A rising star in the Atlanta hip hop scene is dead after a fatal shooting on I-285 Saturday night. Local police believe the shooting, which killed rapper Lil Marlo, was intentional and are investigating it as a homicide.
Lil Marlo, real name Rudolph Johnson, is far from the first rapper to be murdered and die at a tragically young age. There’s a conspicuous problem in the hip hop world of artists dying as a result of street violence.
This year saw the untimely deaths of Pop Smoke and Huey. Last year, Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot in Los Angeles. The year before that, XXXTenacion was shot and killed. The murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie still loom large over rap music decades after they shook the industry in the 1990s.
The death of Lil Marlo underscores a long-simmering debate that boiled over after the death of George Floyd.
Earlier this month, actor Terry Crews went on CNN to criticize the Black Lives Matter movement for saying “nothing” about “black-on-black” violence:
There are nine children who’ve died by… black-on-black gun violence from June 20th all the way to today… and the Black Lives Matter movement has said nothing about this kind of thing.
Anchor Don Lemon called it an apples-to-oranges comparison:
I don’t understand what that has to do with a movement that’s for equality for black people. It’s not mutually exclusive that if you care about equality for black people, that somehow you’re going to stop random violence, or unfortunately kids from being shot. It just seems like apples and oranges.
Trying to expose logical flaws in Terry Crews’ argument won’t bring Lil Marlo back. And it won’t bring back the black victims of violent crime. If black lives matter, the BLM movement should reckon with the hip hop lyrics and imagery that glorify a life of crime and violence.
That’s actually what Don Lemon himself argued, back in 2013.
While details about the shooting are still under investigation, it’s all too likely that Lil Marlo is a victim of a culture of violence that Don Lemon once blamed on hip hop.
As Tucker Carlson recently pointed out, in a 2013 CNN segment, Don Lemon once said:
Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace, a culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned. Thug and reprehensible behavior. A culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you, and it’s not going to.
If the Black Lives Matter movement is sincere, it should address the glorification of violence in hip hop lyrics, as well as black-on-black crime.
Homicides in which the victim and murderer were both black account for considerably more deaths each year than police killings. (We don’t currently know the race of the shooter who killed Lil Marlo.)
Pundits like Don Lemon, who don’t want to talk about it today, once universalized Black Lives Matter’s concerns to all black victims of violence. 2020 Don Lemon might cancel 2013 Don Lemon for having the courage to say so.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.