This article is a glance at a thriving, rising culture that many don’t want to look at. The purpose of this article is to show people how rap beef, gang warfare, and potential volatility in certain American neighborhoods is a factor in all people’s future. Why are so many Americans addicted to drugs? Why are so many people gangbanging, and where is all of this going?

Sacramento, California is like many American cities. Certain neighborhoods are flooded with drugs, and a culture of gangsterism: where shootings occur almost daily, and tension is constantly in the air between people ranging from regular working people, to average criminals to organized gangsters.

Chicago is a prime example of when the equation of drugs + poverty = widespread violence. Activists such as James “J-Hustle” Hawthorne have tried to make a difference, recording crime scenes to show people how it really looks, documenting murders and shootings that didn’t even make the news.

However, recently members of his extended family were shot, and a fan of his was shot in broad daylight on church steps, on a Sunday. He made this video about it.

Chicago residents have claimed that crates full of guns were dumped in poor neighborhoods to encourage violence. According to a Waking Times article titled “Gang Members Implicate U.S. Gov’t in Dumping Crates of Guns in Chicago”:

“In a publicly available video testimony an ex-Chicago gang member describes how crates of fully automatic firearms would regularly be found in alley ways and back streets of urban Chicago at the early hours of the morning, giving free, illegal weapons to the gangs of Chi-Town, which is now often referred to as Chiraq because it is a war zone.

He refers to it as a diabolical plot, a plan, affecting only low-income areas, pointing out that many of the firearms being found were class-3 automatic firearms, which can only be purchased at certain retailers under intense federal scrutiny. He notes that criminals aren’t allowed to buy firearms in the first place, yet the guns are everywhere, so where are they coming from?”

Now in Sacramento, a deeply rooted culture of gangsterism might be on the verge of causing a new wave of violence in the city. Unlike some rival Crip and Blood sets in other US cities calling a truce, many gangs in Sacramento are not at peace.

In the 90’s, rappers C-Bo, X-Raided, Brotha Lynch Hung, and others put the city’s gang culture on wax. And while their music can be enjoyable, it definitely helps perpetuate a violent culture. Gangsta rap was always a reflection of reality, and it’s true that in the beginning, it didn’t start the trend, but in its form today, this new rap certainly influences people to take up gangbanging.

Like Chicago, there’s a deeply ingrained culture of criminality in the city. It’s more peaceful in Sac than it probably has been in several decades, but long-standing conflicts between gangs still have the potential to pop off and cause waves of violence in the city.

The Oak Park Bloods and Garden Blocc Crips have been beefing for several decades. In the 90’s, 29th St. Garden Blocc Crip member C-Bo became a well known rapper, befriending Tupac Shakur and appearing on his album “All Eyez on Me.”

Nowadays, Sacramento rapper Mozzy is gaining fame, being put on by outlets such as WorldStar and VICE’s Noisey, VladTV and others. Mainstream media is essentially promoting this new rapper. He is an Oak Park Blood, a gang C-Bo’s Crip set has long conflicted with.

Mozzy became famous after participating in a wave of violence in Sacramento that left several people dead and injured: a beef between Oak Park Blood clique “Zilla” and the South Sacramento Gang “Starz” or “30’z.”

Diss videos were made on both sides, and at the end, Mozzy became famous after Starz leader Lavish D was incarcerated. Lavish D brought more fame to both sides after being on a television segment about Sacramento gang violence.

Just watch a few minutes of these videos and you’ll see what really goes on in Sacramento. It’s not just Sac: every American city has all their gangs making music videos now. This art-form both has the power to show people what is really going on, and the power to promote violence, as well as the power to uplift people if it were only about something positive while still maintaining the warrior spirit that attracts people to it.

Recently, Mozzy disrespected Sacramento rappers C-Bo and Brotha Lynch in an interview, provoking a response from C-Bo.

Then, Mozzy responded with a diss that has almost 1 million views on YouTube.

Some, including fellow Sacramento Crip rapper T-Nutty said that the conflict could have been better avoided.  Many people commented on videos hoping that the two would just get along and prevent violence from escalating.

A positive message came from one of the founders of the Oak Park Bloods in the first place. Today he is not a gangster, but an activist. He essentially said they should focus on police brutality, and pay attention to the state that is crushing all people, instead of fighting each other. That video can be found below.

This conflict might be deeper than rap. Last year, a person affiliated with both C-Bo and Lavish D was killed: Stunna Nuk. This video was made, featuring C-Bo and Nuk.

Lavish D was released from prison recently, and started making more songs about going against Mozzy.

What does this all mean? This is the sh*t that goes on every day in many American cities. Addicts are doing meth and heroin, gangsters are dealing and killing, and now these rap videos can offer anyone seeking the info a detailed window into this world. Gangbanging is looking really lucrative to a lot of young kids who are inexperienced with the consequences of killing.

Violence was generally more common in the 90’s than it is now, but now killings are more senseless and gangs seem to be more without order.

While gangsta rap can be enjoyable, the art-form can be kind of corrosive. It represents a real, dark thing, and fans get a kick out of people beefing when they aren’t up-close witnessing the people getting shot.

If a conflict escalates in any city as deep with gang members as Sacramento, it has the potential to erupt into a Chicago-like situation. If for instance, the power grid goes down, or the state enacts martial law on a community (which activists are always thinking about), these gangs are a huge factor. They are the militant minded people in your city: if drugs weren’t corrupting the militant minded people, they might actually be a formidable force against tyranny.

In my mind, I see the whole template of gangbanging and hip-hop as something that would work with militant revolutionaries. That attitude, that energy could be put to something useful and positive in defense against the state. People who are built to be soldiers could defend their families from the state or other criminals instead of selling drugs and killing each other.

However, the situation is more complex than this article could ever explain. Some people choose to gangbang because they don’t know any better as kids, but none of that is really an excuse to justify robbing, killing, or selling drugs to people. There is no excuse for aggression against others, but environmental factors encourage those with that warrior spirit inside them to become corrupt. It does all boil down to personal will and choice, but money and culture are factors influencing people to become evil.

The energy and spirit of hip-hop could be used to promote positivity, and sometimes it is. However, people are really attracted to the negativity. Hip-hop fans are excited by beef, and it’s been that way forever.

If you can’t relate to dealing with this in your community, ask yourself: when will your city become flooded with drugs? When will your city see innocent kids getting shot by stray bullets, ordinary people getting shot in broad daylight on church steps, or things of that nature?

To answer that question, people must pay attention.

People must reach out to those in need in their communities who could become the drug addicts who fuel all of this in the first place.

To finish this on a positive note, here’s a more positive Northern California gangsta rap song from recently.

(Image credit: YouTube, MerryJane, C-Bo)