New Orleans rapper, educator, and speaker Dee-1 recently highlighted hypocrisy by some in the hip-hop industry for glorifying murder and selling drugs even after so many hip-hop artists have been slain in the past few years.
During an appearance on the Sway in the Morning show, the rapper mentioned Rick Ross, Meek Mill, and Jim Jones, all big names in the hip-hop community.
“Jim Jones you can do better brother I love you too much. I love you too much not to be honest with you. Rick Ross, you could do better brother. Meek Mill, you could do better brother. I love you too much not to be honest with you. This man out here glorifying getting people killed,” the artist commented.
For example, one line of Rick Ross and Meek Mill’s track called, “Shaq and Kobe details murder saying, “Killin’ @%*! in the streets, I call it a feast.” The song includes several references to such behavior.
“I just recognize that I’m in Hip Hop,” Dee-1, whose real name is David Arnold Augustine Jr., said in an interview earlier this year with CBN News. “I’m in an industry where music and messaging is packaged up in such a catchy way that it’s like, ‘Man this is cool. I’m vibing to this but deep down in my heart I know this isn’t right according to God.'”
“This is not right but I’m singing it. And now that I’m singing it, I’m craving to hear more of it. Now I’m memorizing it. I’m allowing it to permeate my brain. And now I’m a fan of it and I’m actually pushing it upon other people. I’m pushing it to the next generation. I’m pushing it to my family and my friends.”
Rick Ross responded to Dee-1’s comments in an Instagram post Saturday pointing out that he’s been helping the community by giving away free turkeys during the holidays.
“Lil’ man, whoever you is, until you feed the kids where you’re from for 20 years straight, don’t question Rozay,” he began. “Wait until you buy 10,000 bikes. Don’t question Bawse. You heard me, lil’ man? Get that basket off your head, so you could think clear, lil’ man. Since you wanna go viral, I’m gonna show you how to go viral, lil’ man.”
Dee-1’s comments come as hip-hop recently celebrated 50 years in the music industry.
“As we celebrate Hip Hop being fifty years old and the fiftieth year of Hip Hop, I just think that it’s a great time to practice what I call transformative love,” Dee-1 explained. “Transformative love means you’re not going to sit here and simply affirm everything about Hip Hop just because you’re a part of it. You’re going to be able to love it from a place of being able to be critical of it in the ways that it needs to improve. That’s where I’m at.”
The artist has also been addressing why many ignore the harmful effects of negative lyrics in rap and hip-hop. A few months an interview he did on rap and cognitive dissonance went viral.
“Cognitive Dissonance is something that I know I’ve been guilty of, and I speak about it in the song that’s gone viral,” he said. “The song itself is called, “People Don’t Want That Real.” And in that song, I speak about me knowing better and knowing what messages are not of God. But being a victim to saying, ‘Well this is catchy. I want to listen to more of it.'” “That’s the trap right there.”
The rapper, who is a born-again Christian often uses his platform and his music to glorify God and is not afraid to speak out against ills in rap music.
“God has gifted me to be bold in this generation, in this season right now to be boldly righteous and to understand that although I’m not perfect my imperfections are not to be celebrated and glorified and glamorized,” Dee-1 said. “And me being in hip hop culture I have a unique ability to reach people on both sides of the fence – People who are in the church who are saved already. People that are not saved already. And with that, I don’t need to water down my message. I need to make my message more tied into the Word. I need to make to make my message even more full of that salt and light and that’s why I’m here.”
He also pushes back against the narrative of placing his race above his Christian faith.
“Being pro-Black if it gets to the point where your identity is found in your blackness before it’s found in being a child of God that is a problem. That means your race and your ethnicity has become an idol. And we aren’t supposed to have any idols.”
Meanwhile, Dee-1, who started teaching middle school math in Baton Rouge after graduating from LSU in 2008, now serves as a professor at Tufts University. He also serves as the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellow at Harvard University.
During his time at Harvard, he wrote a children’s book titled David Found His Slingshot, which is based on his being bullied while growing up.
“It was not fun,” he told CBN News. “When I was first starting elementary school and just a bright-eyed young man going to school. I definitely didn’t think I would encounter getting bullied. All these years later I can still remember that sense of fear I had going to school every day because I was afraid of when I would run into this bully – this bigger student who would always you know pick on me. It affected my desire to want to go to school and my ability to concentrate while I was in school.”
“By the grace of God, I was able to not get permanently hindered by being bullied and I was able to turn a corner to where I can use that experience years later to help other students, so they don’t have to go through what I went through,” Dee-1 said.