The Numbers Show Police Don’t Care About Dead Rappers
For millennia, mankind has been at war. Whether in the name of religion, territory, love, greed, revenge, or duty, human casualties have remained constant throughout civilization, and as society is said to progress, murder remains a dark spot on our collective report card. For many Americans, particularly those of color, there is a war of sorts raging within these very borders, one that offers up disproportionate murder rates at an egregious level. The murders of women, men, boys, and girls of color are drastically under-reported and largely forgotten by many of those who are charged with the duty of investigation such occurrences – the police and other people in positions of legal and political authority. For Heads, that disturbing trend is easily spotted within the borders of the Hip-Hop community, where the murders of icons like Biggie, Big L, Jam Master Jay, Scott La Rock, and Tupac Shakur (and also more recent victims like the Jacka and Chinx) remain not only fresh in memory, but also unsolved.
In a recent feature published by XXL, the jarring statistics behind the murder investigations involving Hip-Hop artists are shared, and the conclusion is horrific: 70% of the cases are unsolved. According to the study, “In the 28 years between Scott La Rock’s shooting death in the Bronx in 1987 and Dex Osama’s killing in Detroit five weeks ago—the most recent case of a rapper killed—we’ve documented 52 rappers who have been murdered, nearly two per year.” That’s one rapper/artist for every week of the year. The infuriating stats continue: “Of those 52 murders, only nine have been definitively solved; four additional cases have seen arrests with defendants awaiting trial, while still three others are either unclear or still disputed. That leaves 36 MCs cut down before their time whose murders have never been solved by the police.” Based on the information shared by XXL and an NPR report included, the difference between the nationwide homicide clearing rate (64.1%) and the clearing rate of the homicides of Hip-Hop stars (30.7%) is a drastic 34%, leaving a gaping divide.
Similarly wrenching numbers exist in the reporting of homicides based on race in the United States, particularly when analyzed in conjunction with murders involving police officers and other representatives of the Law. According to an analysis report published by ProPublica, “The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police” (which does not take into consideration the deaths of Hispanic, Asian American, and female victims). While the deaths of Hip-Hop artists generally do not involve the police, many argue that they largely result out of other forms of systemic racism – poverty, gang violence, and lack of access to education and other tools that “upwardly mobile” pockets of Americans have at their disposal. For some, there is also the role of the community in the reporting and solving of these kinds of homicides; fear of retaliation and threats of violence dissuade witnesses from stepping forward to aid investigations, for example. Nevertheless, the statistics published in the XXL report make the lack of police involvement very apparent.
In today’s era, when “Black Lives Matter” has become not only a social-justice issue but also a household name, the status of the Hip-Hop murder investigations becomes a part of a larger, uglier mosaic. For every musical icon lost to homicide, countless of nameless victims are also taken away from us and even the most enduring Hip-Hop fan would be hard-pressed to argue the element of fame makes a lost life more valuable than another. However, it is difficult to ignore the seemingly blatant indifference which law enforcement seems to apply to investigations involving the murders of rappers and DJs. What are some ways the Hip-Hop community can demand some accountability from those hindering or altogether ignoring these murder investigations?