A week after a 16-year-old high school student's death shocked the citizens of Chicago, [artist id="1000"]Nas[/artist] has written an open letter to the city's youth asking them to stop the cycle of violence. The rapper was reacting to the videotaped beating of honor roll student Derrion Albert, who police say walked unknowingly into the path of a brawl between two rival groups, becoming the latest statistic in a grim death toll in Chicago schools, where 34 students were killed last school year, according to The New York Times.
"Dear Young Warriors fighting the wrong wars!" Nas wrote in an essay posted on GlobalGrind.com. "Killing each other is definitely played out. Being hurt from the lost of a love one was never cool. ... I know that feeling, that frustration with life and needing to take it out on someone, anyone. But ...we chose the dumbest things to go the hardest for."
Nas recalled seeing kids killed over designer clothing, sneakers, chains, "he say, she say" beefs, turf wars and youth seeking revenge for neglect from their parents.
"I remember feeling like I was the hardest 'n*gga' breathing," he wrote. "And I couldn't wait to prove it. But let's think. What are we really proving?? And proving what to who?? Everybody knows Chicago breeds the strongest of the strong but I just feel, me, being ya brother from another state, feel your pain as if I grew up with you in ya very own household."
Four teens were charged with first-degree murder on Monday in Albert's slaying, in which the youth was beaten with wooden planks and kicked in the head after stumbling into a fight a few blocks from his school, Christian Fenger Academy High School. Authorities said the fight followed a shooting earlier in the day outside the school involving the two groups. Police are studying the widely distributed amateur video of the incident, the third killing of a student since the school year began. Chicago Public School officials have implemented a new anti-violence plan this fall, the Times reports, and they plan to offer extra counseling and assistance to schools and students deemed most likely to be involved in violence.
Nas encouraged kids to avoid becoming a statistic or playing into stereotypes. "You have the ability and mind power to change they way we are looked at," the rapper said. "Look who's watching us, young warriors. Look who's throwing us in jail constantly; look at the ignorance in the world. Look at the racist dogs who love to see us down. Loving to bury us in the ground or in jail where we continue this worthless war on one another.
"We are wasting more and more time," Nas urged. "We gotta get on our jobs and take over the world. ... When we see each other, why do we see hatred? Why were we born in a storm, born soldiers, warriors ... and instead of building each other up, we are at war with each other. ... May the soul of this young person find peace with the almighty. I'm with you young warriors. You're me and I'm you. But trust me! You are fighting the wrong war."
The specter of the grim murder has brought unwanted attention to Chicago just before President Barack Obama flies to Copenhagen this Thursday in support of his hometown's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.