Professor Green: KIDS WITH GUNS
Stephen Manderson writes about the death of XXXTentacion and the role of music vs circumstance in the violence on the streets. Hard-hitting and inspiring work by The Book of Man's columnist.
Kids are killing kids.
The value of life is at an all-time low.
It seems a day doesn’t go by now when we don’t hear about a stabbing or shooting. Usually of a young male.
What are the underlying reasons behind this violence?
Ego? Pride? Anger? Hopelessness? Acceptance? Low self-esteem? Lack of purpose? Lack of opportunity? Lack of identity? Poverty?
There’s a reason most shootings and stabbings occur in poorer areas. It’s a seed sown way before music – which in its best form is social commentary.
Gangsta rap used to get the rap for it, then it was grime, now it’s drill. Here for your enjoyment is Nick Ferrari translating some drill lyrics:
Whatever the content, whatever kids are listening to, people have historically been able to change the course of their lives through music, and by doing so inspire younger children going through similar situations to aspire to be more than what is expected of them – to become a dealer /robber /gangster /addict /inmate.
You can become a successful musician if you have the talent and the drive. And you can find a home for all the pent-up feelings you have – however macho or masculine, however much bravado goes into your image or your music, you’re still putting a part of yourself in it. A corner stone of CBT is journaling, something I’ve been doing unknowingly ever since I’ve been writing lyrics, sharing parts of myself I better understood once I poured them onto a page. Especially when looking back on what I’ve written in hindsight.
While scrolling through Instagram today I saw a really disturbing video of a rapper laying lifeless in his car: XXXTentacion. A 20 year old from Florida. It wasn’t something I wanted to see, I stumbled across it by accident.
(My anger towards people who film and post this stuff I won’t get into, because I won’t stop – and last weeks’ article was ‘Smart Phones, Stupid People’)
I wasn’t familiar with the rapper or his music prior to his killing, I’ve had my head down in the studio and have somewhat missed the whole Soundcloud Emo-Rap wave that’s taken place.
Having read about XXX he was clearly a conflicted individual – a young male who had problems, for which he hadn’t yet received any help, but who wanted to be better, wanted to do better. He’d encountered a lot of trauma growing up and he still had a lot of growing up to do.
There’s no justifying the actions of a man who beats their pregnant girlfriend, and I struggle to separate the art from the artist, but having watched him speak and listened to his music, and how much of himself he was willing to bare and put honestly into his songs, I can’t help but think with changes in his circumstances, with the people he was meeting and working with, with the guidance he hopefully would have found, that he would have turned a corner.
A world which may have seemed a very small and negative place full of tragedy to him, at a point had just opened up to become a huge place more beautiful with more opportunity to learn and grow than he had ever known it to be.
We’ve all done bad things, some worse than others. Sometimes the only way to make amends for what you’ve done in the past is to not repeat your behaviours, to change. To grow. Growth comes from experience and being self-aware enough to take a long hard look at what you are and who you’re becoming. Then to change your negative behaviours, to escape the cycle and break the mould.
It isn’t easy, it takes time, and as with addiction, it often involves a good few relapses before getting clean.
I’m 34 and although am still a work in progress – I’m finally getting there.
XXXTentacion was 20 yrs old.
He will never have that chance.
It’s a strange feeling finding and liking the music he leaves behind, knowing he’s already written his last song.
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