Hip-hop community reflects on loss

Special events mourn 4 victims

December 19, 2005
Boston Globe
By Raja Mishra and Matthew Burke

With a quadruple killing in Dorchester fresh on their minds, members of Boston's hip-hop community yesterday addressed the unsolved slayings of some of their own, even as fallout from the crime threatened to disrupt their small but thriving musical scene.

Hip-hop events in the South End and Jamaica Plain yesterday featured local artists mourning the Dorchester victims in rhyme while pleading for a public dialogue on youth violence in verse.

The events took place a day after a major local hip-hop show was canceled Saturday night because organizers feared that tensions from the Dorchester slayings might cause more violence.

''It was mainly because of the recent violence," said Christina North, 24, organizer of the show that had been scheduled Saturday at the Stadium Sports Bar and Grill in South Boston and was to have featured DL, a prominent local rapper. ''Hip-hop has a bad name right now."

At 6 p.m. yesterday in the South End, about 200 people gathered at a community center for a regular open mike night that was dominated by expressions about the Dorchester killings.

The rapper Lyrical later explained that hip-hop had been unfairly tarnished by the killings.

''We have to dictate what hip-hop is and isn't when things happen in the community," he said. ''People are getting shot and killed. That's the reality."

Jason Bachiller, 21; Christopher Vieira, 19; Jihad Chankhour, 22; and Edwin Duncan, 21, were found fatally shot in a basement family room on Bourneside Street late Tuesday. Police said no arrests have been made.

Dane Bradley, cofounder of bostonrap.com, said a round-table discussion is planned for Tuesday in Cambridge to discuss violence in the urban musical genre. Some of the area's biggest hip-hop names are expected to speak: Lyrical, Mr. Peter Parker, Edo G., G-Spin, Dre Robinson, and DL.

''We're trying to get people from all different walks of life within the scene," Bradley said. ''We're trying to get cats to understand we're trying to do our thing in peace."

The Boston rap scene is small but vibrant, drawing on a variety of hip-hop styles. But few venues regularly host rap shows. Many local artists complain that the city's coolness to their art form has stymied the scene's progress.

Many members of that scene last night packed the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Plain, where another rap gathering addressed the killings.

''I lost a lot of friends . . . the members of Graveside," the rapper Mr. Peter Parker told the crowd, referring to the hip-hop group of which three of the four victims were members.

But spectators also came last night for the music. The beat pumping, DL told the crowd, ''this is for the kids, so I'm not going to really harp on those events. But this is 'Real Talk,' " a song about the impact of violent imagery in the media. With heads in the crowd bobbing in unison, DL rapped: ''Stop being a degenerate/we're killing each other/and that's real talk."


Rappers offer help with youth

December 21, 2005
Boston Globe
By Matthew M. Burke

Members of the Boston area's hip-hop music scene challenged Mayor Thomas M. Menino last night to help them emerge from the genre's violent image and improve their opportunities in Boston.

In return, the rappers vowed to reach out to youths to encourage them to turn away from violence and to push for more music in schools and training programs for youths.

''We challenge the mayor and the city to help us, and we will help them," said DaneJa, Mass Industry Committee president, speaking at a gathering last night of concerned hip-hop artists at Massive Records in Cambridge, a hip-hop record store.

About 25 artists huddled to discuss the genre and its perceptions and the problems they have arranging performances locally. Their 90-minute round-tab le discussion came in the wake of last week's fatal shootings of several amateur rap artists in Dorchester.

''What does four kids getting killed have to do with DL having a show at The Stadium?" said South Boston artist Slaine, who is also a member of the group Special Teamz. He was referring to the show at the Stadium Bar and Grill in South Boston that was canceled Saturday amid concerns about violence after four men -- including three members of the hip-hop group Graveside -- were slain in a basement recording studio in Dorchester.

The discussion included ways to help bring music back to public schools and offer training classes to youths, to help the public see that good can come from hip-hop.

The artists agreed to meet again in January, and said they plan to put proposals in writing.