It’s a well known fact that as people grow up, the people they grow up with and where they grow up will massively shape the person they become in later life. You cannot really escape this and in lots of situations it has a positive effect. If your parents are good role models, your older sibling teaches you right from wrong or somebody in your local community truly inspires you to do good, then this environment will potentially lead to greatness. But it’s all too common for people to have negative influences around them during their lives and people are left with fewer choices. They adapt and move through whatever challenges in life they’ve been given.
Recently it has been revealed that the Mobo award winning artist J Hus was arrested whilst driving in Stratford for the possession of a knife. In the past two years he has gone from strength to strength, with numerous award nominations, successful commercial projects and performances at U.K. music events. He was expected to perform at both TRNSMT in Glasgow and at London’s Wireless festival this summer. It was unfortunately confirmed he won’t be performing at TRNSMT and highly unlikely he’ll perform at Wireless.
It raises the question, should rappers, sportspeople or entrepreneurs ditch their former lives and friends once they make it? Most people aim for financial improvement, it’s one of the benefits of capitalism, but in many situations it seems that by keeping true to where people come from they end up losing out in the long run. If you look at the music industry right now, rap is still dominated with hard truths about how some people live, whether it be stories of murder, violence or drugs, this type of music is huge on the commercial stage. The sad part to this story is that even once people make it out of the places they were raised, more often than not they struggle to let these places go. It is a hard task to retain the rawness of life and be successful. Once you’ve made enough money to progress in life, it could be argued that rappers lyrics have less potency because we all know they are in a much better situation. But many choose to continue living part of their former lives, which is why rappers, such as Kodak Black and Gucci Mane, often end up in and out of jail during their careers, failing to adapt to the wealth they’ve developed and instead resorting to old habits.
From my point of view it’s challenging. I have been lucky in life to face none of the challenges most rappers do. But, another British rapper, Lethal Bizzle, reached out on Twitter to offer support for J Hus. He explained that in 2015 J Hus had been stabbed 5 times, saying ‘The boy has been to hell and back’. J Hus’ prior life clearly had its troubles, which have most likely contributed to the present issues he’s facing. Should he have detached himself from his former life when he started making it in the industry and would this have prevented what’s happening for him at the moment?
For me it is difficult to make a claim on this topic, I’ve been fortunate in life and who am I to comment on the importance people place on their upbringing; with that being said, I would argue it’s practically impossible for anybody to make definitive claims on this topic because we all live different lives and our experiences are what we make of them. Whether you’ve been blessed in life or dealt the toughest life imaginable, nobody can tell you to ditch your roots, in truth they are a huge part of your present self. We have to admit that clearly possessing a knife is wrong, even if for personal security and with London knife crime on the rise it’s very real issue. That attitude is what helps fuel knife crime, it’s the issue America is facing with guns, where everyone feels the need to own a gun to protect themselves from guns – to me a dangerous cycle.
In response to all of this, I wonder, if rappers moved away from their former lives would they be better or worse off? Their music might not have the same power or meaning, but you would think their lives would be more straightforward.