Discovering 2PAC Shakur

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Cricklewood Blogger’s link with gangsta rap is a tenuous one, but the story begins with an event organised by the local youth charity, Amal Trust. In the last fortnight he has learnt about Bloods and Crips, and this man they call 2PAC Shakur.

The first induction was at Amal Trust’s happy and raucous Eid Party and Qur’an recitation prize giving ceremony, this year held at Porchester Hall in West London. The second was further away from home, in Bethnal Green, at a meeting organised by BLYDA – ┬áthe Brick Lane Youth Development Association. The star turn at both events was the presence of ex-Rappers from the US who had something to say about gang culture. Both Abu Jafar and Mutta Abu Salek had travelled a million miles from their past lives, embracing Islam on the way and now with a mission to reach out and warn youngsters. Both these young men spoke with authority and tremendous sincerity. It was only when Mutta Abu Salek tugged his sleeve, revealing a large tattoo, that one could experience the connection with their past.

Abu Jafar’s tale was about his childhood and teenage years in a Los Angeles area dominated by the two gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. They had marked out their territories through graffiti and other signs, and woe betide if you were found on the wrong side without allies. He told us the horrific tales of abject poverty and racism -how the grocery trucks were always laden with the fresh stock in the front and the old and rotten goods in the back -because when deliveries were made, these began with the rich, white affluent neighbourhoods on the hills, only arriving in the Black areas -Arab, Hispanic and Afro-American – till later. The gangs initially started out as vigilante groups to protect local communities from police racism, the KKK and Aryan Brotherhood, but then were taken over by criminals and turned to in-fighting. Abu Jafar and his sister ended up in rival groups -and she stabbed him in the shoulder. Every trip to school was a journey through danger land because he had to leave his Bloods territory and enter Crips land. His ticket out came when he was detained in a car involved in a drive-by shooting. Because of his age he was offered the choice of youth detention or an educational programme. He took the latter, and after finishing college in the US he is now completing Islamic studies in Nottingham. His message: the music your children listen to is a product of the US gang culture- gangsta rap is one of the most satanic, demonic things that has arisen, so keep your kids away from it. (143)

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