(13 May 1999) STORY
In the world of rap, where real violence competes with music for headlines, it comes as a suprise when one of its leading lights decides to renounce violence in a bid to alert fans to the possibilities of a crime free life. Multi-platinum rap artists JAY-Z, DMX, REDMAN and METHOD MAN held a press conference Tuesday 12th May to announce their decision to promote non-violence. Drawing to a close their ‘Hard Knock Life Tour’, the most successful hard-core rap tour to date, the rappers said they would donate proceeds from their Denver Concert to Families of the Victims of the High School Shooting. The announcement is likely to please President Clinton ,who is spear-heading a campaign to make the entertainment industry more accountable for the younger generation’s growing obsession with violence. Jay-Z made history by becoming the first hip-hop artist to hold the Number 1 spot stateside for five consecutive weeks. He scored an international hit with with his rap version of ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ from the musical Annie. The singer , who grew up in the Brooklyn projects, says the song captures the life he lead as a child. ‘These kids sing about the hard knock life, things everyone in the ghetto feels coming up’ says Jay-Z. ‘That’s the ghetto anthem’. The song catapulted him to hip-hop royalty, and helped garner him a Best Rap Album grammy and helped sell more than 4 million copies of his third CD. The playfulness of ‘hard knock Life’s’ chorus aside, many of Jay-Z’s lyrics are about drug dealing. Some are autobiographical. ‘While others were getting shot up and murdered going to jail’ he says of his teenage years. ‘I was looked over because I was so quiet’ . But in the world of rap, often tragedy is only a concert away. IN 1997, Jay-Z’s friend, fellow Brooklynite and gangsta rap’s reigning poet laureate Notorious B.I.G was shot and killed in Los Angeles. Tupac Shakur became a vicitim of the inter-gang rivallry a few months later. Violence at rap shows in the late eighties , as well as the rise of videos, halped quash the hip-hop touring business forcing artists to latch onto existing rock tours.But now the tide may have turned, and the killings of B.I.G and Tupac have forced the hip-hop community to mature. With the success of this latest tour, a renaissance in the industry looks likely.

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