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10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Rappers Are Still Waiting On That Recovery

Dee-1 and G-Unit's Kidd Kidd tell us their neighborhoods are still suffering.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, and a decade later its effects are still being felt.

When the storm hit, Kidd Kidd, a New Orleans native and now G-Unit signee, frantically got in the driver's seat of his car as five relatives piled in. Like many of their neighbors, the family was evacuating the city as Katrina breached the levees and submerged the city in water.

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"At the time, I was the one everybody was leaning on because I was a rap artist," he said, recalling the panic. "That comes with a lot of responsibility. I had to be the one to step up -- I ended up getting lost on the road, but I had to act like I knew what I was doing."

Approximately 1,700 people lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of others - like the G-Unit rapper - were displaced. Today, Kidd Kidd is not pleased with the city's alleged recovery since then.

"I don't see the changes where I'm at," he told MTV News. "If you come around my neighborhood, the lower 9th Ward, it's like six to seven blocks straight of nothing but abandoned houses that have been there since Katrina. I'm trying to figure out, all the money that was donated, where is all that going? We're talking ten years later."

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Unlike Kidd, rapper Dee-1 was not in the city when disaster struck, but he was still directly affected. He'd just started school at Louisiana State University, approximately an hour away from the eye of the turmoil, and several relatives moved in with him after losing their homes.

He saw elders in tears as their hard work was lost in the debris.

"Everybody in my family lost their house," he said. "Some of them moved to Arkansas temporarily. Some of them moved in with me temporarily -- I had a two-bedroom apartment and we had about 10 people living in there during that semester. It was hectic seeing everybody having to scramble to try to figure out their next steps and their next moves in life."

Now back home in New Orleans, he's also disappointed with the state of affairs.

"I was just driving through New Orleans East where I grew up," he told us. "So many buildings, businesses and malls are not there anymore. They never reopened. People's houses look like they just got hit by Katrina and it's ten years later."

If you travel to certain parts of New Orleans, you might think the city's recovered well -- but that only applies to very specific areas. "The downtown area was back up and running very quickly, because I guess that's the money maker," Dee-1 said. "There's areas uptown and on the West Bank that have been revamped."

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Kidd Kidd shared the same story about his own neighborhood.

"Of course they're going to fix up the tourist area. We still gotta generate some kind of money down here," he explained. "If you go outside of those areas, you'll be able to see what's really going on. A lot of people, when they come to New Orleans, they only go to one or two spots in the business district and Bourbon Street to have fun, but you're not about to step out of that to really see the poverty."

Those conditions have led to more negativity, Kidd added. "The crime got worse," the G-Unit MC noted. "The crime gets a little bit out of hand but that's because a lot of this generation now is coming from Katrina. All they experienced was having nothing."

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That disparity between different areas reminds Dee – a former middle school teacher – of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he said. “I feel like with New Orleans, it’s the same thing. If there’s a part of it that hasn’t come back, then that’s a threat to New Orleans. I don’t think the job is done.”

Both rappers are still living in the city, determined to help fix the problems. “It’s important for me to stay down here,” Kidd Kidd explained. “It gives them hope, like, ’Kidd Kidd, I know him. I know he comes from nothing and to see him on TV or to see he made it with 50 Cent, I could do it, too.'”

Judging by their descriptions of New Orleans after Katrina, that type of hope is definitely still needed.

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Visit www.newwarleans.com to see how the city is still struggling post Katrina, through the eyes of Kidd Kidd.