To Snitch or Not To Snitch

I admit, I’m not a criminal and I don’t know all the laws of criminality. Despite that, there is one notion that has domineered this year. In 2005, Hip-Hop and the streets demand that you all STOP SNITCHING. There is a website devoted to it, every gangster rapper on Earth denies being one and rightfully […]

I admit, I’m not a criminal and I don’t know all the laws of criminality.

Despite that, there is one notion that has domineered this year. In 2005, Hip-Hop and the streets demand that you all STOP SNITCHING.

There is a website devoted to it, every gangster rapper on Earth denies being one and rightfully so. In the real gangster world and the WWF-like Hip-Hop world alike, a snitch is considered the worst. In fact, they are called rats – such a loathsome term!

Before I get to the heart of the matter, this is my understanding about snitches (correct me if I am wrong):

When you are a snitch, that means you got caught in a crime and tell on other crooks to save your own skin. A snitch might get a lighter jail term because he tells authorities about all the illegal things his crew does. Take Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano for example. He was regarded as a highly respected underboss for the feared Gambino family in the 1980’s. However, by the 90’s he became the biggest in history after he turned state’s evidence and testified against Gotti in exchange for a reduced sentence. Moving on…

Now, from what I gather, there is another type of snitch loathed in the Black community. This rat includes anybody that talks to police or takes the stand in court. Although I have no opinion on Lil ‘ Cease, some consider him a turncoat because he testified at the Lil’ Kim perjury trial earlier this year. Cam’ron got major “props” when he refused to talk to police after getting shot in Washington D.C. Walking inside a court = snitch. Speaking to cops even about the nice weather on a summer day = snitch. Moving on…

Lastly, there is another variable. 50 Cent gets dogged about being a snitch by telling his very popular tale though song. It just so happens that his lucrative saga includes the names in a criminal underworld (‘hood legends), relative unknowns to the world at large. It’s not much different from some of the things the beloved Tupac did in legendary, passionate songs like “Against All Odds.” I never heard of Jimmy Henchmen until that song and now he’s well-known and very successful. Incidentally, Jimmy is one of 50 Cent’s primary detractors and The Game, another 50 adversary, has a DVD called “Stop Snitchin.’” What’s comical is The Game is doing dastardly pranks on the DVD, in essence snitching on himself! (But, isn’t every gangsta rapper a snitch by talking too much?) Moving on…

Here is the point:

It is my understanding that Yafeu “Khadafi” Fula, one of Tupac’s original Outlawz, was willing to cooperate with the authorities to identify the person that shot and killed his homey (he was later slain). On the flip side, Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight totally complied with street code and told ABC News he wouldn’t offer up the killers even if he knew who did it. After B.I.G. was slain, his close comrades like Damien Butler fingered people they felt were responsible for the rapper’s death (pause!). Nearly 10 years later, we as a collective still haven’t been able to heal from Biggie and Pac’s passing, because there has been no resolution, no justice. I mean no disrespect to Khadafi and Damien, because I think they are fine men. However, by the definitions that “the streets” have laid out they would be regarded as a pair of snitches. Right? Suge is right and they are wrong – streets say so.

Now, I’m deficient in street credibility, but I believe the primary reason people don’t snitch, is to handle business in the streets. Police our own culture. I don’t see that as the case these days. When our heroes get shot, they come home to the adulation of their fans, they stick to the code of silence and many of them do absolutely nothing in the streets afterward. They simply don’t tattletale, for lack a harder word (and haven’t we been taught that since we were kids?). They just allow somebody to impose their will on them.

If somebody does harm to my loved one or me, I have only two options. First, I can come back like “I’m avenging my brother’s death” or I can work in sweet harmony with the cops to arrest the monstrosity killed my peeps. But, I promise there will not come a time when I will do nothing. And that’s my dilemma. I’m no super thug and therefore and am not built for any long-term stretch in jail. So, that sweet vengeance shall never be mine. Big up to Shyne for not talking, but I’m not going to jail for another man’s crime either (I believe Shyne is tight-lipped to cover for another?). So, that would make me a possible snitch on two accounts.

Fear not, streets…I am not a snitch! Why? It’s very simple. I’m not doing any crimes. Any of my homeys that do indulge, I let them know I’m not about any offenses (unless its writing bad articles). And I haven’t wronged anybody in a way that would make them do me harm, so I can’t get my Charles Bronson on in the name of retribution. Furthermore, I’m running the rumors page and I have left many-a-rumor off the page- I could be dropping dimes like Usher!

I’m not the only one that is conflicted with this “Stop Snitching” crap.

There is a no snitching policy that permeates the very fabric of our culture even though society pounces on these often misguided wearing these stupid shirts. Lets start with the police. Aside from Rodney King’s beating at the hands of police (which was on video tape), name a criminal case where police officer turned in another one. Didn’t think so. With this thick “Wall of Silence,” the cops should be the ones wearing the “Stop Snitching” shirts.

Hell, we know that enough people “snitched” in the B.I.G. case to create composite sketches of the rapper’s assassin even though the cops said that “we” refused to talk to detectives. We also know that in July of 2005, an anonymous “snitch” revealed that hundreds of documents were found that could lead to a murder suspect. Los Angeles police allegedly played a role in the murder of “the King of New York,” but you don’t see anybody inside stepping up to the plate in the name of justice (Well, I guess Russell Poole could count, that "snitch!"). You know they know.

So, as is always the case with rap, there is a bigger issue that these social analysts fail to diagnose.

Still, the fact remains most people that rock those corny “Stop Snitching” t-shirts are destined to buckle in half if the poo-poo really hit the fan. Furthermore, with the Feds swarming Hip-Hop like vultures on a carcass, we can expect that more people will be tested in the manner Lil’ Kim was. Flavor Flav of Public Enemy once said, “If you kill my dog, I’m going to slay your cat.” It seems like these days we forgot the latter part and just let people kill our dogs.

P.S. Maybe I’ll just bust a cap in some thing since nobody will tell the cops? Just kidding.

Illseed is’s rumor guy and an independent cultural critic. Send all email to The rest of the AHH Staff proudly wears "Stop Snitching" shirts.