Youth looking to end gun violence

POSTED: 12/30/14 12:00 AM

GREATBAY—St. Maarten may soon get its own zero gun violence ambassador in the person of local hip-hop artist and record producer 4DH. The young man, who told Today he has “lived the life” and know all about the lure and false sense of security that accompanies owning guns, is currently in talks with the Canadian arm of this organization to help bring the message across to his generation that guns are definitely a no no.

His music partner  is Canadian artist DT, who is currently a zero gun violence ambassador in Canada and works with several groups  in that country that are trying to get the message across to the youth that violence is not the answer. As players in the hip-hop industry, the two are very aware that many of the songs out there glorify guns, violence and degrading women. They advise the youth that just because someone sings about it to “make their money” does not mean that this person has ever actually lived that life and if they have, they romanticize it in their songs which is a far cry from the reality.

“The first thing is to know your content and understand where things fit in. Most of my music is radio friendly, because I understand that’s my business, I have no swearing or rather next to none in my music. If I just make a song and put it on you tube, I might just make five cents a play. But when its plays on the radio in Canada, the US, Europe, St. Maarten, I make 30 cents a play. That’s my business. So right away you understand that if you treat your music as a business, you are not going to do anything to jeopardize your bread and butter. Anybody looking to get anywhere in this industry must understand that their music is their business.

“A lot of the young people coming up, they feel that they have to disrespect women in their songs, they feel they must diss somebody, call out someone and that just leads to their songs not getting radio air time, which means they will just be like these guys who play basketball on the block but never try out for any team and are famous as great basketball players on their block and no one else has heard of them.  Then while they are making no money from these songs, or just getting five cents a play on you tube or walking around pedaling cd’S, they still have to feel like they need to be armed cause they put themselves out there as that kind of person and they feel the pressure to live up to it. It makes no kind of sense. If you are an artist, you are a business man. If you cannot take your business seriously how is anyone else going to take you seriously?” DT challenged.

The visiting artist said when he was new to the business, he fell into the same trap and he had to do a lot of things he is not necessarily proud of. He added that a lot of the young artists say “I’m doing this for the streets” but he pointed out, “the streets don’t buy music.” Like DT, 4DH said he has also had his fill of the streets and initially most of his musical content was laced with offensive and degrading language but he realized that a lot of the younger boys on his street looked up to him and tried imitating him, so he took the decision to go in the opposite direction.

“I have had people come up to me and say I have gone soft, because of the type of music I play now. But I am doing better in my musical career, I am going on tour in January for the first time and it’s also the first time ever I am leaving the island. I have interviews lined up with radios and TV shows in Canada and I feel like my career is going somewhere. I am going to enjoy it, I was born for the stage, my daddy is the calypso king of St. Maarten (Kaiso Brat) so I have to do my thing,” 4DH said.

Both 4DH and DT said they are very aware that a lot of people dismiss hip-hop music as violent. “For me what’s crazy is that everyone is always saying that hip hop is violent but I am actually the official ambassador in Canada for the zero gun violence movement. We’ve had a lot of killings and homicides in Toronto so now we’ve created a movement against it. For me that is huge because now I have a platform as a hip-hop artist to say listen, I am not talking about guns and drugs in my songs. I think it is imperative that we have that kind of positive message presented to people especially because of the stigma attached to rap music,” DT explained.

4DH acknowledged that the situation in St. Maarten with gun violence is not a good one and said that he is in talks with the representatives in Canada to have an arm of the zero gun violence movement established on St. Maarten. “We are discussing and trying to get it down here but it’s moving at a slow pace. With all the gun violence going on now, it is ridiculous. The police have stopped busting drugs and are now concentrating on guns, that’s how crazy things are. It is ridiculous. We are just killing ourselves and our brothers. I have been incarcerated before, I have done it all and now I look around and I see so many of the kids heading in that direction.

“We are the ones that are suffering; we are the ones that are dying. That’s one of the things that made me get out of the kind of life I was living and get into music. People always need a way to vent and now I see the kids coming to my studio and instead of venting their frustrations with guns and knives, they are doing it with pen and paper. They still curse a bit much, but we are making progress. I like challenging them to say what they feel without the cuss words. There are so many of the young people coming to my studio as their place to vent that the police actually came once to ask what’s going on, they thought it was a drug house,” 4DH  explained laughing. He however added that the important thing is that when the kids are at the studio they are off the streets.

He stressed the importance of kids in particular understanding that there are many more words in the English language than the cuss words. He said he understands that it is easier to vent your frustrations when using foul language to show the depth of your pain and anger, but he challenges the kids out there to stay away from degrading other people and from relying on violence to win an argument. 4DH said he is looking forward to a St. Maarten arm of the zero gun violence being established and to doing his part towards ending this violence.

4DH and DT are the founders of the group CBG (cooperate bad guys) and have several shows booked for early next year, including one at the Cultural Center on January 9, and at Club High-up and a few other venues around the island, as well as a tour that kicks off in Canada next month. “We came from the streets and went up to the business area, but we keep that bad guy mentality because we won’t let people take advantage of us,” 4DH concluded.

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