It’s not every day that you hear the new generation of rappers break down music from the ’90s, but it’s something that the Florida native XXXTentacion did during a recent interview with DJ Akademiks.
In a newly released clip, you can see the 19-year-old get into a heated debate about who the better rapper was, the Notorious B.I.G. or Tupac Shakur. In the end, he said Biggie was superior due to his lyrics and willingness to be self-deprecating. He also recited a verse from the song “Suicidal Thoughts” to illustrate his point.
Then in another part of the interview, XXX — who’s been charged and accused of committing assault on an ex-girlfriend — said that he had a problem with both late rappers because they made guns cool in hip-hop, which opened the door for today’s kids to use them so much.
“Everybody wants to go around shooting each other,” said XXXTentacion about today’s youth. “I blame Tupac and Biggie for why these kids want to go around toting guns and f—— shooting each other and sh–. Because the minute that sh– got idolized, that’s when they started doing that sh–. That’s why I changed up my wordplay.”
The teenage rapper isn’t the first to criticize ‘90s MCs for their sometimes violent content and blame them for some of the Black community’s challenges. Plus, there’s always been a debate about whether violent rap lyrics actually influence crime rates and so far, after many have researched, the findings are still inconclusive.
But there have been people like educator Tahir Hemphill who’s working on a search engine that will allow people to input rap lyrics that would then lead them to actual crime percentages. He’s also researched statistics between rap music and crime on his own and found little to no correlation between the two.
“After the persistent media coverage about rap lyrics being used as evidence in trials, I decided that it would be beneficial to map crimes mentioned in rap lyrics against crime rates across the country,” he stated in a his report. “The data showed very little correlation between the crimes in the lyrics and their counterparts. For example, a significant crime drop between 1993 and 1995 is easily seen while crimes mentioned in rap lyrics are steadily increasing.”
While there’s still no actual proof if ‘90s, or any other period of rap music has led to today’s young people using guns so much, one could argue that the sheer image of seeing rappers like Pac toting a pistol influenced them — whether that influence made them actually pull a trigger or just use a gun as a prop to solidify a tough guy image.
Today, there’s a bevy of young rappers who posts photos and videos of themselves holding guns, which could be just the next step in the type of gangster imagery that was established in ’90s rap music.
Because historically, a big part of youth culture has been to shock and offend adults more than the previous generation of young people. So if ‘90s rappers merely talked about guns in their verses, today’s rappers will have to do a lot more if their interested in coming off as shocking, rebellious and one not to be messed with.
Some of the younger rappers who’ve posted videos of themselves brandishing weapons include Young Thug, Blac Youngsta and Florida rapper NewAge Jerkboy, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.
But one could also argue that hip-hop’s seeming love affair with guns didn’t start in the ‘90s as XXXTentacion suggest, since rappers like N.W.A. and Boogie Down Productions brandished weapons on their album covers back the ‘80s.
On top of that, there were a good number of acts from that time period who discouraged people in hip-hop from using guns, like Dr. Dre on his song “Been There Done That,” Nas on his cut “I Gave You Power” and Heather B on her single “All Glocks Down.”
Not surprisingly, XXX received a lot of backlash for his comments regarding his opinion on Pac and Big, especially since he claimed to actually be better than the late Mr. Shakur.
“You got nothing on 2Pac,” one person wrote.
“Cant make it as a rapper?” wrote someone else. “Well, just talk bullsh– on the interviews [and] try to claim better than Tupac.