Gun violence has been a major subject of discussion in the United States for many years, but this year it seemed to reach critical mass. From school shootings to accidental gun deaths to the particularly violent subculture that formed in the wake of the drug war, gun violence is more common in the United States than virtually any other industrially developed nation.
All too often, hip-hop has been maligned as an aggravating factor in these kinds of crimes, but many times it is giving a window into American culture’s broader problematic history with guns.
Hip-hop has become a popular art form despite its origins in marginalized communities; it is these spaces that are particularly vulnerable to gun violence. For many Americans, it might seem like hip-hop is in some way “responsible” for that violence, and while glorification of violence isn’t something that should be taken lightly, it is important to recognize that the art is also a prism that reflects some very grim realities.
Many performers have difficulty leaving the streets, some actively court their support, and some are accidental bystanders. Here’s a rundown of MCs who got caught in the crossfires of this paradoxical mentality, and, like Ross, escaped with their lives.
Timbaland was accidentally shot while working as a dishwasher at a Virginia Red Lobster in 1986, when he was only in his early teens. A co-worker was bragging about his pistol and accidentally discharged the weapon; it hit Timbaland under his arm, which became temporarily paralyzed. It took him two years to recover. The bullet remains in his armpit to this day, and still causes him occasional health problems.
The book The Wu-Tang Clan and RZA: A Trip Through Hip Hop’s 36 Chambers has a ton of tidbits about Wu-Tang but one that didn’t slip under the radar was the fact that prior to blowing up, Ghostface Killah was shot in the neck and arm in the early ’90s. According to the book, the shooting occurred in Ohio where RZA, Ghost, and their cohorts got it in doing what we assume were perfectly legal activities that did not involve any narcotics whatsoever.
Cam’ron was shot during an attempted carjacking in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2005. He was driving a blue Lambourghini and, according to friends, wore $200,000 worth of jewelry, when a burgandy SUV pulled up alongside him. An armed man jumped out, and while Cam’ron attempted to speed away, fired into the car, hitting the rapper in both arms.
After the shooting, when asked for a quote while leaving Howard University Hospital, Cam’ron famously said “I got shot three times and my album comes out November 22.”