Atlanta rapper Trentavious White, who performed under the moniker Bankroll Fresh, dies and the world is surprised. The very value of a Black male’s life seems to be in question in a system and country that’s set on his extinction. The life of a hip-hop artist holds even less value, as these are commonly individuals who participate in an art form that often facilitates that very extinction.
Bankroll Fresh had a bright future in front of him. He had a family, friends and talent.
So, another family must mourn. Another mother. Another father. Another sister, aunty, cousin … Tupac’s mother mourned. Biggie’s mother mourned. The tragic connection between hip-hop stars, death and mourning seems to be a tradition, a growing cycle of birth, life, death and mourning that echoes similar ailments existing in the African American community, as a whole. Indeed, tragedies such as the death of Bankroll Fresh happen everyday to some young, Black person who is trying to make it in a system that seems to want them all dead. But, what about hip-hop music? What role does it play, if any, in the demise of these young people?
Like many hip-hop artists, much of Bankroll Fresh’s music is born in a destructive thematic tradition of glorifying all in the “trap.” So, much like gangster rap, “trap music” discusses the work of gangsters, gangsters’ lives, gangsters’ mentalities, and gangster retaliation … All concepts that thread diseased thinking into the fabric of our culture. What can be the result of such themes? Can the result be positive? Can the result be death, which is how most gangsters’ lives end?
This is not a judgment. This is an explanation for the retaliation, the decimation of Bankroll Fresh, a loss to the entire community.
The idea that violence within our community, against one brother by another brother, is tolerated and instigated, propagated and promoted through the script of the music we listen to and dance to, is the greatest tragedy of all. The ideologies that are spread virally in the music are destroying the Black community and slighting any progress that needs to be made from an intellectual and cultural identity perspective.
We all cry tears but when will we do something to change these behaviors within our community that glorify violence? Are we suffering from psychological paralysis and not willing to do anything about something that is systematically destroying hip-hop culture and those young future leaders whose lives are cut short?
This is not just about Bankroll Fresh. It’s also about every young brother in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Atlanta and other urban areas in Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles whose lives come to tragic endings based on beefs, disrespect and other words that have the murder rate in Chicago the highest it’s been since 1999.
There is no resting in peace when one’s mother will wake up everyday and a tear will come from her eyes or from her heart. She will hear the name or see the name or see the picture of a son or daughter, a baby lost over something that was unexplainable, unacceptable, but tolerated in a culture that still celebrates the pimp, the gangster, the criminal, the trick, the con, the dope game and the decimation and extinction proposition being promoted to young African American men and women still in this century.
In order to change, we must have outspoken individuals speaking who have platinum plaques and platinum principles that will forward hip-hop in a way and in a direction that alleviates and eliminates the destruction of life based on the promotion of culture.