• Staci Sweet

Black Rob and the Negligence of Hip Hop

Former Bad Boy artist, Robert ‘Black Rob’ Ross, died today of kidney disease at the age of 51. 51. Another hip hop legend gone in less than two weeks. #resteasyDMX

I read an article that not only did Black Rob have kidney disease, but he’d suffered four strokes in the past five years. Four. Just last week I saw an IG post of him praying for DMX while being in excruciating pain. I said a quick prayer but thought nothing of it because I, like so many of you, thought he’d recover. Unfortunately, he did not. Now the in-na-net is all ablaze blaming Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs for his death. Though close sources confirm he reached out, the fact that he died after failing to raise the money needed to cover his medical expenses will undoubtedly haunt Mr. Combs. But why?

Photo Credit: WWD Trade Journal


Diddy Did It!


Because Mr. Combs is a billionaire who amassed his early fortune off his artists. Though he acquired the bulk of his wealth through his spirit ventures, his fortune will forever be attributed to Bad Boy Entertainment. But let’s address the elephant in the room and ask, is it really his fault? I ask because perhaps he could and probably SHOULD have done more. However, in his defense, when a white artist dies, no one blames a white record label executive for his or her death. But such is the case for hip hop and this is why I started ‘Prayers for Hip Hop’. It’s because regardless of who’s to blame, someone needs to intercede for the industry.

Photo Credit: The Source

The other thing about the untimely death of Mr. Ross aka Black Rob is that he was reportedly homeless. Although you can point the finger at Mr. Combs and say it’s his fault, was it? I ask because as someone who's moved over 50+ times, lived in a car and in a shelter, I too blamed others for my financial transgressions. But in my book, ‘The Do-It-Yourself Guide out of Homelessness’, I help the homeless go back to the moment when their life took a turn which made me want to know when did Black Rob’s?

Again, I only ask because if we're playing the blame game then the blame shouldn’t solely be placed on Mr. Combs. In all fairness, the entire hip hop industry played a role only because as lovers of the genre we all have a responsibility to our legends. Take for instance Mr. Kurtis Walker aka Kurtis Blow. He didn't even make national news after his heart transplant and it was then that I realized, for the most part, hip hop DOES NOT always take care of its legends.


Legendary Homage and Assistance


I know that’s a strong statement because in a genre so steeped in trauma, poverty and turning nothin’ into somethin’, those who actually do hardly EVER take care of their elders. I know we give features and lifetime achievement awards, but what about equity, ventures, and sponsorships? In fact, the world changing genre that feeds so many has gotten to the point that it now PUBLICLY starves and poor shames other artists as well as its own listeners. Hence, the terms broke b****/n****. #whereisthelie #fightme

I'm not saying this applies to every artist because I know those who understand respect know that real respect comes before honor. But instead of calling other artists old, poor, and broke, we should have taken better care of and honored Mr. Ross and others like him. So what can we do? At this point, what we shouldn’t do is blame one man for his lack of housing, healthcare, and his death. Because at the end of the day Diddy was not Black Rob’s god. If we must point the finger, lets blame ourselves.

Let’s blame ourselves that Biz Markie just got out the hospital and celebrated a birthday and all he got was a Source article. Let’s blame ourselves for the fact that KRS-1 released ‘Between Da Protests’ in December and we knew nothing about it and for the fact that Kool Herc celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday and it didn't make our feeds. And I’m not just blaming you but ME TOO! All of us need to do a better job and come together, collectively and pray and pay public homage to our legends.

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