Attention is Needed to Reduce the Deaths of Our Talented Hip Hop Artists|
By Opio Sokoni
King Von is the latest rising star to die a violent death. He is also one of several deceased rappers to top the music charts only after meeting an untimely demise on November 6 in Atlanta. Early last year Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle finally charted with his album The Marathon after having been doing music for over ten years. One of his popular songs is “F— Donald Trump” which he made with Bloods gang affiliate rapper YG. Nip, a former Rollin 60s CRIP was gunned down by a former associate. His funeral processional through the streets of his home city was legendary.
Nipsey Hussle Mural in Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Opio Sokoni
New York rapper Pop Smoke has one of the top streaming albums this week but will never enjoy the accolades because he was also recently murdered. The California address where he was visiting was mistakenly posted online. He was killed in a home invasion. Each of the artists mentioned above were associated with gangs or street life. However, not all were killed by regular gang activity.
The life of a rapper can be dangerous due to their lyrics and lifestyle. Adding to it is envy, money, and unsettled issues (beefs). It seems every other month another rapper is being shot or killed. For instance, Louisiana rapper Lil Boosie was shot at in Dallas last weekend while paying his respects to another slain rapper Mo3 who he collaborated with on a song. Mo3 was leaving a woman’s home early morning last week when he realized he was being followed. He jumped on the highway in an effort to lose the driver following him. But the traffic was too heavy. He crashed his car, jumped out and began running. He was shot in the back of the head and killed. His music and videos are now seeing a huge jump in views and sales.
Many are blaming it on Drill music. This is a form of rap, popularized by Chicago rapper Chief Keef, where artists use their music to disrespect rival crews and even brag about violent events against their enemies (they call the “Opps” i.e., opposition). The life and affiliations of the rapper is what creates the authenticity and interest around the music.
We cannot help but note that while these youngsters are dying, there are wealthy people who distribute their music that are driving un-bothered to the bank. They are not trying to figure out how to end tragedies that pay them huge profits.
King Von was at an after party in Atlanta when he was killed. It all started after words were exchanged with another star rapper, NBA Youngboy, who is from Louisiana and is in the news for his soon to be child with Floyd Mayweather’s daughter Iyanna (aka Yaya). NBA Youngboy signed a Savannah, GA rapper by the name of Quando Rondo to his music label.
Once signed to an artist’s label, often all their label owner’s beefs are inherited. This is understood and has been a part of Hip Hop for a while now. Sean Combs and Shyne’s nightclub shooting or Suge Knight and the fatal shooting of Tupac two decades ago by gang members in Las Vegas are two examples.
King Von was signed by his friend and Chicago Drill music superstar Lil Durk. Both King Von and Lil Durk have been in the news in Atlanta for a shooting that took place at The Varsity. Both are also members of the Black Gangster Disciples, a well-known Chicago street gang.
The night of King Von’s shooting at a hookah lounge, the video shows Quando Rondo standing close to a white car. Dayvon “King Von” Bennett (26) emerges from a vehicle nearby. He seems to be walking in one direction but then sees Quando. They both walk towards each other and begin to fist fight. King Von is joined by his crew of people in the fight. As the fight is going on, a man who is Quando’s associate (Timothy “Lil Tim” Leeks, 22) from Savannah creeps around the back of the white car where he appears within a few feet of King Von. He begins letting off shots hitting King Von and his manager.
The crowd scatters as King Von hits the ground pulling Quando Rondo with him. Lil Tim also gets shot. Lil Tim’s body flips in the air as he lands on the ground still waiving his weapon. Atlanta police do not shoot him. King Von was unarmed. The King Von associate who shoots Lil Tim runs around the white car and takes off down the street. Atlanta police officers give chase.
King Von is still latched onto Quando Ronda as he seems to be in shock after being shot in the side and back. Some thought Quando was helping King Von after he was shot. He was saying that King Von was shot. King Von and Quando Rondo use to be friends. Quando can even be seen on an old video dissing King Von’s Chicago opps from 63rd Street. That all went south when NBA Youngboy and King Von became enemies. Some say it was about a couple of women that they both knew.
However, Quando could not break free from King Von’s grip on that fatal night. An associate of King Von knocked Quando to the ground. Quando gets back up but is still gripped by King Von. Quando is hit again which knocked him off from King Von’s body. King Von’s associates finally places him into a car and take him to a hospital where he died during surgery.
Two of King Von’s associates that night were also killed and several wounded by Atlanta police in what eyewitnesses said sounded like a wild west shootout. Quando Rondo can be seen later live online helping his associate Lil Tim to the hospital. Lil Durk learns about King Von being shot while he is also on his live feed that night listening to music with friends.
When the smoke cleared, babies were left without fathers and family and friends are left with gaping holes in their hearts. Executives count more money and life goes on for the rest of us. The answer lies in those who care and are close to the fire.
King Von is from an area in Chicago they call O Block. It is a group of housing complexes on 64th and King. It is called O Block after the death of a popular young man who was killed there. This street is beefing with youngsters on 63rd Street which is literally down the street.
Michelle Obama is from O Block. She alone can have a meeting or write a heart to heart letter to Lil Durk, 63rdStreet people, NBA Youngboy and Quando Rondo. It will go a long way into letting them know that we care. Any life she saves will be more than worth it because so many have given up or just no longer care.
There are programs that have attempted to find out how to address these issues. Leaving the city, as King Von and Lil Durk has done, does not end beefs because as you can see from King Von’s death in Atlanta, it was connected to Louisiana and Savannah rappers. This was not regular city neighborhood beef. Lil Durk should be engaged.
Those who are given the most respect on the streets must be given support in their efforts to reduce violence before it starts. It is easier said than done knowing that deaths often create unforgivable dispositions. Many of the people dying and getting killed in these battles are not famous and will never become famous. Some are innocent bystanders.
The police or government programs in general cannot solve this issue. Older and wiser men who understand the drill world and are close to these rappers can be the link to resources and information that can significantly decrease this type of violence. However, it cannot be done for money or for some type of selfish gratifying fame and attention (i.e., cap). Because do you know what can also top the music charts? – rivals settling their differences and making incredible songs together.