked away in the prison industrial complex.  The power and inspiration of brilliant music can produce political miracles, and it’s only a matter of harnessing this power for good to elevate our people out of the chaos that we are experiencing today.  We must also confront the racist power structure that spends more money locking black children up than it does educating them, and makes it easier for most black men to get a gun than a full-time job.

TI, Snoop and other artists hold the keys to the minds of our youth.  It is important that they use this power responsibly.  In other words, when it comes to saving our kids, I truly hope they choose to “Keep it real.”

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series called Commercialized Hip-Hop, the Gospel of Self-Destruction. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



50 Comment

  1. I just want to say peace to those brothers for lending their voices were we need it the most right here in our community. it's not all about money it's just about caring a just sharing a little bit of your time.

  2. Great article! ……Only History can answer that question ——-but these are the people with the air play that can impact our young people toward a positive mindset—both men are brilliant and gifted enough to turn a ear —scholars cannot seem to get beyond TALK—this is why we need the raw grit of a Rapper to touch the hearts and souls of people to drive the message HOME….PEACE!!!!

  3. Great article!

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  5. The problem is Snoop is a washed up pothead who made money off the same violence he wants to stop…supposedly. And TI is too busy trying to be reality TVs cliff huxtable. Nobody is listening to Snoop Lion anymore. When he had the stage he did the same things these young fools are. Saying whatever they have to to make that money. And now you wanna be an afterschool special??? Man please! I don't even listen to much rap and I can see this as a ploy to stay relevent. If you care so much..then start with your colleagues because as long as they are still putting out filth and trash…nothing you say will matter.

  6. Will someone tell me why would you listen to a pothead!

  7. What have you negative people did for society lately…………..Nothing. I love that they are growing up and I love that they care. what about you negative people ? The goverenment is doing nothing just like you negative people are.
    People in glass houses………….oh boy yall kill me

  8. Gee, I'm confused. Haven't both these guys had illegal gun charges on them. NOW, they talk against Gun violence? Just what ARE we teaching our Kids.

  9. considering that they did have charges on gun violence they are probably the best kind of people to discuss the negativities about gun violence seeing as it had a bad impact for both of them

  10. Snoop glorified gangsta rap and pimpin lifestyle, now he is worried about gun violence. smh

  11. I do have some respect for TI, but I cannot buy into either him or the so-called Snoop Lion on this issue. Their money has been made from glorification of gun violence, making things pop like guns, shooting people who disrespect you etc etc. It cannot only be now that they are suddenly concerned about gun violence. Furthermore, their decision to speak on BET is also questionable. BET a completely trashy channel filled with so-called music, that has damaged so many of our people. They are the ones giving a platform to those whose only subject matter when it comes to rapping is about guns, amongst other obnoxious things; and now they want to make a change?! Well, why do they not censor the next rap song to come out?

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