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Farrakhan warns hip hop artists
By Dora Muhammad
Associate Editor
Updated Nov 4, 2003 - 11:20:00 PM

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Farrakhan warns hip hop artists:
Clap-back will only lead to coffins

(FinalCall.com) - Hoping that weapons do not replace words in the feud between hip hop artists Ja Rule and 50 Cent, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan accepted an invitation to sit down with Ja Rule to discuss the way to peace.

Ja Rule
Seeking to diffuse an increase in violence similar to that which led to the untimely deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, three weeks ago hip hop mogul Russell Simmons reached out to Minister Farrakhan after considering the high level of respect that the hip hop community has for the international Muslim leader.

He asked Min. Farrakhan if he could do him a favor. He explained to the Minister the conflict between Ja Rule and 50 Cent, and his desire to have a meeting wherein the Minister could help bring peace. He also told the Minister that he would like to film it.

Min. Farrakhan told him that it would not be a favor; it is his work, and he would be honored. While also expressing that he did not want to film the meeting, he said he would since that was what Irv Gotti, the owner of Murder Inc. (Ja Rule’s record label) and Mr. Simmons desired.

Subsequently, the two men met, along with Minister Benjamin and Irv Gotti, who then arranged the meeting between the Minister and Ja.

50 Cent
The Minister pledged to do his best to bring peace to the tension, and was concerned, he said, because in order to make peace, you have to have all parties at the table. So, the morning of the meeting on Oct. 23, the Minister spoke on the telephone to 50 Cent, who was appearing on a New York radio station for an interview.

During a break in the radio interview, the Minister reiterated that peace could only be established if he listened to both sides. He explained to the rapper that he was about to sit down with Ja, and would appreciate, at some point, to sit down with him as well.

No date was established but there is some agreement that they will meet.

The leader of the Nation of Islam opened his home to conduct the interview with Ja, which actually sounds more like an intimate conversation. Excerpts will air simultaneously on 85 urban Clear Channel stations across the country.

The two-hour exchange covered the competitive culture of hip hop, the history of the disagreement and failed attempts at dialogue between the two artists. The two men also shared accounts of their personal history. Min. Farrakhan offered guidance on bridging the rappers’ gap and referred to verses in the Holy Qur’an where Allah (God) saves disputing parties from a brink of a pit of fire, and unites their hearts as brethren after they had been enemies.

"Hip hop is being threatened today—the future of it," Min. Farrakhan told Ja. "And I don’t want to see you lose your life or 50 Cent lose his life, or any of the rappers lose their life. I think we’ve paid a price now to go to a higher level."

Min. Farrakhan continued to explain that those who govern and control see hip hop as a threat to their rule, because its culture is captivating the minds of all youth, regardless of class or color, and is causing them to reject the system of White supremacy, as it is portrayed in hip hop lyrics.

"Hip hop has taken White children away from those who would shape them into oppressors," he said, adding that hip hop is a force the government can’t control and so the government seeks to eliminate it.

Selling 1.5 million of his first album put Ja at the top of the charts, but also at the center of envious minds and hearts, Ja lamented. "I made records that reflected real life," he shared. "I don’t wake up every day angry. Sometimes, I wake up and I love my wife and I want to talk about that. So, I did and people embraced it in a way that was new and fresh in hip hop. And it kind of changed the way things started moving. People started making more records that had more feeling, all the artists started making records about different aspects of life besides the criminal aspect."

The rapper revealed his pain over the public and media’s role in perpetuating tensions, while he wanted to focus on making good music. "I’m bigger than that, I’m not even thinking about that," he recalled. "I’m like, ‘Let’s continue what we’re doing as Black men.’ But then, the public started to give me ridicule. I guess they were feeling like, since you’re not saying anything, you’re scared."

In fact, Ja explained that he could not respond to offensive lyrics because he had to restrain himself until the conclusion of a lawsuit against him that 50 Cent filed after a brawl at the Hit Factory left several people with stab wounds and needing stitches. This incident was sparked by a personal disagreement that happened long before the escalation of the current lyrical battle. Months after a failed meeting between the two parties, 50 Cent was shot nine times by an unknown assailant. He then went underground and returned to rise to the top of the hip hop scene.

However, what was personal became infused into their music, with the public clamoring for each of them to prove themselves as gangsters, and the media waiting for the dispute to climax with a killing, Ja Rule told the Minister.

"The public makes it so that we have to keep assaulting each other," Ja noted. "They’re not giving us room to say, ‘I’m not thinking about him.’ They’re not giving us that space."

In spite of the public appetite to see the artists destroy one another, Min. Farrakhan called the dispute an opportunity to breed a new dynamic into the culture of hip hop by gently teaching fans that there is something better than holding onto a "beef" that can only produce bloodshed.

Min. Farrakhan also criticized the profiteering and control of the record companies regardless of what happens to the artists.

"We’re tired of allowing people to use our pain to get rich and then watch us die and then hold our masters and keep making money for themselves and their families at our expense," he said.

Related links:
Hip Hop Summit, 1997 (Dave D's Hip Hop Corner)
Rappers announce peace strategy (Rap Summit Coverage, NOI)


 


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