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Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 09:54 GMT
Head to head: Rap and guns
Jay-Z: One musician accused of glamorising violence
Politicians and police have accused rap music of encouraging gun violence, while musicians say deeper social problems are to blame.

We took the views of Chief Superintendent Kevin Morris, head of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, and south London rapper Blak Twang.


Chief Superintendent Kevin Morris

I don't think we should run away with the idea that stopping this kind of music is going to get the young people who carry guns to hand them in and abide by the law.

The concern many people would have is that music does have an immensely powerful ability to influence people, especially the young, and can be used in a positive sense.

Music does have an immensely powerful ability to influence people

Chief Superintendent Kevin Morris
And I would like to encourage people to do that, rather than highlight some of the negatives where people carry guns and kill other young people.

We have to face the fact that in today's society a lot of young people think it's OK to carry a lethal barrelled weapon.

Of course, if they go to a party, or they go to a large gathering with others, and somebody upsets them, then it seems, sadly, increasingly likely that someone will pull one out and actually fire the thing.

In some respects people do reflect life in music, but they also challenge - especially young people - the views of older people like myself.

And often they've been very successful in changing and influencing society.

The music isn't just about this [violence], and of course it can be used for good.

And if it can be used for good, and to change things in a positive sense, then I think you've also got to accept it can be influential in a negative way.


Tony Rotton, Blak Twang

You must look further... rap music in general is not just one-dimensional, anyway.

I know we've focused on the lyrics that do tend to talk about guns, but there's also lyrics that talk about love, enjoyment, fun, having a good time.

There's also lyrics that talk about love, enjoyment, fun, having a good time

Blak Twang
I can safely say that a lot of my shows that I've been to, I've never really had an incident when guns have been brought out or anyone's been shot or injured.

Everyone's getting a bit too serious about these lyrics. It doesn't mean it literally.

I just call it entertainment, and some of the aspects of the entertainment is violence. Some of it is love and life experiences. It all really reflects what goes on in society anyway.

The guns were here way before rap music existed and will continue to be here even after the music dies down

Blak Twang
The guns were here way before rap music existed and will continue to be here even after the music dies down.

I believe the onus is on society as a whole. We need to start to deal with the actual problems.

The problem really isn't the music. Music will always exist, artists will always be creative; there's a lot of imagination going on, there is a lot of subject matter that is based on experiences and reality.

But the responsibility's got to be there. Everyone's life isn't always the same. Some people are going through suffering, some people are going through desperation, frustration, disillusion.

There is poverty and sometimes people go to any means in order to achieve what they want to get.

So sometimes it might result in guns and knives.

But on the other hand we need to balance the picture, combating the negative with the positive type of lyrics.

We can't really blame it on the music at all.


Key stories

Background

TALKING POINT

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Gun crime
Is "gangsta" music and TV culture to blame?
See also:

07 Jan 03 | England
06 Jan 03 | Politics
06 Jan 03 | Entertainment
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