Views from the 410 and 301: Let’s Talk About Gunna and Choices

As a writer who also performs, I feel that I have a responsibility to discuss all forms of music and artists–even if I don’t entirely agree with their life choices or sociopolitical ideologies. I didn’t entirely agree with Nip about his stance on LGBT folks, but I still thought that Nip had the world to offer and his music was dope as hell. I got that lump-in-my-throat feeling when he passed and I discussed that in depth. I don’t think Lizzo needed to walk around the Lakers game in a thong, but she makes cool pop-rap tracks for when I’m down Federal Hill or something with drunk white people who I pray don’t hit me with a hard -er. I, like Z of DJBooth, don’t agree with Gunna doing a whippet on camera as seen below.

I went to Baltimore’s Roland Park Middle School in the late 90s/early 2000s. I saw that shit firsthand and thought it was stupid then. I still think it’s stupid. Musically, though, Gunna has made good moves and his sound has influenced a new generation.

Z saying “hey, we’re not promoting this Genius interview about Gunna being a generational influence because whippets are something we can’t condone,” I get that. I don’t entirely agree with it. On some levels, it feels like he’s cherrypicking when quite a few of DJBooth-covered artists have popped, smoked, drank, snorted or injected something–sometimes on camera. Future has dropped many a song about molly, percs, lean and so on (among other non-drug related choices). But when Future drops, he’s covered on DJBooth.

Nevertheless, I get why Z spoke out, even though I don’t fully agree.

Artists have, whether they realize it or not, a bit of a responsibility to lead through their choices. Their actions can be detrimental to themselves and the fans who love them. Let’s put it like this. If I continued to drink as heavily as I once did, I could’ve had someone (most likely, my own children) stumble upon that part of my life. They could’ve said “oh SOTB/Dad was drunk AF here, let me go do the same because he seemed to be okay.” They may have not seen the troubles behind my drunken music or actions, then continuing a bad cycle of drunken foolishness. Hell, if I continued to drink as heavily as I did, I could’ve cut my own life short through inebriated actions.

That’s not to say “every artist must be a role model.” Truth be told, people should live how they feel is appropriate for them. Not everyone is a role model, that’s just the honest-to-God truth. But it is to say that artists have eyes on them and should (try to) act accordingly when they can. I’d like to think that Gunna doing whippets won’t inspire an entire generation of artists and fans to do that crap. But I could be wrong, so that’s why I think artists should remember that eyes are on them. Additionally, artists must remember that, while everything’s not for everyone, there will be people that’ll come for them for their choices.

I had people turn their back on me when I said “never a racist, though, so fuck Donald Trump” back in 2016. I’m aware that there are people who’ll never rock with me because of my thoughts towards the President’s choices. Calling Trump racist and doing aerosol hits on camera aren’t exactly the same. However, I made the conscious choice of discussing Trump like Gunna made the choice to do a whippet on camera. Afterwards, we both had people come for us because of it. I’ll live with my choice and Gunna will have to live with his. I hope he does get help for his choices, since whippets are a shitshow in of themselves. I won’t straight-up say “you’re evil” like some (not Z, but others) have. Not my pig, not my farm.

But maybe next time, wait until you’re off camera to do some nitrous oxide (or say “hey, please don’t ever do what I do, even though I know y’all rock with me”). That’s just my two cents, though.

Speed on the Beat

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