Just two days ago was the 11th Anniversary of the murder of one of the greatest and most respected figures in all of Hip Hop throughout all time: Jam Master Jay of the Legendary Run DMC. A recent video courtesy of Revolt TV got me to thinking about JMJ, as well as many other prominent figures throughout Hip Hop who we’ve lost senselessly. But more than reflecting on  their lives and what they did for the music and the culture, the question for me that comes to mind is: Why are the murders, shootings and killings of so many of our Hip Hop heroes still unsolved to this day? There are tons of answers to this question: we all know the stigma attached to being an African American man in the United States, and the fact that Hip Hop, though it’s a globally dominant force, is still viewed by many as less than worthy of attention, praise or even respect. Does that have to do with why the killings of so many black men and women that have been part of Hip Hop music and culture still sit in the unsolved pile? Are their lives no less worthy than any one else that have gone on into the next lifetime at the hands of whatever gunman or assailant? The murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace are the two biggest unsolved mysteries in all of Hip Hop history, but there are so many more that don’t have the mainstream folklore attention attached to them, from Jam Master Jay and even Chris Lighty. And in Lighty’s case, there is yet even more uncertainty and confusion, because there are theories abound, and we’re not even truthfully sure if his was a homicide or a suicide. The honest truth is that we have to CONTINUE to ask these questions about these folks. And it goes beyond just the music…it’s about the fact that they were PEOPLE, and their families deserve at least some semblance of the truth. I’m reminded of the Bob Marley tune “Redemption Song” and one of the most poignant lines in it: “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?”

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