Photo by Brock Fetch
The staggering racial undertones and tragic circumstances of the Trayvon Martin shooting have infuriated people across all over the country. Following the murder (and the subsequent botched police investigation), many minds harken back to Emmett Till. But more than reflect the past, the shooting illuminates the dire present, working as a tipping point for pent-up rage.
For rising Southern MC and producer Spaceghostpurrp, it hits close to home. Purrp is from Carol City, Florida. He can remember seeing Trayvon around his neighborhood, too into his books to be bothered with Purrp and his boys, who used to spend the days smoking. Over the past few days, we’ve noticed Purrp’s emotional cries on social media about Trayvon’s murder and the fact that his shooter, George Zimmerman, has still yet to be arrested. So, we reached out to him for an intimate phone conversation that covered everything from the potential for a Rodney King-style riot to occur in Florida in the wake of this travesty, to the impossibility of stopping black ascendance:
VICE: How’d you hear about Trayvon?
Spaceghostpurrp: I heard about it in Miami, when I came back from Texas. I guess the shit happened a while back, but I didn’t know. He’s from around my neighborhood, where I used to stay at. He’s young. The shit just ain’t right.
Did you know Trayvon coming up?
The crazy thing is, I didn’t know who he was until I really looked at him. I used to see him in the neighborhood. In high school, dudes my age used to just stay outside smoking and shit. I would see him walking to school, but he wouldn’t be fucking with anybody. But I remember his face. When I heard he went to the school around my area, I was like, “Damn, that is fucked up.”
Do you think tensions are high in the black community in Florida right now?
If they don’t do justice about this shit, people in the neighborhood are going to start acting the fuck up. They won't give a fuck, and I won't give a fuck either. You don’t shoot an innocent child.
Do you think this tragedy exposes the realities of life in Florida?
That is the shit that kills me. People think Florida is for old people. They say, “Oh, I want to come down and live in Florida.” People don’t know this place is a piece of shit, man. Fuck Florida. Everything in Florida is fucked up. The schools are fucked up. The neighborhood people always have some sort of hatred against each other. And there is always some stupid shit going on. And this shooting just topped it off.
Do you think the anger around this is race-based or something else?
I wouldn’t say it’s a racial thing, even though it kind of is. The thing is that whites and blacks do get along in Florida. But, one thing about Florida is that the biggest perceived threat in Florida is young black males from middle school up to college age.
Do young blacks get treated different?
If people see young black males walking around, they are going to be afraid. Why? Because they have the reputation of being threats. The ones who cause some of the biggest crimes in Florida are young black males, so they think every black male is a threat. They automatically get on the defense and clutch their purse. They look at you crazy in the stores. This is the same shit that has been going on for years. History repeats itself.
Have you ever been racially profiled?
All the time! Especially when I was little. It is so fucked up. You can’t even get a job in Florida if you’re black. They already think you’re ignorant. But all black people are not ignorant. There are ignorant sides of each race. To this day, you could go to any black hood in America—unless you are in a gang territory—and they will fuck with you. You can go to anyone’s door asking for help, and they are going to help you out.
You moved out of the hood, right? Do you catch more racist shit actually living among whites?
Yeah, me and mother, we moved out of Carol City a while back. We moved out to the suburbs. People look at me crazy out here. They think, “Who is this young nigger?” But, I’m not racist. I appreciate this area because it is peaceful. But you can see it on their faces. I’m a threat to them. But I’m always about keeping the peace.
My mom was knee-deep in the Hough riots in Cleveland back in the 60s. Old black folks definitely have a different perspective on riots than young brothers like you and me. Do you think the old and young are on the same page in Florida?
We are definitely on the same page. I can say that because you know the old heads aren’t going to like it because they’ve been through it. And you know the young’ns aren’t going to like it because Trayvon was a 90s baby. I’m a 90s baby. The brothers that have really been dying lately are 90s babies—ever since I was in middle school. What the fuck? We’re not even retaliating. Even other races feel this shit, because this thing shows that racism is still in effect.
As you move along in your rap career does an event like this remind you that no matter how successful you might get, there are many people out there that will always see you as a nigger?
The thing is, they’ve been trying to stop black people for so long. But you have to understand, Tupac is gone, but his legacy still lives on. Biggie is gone, but his legacy still lives on. They can call us whatever they want, but they are not going to stop us.
Why not? They stopped Trayvon.
Because to stop us, they are going to have to destroy the Motherland, and it’s not going down like that. I dare all the racist motherfuckers to go to the jungles of Africa and try to kill every African. I dare racists to go to every project and public housing in America and try to get us. I dare every racist motherfucker who doesn’t like blacks to go to Haiti and try to wipe out every Haitian. It’s not going down. They can’t stop us.
They can call me what they want to call me. I know what I am. I know I’m a strong black man and I represent peace.
Will you riot for Trayvon?
If there is a reason to riot, then there is a reason to riot. If it’s an ignorant riot, then I don’t support it. If it is about justice and proving a point, then I’m in. I don’t want to hurt innocent people. My type of riot is more about fucking this town up. I’m a skater. You know skaters are reckless. We would tear this city up. So come arrest me. If you don’t give us justice, you won’t get any peace.
Are you going to put the issues brought up by Trayvon’s shooting in your music?
I will. I’m going to wait until all this shit dies down, though. I’m not going to do it to increase my fame. I’m not going to HypeBeast the shit.
Thank you so much for talking with me, man.
It’s a must, man. It’s nothing.
Wonder why Trayvon Martin's Killer is still a free man? Read this:
Trayvon Martin's Shooter Is Free Because of the Stand Your Ground Law
Like Purrp? Read this:
It's Not Just About Dicks In 2012