When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Posted: December 15, 2009 in News
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’ve ever been to Times Square in New York City, you’ve seen the hustlers. Among the bootleg DVD peddlers, local artists, comedy club people, and photographers, there are always the supposedly starving music artists. The guy on the corner with the tattered jacket and dirty face, banging on a couple buckets – he’s probably legit. But then you get approached by the dudes with their own self-produced CDs. These guys are aggressive, almost desperate, and you get the feeling that they are full of shit, just trying to scam you out of some money for a poor-quality mixtape that doesn’t even have a cover. I know from experience how hard it can be to sell your own CDs, and I know better than anyone that everyone is a hustler now. But sometimes keeping it real goes wrong.

Raymond “Ready” Martinez was an aspiring rapper who would try to sell his CDs in Times Square. Some of his lyrics even spoke about his hustle and getting into gunfights with the police. But according to the official report, when police approached Martinez and asked to see his vendor tax stamp, he pulled out a Mac-10 and fired at the officers. In a scene of tragic irony, the police shot Martinez down dead.

This is not a skit from Chappelle’s Show; it really happened. The lesson upcoming rappers should take from this: if you’re trying to be a thug and an artist, decide which one you really are. It’s nearly impossible to combine the two worlds successfully without it ending in violence or incarceration.

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