Many rappers, livid at the way police departments lay seige to their communities, describe violence against cops in their music. This isn’t new, nor a sign that (as many have alleged since hip-hop’s beginnings) rappers actually want to kill police. The New York Post must have missed that memo.
The newspaper published a front-page article Sunday (August 21) about Brooklyn rapper Kaseem “Ka” Ryan that alleged he tried to hide his day job—as a Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) captain—to promote his image. The piece received tremendous criticism from Ka’s fans, including several high-profile rappers, who blasted the publication for irresponsible reporting.
“A Brooklyn-based FDNY captain leads a double life as a hip-hop artist whose songs are peppered with the n-word, drugs, violence and anti-cop lyrics,” reads the piece’s opening sentence, before citing lyrics like “F- -k them cops and swats with night vision/I see your traps and your plots to dead us, y’all rolling with Kojaks, nigga, I got Berettas” to paint him as hating police. The piece then quotes dismayed NYPD officers (“As a New York City firefighter, he should be trying to bring people together rather than fracture relationships, especially in communities of color,” said one) and describes his family’s expensive townhouse—all with the seeming end of both slamming his lyrics and exposing his alleged hypocrisy.
But evidence suggests that Ka never actively tried to dupe anybody, and that the Post’s scoop wasn’t a scoop at all. Spin cited their own 2013 piece about the rapper, which mentioned his day job. Hip-hop journalist Shawn Serato told rap blog Ambrosia for Heads that the Post aimed to promote a pro-cop narrative and ”just really wants to scare [its] suburban readers about rap and the cop killers.”
Ka, who released his latest album “Honor Killed the Samaurai” this month, seemingly alluded to the piece in these two tweets:
With love comes hate…can’t have one without the other. Be prepared for both.— Ka (@BrownsvilleKa) August 21, 2016
Rarely does one get to witness this kind of love while alive. I appreciate all the concern, feels good to know the art has affected so many— Ka (@BrownsvilleKa) August 22, 2016
A number of other rappers and fans, including Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike and El-P, supported the rapper and criticized the Post and writer Susan Edelman on social media:
So Susan- who is a writer- doesn’t seem to get that like a Walter Mosley novel, Ka creates beautifully written fiction giving us wonderful and tragic looks into mystery and the underworld. I think Susan does understand this and think she knew that when she used these wonderfully poetic Songs that a NYD Fire Capt writes in his spare time when not saving lives to shame him. He cud easily have a record deal and be a legend with a cult following like MF Doom but, instead he like Charles Bukowski lives and works with regular people while also being a writing genius. I know Susan sees this and ignores it too, although using eloquent language and subtleties to call Ka an “Ungrateful Nigger”. A shame too, considering she is a woman. I feel Susan should be an ally considering sexism and racism are supported by the same systems. She should know what being so angry you want to explode feels like and having to confess that in journal only. This man is a hero every day. As a fierce defender of Good cops, I have to say Firemen and Teachers deserve the same and more considerations. A firefighter knows each day brings death as a possible outcome but when it comes they must run to it to save others just like a cop. They have to be fit- mind, spirit and body and all they get is burns, burn out and like cops and teachers are under paid as well. Like Teachers they aren’t really mentioned until it’s extreme or it’s an issue with pay. I salutes Capt Kaseem Ryan for being a real life Super hero who saves our lives by day and Gives us words to comfort our pain and anger at night. Susan is slime for what she wrote and inferred but she has to live with that. From the world of rap & the real world Thank U Capt. Reed aka Ka!. #RealLifeComicBookHero #ThisIsAnAttemptedLynching #SusanWasSayingNiggerStayInYourPlace #IfWeLoveCopsWhyNotPayBetter #WeShudLoveCopsTeachersAndFDTheSame #AllAreHeros #peace!
A photo posted by Killer Mike (@killermike) on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:17am PDT
kas music isnt artlessly violent. these are songs of pain and stress written somberly by someone who clearly cares deeply about nyc.— el-p (@therealelp) August 22, 2016
before writing a hit piece its good to ask yourself: “has the man im trying to destroy saved more lives than me?”.— el-p (@therealelp) August 22, 2016
@nypmetro Shameful, slanderous hatchet job on a sincere artist whose work you don’t understand. @BrownsvilleKa doesn’t celebrate violence.— Elmattic (@thisiselmattic) August 22, 2016
New York Post really tried to “AHA! GOTCHA!” Ka for rapping about…NOT liking police murdering people? im unclear what you’d like him to do— DVS (@DVSblast) August 22, 2016
The culture war is a very real thing. The New York Post just put a blatant hit out on KA for havin a job. Welcome to the new McCarthyism— Driver (@Busdriverr) August 22, 2016
the post hit piece on @BrownsvilleKa is super wack but i’m v excited to learn that he’s my local fire captain https://t.co/lhmmpO4Aw2— Talya Cooper (@talya_cooper) August 23, 2016