Bullets and wheelchairs in Hip-Hop

root - Posted on 02 November 2006

by Leroy Moore/Illin n Chillin

I grew up in this Hip-Hop era, and I still don’t know if I should be proud of it or hold my head down and cry about what it has become. I grew up in New York and around the East Coast watching the OGs of spoken word, the Last Poets, slam their words in Harlem, Grandmaster Flash in New Jersey partying up with their lyrics and the ladies of Hip-Hop, Salt-n-Pepper, sprinkling their feminist seasoning on the crowd.

Now you hear gangsta lyrics that most of the time lead to beef with other artists that leads to senseless death like Tupac Shakur and Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. I wonder if they, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G., had lived, would they have changed their styles, lyrics and messages?

I mean, you don’t have to became a born again preacher like MC Hammer, but would they have seen the divide and conquer game the media, political arena and record companies play in our communities? I know Tupac, as a child of the Black Panther, did see America’s whole capitalist game.

I also wonder if Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. had survived as Hip-Hop artists with gunshot disabilities, what would they write and rap about? Would they be more like one of the old timers of Hip-Hop, Percey Carey, aka MF Grimm of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was shot 10 times in 1994, almost two years earlier than the Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. incidents, leaving him disabled – blind in one eye, partially deaf in one ear and a wheelchair user?

Thank God MF Grimm today is living in New York and has regained his sight and hearing. He still uses a wheelchair, is now a successful producer and is still rapping.

However, to look at and hear 50 Cent rapping about how he got shot like it is an Olympic gold medal or something makes me wonder about the Hip-Hop arena’s capacity to learn! I just don’t get it!

Well, we can’t bring Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. back, but we must learn from them and MF Grimm. However, the question is, are we learning?

Take the latest casualty of gangsta hip-hop, Darnell Lyndsey aka Blade Icewood of Detroit. The latest Hip-Hop casualty was working his way up, but his wheels got stuck in the deadly game of the hood and Hip-Hop turf wars.

Both Icewood and MF Grimm are talented brothers in the Hip-Hop world. Both were deep in the underground of inner city turf wars, drugs and hanging with a rough crowd, and both were shot and become disabled but went on to record an album after becoming disabled.

Unfortunately, the comparison between the two ended, because Blade Icewood was shot dead in his wheelchair on April 19 on the Eastside of Detroit. For Blade, 2005 had to be a mixture of good and bad in his short life.

Although many accounts said that Blade was a rising star in the Hip-Hop industry, in September 2005, according to local news articles in Detroit newspapers, Blade became disabled, paralyzed from his chest down, by gunshots over some kind of beef with another rap group or artist who was pronounced dead after the confrontation.

However, Blade wasn’t so lucky on April 19, 2005. Sadly, his case sounds like the Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. case, where the police were and still are clueless on who did the shooting. The same pattern has followed Blade to his grave so far.

Blade Icewood’s new album, entitled "Blood, Sweat & Tears," has hit the stores. It was independently produced and distributed by Blade himself. There are no sides to stand on or in Blade’s case sit on! The only thing that is clear now is two rising Detroit Hip-Hop stars are shining bright – not in the Hip-Hop arena but in heaven.

You can hear about Blade on Juan’s new single, "RIP Blade," at www.themitten.net/media/JuanRIPBlade.mp3. Juan is a member of the Streetlords, Blade Icewood’s rap group.

I wonder what was going through Blade’s mind, sitting in his wheelchair recording his new debut solo album that is now his last. Was he glad to be alive and moving onward, or was he stuck in the seaweed and quicksand of the inner city cycle of violence looking for revenge?

On the internet there are many different versions of what happened that night and why Blade was shot. Bottom line is Hip-Hop is becoming "disabled" because of violence, and that is bad enough, but we must learn from MF Grimm. It is up to us to lick our wounds, pray to God that we are still here and wheel off into the sunset to continue to drive Hip-Hop beyond the dark side and into the empowering rebirth of self holistically!

How come Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. didn’t see and learn what MF Grimm went through? From MF Grimm’s website, www.mfgrimm.com, you can see and read that he has regained his hearing and sight. He is still producing, rapping and signing new talent to his own label, Day By Day Entertainment Inc.

In one interview, he says he is a new man and has a second chance in life. On his CD, "Scares & Memories," he has an interview talking about how in Hip-Hop today there is this strange glory in being shot that makes you a hard artist and gives you higher rank. As a survivor of not only being shot at 10 times but serving time behind bars, he says on this CD that he doesn’t understand the concept. He also is worried about the Hip-Hop industry today and where it’s going.

Being amongst the fathers of Hip-Hop, like Grandmaster and KRSOne etc. it must be hard for MF Grimm to watch what Hip-Hop has grown into. Also, on "Scares & Memories," MF Grimm has a song about AIDS and his view on the term, "Comrade." On the CD he says most of his comrades are not living now.

MF Grimm’s new CD, entitled "American Hunger," will be hitting the stores in September of 2005. I wonder will he talk about his life today as a disabled Hip-Hop artist and not only the violence but the starving leeches of America’s culture that helped put him there? But on the other hand, it did change his life. Do we always have to learn things the hard way? Some are lucky and can survive well; others take their lesson to the grave.

In the meantime, both artists, the late Blade Icewood and MF Grimm, have songs that speak about the struggles they’ve been through before and since they became disabled. It is interesting both have similar titles for a song that really aims deep into the violence that caused them to be disabled. Listen to "Blood, Sweat & Tears" by Blade Icewood and "Bloody Love Letter" on "Scares & Memories" by MF Grimm.

As a scholar in race and disability, I don’t want to read about another Hip-Hop artist becoming disabled and getting killed over senseless Black on Black violence. But we all know that this Amerikkkan system breeds competition that leads to crime, so if we have to live in it, please learn from the late Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and now Darnell Lyndsey aka Blade Icewood.

Or is it time to take a page from a living Hip-Hop artist who has turned his past into a beautiful, powerful and enlightened path toward the future with his work and words: Percy Carey aka MF Grimm.

Website sources: MF Grimm, www.daybydayent.com with interviews on "Scares & Memories" CD; Blade Icewood www.sohh.com and www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story. Leroy F. Moore Jr. is a poet, writer and activist. Email him at sfdamo@yahoo.com and listen to him on Pushing Limits, broadcast Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on KPFA 94.1 FM.


Sign-up for POOR email!