Should rappers give back?

On Mar. 31, an angel left Los Angeles.

This angel didn’t don a halo, but a blue bandana. He didn’t have the holiest voice in the land, but his words touched and inspired many. This angel was a musician, an activist and a businessman. Most importantly, he was a family man. His closest friends and family knew him as Ermias. The world knew him as Nipsey Hussle.

Hussle’s death is a continuation of the dark and tragic history of rappers dying in their hometowns. Other notable rappers include Big L, Jam Master Jay, Chinx, Bankroll Fresh and most recently, XXXTentacion. In the case of the latter, XXXTentacion was planning to attend a fundraiser to help the less fortunate in his hometown of Miami.

There needs to be a discussion in the black community regarding black celebrities and their role in the said community. In the black community, children are taught to never forget where they come from. When some of us have the potential to be successful, it is hammered into us to give back to the community that raised us. The thing about that is, what if that person didn’t want to come back to the hood? What if they don’t plan on coming back? Are they traitors? I would say otherwise.

“His death impacted so many people,” said Black Student Union leader Jordan Allen. “Plus it was in his old neighborhood where he used to trap at. Some say there were ulterior motives.” Nipsey was killed in front of a pop-up shop for his clothing line “The Marathon.” Immediately after his death there were conspiracy theories of his death being linked to his involvement with the production of the documentary on Dr. Sebi. Reports later came in that the suspect was an acquaintance of the Crenshaw rapper. A day before his death, Hussle posted on his twitter that “having strong enemies is a blessing.” One could’ve guessed who he was tweeting about.

“As long as what he was doing was authentic, that’s all that matters,” said Eric Davis, BC’s Dean of Social Sciences. “I value those who make a point to go back to their hometowns in an effort to give back or otherwise inspire.” Seeing someone as a good person because of their philanthropic work might be common sense, but what are the motivations behind said philanthropy? Nipsey Hussle gave back to underserved communities, and he did it out of the goodness of his own heart. He didn’t pull a “God’s Plan” and just give money to people for good publicity. He didn’t use philanthropy to indirectly deflect criticism from his actions. He took it upon himself to help people. Nipsey saw a community in need and did what needed to be done, no strings attached. If he had done the opposite, that would’ve been his choice to make. Any person who leaves a bad situation for a better one, especially in the context of leaving the ghetto, isn’t less moral or amoral. In the rap industry, success creates enemies out of jealous people, especially when they come from the same city.

Rap veteran Boosie expressed similar sentiments during a May 2016 interview with VladTV, an online hip-hop media publication. He spoke on Lil’ Wayne leaving his home state of Louisiana. “They hate you for your success” said Boosie. “If you was a local rapper and you didn’t have much they would love you.” Nipsey Hussle was on his way to affecting the economic landscape of entire communities. He could’ve been to Los Angeles what LeBron is to Cleveland, but it all came an abrupt halt because he realized too late who his friends and foes were. The idea of giving back is a noble cause, but we shouldn’t hate someone for not feeling the same way, because history has shown us that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.