Who Failed Bobby Shmurda?
The odds were stacked against Bobby Shmurda from the very beginning.
Bobby, real name Ackquille Jean Pollard, is a 20-year-old man that faces a myriad of serious charges after he was arrested earlier this week. Last week, Bobby was on his way. He had one of the biggest songs of 2014, got signed by Epic Records, was recording for his upcoming album in New York. Somehow, the world became Bobby’s oyster and then he lost it. When the police descended upon the young rapper and 15 of his cohorts, the authorities had lined up a litany of charges against them – gang-related shootings, drug trafficking and even murder. Bobby was charged specifically with conspiracy, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and criminally using drug paraphernalia. The infractions are serious, but they were not the beginning.
At an early age, his mother moved Bobby and his older brother to East Flatbush Brooklyn after his father was incarcerated. He would spend 15 months in a detention center and caught gun-related cases before “Hot Nigga” swept the nation. When Bobby was coming up, East Flatbush was about 91% Black or African American (U.S. Census Bureau). The population of the area was working class immigrants coming from various islands like his mother and father, who are Jamaican and Trinidadian.
My friend Sowmya Krishnamurthy interviewed Bobby over the summer for the Village Voice and asked him about his past. His answer was interesting and truthful.
You mention selling crack since the 5th grade on “Hot N*gga.” What does selling crack mean to a 10-year-old? I was watching Nickelodeon at that age.
That’s the thing. I was never chilling with kids my age. I was chilling with older kids. In school, I was always bad. I was either in the suspension room or with the deans and them and they was talking to me all day. I was one of those kids. When I leave school, I was hanging with the older dudes. I was hard-headed. A lot of people tried to tell me to stay out of it but I wanted to do it myself. It was fun money. Like, I could go buy $100 of weed, shoes, without asking nobody.
You were smoking weed at 10 years old?
Yeah. I started about 10.
So, who Failed Bobby Shmurda?
Honestly, I don’t know. I want to point fingers. I want to give his mother the razor-sharp side-eye. However, I don’t know Leslie Pollard. If she is like any other Trini-mother, she did the best she could and it simply wasn’t enough. Then I want to talk to the OG’s (Older Gods, Original Gangsters, Etc) in the East Flatbush area that reared Bobby into the man he is today. The way Bobby was allegedly moving shows there were huge gaps in communication and common knowledge. Perhaps, Ice-T could have schooled him, because Ice always has awesome advice for getting out of the game when a rap career takes charge.
Lastly, I think about the music industry.
Sha Money XL, an executive, is somebody I consider a friend. He was present when the arrest occurred and subsequently released. He’s also a guy – a long running industry dude – I know to be professional, reasonable...and he cares. It just wasn’t enough. The police are here. The DA is here. The media is on this like ants at a picnic. I feel for Bobby, because I believe we are seeing his rap career careening into an abyss.
Blah. Maybe he just failed himself, but I don’t subscribe to that.
Generally, Black boys grow up without any sort of older figure to help them navigate through the trials of life. A parent doesn’t constitute a mentor. Bobby needed guidance. He grew up misguided, possibly aimless. There are Bobby Shmurda’s all over the nation and they need constant coaching. A moment can change your life. That moment is now. The authorities are fiending to make yet another example of Bobby Shmurda.
Part of me is mad at Bobby. I was quietly rooting for him. I was interviewed by Sowmya for medium.com and I gave Bobby a good shot at success in our chat (most of which didn’t make the edit). At some point, you just want to see people find a way to change their lives. Those choices and options are limited for a certain segment of the population, a fact lost in convoluted rhetoric about the so-called American Dream.
I wanted him to win, because he deserves to get his piece of the American Apple Pie like ever other race, creed and color. This is America, ain’t it?
Like it or not, admit it or not, the odds are stacked against the Bobby Shmurda’s of the world.
I only hope we can get to them before they are all lost in the system, only to morph into completely non-productive hood automatons. There is something special about Bobby Shmurda. Beyonce, Drake and even I enjoyed his silly “Shmoney dance.” Now, “The rest is up to God,” as his mother said to reporters in the hours after he was arrested.
The beginning, however – before the arrests and the weed and the guns – that is up to us.
He is us.