Violence in Swedish Hip-Hop culture has become a plague as of late. As some of you may know, Ayman, Siggy & TommyBravo make a point of keeping “gang” content out of their lyrics. The downward spiral that the Swedish Hip-Hop scene has been on over the last 7-8 years in regards to introducing more and more gang-ties into the music is now at a tipping-point level. This has caused a maelstorm in Swedish society. Street-thugs and violence makers have taken to the airwaves for propaganda and money-laundering purposes. Outside of lives lost and dreams cut short, this violent portrayal of society has become a badge of honor amongst hijackers and bad actors. One-upping each other in a dangerous game of chicken.
Hip-Hop is about expression. It has always been voice for the underbelly of society, the held back, the marginalised and exploited. A way to comment on the world around us. But lately, that voice has been hijacked by people who want to use Hip-Hop’s expressive power to legitimise their violence.
Violence in hip-hop showed up early in the genres existence. Hip-Hop has been chastised for its’ violent content since before I was born. Most of the time its’ merely been a scapegoat for systemic ills that predate the genres birth. Today, however, feels different. Today feels reactionary. Almost self-perpetuating. At some point, us as fans and participators in Hip-Hop’s culture need to turn our cheek to the destructive nature this powerful combination can have on the influence of our culture.
The sad reality is kids under 15 years old are being gunned down because they have been tempted by a lifestyle that is VERY OFTEN promoted through Swedish Hip-Hop. Gangs flashing weapons, money and drugs are almost a staple of a Swedish Hip-Hop video at the moment. And since the music is cool, the imagery becomes cool, and eventually, the lifestyle becomes cool. As adults we can easier draw the line between portrayal and promotion. As a youngblood it’s harder to see that distinction.
Responsibility for the violence?
“’til they throw on a rap record and they sit and they vibe” – Eminem, Sing for the Moment
I firmly remember evenings living this exact line. Sitting in my room as a 12-13 year old mainlining Hip-Hop. The rhythms, the energy, the rebellion, the vibe. It all influenced me. It gave me a place for release and escape and helped shape who I am today.
We cannot deny the powerful influence all music has on people. And we cannot deny the influence Hip-Hop has on the youth. So why all the toxicity? Why all the destructive content? The more of this we promote internally in the culture, the more we project out into society. It has to start and end with us.
We as creators in this culture have a duty to ourselves and each other to wield this power responsibly. If we choose negativity to be our influence, we will have a negative outcome.
Just some thoughts on a Sunday.