Sep 19 • 16M

What role does hip hop play with violence in our communities? Episode #675 of The Breakdown with Shaun King

Is it a primary cause? Nah. Is it irrelevant? Nope. It plays a role - and today I want to unpack and explain it the best I can.

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You can listen to today’s full episode of The Breakdown with Shaun King by clicking the link above - or directly on Apple Podcasts or Spotify! We are now getting back to emailing each episode, and opening up comments for everyone as well. Please listen, subscribe, share, and comment below!


This question is as old as hip hop itself, right? Most hip hop artists will tell you that the violence they rap about is simply a reflection of the violence in our communities. Most critics will say that hip hop is not a reflection of the violence in our communities, but is a primary cause.

The truth, I believe, is somewhere in the middle.

First, we must admit that violence in our communities is an epidemic. For instance, last year was the single deadliest year for gun violence EVER recorded for Philadelphia. But this year is on pace to break last year's record. This is a problem.

And people always want scapegoats more than they actually want solutions. The truth is that DOZENS of factors are to blame for violence in America and violence in our communities - and the only way to take it seriously is to approach the problem as if it is truly complex.

However, we cannot argue on one hand that hip hop is the most influential culture in the world and THEN, on the other hand, argue that it isn't having any impact on the way people think and act in our communities.Hip hop does indeed reflect the violence we have in America, but we are lying if we don't also admit that it glorifies and romanticizes it. If I listed the Top 25 causes of violence in our communities - hip hop (and Hollywood and video games) would make my list, but they wouldn't be in the Top 10.

Should we still address it? Absolutely.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shaun King is one of the most followed and shared activists and journalists in the world. In addition to being the Founder and Editor in Chief of The North Star, he also leads the Grassroots Law Project and the Real Justice PAC and recently became the Contributing Editor for Newsweek. A historian by training, Shaun King is the New York Times bestselling author of Make Change: How to Fight Injustice, Dismantle Systemic Oppression, and Own Our Future. Shaun’s daily news podcast, The Breakdown with Shaun King, has been heard and shared hundreds of millions of times in almost every country in the world and is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and everywhere podcasts are heard. Shaun has been with his brilliant wife, Rai, for nearly 25 years, and they are raising their 5 kids in Brooklyn, New York.