Social media is fueling the rise in violence among the new generation of rappers, their fans, and their haters. The deadly conflicts have been on full display in recent weeks, including during the recent music festival Rolling Loud at Hard Rock Stadium.
Kodak Black was arrested on his way to a performance at the festival after being charged with illegally trying to obtain a gun. Chicago rapper AAB Hellabandz was shot dead outside Miami Beach's Cameo Nightclub. Louisiana rapper NBA Youngboy was targeted outside Sunny Isles Beach's Trump resort in a shootout that injured his 19-year-old girlfriend and a 5-year-old. A stray bullet killed innocent bystander Mohama Jradi.
That's just the beginning. Fort Myers rapper YNW Melly was recently charged with murdering two of his lifelong friends and trying to cover it up; Nipsey Hussle was murdered outside his Los Angeles clothing store; Tekashi69 pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges for being a gangbanger; and Plantation rapper XXXTentacion was fatally shot by robbers outside a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach.
All of these young artists grew their fan base, published their songs, and landed record deals through savvy social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram have created a world where rappers interact with their fans and detractors in real time, commenting on posts that can escalate into real-life confrontations.
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The artists post images of themselves rapping about that thug life, and then life imitates art. They pretend to be gangsters when they aren't. Fans attack anyone who comes at their favorite artists.
In my day, rapper beefs were settled on records. Roxanne and Roxanne Shanté battled on the mike; so did LL Cool J and Kool Moe Dee. The only significant murders during hip-hop's golden era were the killings of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.
Some fans think they have to get personally involved in the beef. The ones who are mentally disturbed go too far and instigate confrontations with an artist's rivals.
It's become a serious epidemic. The only cure is for tech companies to regulate social media. If they don't, there will be more bloodshed.