The War on Drugs

The music industry. To a lot of people, those three words give off a negative connotation. Have you ever really thought as to why? Rap videos are constantly critiqued for being about sex, cars, women, drugs, booze, etc. For example: Nicki Minaj, one of the most popular female rappers of out time, is often seen as to being a “bad influence” because she shows off her body and is a sexual being. These are things that are all done by her own free will, and quite frankly it is nobody’s place to tell her, or any woman, that she cannot be the person she is. She is one of the most successful women in this industry. Nicki always tells her audience, specifically the girls, that they should stay in school and make a living for themselves because no woman should depend on a man for success. She depended on herself. Hip hop has so much more to offer than what is being produced into certain music videos. This industry is filled with artists who are making music because they had a dream of sharing their experiences, feelings, and passions through music. Music is the most prevalent way to reach out to certain audiences, and let them know they are not alone in their trials. Now it’s one thing to reach out through the words being sung, but it’s another ball game to see visual representation through the production of music videos. The hip-hop artist J. Cole produced a music video to one of the songs he’s written called “Crooked Smile”. His inspiration for the music video is the true story of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones who was slain in a night-time drug raid on her father. The Detroit Special Response Team had thrown a flash-bang grenade which landed near sleeping Aiyana, burning her blanket. Once the team was in the house, Officer Joseph Weekly fired a single shot hitting Aiyana in the head, killing her. In J. Coles “Crooked Smile” music video, a similar situation happens. He ends the video asking police to  “Please reconsider your war on drugs.”

The music video can be watched here: 

J. Cole reaches out to his audience giving them all a chance to understand that the war on drugs is a genuine issue. Not because of the dealers, but because of how the operating forces handle the situation. Aiyana’s death could have been avoided in a number of ways. The raid didn’t have to be put into effect in the middle of the night. The team could have waited until the family left the next morning, when it was safe. Shots shouldn’t have been fired that night, there was no threat. Aiyana isn’t the first person to be killed during a drug raid. John Adams. 2001. Shot and killed while watching TV, the raid was on the wrong home. Reverend Jonathan Ayers. 2009. Shot to death while driving away, fearing for his life after he saw a group of undercover cops waving guns. David Hooks. 2014. Woken up by his wife in the middle of the night, scared about home intruders. Went to investigate and was shot and killed by the police who we’re searching for drugs solely based on an informants word. None we’re found. The point is, Aiyana isn’t the first person to be wrongfully killed due to reckless gun use and judgement during drug raids. There are hundreds of cases like hers.

If this simple music video can spark a fire inside of the viewer to want to learn about the issue being represented, then the music industry is not a negative industry. Artists like J. Cole are able to educate their audience on problems that aren’t taught in schools. Students are not taught about the innocent people constantly being killed because of the war on drugs. The music industry is so incredibly important, teenagers and young adults make up over 50% of the hip-hop audience. Teenagers and young adults need to be educated, for they are the future. Through social media, this audience can share Aiyana’s story. Representation is crucial for the education and culture of the music industries audience.

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