Gangs and Rap Do Not Mix

The other day a personal friend sent me a video. It will not be uploaded here so if you want to see it, it’s making its rounds on the internet. The video shows a man sitting in his car talking and laughing on a video call just prior fatally getting fed a bunch of lead from an unknown assailant. The victim was rapper Indian Red Boy, an apparent gangbanger and friend of the friend who sent me the video. I cried after watching it.

From Los Angeles to New York City to Chicago to Dallas to Jacksonville, FL, street gangs have permeated Hip Hop music. While rap and the streets have always and probably will always be interconnected, this seems an overload and one to be getting worse day by day. Every new acts affiliation with some crew or clique of criminals or goons is making its way to the forefront of why their fanbase follows them and the toxicity should be understood.

Dare I say that most rap artists have always had some sort of street gang affiliation. The last decade has birthed the trend of banging on wax to the point of incrimination. It appears that you can’t get on without bodies, a criminal record and a gang to back you up. It is sickening, miserable, depressing, disconsolate, disheartening, sombre and distressing. Rap used to be a way to get out of the hood and now it proves that the hood is following rappers wherever they go.


Out on a limb, I may suggest that Indian Red was a lot more gangster than rapper. This is an assumption, I don’t know all rappers and I know even less gangbangers. He had yet to appear on my radar but I wouldn’t be surprised if I ran across him a few times in real life. While rumors swirl that the murder was retaliation for the striking of one of numerous Nipsey Hussle murals in LA while others state that the strike was done by the person he was on live with while word furthers that neither of them were responsible for the disrespect.

No matter who did it, was this killing the appropriate retaliation? Is this paint on paint violence? Should this be kept in the streets and out of music? I think the most important question to ask is should rappers just be rappers and gangsters just be gangsters? Is keeping it real going wrong our everyday life now?

For anyone uninitiated, the gang (and rap) life can be akin to fantasy. Movie-like with the excitement and bravado and adulation and the downside is always spoken of in passing like it isn’t the worst of the worst. Prison, addiction and death are what we constantly see from this marriage of rap and repertoire where image is paramount to success. The fakery and the fuckery have reached new heights resulting in an emphasis on being “about that life” resulting in us grieving in real time, time and time again.

While we don’t know what is truly behind this tragedy, we should all be able to agree on the senselessness. Yeah, it’s gang banging, but that doesn’t justify what happened in this video and the saddest part is there is no end in sight and when we finally begin to mitigate gang banging in Hip Hop, we may see a light at the end of a never-ending tunnel.


Rest In Peace to Zerail Dijon Rivera also known as Indian Red Boy.

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