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Guns and Our Community: Should Radio Stations be held Accountable?

“I left him dead in the living room/ get it, dead in the living room” -Lil Wayne from the song “9 Piece”

Recently on a trip to New York I had the radio tuned in to Hot 97, one of the most popular and well known urban radio stations in the country. I wasn’t surprised that the same songs were being played over and over. I was, however, surprised that the songs contained blatant references to guns, murder and drug dealing, and that these songs were being played every hour on the hour all day long. This struck me as, at best insensitive and at worst treasonous. New york had just been rocked with a wave of violence including the shocking murder of a woman who was killed trying to shield several children from bullets fired by a rooftop gunman. Instead of public service announcements about stopping the violence, what I heard was basically commercials for purchasing and using illegal guns to kill and intimidate your enemies and of course, “get money”.

The 2 songs I heard the most was “9 Piece” by Rick Ross and Lil Wanye and “Tony Montana” by a new artist named Future and Drake (WARNING both links contain explicit language). “9 Piece” actually has a gun cocked and fired mixed in to the beat, leaving no doubt about the violence being promoted. Now as an artist myself I don’t believe in censorship, my question is should songs with this subject matter be played all day long for communities suffering from drugs, guns, and the violence that follows? Should the lifestyle of illegal guns, crime and murder be promoted all day by radio stations that claim to serve the community? Do they have a responsibly or should they just play what’s popular regardless of the consequences? If some famous artist made a popular song about shooting and killing the President, would the radio station play it because it was requested?

So many in our community have experienced the devastating pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. We’re also faced with the sad reality that many guns in our community are obtained illegally and used for illegal purposes, which needs to be addressed immediately. And to top it all off mainstream Hip-Hop music that is polished and packaged to our youth is filled with some of the most violet images imaginable, played over and over again all day long by major radio stations that claim to be where Hip-Hop lives, but serve communities where young people are dying.

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program. The fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.