Vicarious Music & Media

Why Does The Michael Vick Case Hurt Hip-Hop?


Genre’s glamorization of dogfights and pit bulls has led critics to associate it with blood sport.

The Michael Vick dogfighting case has created many victims. First, you have the alleged victims: the dogs. There are also the Atlanta Falcons, who are out a quarterback. And there’s hip-hop. Yes, hip-hop.

Vick’s indictment on federal charges related to a dogfighting ring allegedly run on his Virginia property has brought the brutal blood sport into the public consciousness — and hip-hop is one of the only outlets in America where you’ll find references to it. Dogfighting’s presence in videos and lyrics led to critical newspaper editorials and columns, along with on-air berating from Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly.

All of them addressed the same explicit examples: The scene in Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” video where everyone is getting ready for a big dogfight just as Jigga goes down, DMX’s album Grand Champ (which is the title given to a dog that wins five matches without a loss), and DVDs of dogfights sold alongside mixtapes in some parts of the country.

There was also a lot of grumbling about the less blatant examples: Pit bulls seem to be the breed of choice among rappers, appearing on many album covers and in numerous videos — without direct references to fighting, but nearly always looking threatening. Rappers and video directors seem to love playing up the same features that make the breed so popular with dogfighters.

“That pit bull, it’s a statement dog — it’s that beast dog that you have to have,” said Bow Wow, whose first video, “Bounce With Me,” featured the then-12-year-old morphing from a running pit bull. “Those are the go-get-’em dogs that are really going to protect you and get down. When they bite you and lock their jaws, there is no escaping that.”


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