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When the Gun Draws

5 January, 2007

Pharoahe Monch

US Children are 12 times more likely to die by gun fire than in 25 other industrialized combined – The John Hopkins University Center for gun Policy

It’s quite well known that American teenagers face such heavy exposure to gun crime and live in an environment where it is relatively easy to experiment with such a harmful weapon as a gun (even in the UK it is on the rise). In popular culture in the West guns are glorified in entertainment spheres such as; gaming movies and in particular Hip-Hop music often becomes the target of campaigners against gun crime.

Many artists within the genre grew up in a society where guns where their culture and portray this experience through music, if a listener takes this without understanding the context of social deprivation and reading between the lines of the lyrics it is little wonder why young people find certain songs an ambiguous insight into gun crime.

This situation is drastically made worse by a new wave of gangsta rappers who play on the ‘thug’ aesthetic to make music in which weapons are shown off like accessories and gang violence is encouraged. In this case a desensitised image is manifested in a fake persona not highlighting the countless causalities.

In short their are real life African-American Hip-Hop artists who have experienced the troubles of guns and have expressed it in their music, though their are others who have made music to serve no impact on condemning the affects of gun crime (I won’t mention artists names). Please note this piece is not a poke at a certain social group or aspect of music culture, violence transcends barriers of ethnicity. I am a strong believer in using music to express oneself in a positive way and I feel Hip-Hop is a great tool to do this.

On a more promising note I Just came across this video from Pharoahe Monch titled ‘Guns Draw’ from his new album Desire, this guy is known for his complex delivery and rhyme schemes but at the same time he has a ‘gangsta’ side to him (from growing up in Queens, NY) though there is a clear line in what message he wants to convey. With this song he supports a campaign against gun violence, and the music video explores the impact bullets can have on American homes.

(Warning: Video contains Strong Language & Graphic Content)

Pharoahe Monch – ‘Guns Draw’


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