Rap music aficionados who haven’t been living under a rock for the past 15 years know that Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane have been involved in a beef that has lasted for nearly two decades. Smoke kicked off between the two trap stars after Gucci Mane and Jeezy recorded the song “So Icey” together in 2005.  The prevailing wisdom on the matter is that Jeezy, freshly signed to Def Jam, wanted to use the song for his debut album Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, while Gucci desired to utilize the heetseeking record for his own independent premiere, Trap House. The record ended up on Gucci’s album, and apparently, Jeezy took umbrage with that decision.  Since that time, both Jeezy and Gucci have gone on to enjoy humongous success in the entertainment industry, and have been involved in a dangerous game of threats, disrespect, and violence. That is, until the recent Jeezy vs. Gucci rap battle took place. I will not explain all of the intricacies of these two black men’s vendettas with one another over the years, as you can easily find that information posted on various popular websites, but I do want to take a brief amount of time to discuss what the burying of their beef with one another signals to other young black men who find themselves in similar circumstances. 

It should not be a secret that the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 to 34 is homicide. Between 1999 and 2018, over 90 thousand black males were homicide victims. 80 to 90% of these victims were killed by other black men. In 2017, homicide was the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 1-44. I cite these statistics in an effort to demonstrate the facts, not to make offhand and divisive moral judgements about black men or to argue that black males are innately pathological. What I would like to suggest is that black males suffer from a variety of socio-economic and public health problems that are treatable and remediable. Programs that focus on crime and violence prevention from socio economic and negative psychological dynamics could do a lot to deter the escalation of beef between black males before it ever gets started. Instead of allocating more resources to police departments and prison facilities, budgets need to be made available for community controlled homicide prevention centers that conduct research and provide psychological services for black males who are at risk of finding themselves in blood feuds with one another. 

Fortunately, without the aid of such resources, Jeezy and Gucci Mane were able to settle their differences and to move the culture of hip hop and the circumstances of black males forward through example. For this they should be praised. It’s not easy to forgive and forget after one’s dignity has been violated and the lines of violence have been crossed. But it can and should be done. Hopefully more black males will follow their lead and let bygones be bygones. Otherwise, there will be more tragic losses like those of Pop Smoke, King Von, and Mo3. Each of these young black men were extremely talented. Each of these young black men were the victims of violence that cut them off in their prime.