Hip-hop history is littered with litigation. It's a barely-kept secret that semi-legal operations have bankrolled more than a couple of the most successful rappers in the world, and when you blend that background with the genre's relentless need for reality raps and the flaunting of outrageously expensive possessions, and you have a situation that is already pretty primed for police involvement.
Throw in America's problematic history with race, the specter of racial bias in the court system, a war on drugs that targets minority communities disproportionately, and a black-dominated artform like hip-hop—particularly one that actively chooses to speak about this illegal underground—and, at the very least, the genre is going to fund college educations for a few attorneys' children. And that's not even to speak of the flagrant drug use in hip-hop; not only is Gucci Mane a "walking lick" (as he puts it), but for a while, he was a walking parole violation, too.
But while it's easy to point to the broader trends that make hip-hop artists' brushes with the law unsurprising, one thing of note is how few rappers really do end up in brushes with the law, considering the circumstances. One of the more complicated parts of hip-hop's history is the degree to which crime and art intersect. The streets and the music industry are different worlds, and while they come into contact, the music itself gives a very skewed, fantastical view of what is really happening.
However, these two worlds are only occasionally related to how rappers end up in court. Addiction, one of the unspoken plagues on the hip-hop industry, is arguably as responsible for getting paralegals overtime as criminal enterprises, if not more. Sometimes, rappers just do stupid shit.
Written by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)