Never Learn Not To Love
The Music of Mass Murder
On the 4th of July 2022, in Highland Park Illinois, a suburb 25 miles from downtown Chicago, 22 year-old Robert E. Crimo III stood on the roof of a shop and fired several volleys of shots from a semi-automatic weapon into an Independence Day parade, killing 7 people and injuring many more. There was, sadly, nothing unique about this event except its timing; mass shootings are relatively common events in the USA, and although white shooters like Crimo attract (and arguably seek) the most attention, occur across all racial demographics.
In my home, far away in New Zealand, our callous response to a mass shooting in the USA is to try to find the perpetrator on social media and see what they’ve had to say for themselves. Why not - everyone’s an amateur criminologist and true and fictional crime makes up half of our mandatory Sky TV entertainment package. But the case of Crimo is a little different, because he had a previous life as Awake The Rapper, some of which can be found reposted on YouTube in dedicated archival posts that are currently being rapidly deleted, just as the original versions were. And the music of Awake speaks to me – I could listen to sad lo-fi trap and hip-hop beats and sadder rapping all day. It’s probably the first music I’ve heard by a mass murderer that I relate to, but it’s not the first I’ve heard.
Messages, 2017 album by Awake the Rapper
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