Bobby Shmurda this, Bobby Shmurda that

In July 2014, when I first saw the video of “Hot Nigga”, the platinum-hit rap single delivered by Bobby Shmurda, my first reaction was that of irritation. Now, my displeasure was not only due to the violent lyrics that kept reverberating but moreso, due to what I saw as basic rap lines. As a youngster in high school, I had penned down lyrics (not carrying violent tones!) of such standard after listening to some DMX album tracks. Who best to judge basic rap lyrics than someone who himself has written them down before? I wanted to be a rapper back then after being inspired listening to DMX, Ja rule and Nas. I wrote down several simple rap lyrics down, copying my mentors in some and original with the rest. Sadly, my older sister got to my rap sheet and tore it, wondering why I’d want to be a hip hop artist. I got discouraged & that was the end of that chapter.

The fact that Bobby Shmurda got that level of fame and whatever achievement (if he had any) was basically due to his place of birth, America. USA is a land of freedom, affluence and prosperity and most of its citizens have learnt to do things ‘the right way’ for the good of their country, unlike any other nation in the world. If anyone is lucky to be born in such a geographical space and possesses even a miniature talent, such is likely to succeed ahead of those with better gifts but unlucky enough to find themselves in politically & economically unstable nations. Bobby Shmurda, real name Ackquille Jean Pollard is of Jamaican descent. He couldn’t have achieved the same level of attention he had garnered even without an EP if he was born in Kingston instead of Miami!

The young Bobby Shmurda was going to “blow off” a crime, violent & gangsterism influenced music career and organized America wasn’t going to let that happen, not from a black man again! They had to stop him. Of course, several other “young black brothas” like Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G, Snoop Dogg etc. had done gangster hip hop before and got away with it for a long time, but not at the level in which Bobby Shmurda conspicuously depicted it. Tupac Shakur was the only act who ever was so ecstatic about it( especially when he created his super-group ‘Outlaw’) and was he not finally murdered in 1996? Maybe Bobby Shmurda should thank God to even be in prison although, his days are numbered. Even Tupac did different times behind the bar before finally taken out of the scene when he refused to change his kind of music. What has America done to unravel the mystery behind Tupac’s death 19 years after? Isn’t it obvious his murder was backed by the state? But Tupac isn’t my topic for today, I want to write just on Shmurda.

Bobby Shmurda, young as he was was a pioneer in his own right. He made popular & maybe even pioneered the rachet-like dance moves which has now been tagged the “shmoney dance” and further popularised on social media when world-acclaimed acts like Rihanna, Chris Brown, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Fabulous did it. This is another disadvantage and misuse of the social media. In as much as it has changed some lives positively for life, the social media has the potential to infect the minds of people negatively. A song like ‘hot nigga’ would never be heard outside the recording studio if not for the internet. A song like that wouldn’t have become a hit during the years of the turntable DJs and actual rap battles when you must be highly exceptional to even get a recording contract. Nowadays, labels (Epic records etc.) acquire these rappers like band boys who are just there on the roster for the sake of presence. The world has changed. Much emphasis is now placed on materialism and epicurean values, therefore, ‘rappers’ would say anything to ‘get paid’ & sell a record!

Bobby Shmurda doesn’t appear to me to be the kind of youngster who has the stomach for all the criminal activities he claimed responsibility for in his ‘hot nigga’ lyrics. Some of the other youngsters in the video looked even tougher than he was. Left to me, I’d rehabilitate the boy with a good psychologist and a changed environment. I still believe the bulk of his problem originated from youthful exuberance and bad examples/environment. As I noted earlier, USA is a land of opportunities and this probably makes her citizens heady and crazy, just like the egoistic child of a wealthy tycoon. You dare not release such music Bobby Shmurda was doing if you were in some African countries. This I know. The artist won’t sell a single record and go into obscurity.

Life is based on expression. You have to express yourself whether in writing or by talking. Some people express themselves by drawing pictures. I watched a documentary once of a young boy who was deaf and dumb but this boy was a genius. He could sketch anything out in drawing and painting. Sadly, people like him don’t get to live long but they always leave an indelible mark behind on earth. All life expression is art. Whether you express yourself in talking with any form of language or sign or whether you’re a writer like me. Creative writing, poetry, prose fiction etc. are all artistic endeavors. Apparently, expression is not what really matters as we’ve seen but what is expressed. Everybody always find a way to express themselves, you can’t live life wholly being passive. The dumb use signs and symbols to communicate. Whatever we feel inwardly, think, do, see, experience is what we express outwardly. This brings us to the environment that influenced Bobby Shmurda.

He’s just 21 and he didn’t invent gangsterism, he met it on ground. He isn’t Tookey Williams who founded the Crips gang. He didn’t invent gangster rap, he was influenced by it and decided to tow that line. As I pointed out earlier, I wanted to be like DMX, Ja rule and Nas too. These are gangster/hardcore rappers I was copying so I could have ended up in jail like Bobby Shmurda. Music is so powerful that you could make the mistake of completely following the examples of the artist you idolize irrespective whether he/she is a criminal in real-life. DMX has been to jail severally on different count charges of misdemeanor, assault and battery, felony etc. This was the same guy I was trying to be like? Just because I listened to and love some of his rap songs such as ‘Make a move’, ‘One more road to cross’, both in the 1999 Grammy-nominated album “And then there was…X”. Ja rule has done time in jail too. Now, I’d later become a lawyer because I had a sister who didn’t give a nod to my rap choice. Because she tore my note, I got discouraged and pursued my academics. That was the difference. Between good and evil, its a thin line which could be crossed over very easily. Nobody was born bad although, its not easy to prove if anybody was born good either.

I saw a picture of one of the many Bobby Shmurda court proceedings early in the year and my convictions were further strengthened. The attorney defending him was a young black man, the policeman in the picture was also black American while Shmurda was being docked for several offences ranging from arms possession to intent to commit murder. There were three black men, two chose to uphold the law of the land while one chose to wholly decimate law and order. Life is a choice after-all and your background should never deter you from greatness. Bobby Shmurda could have influenced thousands of teenagers worldwide wrongly if he got away with his public affront. He was going about his business as a budding gangster with all impunity, making gang signs in videos, shooting guns (in Bobby Bitch video) and living recklessly. The state had to stop him.

His record label, Epic records has distanced itself as much as possible from the controversy. Epic records is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment. Well, I’m not suprised to see their interested detachment from Shmurda’s case, knowing fully well the role Sony Entertainment company played in the Michael Jackson saga. Thus, Epic has refused to pay the $2million bail bond to free him. What I’m so surprised about is how Bobby Shmurda, with all the swagger and arrogance, couldn’t come forth with the money & free himself when he had the opportunity. This speaks a lot about the fake life most of these ‘stars’ depict publicly. To get the bail doesn’t look so easy now and as of Monday, he was denied bail for the umpteenth time. He’s looking at a possible 25 years behind bars. Seeing how most people become hardened by their prison terms especially black men in America (see Jeff Fort, Nicky Barnes, Freeway Ricky Ross etc.), we can only hope he comes back a reformed man.

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Nigeria passes law banning homosexuality

President quietly signs new legislation outlawing homosexuality and imposing prison terms of up to 14 years for people prosecuted under the new act

A new law in Nigeria, signed by the president without announcement, has made it illegal for gay people to even hold a meeting. The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

The act has drawn international condemnation from countries such as the United States and Britain.

Some Nigerian gays already have fled the country because of intolerance of their sexual persuasion, and more are considering leaving, if the new law is enforced, human rights activist Olumide Makanjuola said recently.

Nigeria’s law is not as draconian as a Ugandan bill passed by parliament last month which would punish “aggravated” homosexual acts with life in prison. It awaits the president’s signature.

But Nigeria’s law reflects a highly religious and conservative society that considers homosexuality a deviation. Nigeria is one of 38 African countries – about 70 percent of the continent – that have laws persecuting gay people, according to Amnesty International.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained a copy of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated Jan. 7.

It was unclear why the law’s passage has been shrouded in secrecy. The copy obtained from the House of Representatives in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, showed it was signed by lawmakers and senators unanimously on Dec. 17, though no announcement was made.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States is “deeply concerned” by a law that “dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”

Former coloniser Britain said, “The U.K. opposes any form of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

A statement from the spokesman for the British High Commission, traditionally not identified by name, said the law “infringes upon fundamental rights of expression and association which are guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and by international agreements to which Nigeria is a party.”

The British government last year threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the US.

Washington-based Human Rights First urged President Barack Obama to “consider all avenues for response,” saying leaders such as Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, will be watching.

“This law threatens the very livelihood of LGBT people and allies in Nigeria, and sets a dangerous precedent for persecution and violence against minorities throughout the region,” said the organization’s Shawn Gaylord.

The motivation for the Nigerian law is unclear, given that the country already has one making homosexual sex illegal. And gay people were not demanding to be married in a country where being gay can get a person lynched by a mob. In parts of northern Nigeria where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays and lesbians can be legally stoned to death.

Some have suggested the new law in Nigeria and the proposed one in Uganda are a backlash to Western pressure to decriminalize homosexuality. Several African leaders have warned they will not be dictated to on a subject that is anathema to their culture and religion.

Yahya Jammeh, the president of Gambia, has said homosexuals should be decapitated.

In June, Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, argued with Obama about the subject at a news conference. Sall told the AP afterward that other countries should refrain from imposing their values beyond their borders.

“We don’t ask the Europeans to be polygamists,” Sall said. “We like polygamy in our country, but we can’t impose it in yours. Because the people won’t understand it. They won’t accept it.”

Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, has not publicly expressed his views on homosexuality. But his spokesman, Reuben Abati, told the AP on Monday night, “This is a law that is in line with the people’s cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people. … Nigerians are pleased with it.” Abati said he has heard of no Nigerian demonstrations against the law.

The few Nigerian gays and human rights activists who tried to give evidence last year during the debate in the House of Assembly were heckled and booed until one broke into tears and another could not be heard.

Nigerians are the least tolerant nation when it comes to gays, with 98 percent surveyed saying society should not accept homosexuality, according to a study of 39 nations around the world by the U.S. Pew Research Center.

Under Nigeria’s new law, it is now a crime to have a meeting of gays, to operate or go to a gay club, society or organization, or make any public show of affection.

In a recent interview, Makanjuola, the executive director of the Initiative For Equality in Nigeria, had said: “If that bill passes, it will be illegal for us to even be holding this conversation.”

The law now says, “A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years.”

Anyone convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union faces up to 14 years imprisonment.

Some critics have suggested the anti-gay law was designed to distract attention from Nigeria’s many troubles, and to win Jonathan favor with powerful churches that influence voters. His party has fractured ahead of 2015 elections over his expected plan to run for re-election.

Nigeria is enduring an Islamic uprising in the northeast that has killed thousands of people, deadly ethnic-religious clashes in the center of the country, and renewed militancy in the oil-rich south, where activists are demanding a bigger share of oil wealth, which is now being squandered by widespread corruption.

Makanjuola said those who will suffer most under the new law are poor gay Nigerians. Many rich ones have left the country, or say they will fly elsewhere to have sex, she said.

The court of the European Union recently ruled that laws such as Nigeria’s could provide grounds for political asylum.

A statement by the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex Diaspora urged lawmakers not to make them refugees.

Criminalizing same-sex relationships “turns us into asylum seekers in other countries,” it said. “We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life full of lies and deny who we are for us to be accepted. Why do we want to keep subjecting our citizens to such psychological and emotional torture?”

Culled from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk