Busta Rhymes: 'Gangs are basically a surrogate family where you learn your values'

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The Independent Culture

I want to do something productive that will help convince kids on both sides of the Atlantic to stop killing each other. What I am hearing about the situation in the UK, and what I am seeing with my own eyes in the US, is a generation of children who are lost and in need of support. Their families are breaking down around them. They're turning to gangs and violence. We need to tell them that is not the right answer.

There are many reasons why young people turn to violence, and it is too simplistic to isolate a single thing. But we know some sources of trouble are greater than others. The biggest problem today, in my view, is that children don't have the right foundation at home. They don't realise that the most important thing in life is to be with your family, to care for them and to love them.

Children need fathers. They need a stable environment at home. Many of the kids who are shooting and knifing each other don't have fathers to turn to and look to for support. They feel lost, and feel a need to attach themselves to things that give them solidarity. That is where gangs step in. Gangs are basically a surrogate family where you learn your values.

A lot of people ask me about the relationship between hip-hop and violence. I can tell you that gangs existed a long time before hip-hop did, and if you took away hip-hop, you'd still have gangs.

Other people ask me if I think I'm a role model. I don't like that term, because role models are expected to do good the whole time. But that's not my responsibility: my duty is to represent the truth, as I see it. To show what's good, yes, but also what's not so good.

Hip-hop is an international community. We members know that every day, in some part of the world, whether it's through break-dancing or making beats, people are getting inspiration from this music. It's a way for kids who are struggling at school to voice their aspirations, and 'make it' even when they can't get a job. So let's not blame hip-hop for violence: let's use it to overcome violence.