“Hip Hop Homicides” Producer P. Frank Williams Talks Pop Smoke Murder Investigation, Working With 50 Cent & Why The Internet Is A "Deadly Place"

P. Frank Williams details the hurdles he faced during "Hip-Hop Homicides," working with 50 Cent, and how they got Amelia Rose to speak on Pop Smoke’s murder for the first time publicly.

BYAron A.
P.-Frank-Williams-cover

Hip-Hop Homicides showrunner P. Frank Williams has played a pivotal role in the culture for nearly three decades. From his days with the L.A. Times to The Source in the 90s, he watched hip-hop unfold into becoming the biggest genre in the world. He explored the deaths of Biggie and Tupac on FOX’s Who Shot Tupac And Biggie and A&E’s Who Killed Tupac? The deceased legends are just two examples of rappers who’ve lost their lives at a young age. However, it’s a growing concern as we’ve witnessed in the past few months alone. 

Just two days after the tragic passing of Takeoff, WeTV debuted their new series, Hip Hop Homicides. 50 Cent and Mona-Scott Young executive produced this alongside Williams, who describes Hip Hop Homicides as a “labor of love.” He explained Fif's growing concern for the state of hip-hop led to the birth of the series.

“[Hip-Hop Homicides] came from an organic place of 50’s concern about the culture and obviously, the climate,” he said. “I think it just ended up being more timely than we realized.”

"Hip-Hop Homicides" producers P. Frank Williams and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson via Tanishia Harris

In recent weeks, the show provided new context to the deaths of King Von and Pop Smoke, whose cases remain unsolved. Witnesses broke their silence, including Amelia Rose -- a witness to Pop Smoke's murder. It marked her first on-camera appearance since the Brooklyn rapper’s death in 2020.

“It was political unrest in Russia so she was able to go to Paris and do it,” Williams explained. “She was thinking that people were gonna do some type of retaliation. She was accusing Mike Dee of something pretty serious in a situation where the internet had already kinda done that. So, it was a very sensitive touch and go.”

In addition to Pop Smoke, Hip-Hop Homicides also explores the deaths of Magnolia Shorty, Chinx, and more. 

From the street code to hip-hop's future, the Emmy award-winning journalist and producer shed light on the state of the culture. In our new interview with P. Frank Williams, he discusses Hip Hop Homicides, misinformation in hip-hop & more.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

HNHH: How did those initial conversations with 50 Cent and Mona Scott-Young plant the seed for this series to begin? 

P. Frank Williams: Well, 50, as you know, survived a gunshot wound. People tried to merk 50 and then he survived, which is great. So I think in the context of hip-hop conversations about murders and shootings, he’s a first person. He’s not telling something he didn’t know. And then he had an organic relationship with Pop ‘cause a lot of people compared Pop to him. That was like his little, you know, his little nephew, son, whatever you wanna say. 

When Pop died, I think that really touched 50 in a big way and he had some suspicions about some of the things surrounding his death. And so those suspicions led to Mona. Mona and 50 worked together from the Violator Chris Lighty days. So they came together and Hip-Hop Homicides was born. We had a little sizzle reel and I helped him kind of develop it some more. Then we developed it and went out and shot it. It was definitely a labor of love, to say the least. So it came from an organic place of 50’s concern about the culture and obviously, the climate. I think it just ended up being more timely than we realized.

You aim to humanize these slain artists as people rather than their public personas on Hip Hop Homicides. How do you think the media has evolved in how they cover slain rappers since Tupac and Biggie's death?

Well, overall, hip-hop, from the time I was starting out in the 80s and even starting to cover it in The Source and publications in the early 90s, I don’t think they knew as much. Hip-hop culture is now the most mainstream, dominant, music genre in the world. When I was at the Grammys in the early 90s, back in the media room, they barely even let hip-hoppers in. They wouldn’t let us perform. We boycotted. Method Man boycotted that award show. I happened to be with him that night and he ended up winning with Mary J Blige. A Tribe Calle Quest. Jazzy Jeff. Hip-hop has become more mainstream. I think the media has gotten more savvy but I still don’t think that they get the layers of what these young guys and women are about. 

A lot of people are saying these guys deserve this shooting or whatever because they put themselves in situations and they live a street life and you can’t mix the streets with the music. So I’m glad that things have gotten better. That even a show like Hip-Hop Homicides – you couldn't have told me that that would have been on in the 90s, produced by an all-Black production company and all Black people from the actual culture of hip-hop. It would have been some outsiders trying to tell our story. I’m glad that right now with Hip-Hop Homicides, we’re telling this story from the inside out. Meaning we’re coming from inside the hip-hop culture, to the world vs. the outside world telling our story.

I think that overall coverage has gotten better but it’s still very stereotypical. I think social media has helped balance it because underground artists – sites like yourself – can pop up and tell stories and give a different perspective and insight than USA Today or ABC 7 or something like that. Though things have gotten better, we have a long way to go. I’m thankful for shows like Hip-Hop Homicide because we get to tell our own stories, about our own soldiers and our own heroes.

Why is the social context of these rappers' stories so important to cover in Hip-Hop Homicides?

Well, I just think that you got to get a background of where people come from to understand who they are and what they’re about. You know, these guys don’t operate, and the women don’t operate, in a vacuum. Magnolia Shorty came from the Magnolia projects. Pretty dangerous projects. Soulja Slim also was from there. The chance of them to make it out of there started from the beginning. That also inspired their music. So, when you look at them and their lives and the decisions that they make, you gotta [take in] the environments they grew up in, the type of households, their background, and all of that, so I think it’s really important. 

Even, say someone like King Von. We went to O-Block where King Von – I don’t know if you know about Chicago but Chicago has a lot of really bad gang violence. And Chief Keef, Lil Durk, King Von, they're all from the same area who’ve been warring at each other with FBG Duck’s crew. It was good for you to understand and meet FBG Duck’s mother to see her talk about her son as a father. For you to meet FBG Duck’s girlfriend and see how great of a dad and things that he did. Or even with Soulja Slim. You know, one of the fascinating things I learned was from Mia X. She was basically like, Soulja Slim loved to read books. He was in the book of the month club. You never would have thought Soulja Slim is reading books but that gives you a context about people that I think the normal media wouldn’t do. 

You know, one time I was producing a show called uh, Who Killed Tupac on A&E. I was talking to a producer who wasn’t of color and who had a different perspective about hip-hop. I was telling him how when Tupac was a kid, his mother used to make him read the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. And, the guy was like, “Nah that wouldn't happen, not in those environments, they never would have been reading that,” but in fact, it was true. His mother, in real life, used to make him read the newspaper.

So I’m just saying it’s important that people like myself, people like Van Lathan, Mona Scott-Young, 50 Cent – who come from the culture, who are sensitive about it – make sure we handle it with care. I think one of the reasons I even got hired is because people know that I really am from it. If you look at my history, I’m from it and have been for a really long time. I’m on the front lines to make sure that our stories are told correctly. Doesn’t mean that it’s always good because some of us are criminals. Some of us do drugs. Some of us do bad things. But, we just want to be able to balance that with some humanity.

With a series like Hip-Hop Homicide that explores different cases, what was the common denominator in all of the cases that you explored? What was the biggest takeaway for you?

I think they’re all different. I wouldn't be able to say that they have anything – obviously, the loss of really talented, smart, amazing artists is a common thread. You know, whether that be Magnolia Shorty, whether it be XXXTentacion, or even a Chinx, or Pop Smoke or whoever. The unfortunate death of these really talented people could’ve went somewhere else. I will say though that in some of the more recent stories like XXXTentacion, FBG Duck, Pop Smoke, King Von – those stories, social media played a humongous part in their stories. So in terms of a common thread of some of the later ones – you know, Soulja Slim happened back in the day, Magnolia Shorty, and as well Chinx, a little bit of an older story. Social media and clout chasing and this need to express yourself violently or talk shit or bully each other on the internet and how the internet feeds into beef is a real deal now. Whether it be King Von, when he was back and forth with NBA YoungBoy and his crew. I think to some extent that beef resulted in ultimately what happened. It’s a little bit crazy. Pop Smoke posted the address of him and his homie. The guy saw that and eventually came out. 

You know, when Tupac got shot…Tupac got shot because he was beefing with another guy who had an actual beef with him based on something that happened between them two. Biggie, to some extent, that was a targeted hit by people who wanted to kill him and who were having beef with Puff, whether you say it was Suge’s homie that did it or police. Whoever did it, it was connected. Pop Smoke was random. XXXTentacion is a random situation. Magnolia Shorty, she just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person. So I’m saying, to me, the internet has really changed the dynamics of the beefing that I saw in the early days when I started out.

I’m thankful for shows like Hip-Hop Homicide because we get to tell our own stories, about our own soldiers and our own heroes.

I was really curious to hear your thoughts on if you’ve seen any parallels between the deaths of somebody like X and Pop Smoke to Biggie and Tupac? Because oftentimes when one of these younger artists dies, these comparisons pop up on the internet. Even though each of these people, whether it be ‘Pac or Pop Smoke, all establish themselves as individuals. 

Obviously, no matter what, as young people talented in hip-hop who got murdered in their prime and that was really unfortunate. So that part is the same but I do think there is a humongous difference in the lawlessness and disrespect for the code that a lot of the youngsters that are doing these murders. You know, the guys that shot XXXTentacion got caught and were basically flashing the money the next day on the internet. One of the ways they got caught was because one of the guys had on the same shoes. He was in the store in the video and people could see that on his Instagram. When you think of like, Pop Smoke, these guys were there to rob him.

The rapper now, I would say, has become the target, versus back in the day. Not to say it was a random or chance opportunity, but even Big L might’ve been mistaken identity. Lost Boys – that was a situation where I think they shot the wrong person. I think today, the rapper has a target on his back. You know, when somebody can walk into a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle restaurant in Las Angeles like PNB Rock and then he gets murdered in the middle of the afternoon and a kid goes back out to the parking lot and his dad picks him up in the car to aid and abet in a murder, that’s a different level of viciousness that wasn’t the level that we were doing it. I think that the clout chasing and the internet… even if you look at King Von and all of his dudes they were flashing guns at each other. Back and forth. The whole thing. They’re off lean. They're off Percocet. I think that there’s a drugged-up culture that’s contributing to some of this. And I think that – it’s not in a vacuum, either, because I think it’s systemic, right? It’s not just “these guys wanna kill.” It’s "King Von grew up in these projects where gang violence was all around and he’s already a killer before he was 18." And so, he just took that into the music, you know what I mean? 

I think one thing I’d say is a lesson from one of the more OG persons in the culture: you have to decide if you want the rap thing or the street life. You can’t mix them. Once again, 50 would tell you this. Once you get to a certain point, you can't put yourself in certain situations and know what’s going on and still wanna have your foot in that world and still wanna be a musician being successful and all of that. Part of the problem is that much of what made you great was that end of you and what people expect from you. It’s almost like, you gotta look hard in order for people to like you or act like you’re ballin’. 

I’m hopeful though that some of this stuff that I went through in the 90s with Biggie and ‘Pac and all the craziness with Death Row and Bad Boy – shooting at each other and killing each other, different things that we had. I thought it would get better but I don’t think it is getting any better, which is an unfortunate thing but a real thing.

I’m hoping to still do content that provides solutions but even myself, people ask me all the time “what should we do?” And I’m not sure. Nobody forces you to go in there and write whatever raps that you write. Nobody forces you to smoke that whatever or drink that, write whatever song, do whatever you wanna do, whether it be sexual or violent or whatever. No record company makes you do that. You may think you have to do that in order to stay hot. And maybe, that’s all that you know. But the record companies don't force you to do that so you can’t blame them for that. But they do exploit and make money off us and don’t ever deal with any of the repercussions. In some ways, the artist is more valuable dead as we see with Pop Smoke, Tupac, and all of those people, than they are alive. I’m hoping that things change, my brother, but I don’t see it getting much better.

The biggest hurdle was still the same: no snitching. People don’t wanna talk about these things.

How do you think the effects that the streets have on hip-hop in the current state will affect the culture in about 5-10 years from now?

Well, it’s hard to say. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to say hip-hop is just street culture but street culture is a big part of it because those guys come out of there and tell their stories. You believe them because the stories they’re telling are from their real lives and we all can relate to growing up in those environments. I don’t think the environments have gotten significantly better in some cases and sometimes, even worse. Even though it seems like Black people and people of color, Latina, Asian, whatever, got more power and money, a lot of our communities are in the same place. So, as long as those guys and girls that come from those communities are rapping and telling stories, they’re gonna be telling stories that reflect that. So I don’t think street life or dealing drugs or beating somebody up or whatever it may be, or violence, are ever gonna change.

It would be great if there was more balance. I think that’s the thing that I would hope is that there’s more Rapsody’s, there’s more J. Cole’s, there’s more Kendrick Lamar’s. People who still got bars but can use it – a Symba. Somebody like that who can still have bars but not always be about ‘who I shot and who I fucked.' So, the more balance we have in the future, the better we are. 

You can’t separate hip-hop and the streets, you know what I mean? That’s where the flavor comes from. I’ve been at this long enough. All the flavor, everything that we’ve done – from the music, to the style of clothes we wear, to how we talk, to how we dance, to what we wear – it’s shaped world culture. It’s one of those things that’s fascinating now, which 50 said, and I’ll share it with you. In the show he talked about, nowadays, these kids in Minnesota and Iowa can watch the wild animals in the zoo. Meaning, they can log on and see somebody killed. Neighborhood Nip, Nipsey Hussle, or they can see King Von get shot. So, they can sit in their living room in beautiful Wyoming and see the wildness of it because they can just press it. They can just pull up their phone and before they couldn’t do that. So I do believe that affects how people act and how they move. And the clout chasing, like I said, unless we tone that down, my brother, things will get a lot worse. It would be great if Instagram or Facebook or some of these people started to take some responsibility because they are contributing to the situation.

What was the biggest obstacle that you faced with Hip-Hop Homicides compared to Who Killed Tupac?

The biggest hurdle was still the same: no snitching. People don’t wanna talk about these things. People are afraid. People are afraid of retaliation. People are distrustful of law enforcement and the media, in general. So that hasn’t changed. When I was at the LA Times and The Source in the 90s, to now with Fox and A&E and WE tv – it doesn’t matter. It’s always a battle. I will say, though, that having Van Lathan as the host, because I think he has a cultural currency in the hip-hop world where people sorta trust him, as he confronted Kanye and been known to do that and then myself on the ground with them. [We were] able to talk to people in a real way and having somewhat of a reputation as a straight shooter, people know that I’m not gonna do nothing foul, period. Obviously, having 50 Cent as executive producer really helped us but we had to put a lot of time and energy into convincing family members, friends, people who were even accused, to get on to talk about it. So it was a really tough journey. But I think that if you watch every episode, we do have every single mother of every single person that was killed in all eight episodes. Even in the MO3 episode, we had his father. He was the only father that we spoke to which is telling in itself, right? If you think about that. It’s just making sure that… people are hesitant to tell these stories but we try and encourage them. You know, whether it be Audrey Jackson, Pop’s mom. She got to the interview in Brooklyn and she was flustered. She didn't want to do it at that point, she said, ‘forget it.’ It was too much emotion for her. Thank God for Van. I was like, “Yo Van, can you sit in the car and talk to her for a while?" They were able to talk. She then understand what we were trying to do and eventually, she did do the interview. And as you can see, a very powerful interview. So I think it’s about trust. Trusting the people who are there to really get the right story.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 25: P. Frank Williams attends Black Excellence Brunch Honoring Cedric The Entertainer Hosted By Trell Thomas on July 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The segment with Mike Dee and Dread Woo in the first episode stands out. How often did these issues arise when trying to get them to talk on camera?

Ah, that’s a tough one. Anybody directly related to the people or who knew potentially what happened or who might have been there – in Pop Smoke’s case, there were some other people we talked to, who didn’t end up getting on camera, who were in the house that night. In the case of Soulja Slim, some of Soulja Slim’s family had pointed the finger at Master P and said that Master P had put a hit out on Soulja Slim because of some business dealings. So it was important for us to go get Master P to talk. Master P was able to squash that. Some of the homies that were working with [Master P] and also Soulja Slim gave a first-hand account about some of Soulja’s behavior, because, you know, as much as we loved him, he did have a really bad drug problem which affected some of his behaviors. 

So I’m saying we tried our best to make sure that the people who had first-hand knowledge of the situations were able to talk. A lot of these people, they got a police investigation but more than half of these cases have never been to trial. Even after all this time. And so a lot of the families haven't gotten any closure. A lot of them don’t think that the proper investigation has been done. For instance, one of the last episodes [on Hip-Hop Homicides], is about a rapper named MO3 from Dallas, Texas. He was murdered on the freeway there and there was some talk that he had embarrassed this guy as a baby daddy. He was dating the guy’s kid’s mother and that contributed to it. So we were able to actually get her to talk and she talked about it and she felt bad because she felt like her baby daddy killed him because of some ego thing. I mean it was very good to talk to the real people but we had to work through that and really make them trust us. I’m sure they Googled all of us – me, 50 and Van and whoever was involved. Even with MO3 it was tough to get his manager because his manager had went through very traumatic thing. He was talking to MO3 while he was getting shot at, so he had never revealed that before.

So you know, it’s just trust and coming from a real honest point of view. I don’t think we’re here to exploit or tabloid… this is not tabloid journalism. This is people from the culture telling stories about the culture.

What was that process like getting Amelia Rose to speak on camera for the first time about Pop Smoke’s death for Hip-Hop Homicides?

Well, I gotta give it to Vanessa Satten, who’s the editor at XXL, and Niki, one of our researchers. They were able to get in contact with [Amelia Rose] online, made them sort of trust them, work with them. We ended up shooting that Zoom from Paris, where she was at. It was political unrest in Russia so she was able to go to Paris and do it. She was very scared. She was very frightened. She was thinking that people were gonna do some type of retaliation. She was accusing Mike Dee of something pretty serious in a situation where the internet had already kinda done that. So, it was a very sensitive touch and go. Thanks to our diligence, we ended up getting that interview so it worked out, but it was not easy. By no means.

The internet is a deadly place. You just gotta be careful because you just don’t know who believes what.

How often does the research of social media sleuths help or hurt homicide cases?

That’s a really great question. I’m glad you asked that question. That’s an awesome question. They can [do] both. The social media research – there are a lot of online sleuths who do good work. TMZ, though you can say whatever about them. I used to work there and that’s where I met Van. It’s celebrity journalism but it’s still journalism. Some of their work changes things or gives you information. We went down some rabbit holes with things that we learned online. Some of them weren’t true. Some of them were actually true. Some of the people we were able to talk to, we got through to online, you know what I mean? 

In the case of the King Von episode, we do a whole thing about this Reddit community dedicated to Chicago homicides and gang life. It’s a humongous part. Folks like yourself, who are doing stuff online have sometimes, now, become better than these “mainstream journalists” at the LA Times or New York Times or whatever else. People have created a whole other world through crime blogging, crime podcasting, internet detective work, or whatever. So it’s amazing to see that.

There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad, in terms of the internet. But overall, I do think it’s at least fascinating. I just don’t like when people on the internet can just post something and there’s no research. As a journalist, there’s no actual work. You can't just say something about me and just throw it out there because we’re in the cancel culture.

The internet gives you the ability to just press a button or say whatever you want about whoever. I just wanna make sure it’s credible and we do our research because we can’t put crazy shit on TV. You can just put whatever you want online. I can’t do that because there are lawyers involved, and people can sue. AMC network is a huge company. A&E is a huge company. Viacom. I think we’ll continue to use online media to help and we will also make sure that we debunk some of those online things that weren’t true. 

Our goal in this show was to humanize and bring 3-dimensional portraits of these folks, whether it be Soulja Slim or Magnolia Shorty, or Pop Smoke. Also, to investigate and tell the story, potentially give closure to some situations that the police might not have done a good job on or didn’t really care [about]. And also, to debunk if there was a lie or something that wasn’t true about the actual murder. Then, we wanna tell you that we found that. In the episode that’s coming up about King Von, one of his relatives ended up seeing something really wild the night he was shot. She had never said that before and it was involving the police. So when you see that episode, there are revelations and things we found out that we hope will help contribute to some type of verdict. Or at least something to push the case forward. 

What type of harm do you see as a result of the misinformation that spreads? What are the ramifications of these rumors and theories that spread online?

I think it’s just like anything else, man. You got people believing that shit. In the case of the Mike Dee thing, people were believing that he was involved. Threatening him. And that’s not cool. Even in XXXTentacion’s [case], some people thought that some of his friends set him up. These people who are fans of these guys and girls who rap and make music, their fans are very serious. They’re like the BeyHive or the Nicki Minaj fans. They’re just from the streets. So it can be very dangerous if you put out misinformation. 

I know with the Migos and Takeoff, there was some talk online about the young guy who may have shot him or been involved is now dead. When Nip got killed, a lot of bodies showed up right after that. Because, you know, in the street culture, when something like that happens, you gonna have to get me back something for that. I don’t know if you know what I mean, talking in between the lines here.

But yeah, the internet is a deadly place. You just gotta be careful because you just don’t know who believes what. And again, I’ll say this part, when I grew up, the rapper was a hero or celebrated. You wanted to be him, or you wanted to fuck her or whatever – they were some kind of idol. And now, I think they’ve become a target. When PNB gets shot over a chain like that or whatever it is or XXXTentacion over $50,000, you look like food, right? To somebody.

CANOGA PARK, CA - OCTOBER 03: P Frank Williams attends Fifty And Fly on October 3, 2015 in Canoga Park, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images)

You mentioned the record labels don’t necessarily push people to go into the booth to say anything in particular but, you also said that artists like Pop Smoke and Tupac are a lot more profitable following their death. Gow do you think labels can honor these artists and help their families without exploiting them?

That’s a really good question, as well. I’m not sure. I mean, if you’re a business person and you paid all this money to put it to Pop Smoke’s career or MO3, you paid for the studio sessions and you put the album out and marketing and whatever you might have done, and then you get your business deal with them and you get the money you’re supposed to get and they die and their stock increases, that’s kind of a wild thing for people who maybe didn’t necessarily want that to happen. But I do think there needs to be more counseling. There needs to be more sense of responsibility from the record companies about the violence and some of the misogyny.

I think that, as a Black man in America, we’re one of the few races that talk about harming each other and killing each other in our music. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Country, rock and roll, reggae, whatever. It could be classical. If you look through all of those, they’re telling stories but not about killing and shooting each other and murdering each other. So, we’re one of the few people that do that. So I do think that the record companies owe it to the artists to have a little more of an active role in some of the content and almost to set a bar.

Not to say you can’t say this or that ‘cause I’m all about free speech but it’s tough when you’re YNW Melly with a song called “Murder On My Mind” and then you’re on trial and they’re trying to use your lyrics. Somebody needed to check him before he got to that point. Now, he may get convicted for his lyrics. It’s a two-way street. I think both the artist and the label are complicit.

[There's a] desensitized situation in our culture right now and until we fix that, there’s gonna be a hundred episodes of Hip-Hop Homicides

What advice would you have for rappers when it comes to protecting themselves outside, especially after wrapping up this series? 

Well, it’s a funny thing because, as I mentioned, some people – and I’m friends with, like, Too $hort. Different legendary rappers, Eric Sermon, Big Daddy Kane. Guys like that who travel. For Too $hort, he said I don’t put that kind of energy out, so no people don’t give me that. But I think nowadays, it’s a different beast. I think you gotta have security wherever you go.

I think you can’t be out and about and whatever because people are just – crimes of opportunity. You see with PNB Rock. That was a crime of opportunity. I hate to say it but you pretty much gotta go everywhere with security. I mean, I wouldn’t want to live that kind of life but it’s just the nature of things now – so much clout chasing and people doing things for a rep and to be able to brag about it online. Like, XXXTentacion. The next day the guy’s got the money on the ‘Gram and showing whatever else and no sense of value for life. I think there’s a lack of value for life – Black, white, whatever, which I think is just a part of the Donald Trump Xenophobic culture, which has nothing to do with hip-hop. The far rightness and the fucking racial divide, which I think contributes to all of this. I don’t think it’s just one thing.

So if you are a rapper or artist or entertainer, shit, even an actor – I don’t got big chains. I got little baby chains. But if you walking around with $300,000 worth of jewelry, a $75,000 - $100,000 watch, you gotta be a little more careful with what you’re doing because people might be like “lemme have that.” Before it was like “how do I work to get that?” Now they’re like “lemme take that.”

So I think everybody, be careful and as much as you can, be secure. If it’s not your homeboy. You know when I was with French Montana, the dude that was his bodyguard, might be his friend now, but he had this humongous bodyguard that pretty much watched when he went to the store or even at his house when he was at his house. We were cool, obviously, because we were filming stuff but that bodyguard has eyes on him at all times. And I think that’s just the reality that we’re at in 2022.

The amount of security that a rapper needs and the fact that they’re as much of a target as they are, do you think that’s a result of hip-hop becoming the biggest genre in the world?

That’s another really good question. Umm, no. I think the result of all the people needing security and the danger is a result of the climate that we’re in. The violence that’s happening outside of hip-hop. January 6. Fucking Donald Trump. People blowing up buildings. Ukraine vs. Russia. Don’t act like it’s just the rap. Whole countries are beefing, shooting, trying to kill each other with nuclear bombs. It’s not just two dudes that don’t like each other in hip-hop. Everybody got a gun. Number 1. I was just watching a video on the internet, a guy was at a basketball game, and started arguing with a dude. The dude went to the stands and pulled out his gun, tucked his gun in his waistband when they went back to go play. That just shows you where people’s heads are at.

And I think there’s a lack of conflict resolution, period. People like “I’ma shoot and kill you before…” not to say… I know you always be like the old dude in the club but shit, if I got beef with you, let’s get at it. Let’s square ‘em up. I’m not gonna go get my gun in the parking lot and just murder you. So I think there’s a lot of things to it but in general, I think it’s the climate and the culture of the world. It's not just hip-hop. And again, I'm hoping that the whole drug culture, which I think if you research, a lot of the young people doing shit are on drugs. Doing stuff, doing it for clout. They don’t care about who they killing. That guy who shot PNB Rock. Do you think that he cared that he did that traumatic thing in front of [PNB Rock’s] woman? His wife or his girl or whatever and how skinless that is to do that. Back in the day, you would never do anything to kids or women. You might have tried to find him when you found him, you know? So I think that there’s desensitization – I don’t know if that’s the word. A desensitized situation in our culture right now and until we fix that, there’s gonna be a hundred episodes of Hip-Hop Homicides

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About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.