Monday, January 19, 2009


Notorious, the movie about the life of the late Brooklyn rapper, Christopher Wallace, is enlightening. Some of us older African Americans faced with the educational, spiritual and social needs of youths have tried to ignore the phenomenon known as Hip-Hop. Along with the music came a disposition, an attitude and a behavior unlike anything seen or understood by previous generations. Yet to ignore what has developed is not only ignornant but impossible. This movie brought things to light. Why do young black men believe more in drug sales than education? This movie gives a clue.

Having published a book Bridging the Gulf: Understanding and Ministering to Hip Hop Youth, I realized that there were many things about the development of Hip-Hop that were clarified by watching this movie. Having heard the Hip Hop story from various youths, this movie helped me to understand that I already knew a lot. There were many things to learn.

This movie was as much about Sean Puffy Combs, aka Puff Daddy or Sean Jean as Notorious B.I.G. This was a logical observation after learning from the credits that Puff Daddy served as the executive producer. Apparently not only did Combs discover Wallace but the two of them arose from insignificance to riches together.

I had heard the name Little Kim and knew that Wallace was intimate with an artist by the name of Faith Evans. However, I learned from the movie that Wallace had an affair with Little Kim and even married Evans. All these artist appeared to have been discovered together by Combs and were placed on his record label.

The movie took a turn. At first the late Tu Pac Shakur was shown as a friend of Wallace. When Shakur was visiting Comb's studio, he got shot. The movie made it very clear that neither Combs nor Wallace or their entourage had anything to do with this shooting. In fact, the movie made this fact too clear. Shakur however was convinced that the East Coast rapping entourage had everything to do with the shooting. From that point onward, the feud began between the West Coast rappers and the East Coast rappers.

We all know the rest of the story. Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. Nobody knows who did it. Wallace was to suffer a similar fate in Los Angeles. In fact, many young people throughout America are suffering, being gunned down using damnable Hip-Hop words and messages like, "Murder, murder, murder...Kill, kill,kill." The Bible states that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. What ones says is what one gets. Momma used to say, if you cant say something good, say nothing at all. We need to stick to what mom said and speak life if we want to live.

So what is next in the world of Hip-Hop. Is the rivalry over? Will black on black crime decrease? After all, there is a Black President in the White House. One thing that is puzzling. According to the movie, Combs was in the middle of every development yet unscathed and blameless. In fact, he is celebrated in Time Square with a big image. To have lost two major players like Biggie and Shakur and yet profit off their story as a Wall Street corporate tycoon is sort of weird and insensitive.

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