back to the Black Table
     
  THE BURNING SUMMER QUESTION: WHICH RAPPER IS GOING TO DIE NEXT?  
   
   
  The high heat makes for short fuses and violent behavior.

In July of 1967, a combination of racial tension and sweltering heat triggered five days of rioting in Detroit, in which 43 people were killed and swaths of the city were left smoldering. Ten years later, David Berkowitz held New York City captive during a heat wave, murdering six people and wounding seven, as the Summer of Sam serial killer. Every year, there's a new summer spree somewhere.

According to a 1997 study in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the hotter it gets, the more likely people are to kill each other. Psychologists Craig Anderson, Brad Bushman and Ralph Groom studied FBI crime statistics and weather patterns from 1950 to 1995 and discovered that violent crime skyrockets when the heat rises. And Anderson says that if the temperature were to be six degrees higher than ordinary, we can expect another 59,000 murders in the United States each year.

The so-called "summer effect" is real.

While it's entirely possible that this could be the summer of SARS, or monkeypox, or the Norwalk virus, or Mad Cow Disease, or the West Nile Virus, for the last seven-and-a-half months, the winds of crime have been swirling in both Los Angeles and New York. The activities involve millions of dollars, multiple murder attempts and, oh yes, the world's most famous rappers.

The feuding within rap music that could have caused the deaths of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur didn't end when Puff Daddy appropriated an adult-contemporary chestnut from Sting and made it into a smash tune. And Jam Master Jay's death, still very much unsolved with few concrete suspects nearly eight months later, may not have been some wrong-place, wrong-time, isolated, tragic incident.

On a Venn diagram, rap music is where the world of street crime and the entertainment universe overlap. But why this is tolerated in an industry that dictates youth culture and, more importantly, generates billions of dollars in sales, is still a mystery. In country music, the biggest feud is between Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks, with shots fired in the form of messages on the front of T-shirts. In rap, someone tried to kill Busta Rhymes.

Twice.

As you'll see in this timeline, since last Halloween, the world of rap has seen drive-by shootings on the freeway, multiple homicides and federal investigations. It's involved major recording artists on major record labels and a clear pattern of ongoing aggression and thug activity. The timeline raises many questions, but as the heat starts to scorch the pavement, The Black Table cannot help but wonder: "Which rapper is going to die next?"

 

 
 
October 30, 2002 -- Jam Master Jay shot and killed by two gunmen in his Queens studio. Police have no motive and no suspect.

November 14, 2002 -- Suge Knight's offices raided in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

December 23, 2002 -- Suge Knight arrested for parole violation.


 
 
December 31, 2002 -- 50 Cent arrested in Manhattan for two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

January 2003 -- Murder Inc's NYC offices raided by Feds looking for a connection between the label and Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a notorious drug dealer.

January 16, 2003 -- Lone gunman rides elevator up to the offices of Violator Records in New York, home of Busta Rhymes and others. Six shots fired into the door.

 

 
 

January 16, 2003 -- Rapper Fabolous arrested in Brooklyn after cops find two guns in his car.

February 21, 2003 -- Busta Rhymes' GMC Surburban sprayed with bullets while he's recording in a midtown studio on the night before the Grammy Awards.

February 24, 2003 -- Chris Gotti, brother of rap impresario Irv Gotti, head of Murder Inc., is shot in the leg outside the Murder Inc. offices. Gotti claims that an unidentified man shot him. Police think Gotti accidentally shot himself and disposed of the illegal weapon.

 

 
 

February 26, 2003 -- According to Boston police, members of rapper Cam'ron's entourage the Diplomats, opened fire on three women inside a Toyota Camry after a dispute with fans got out of control.

March 11, 2003 -- In the recent issue of Rolling Stone, 50 Cent reveals that he bought his 6-year-old son a custom-made bulletproof vest so he can come on tour. "Niggas out there selling drugs is after what I got from rappin," explained 50.


 
 

Late March, 2003 -- Universal Music Group asks Murder Inc to leave the offices after other tenants complained about the January raid, and the shootings and the threats of violence that surround the label.

April 10, 2003 -- A car with three gunmen pulls up to a convoy of cars carrying Snoop Dogg in Los Angeles and opens fire. The rapper is unhurt, but a bodyguard is wounded.

April 25, 2003 -- A late-night traffic dispute turns deadly after two assailants gun down Freaky Zeeky of the Diplomats and one of his friends. Zeeky is shot in the stomach and chest and survives. His friend is killed.

 

 
 

April 26, 2003 -- Dexter Ottley, an exec with Murder Inc., is arrested on federal firearms charges in the wake of the January search of the company's offices. Another executive, Tarik Williams, and rapper Cadillac Tah are arrested, but not charged.

May 2, 2003 -- The details of a January affidavit involving the Federal investigation of Murder Inc.'s business dealings reveals that Feds believe the record label laundered money for Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a notorious drug dealer. Documents claim that McGriff is the real owner and operator of the label, and Irv Gotti, McGriff's childhood friend, is nothing more than a public face.

 

 
 

May 13, 2003 -- In a civil complaint, NY prosecutors claim Supreme's drug money funded "Crime Partners," a movie starring Snoop Dogg, Ice T and Murder Inc. artist Ja Rule, and therefore all revenue should be forfeited.

May 19, 2003 -- Dr. Dre's mother, Verna Griffin, arrested in West Valley, Calif., on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after she allegedly fired shots at a male friend.

 

 
 
May 27, 2003 -- At 2:30 in the morning, seven bullets are fired in the front door and windows of Tha Row Records' offices. Police have no known motive or suspect, but days later, Suge Knight, owner of the label, offered an explanation that veered towards the advertorial: "The crime was probably committed by a jealous boyfriend or a jealous husband. We've got a lot of artists like Crooked I, Eastwood and Kurupt that are currently working on new albums. And because of the hype and media attention associated with these two projects, there have been a lot of girls flocking to them at the studio and at the clubs."
 
 

 

*BT*

 

The Black Table culled this report from a variety of sources, including the New York Post and New York Daily News, which have exemplary coverage of these issues. Wire service reports were also used. The Black Table asks that interested parties refrain from shooting, beating up or otherwise seeking vengeance against our writers for reporting what's already been in the paper. Thanks.