Taking the Rap

Are Civil Rights Leaders Frontin’ for Hip Hop Gangstas?

A dejected Muhammad tried to convince Combs that "it was a critical time for him and Biggie to show that they were absolutely remorseful" over the slaying. (Six months later Biggie was killed in Los Angeles, allegedly at the behest of Knight. Detectives previously had identified Knight as a suspect in Biggie's killing, alleging that he may have ordered it while in jail on a parole violation. Knight's attorney denied he ordered the killing, and Knight has not been charged. He is serving nine years for a 1992 attack on two rappers in a recording studio.) During the ceremony, Muhammad held his tongue, simply telling the rappers' fans they couldn't make it. Today, Muhammad feels that Combs backed out because some people did not want him to be associated with the Nation of Islam.

Muhammad has a message for awestruck Combs fans who mobbed the superstar last week after a hearing delaying the start of his trial: "Our support right now should be for the single mother who was shot in the face" in the Club New York shooting. "That's gangsta?" asks Muhammad, scowling at a line in Shyne's lyrics. "It was a cowardly act. So don't run back to the community of hard-working black folk and ask us to use the civil rights movement to protect you."

Peter Noel is a former contributor toThe Source.

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