One hundred and forty characters provide a powerful weapon in the hands of 17-year-old Chicago rapper Chief Keef. But then again, so does his music.
With social media emerging as the weapon of choice these days, the young gangsta rapper finds himself in the center of two Twitter wars. The first is with veteran rapper Lupe Fiasco, who's suggested that music like Chief Keef's inspires violence.
Thirty year-old Lupe Fiasco and the 17-year-old Chief Keef represent two sides of rap, battling it out on the tweets of Chicago. While Fiasco offers a critique of the culture of violence in his Chicago neighborhood, Keef is part of a generation of teen rappers who celebrate it.
"Chief Keef scares me," Lupe told the Baltimore's 92Q in a video interview. "Not him specifically, but the culture that he represents. [T]he murder rate in Chicago is skyrocketing."
He doesn't blame Keef, but says the neighborhood he comes from "incubates" this kind of mentality. And that "incubator's working overtime," Fiasco says. "It's "sending these kids to slaughter."
A Bomb has no responsibility or blame, it does what it was created to do; DESTROY! Notice, no one is talking about the real culprits, the Bomb maker (Labels, Radio Stations). Its easier to blame the bomb.
Rhymefest goes on to say that rappers like Keef unwittingly act as commercials used to fill the "Prison Industrial Complex." Many prisons, he says, are privately owned with stocks "traded on the open market." They need to grow every quarter, he says. "If these corporations were to do jingles and promotions who would they hire?"
Increasingly, street wars are being fought out using social media to "incite violence against one another," says the Chicago Tribune.
And fittingly, in response to Lupe Fiasco's interview, Chief Keef tweeted recently: "Lupe fiasco a hoe ass n*gga And wen I see him I'm a smack him like da lil bitch he is #300." (Chicago Sun-Times says #300 is a "known reference to the Black Disciples street gang.")
Fiasco, in an effort to quell the violence, tweeted back: "I cant go 4 that & i cant let the people i love, including you my ni--a, go 4 that either. We kings not f---ing savages and goons. i love u lil bruh @ChiefKeef...
But in the end, the interchange left Fiasco tweeting about leaving rap altogether: "I cannot participate any longer in this...My first true love was literature so i will return to that".
But as Fiasco himself admits, he has skin in the game: ..."my nephews, my cousins, my friends... they all in those hoods that [Chief Keef] represents."
So if Fiasco leaves rap isn't he giving up on his family and friends? And won't rappers like Chief Keef fill the vacuum?
Then again, Fiasco might have good reason to wonder about the real life consequences of being the target of Chief Keef's vitriol.
Last week, Chief Keef's rival, 18-year-old teenage rapper Lil Jojo, tweeted the names of the streets of where he'd be hanging out on Chicago's South Side. He was riding double on a bicycle when "a car pulled up and fired six or seven shots," says Chicago Sun-Times.
In response, Chief Keef, tweeted: "Its Sad Cuz Dat N---- Jojo Wanted To Be Jus Like Us #LMAO." (LMAO is web-speak for Laughing My Ass Off.)
Vibe says, this tweet prompted police to look into whether "whether Keef or any of his associates were connected" to Lil Jojo's murder. But either way, Chief Keef's laughing at his rival's death infuriated the young rapper's fans, and Keef later claimed it wasn't him, but that his Twitter account had been hacked.
While Chief Keef cashes in on the violent culture of Chicago's South Side, by contrast, Fiasco calls for an introspective look. Lupe Fiasco's song "Bitch Bad," calls into question the use of the B word, and created an interesting discussion in the rap world that included some torturously navel gazing tweets by Kanye West:"... is it acceptable for a man to call a woman a b*tch even if it's endearing?"
But more importantly, on Bitch Bad's YouTube page, a fan writes: "Lupe please don't quit... young black youth like myself can benefit from your message against the 'coonery' a lot of mainstream rap is projecting. It is a modern day minstrel show."
So someone needs to tell Lupe Fiasco in 140 characters to stick around. At a time when you could be gunned down for tweeting out your location, we'll all be needing him.
Follow Tanya Jo Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tanyajomiller