With the release of his new album “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music,” rapper 2 Chainz has been making a lot of headlines lately-and not only for his music. Last month, 2 Chainz flipped a house in Atlanta, Georgia, and painted it bright pink with the word “trap” on it to imitate the cover art of the rapper’s newest project. The house was opened as a pop-up shop for fans to experience different photo-worthy events and activities. The house hosted a nail salon and sold merchandise as a part of the pop-up experience. What started as a listening party to promote the release of his new album became a house of eye-opening opportunity for the community living in the area.
On the 4th of July, 2 Chainz held a community event that included free HIV testing. The event was an opportunity for the community to come together to discuss and tackle some of their most pressing issues. The statement of the pink trap house brings some much-needed attention to the fact that people in their community live in a reality where their lives are affected by drugs and diseases such as HIV and AIDS. The word “trap”, which originated in Atlanta, refers to the place where illegal drugs are sold and deals made, but it also refers to a sub-genre of Southern hip-hop music. The music talks about the issues that people in the community face, but having the music also opens up a discussion during which people can address the systemic issues and the systematic oppression that make the trap real. Systemic oppression is enforced by the law and government while systematic oppression is the mistreatment of people within a society.
Systemic oppression has the ability to hold people back from realizing their true potential. This is not only judgment you receive from others; it is feeling alienated and powerless in your own city and community. Alienated people may then turn to dangerous and illegal activities like the trap in order to make money and find some sort of community, leaving it to become their only way to survive. Systematic oppression allows society to force expectations and beliefs on vulnerable populations, forcing these people to believe that they can never make a better life or escape the trap. 2 Chainz is one example of how that is not true, and the convenience of the pink trap house gave the space for the community to talk about how much the trap affects the community.
HIV has been and continues to be disproportionately present in black communities. Despite this, the use of condoms in Black communities continues to be higher than in any other demographic group. Black people, who account for only 13 percent of our nation’s population, account for 43 percent of new HIV infections. Black people do not engage in riskier situations than any other group of people, but there are multiple factors that affect black communities from overcoming and preventing HIV. Black people in poorer communities don’t have access to adequate healthcare facilities with tools that can prevent and treat the disease. Racism attributes to this, as well as poverty, which means a lack of opportunities including healthcare, education, an increase of substance abuse, and homelessness. For Black women living with HIV cultural norms of collective responsibility which require them to be caretakers of many members of their families and their communities.
Within these roles, black women find themselves unable to ask for safer sex because of the pressure that comes with maintaining a relationship. Asking a partner to use a condom would imply mistrust or infidelity which could result in domestic violence situations or abandonment. And even despite the high use of condoms, it has been reported that after the age of 18, black males feel that if they may forget to use a condom one time and nothing happens, they are more than likely to do it again. It has also been observed that while young Black men’s 20.5 percent rate of reported condom use may be considered a public health success, it also means that four out of five black males are not using condoms. “If you live in a community where more people have HIV, you’re more likely to have sex, or share a needle, with someone who has the virus than is someone who lives where few people are HIV positive.” This is why that experts assume that one in 22 Black Americans to get HIV during their lifetime.These factors all make it easier for people in black communities to acquire HIV, but also because of these factors, they also may not be able to put treatment as a priority in their lives. Instead, they focus on familiar needs that come on a day-to day basis.
The rapper’s pink house also hosted a church service in the yard behind the house. Pastor Michael Wortham said “that’s the reason we pulled together ‘Trap Church’… to really to talk about the other side of the trap, to talk about how we as a community have a responsibility to come together and help our brothers and sisters who are facing these tough situations.” The trap is not just some kind of culture that people get to experience through the music, people live in the trap and it is a reality for many. “We cannot consume certain entertainment and culture without honestly dealing with the issues that create the culture,” he said. The popularity of the trap house not only brought promotional attention to the album and the countless numbers of fans, but it made members of the community more aware of the issues that they are facing and gave them a platform to come together and make a statement about them.
Because the culture of trap is becoming something apart of the limelight, it is also the perfect opportunity to begin to solve these issues, as well, and allow others from outside of the community to learn and to get involved with improving it. Even the rapper 2 Chainz had to admit, “But we must also remember, life imitates art,” he said. “This is not a holier than thou moment – trap church forced me to even check myself. If we aren’t going to do anything to deal with the conditions that created the music, we cannot get upset about the glorification or the cultural appropriation of it.”
Photo Credit: Prince Williams, ATLPics