Machine Guns And Stupid Choices

October 17, 2007

You can probably guess where I'm going with this.


Posted by jsmooth995 at October 17, 2007 9:24 AM

Great vid.
Why would you need a AK47 as a rapper?
Hope it's all false thou. Would be a shame to see TI locked up for some unnecessary shit like that.

Posted by: E at October 17, 2007 10:10 AM

Just when I'm struggling to make sense of a news story, or when I think I've figured it out already, you make a video that makes it all clearer. Ironically, you do this by highlighting the complications of a seemingly black and white situation. I don't even want to know what O'Reilly's going to say about this. What a vicious cycle. JSmooth for president of the world.

Posted by: EasyM at October 17, 2007 10:19 AM

Words spoken have never rung truer. Too bad you don't have a show on VH1. Keep on keeping it right!

Posted by: Headrush3 at October 17, 2007 10:26 AM

I second everything EasyM just said, including his nomination for president of the world...

Posted by: Jay Solis at October 17, 2007 10:27 AM

You broke it down solid! I'll have to point some folks to this post.

Posted by: j. brotherlove at October 17, 2007 10:38 AM

wonderful insights. you mention, and I'm paraphrasing, that there was no socratic method you could use to breakthrough? so you saw no turnaround in the youth? were there any happy endings?

Posted by: jb at October 17, 2007 11:02 AM

So, with all the defense mechanisms, how did you earn the kids' trust and get them to open up?

Posted by: Joe Grossberg at October 17, 2007 12:04 PM

Jay Smooth stays droppin knowledge.

Thank you for this.

Posted by: hoosteen at October 17, 2007 12:26 PM


Posted by: Frank at October 17, 2007 1:22 PM

CHURCH Fam!!! You just dropped a gem for the children. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: The Joker at October 17, 2007 1:43 PM

"My reputation and my manhood" -- intentional parallel to "my balls and my word" (Scarface)?

Posted by: Joe Grossberg at October 17, 2007 2:37 PM

joe: not intentional but good call.. too tired to answer your other q but will try to come back later

Posted by: Jay Smooth Author Profile Page at October 17, 2007 2:58 PM

JB: Yeah the kids did have amazing ability to grow and change, but it just came from more gradual processes than talking them out of something on that "rational" surface level..

Posted by: Jay Smooth at October 17, 2007 3:19 PM

You should Go On Fox News...drop some knowledge on em...cus did you see them taking that Nas Album Title, to a level that it wasnt even at, and trying to act like they understand rap and hip hop and black culture, as if they are all the same

Posted by: Detroit P at October 17, 2007 3:27 PM

This is so right on. One of the things that I think people fail to appreciate (and I really didn't either until recently) is that if you're operating in that kind of environment, you don't really have the option to not participate (at least if you want to continue to be viable in that world). So, like, if someone tests you and you *do* have the presence of mind to respond "rationally", you'd still be viewed as a punk by your peers, and thus subject to more harassment. It also reflects on your people, too...If you're not viewed as a stand-up person, *they* suffer by being associated with you. When you add all of that into the equation, a lot of these "irrational" behaviors make a lot more sense.

Also, Easy M is right: somehow you have the ability to make situations easier to understand by making them more complex...Can you teach me to do that?

Posted by: Joe Twist at October 17, 2007 4:19 PM

...and still undefeated! Jay you continue to be an oasis of sanity in the bullshit tsunami of the world wide web. Thanks for kicking some truth and edutainment... again.

Posted by: tcterrified at October 17, 2007 4:44 PM

Jay, for the first time, I don't agree with your analogy. some people are just dumb, it's as simple as that. you don't really need to dig dip to understand T.I's mindset.
as a person who travels across the world and happen to experience different cultures trust me when I say this, our kids are dumb and for the most part it has nothing to do with how they grew up [I agree in some respect it does] if you think these kids come from the toughest environment there is then you really need to travel and see what people makes themselves out of horrible situations. some of these dudes are just stupid. please let's not try to give these dumb asses a pass by trying to "understand" what they're trying to do. this goes back to the same argument as to why we black people are not doing good when every other immigrant community [and yes that includes other Africans too] manages to climb up the ladder while we sit here and pay the price. where does personal responsibility falls in all of this?

Posted by: Mike at October 17, 2007 6:51 PM

thank you for that. Im not even going to read the other responses, because im sure they didnt or dont even want to understand.

I know its not hip hop related..but someone needs to say something about this and id rather it was on here than some stupid CNN clone

Posted by: POINT84 at October 17, 2007 7:28 PM

yo Mike, every other immigrant community climbs the ladder?


mexicans aren't treated as disposable cheap labor in the southwest? the US isn't in the middle of another one of its historic anti-immigrant eras with policies and laws that try to de-humanize immigrants? I can go on for other ethnic groups, but that's not the point.

nothing happens just because. saying someone is just dumb is ignorant within itself. nothing is above analysis.

Posted by: andres at October 17, 2007 7:28 PM

deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep insights as usual, Jay. I could def. sense how smart his mind was when I interviewed him.

Posted by: koko at October 18, 2007 1:17 AM

If I was a US citizen I'd vote for you as a president! This post was right on the spot, as alway! Keep it up!

Posted by: from sweden at October 18, 2007 4:05 AM

This has been talked about for a long time now, Jay put it in a nice perspective. Good thing we finaly start to see some ppl get it, dont get me wrong, many still dont, but rappers like Nas, Dre ect should be talking about this on records, just acknowlege the fact they been there done that and hope others can learn from it. Jay write an album allready, that "made you watch" o`reily joint was hot, lyricaly u got what it takes. Hell, get Blaze 2 cook some up 4 u, eaven if it means wearing tizio!

Posted by: FaifStarr at October 18, 2007 4:52 AM

Forget Wu-Tang. Jay is for the children!

When you said that its difficult for folks who are raised in a tough environment to unlearn behaviors and shake unhealthy defense mechanisms (excuse my paraphrasing) I agree. I grew up in a tough environment, got sent up north for a year and a half and when I came home, I broke the cycle. It took time for me to mature in a world that I had a distorted outlook on, and naturally I educated myself to rise up out of those conditions. I know some folks who have died by the gun, got a bid for their gun or just plain escaped the thug mentality by exploring their "options."
The message that has been circulating through the world of hip-hop since the Stop The Violence movement and the reaction to the 92 riots to put down the nines and feed your mind still resonates with me and many others. IT IS time for a STOP THE VIOLENCE '07 piece.

Posted by: Jay B at October 18, 2007 5:35 PM

Peace! Word is bond, thanks for breaking down the history of psychology - it's all within inner self. Sometimes our fantasies can be our worse enemies when we act upon it. I can see the little boy in T.I. saying "Man, when I grow up I want to own this kind of gun and that kind of gun." I'm sure there's a lot of gun collectors out there, but he just went at the wrong way.

Posted by: Queen Mother at October 18, 2007 7:01 PM

SUPER INTELLIGENT, CONCISE COMMENTARY -- My full thoughts on the issue follow -- thanks

I took the T.I. news personally. In case you haven't heard the talented artist Tip Harris was busted by the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The rapper and emerging actor was found in possession of several firearms, some of which were machine guns. This is very bad for Mr. Harris who, as a convicted felon, can not possess any firearms. Why does this news trouble me? Because another talented brother who found a way out of the ghetto has stumbled in another of the devil's traps. So many are saying, "T.I. was stupid, he should have seen it coming". I guess Michael Vick should have seen it coming and Mike Tyson (the 1st time). I mean T.I was on the rise and he had already served time -- why would he fall prey to the Hip Hop police. It's common knowledge that there's a concerted effort to monitor, arrest and incarcerate hip hop heroes in order to minimize their influence on black youth. Even though hip hop is mostly bought by young white teens, the architects of the music and culture are reflections of us (African folk) and represent dreams that so many have of a better life.

Maybe T.I.P took his role in American Gangster too seriously. Maybe he should have relied on his bodyguards to pack the heat, rather than stay stuck in his trap mentality. ("It's called trap music," T.I. explains. "So you know it's gonna be dealing with all aspects of the trap. And if you don't know what the trap is, that's basically where drugs are sold.")

"Big Shit poppin and little shit stoppin" (one of T.I's recent hits) was probably the song the ATF agents got pumped to before bustin' in T.I.'s door. Rhymin about guns and killin' is about to be way passe. In case rappers didn't know, the feds are watching even more closely than the streets and the streets may hate on you but they can't make you sit in cold concrete for double digit years.

Hip Hop is the only authentic messenger to black youth. Rap artists bring a clarity and truth that no other Africans in the public eye have brought since Malcolm X and Martin King were alive. This is why the griots are being targeted, especially at a time when they are becoming more conscious and politically charged. Remember Mos Def's call for action on the Jena 6? The day after T.I.'s arrest The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan addressed a meeting of Hip Hop's elite. It's seems like more than a coincidence that the "King of the South" was sitting behind bars and not at the table to discuss where the message of the streets is headed.

Recently T.I. was featured on BET discussing the state of Hip Hop in America. His voice was firm and clear, his points well stated. Such articulate spokesmen who have the ear of the nation's lost black youth are a threat to a system that profits from each child who matures into a criminal stuck in the prison's revolving doors. T.I. was destined for greatness, somewhere along the way he forgot to leave the street behind and embrace his new life of fame, fortune and opportunity. Instead he foolishly trusted a new associate who turned out to be an informant. He foolishly bought into the idea that gun ownership and gun-play are acceptable in the hood. The guns aren't meant to change the system. Racist whites with nooses aren't attacked by blacks with guns. Guns in our community become extensions of self hate playing out centuries of suppressed rage in random sprays, which leave the pain of death and the trauma of fratricide in its wake. T.I. should have been smarter, but in the end he's just another nigga lost in a post slavery world trying to find a way to beat a system designed to deny him life.

So many of these artists are trapped in their own stories of gunplay and murderous lyrics. Check T-pain and Twista rap/singing "I'm a killer, a mass murderer" in the song "Creep Fast". Is this anything to proclaim on a song?

When these lyrics are memorized and recited by fans what affect do artists think they'll have? The mind is a hard drive that records every experience, this type of content only serves to create more tension, frustration and homicidal thoughts. Sadly, even pioneers of the art like KRS are lost in the gangsta mentality. In a recent editorial KRS, the Teacher, explained his valuing 50 cents new CD over Kanye West's, by saying that 50 had the street boom-bap and rhymes while Kanye seemed to be for the ladies. One man's opinion is just that, but KRS ends his missive with, "Like most people I too seek the "Good Life", but let's just keep it really real; "NIGGA MY GUN GO OFF!"" The times we are living in demand that we transcend such foolishness. When is the last time the Blastmaster shot someone? And if he has, why speak on it in public? Nigga, you're gun going off is not only killing others who are usually a reflection of the killers own self-hatred, but also causing families, wives, children, the entire community and ultimately the nation to suffer due to the lack of men available to truly be MEN. Now, women too are following this gangsta death image and forming a parade to the prisons and graves.

Do you see the US military machine bragging about how many millions they have maimed and killed in the name of American corporate and cultural expansionism (globalism/imperialism)? No, they downplay that shit and create ads and media spin that make them out to be the heroes riding in to save the day. Our street soldiers have a lot to learn. The real killers have legalized murder from the cigarette to the liquor bottle to the battlefield. We on the street would be of more service to our people, learning to heal rather than kill. We can't beat the devil at his own game. Our gifts of language, arts and culture are the roots of civilization and spirituality. Foolishly, we mimic the master and continue as slaves locked in diamond studded chains, spinning on rims around the same ghettos with no new ideas just the same ol' song. It's time we face the music, change the tune and transform ourselves back into the global leaders we are destined to be.

"You're known by the company you keep and the company you keep from." Bishop Lewis T. Tait Sr.

The streets aren't a dream just a rappers fairy tale,
ask the real OG's holding their heads in prison stink pens and jails,
the recipe the industry cooks is for us all to fail,
bring more blood and guns to the table,
so the community can continue to hobble mentally and spiritually disabled,
someone ought of told you long ago what you focus on continues to grow

Black man Black man what you gone do with those guns?
There's too many babies who need you home
too many mamas who need your love
too many brothers in need of friends
to play games with arms
until life and freedom end

You ain't a revolutionary
and change won't come from a barrel
just another nigga pistol whipped into a trap
while you sittin' reminiscin'
remember that

zaccai free -- somebody's gotta tell it


Posted by: zaccai at October 18, 2007 8:17 PM

Somehow I missed this video. Excellent. I used to work in an "alternative school" for high school age kids who all had criminal records and you've explained it wonderfully (as you always do). You see it with T.I this guns stuff, but even in interviews where he moves between being sincere and smart and then, catching himself and having to scowl or say something tough...great video!

Posted by: brandonsoderberg at October 19, 2007 9:59 AM

Jay... massive post. Once again respect for speaking the truth and coming with some much needed compassion and understanding.

As to Stop The Violence '07... it's coming...

Watch this space:

Analogue - Leeds, UK

Posted by: Analogue at October 19, 2007 10:41 AM

How many white artists talk about guns in their lyrics? Very few.

We rarely hear about white artists getting busted for weapons. Reason: people who listen to rock music don't really care about guns.

Why do we hear so much about Black rap artists getting busted for weapons? The market for black people talking about guns is big.


Black rap artists get busted for guns, not because black people make bad decisions, but because of the market for crime lyrics.

That we even discuss the individual overlooks the market and media-driven nature of this issue. T.I. is not an individual, but rather a commodity. T.I. is a marketable stereotype.

I am not concerned with the circumstantials of whether fame or celebrity (or whatever) influencesd T.I.'s behavior, but merely that we wouldn't even know who he is if rap fans weren't so obsessed with thug life.

Posted by: eric at October 19, 2007 4:46 PM

Man Smooth, that was deep…

If i was on the defense team...;
the showing of (this)…, your Vid Blog(s)..., would be my biggest suggestion.

Anon…….anthony – T (from thePatterson’s takingthetraintoTibet.)

Posted by: audiodramatist at October 20, 2007 6:39 PM

You have summarized the experience of New York City Public School teachers - in fact - most public school teachers regardless of location. Those "group home kids" are the same as most urban kids, unfortunately. They make dumb choices because it is what their peers do; and even worse, in many cases, their parents as well.

Part of the solution is to teach "desire, hope, and possibilities." This has to be taught before math, science, reading, etc. Students without a focus or desire are bothered by what other kids think or say.

You could have easily added "why you looking at me" as enough reason for a child with no purpose or self-worth to start a fight.

I know I have reached a student as soon as I witness him/her respond with a "so what?" expression on his/her face with faced with a verbal assault by other teacher/peers. It doesn't even have to be uttered. I know that "so what?" kid finally has a plan and could care less about reputation or the negative opinion of peers.

Posted by: Deidra at October 20, 2007 7:51 PM

Where have you been for the past fifteen years? Why don't you have a television or radio show? This is what people need to hear on a daily, fresh sensible answers to questions that plague our society in the area of young black men. Denote the fact that this is someone other than Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or someone who has a political agenda in mind, He's saying what needs to be heard. I'm so very impressed that he's speaking from the perspective of a man who pays attention,sees and speaks on it! He clearly understands that there are a multitude of reasons behind why our young men "act out" and he's speaking up and saying what really needs to be heard on all of our behalf.

Posted by: Lea Terry at October 23, 2007 10:36 AM

Damn! I just found out about the ILL DOCTRINE. Needless to say, this ish is crazy!!! I am loving the video blogs. This Machine Guns and Stupid Choices is on point. I'm a, Ethnic Studies maj. and this is right up my lane. Pounds of respect.


Posted by: Siempre Fresco at October 26, 2007 12:41 PM

Man do I know what you mean Siempre of CHUO's hiphop radio hosts just turned me on to this spot today. I told him of my fear of getting addicted, and now I can't leave work! (he's gone of course!) I keep watching entry after entry...excellent commentary. Wondering what we have to do to set up an interview with you on our community radio station up here in Canada...please let me know!

Posted by: Karen at October 26, 2007 5:53 PM

I'm guessing dj so nice turned you on this website karen ^^... much respect on this video. you need to get in the spotlight and get hip hop looking good. you should think of a way cus you got a lot of people rallying behind you. step up. much respect.

Posted by: robinhood at October 28, 2007 2:32 AM

I linked to this post on my blog: This could apply to.

Posted by: Bianca Reagan at October 28, 2007 11:10 PM

So... when are you running for president?

Posted by: Kupi at October 30, 2007 2:49 PM

I haven't listened to one thing that TI has produced, and I don't like 99% of rap music out there, but man you have SUCH a way of putting things, such actual INSIGHT behind your words that you make me indeed feel really sorry for these guys.

Everything you said in that post just seemed to make such perfect sense, perfect sense... The tricks learned earliest are the hardest to forget.


Posted by: Simon at November 29, 2007 11:28 PM

How do we give these folks more oppurtunities in their lives? There needs to be major shift in consciousness. It's time to start thinking with our hearts and give up our old habits in thinking.

Great piece!

Posted by: Yamin at December 17, 2007 8:43 PM

Hey JSmooth,
I teach grade 8 English language arts and social studies, and I was wondering if you have a version of this minus the f-bombs. I would love for my kids to see this as part of our media awareness work in responding to texts, but with the f-bombs, I couldn't show it to them without getting parental consent from the entirety of three different classes.

Let me know if you can. Smart look done in a credible voice that many will hear and consider. Thanks for this...

Posted by: Paul Wozney at December 23, 2007 8:05 PM

Hey JSmooth,

I recently learned about your site. I work as a teen counselor and wanted to say thank you for posting this up. What you said is exactly what I have been saying for a while. I always say that there's more to the person than what you see outside. Thanks again !! Keep it up !!

Posted by: Mike at February 28, 2008 1:49 AM

Subsequently, after spending a lot of hours on the internet at last We've uncovered an individual that definitely does know what they are discussing a lot of thanks a fantastic deal wonderful post

Posted by: Agnes Guenthur at March 18, 2012 9:28 AM

I love? how when Miley was the person she used to be everyone hated her and all. Then she changes and grows up then everyone says how much they loved the old Miley and want her back. Seriously....?

Posted by: @yeticantrell? On Twitter and yeticantrell on Youtube! Please support my work and I follow back on T at April 27, 2012 2:50 AM

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