Dear Rappers: Stop With The Damn Superspreader Events

It’s time to seriously call out rappers who continue to have dangerous mass gatherings during a pandemic.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Jeezy and Gucci Mane’s Verzuz battle was as stressful and dramatic as any scripted series you’ll see on Netflix or HBO. We had build-up, tension, aggression, and a moment that felt like things would go left any minute. Then we had an ending nobody could have predicted when the year started: Jeezy and Gucci performing “So Icy” together. The sigh of relief turned out to be brief, though; stress levels rose again when the duo promoted their afterparty at Atlanta club Compound.

Yes. A party. At a club. During the pandemic. The visuals from the night were just as concerning:

A mass of maskless people singing along to rap songs all night, spreading trillions of particles in the air. Let me be clear here: this event is going to result in multiple deaths. There’s just no way around that. Just take a look at one wedding in Maine this summer: 55 people attended the reception, which eventually led to 178 Covid-19 cases and at least seven deaths.

There were more than 55 people in Compound.

But this isn’t just about Gucci Mane and Jeezy. Since Covid lockdowns started in March, rappers have posted up on IG either promoting or attending mass gatherings where masks are scant if present at all. Many of these gatherings have taken place in Georgia—a state that is a hub for rap events, and one that’s been mostly free from Covid restrictions since May.

T.I. was in a packed club for his album release party (he later justified it by talking about how he killed Covid in the throat with hot tea or whatever). Megan Thee Stallion threw a Hottieween party . Moneybagg Yo hit the stage in Mississippi. DaBaby has held multiple shows, including one in Georgia in July. This weekend, a clip of rapper Mulatto’s concert in Valdosta (yup, Georgia again) went viral for just how unsafe it looked.

Now, before I go on, let me say this: the Covid pandemic has gotten out of hand and is in its third wave largely because of a white supremacist president who has mismanaged, neglected and, in some cases, perpetuated and even exacerbated the spread of the virus. This is the central reason so many people are dying. Black and brown folks are not the cause of this pandemic, and are not to blame for how devastating this has become.

With that said, there are things we can do to be safer—and holding large gatherings where masks are optional at best is beyond irresponsible. Especially in light of the fact that Covid is disproportionately brutalizing Black and brown communities. According to a Washington Post analysis, “Black Americans were 37% more likely to die than Whites, after controlling for age, sex and mortality rates over time. Asians were 53% more likely to die; Hispanics, 16% more likely to die.” The majority of children who have died from Covid have been Black, Hispanic, and Native American. We are the only people who have shown any concern for our own communities in the midst of this catastrophe, so any recklessness we have is magnified.

We’ve been vigilant in coming after rappers for their dumb-ass politics: Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Ice Cube have been dragged for the harm they’re doing to us with their Trump support and questionable statements. We need to keep this same energy for rappers and their gatherings during the pandemic. Sure, it’s probable that people will still have parties and super spreader events without rappers, but rappers don’t need to be promoting them. Not only is it a direct public danger, but promoting such unsafe gatherings sends a signal that these types of events are okay.

So, rappers, I’m begging you. Please. Stop having these concerts and superspreader gatherings. I know money is tight and you need to earn an income, but the people exposed to the virus—not to mention their families and healthcare workers and children and grandparents and teachers and regular people who didn’t even attend these events—are markedly more vulnerable.

You’ll never get your concerts and album sales and merch sales back if your fan base is dead.

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us

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