World War of Words

As Battles Turn Complicated, Murder Remains Bigger Than Hip-Hop

According to a 2001 Justice Department report, blacks were six times more likely to be murdered than whites. Of the 7903 black victims of homicide in 1998, none were famed rappers—a fact that might help blame-seekers like O'Reilly search deeper before making oversimplified claims of "dangerous people." When it comes to murder, to borrow from rap duo dead prez, it's bigger than hip-hop.

The deaths of B.I.G. and Tupac have lost much of their initial sting, and the climate in rap is becoming more volatile. "It's not any different than problems that happen in our community every day," says Talib Kweli. "People get shot and violence is high, but I don't think it's the words in rap that are inciting beefs. It's the conditions of the community."

Related story:
"Jam Master Jay, 1965–2002: Rhythmic Heart of the Kings of Rock" by Harry Allen

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