By Corey Deiterman
By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
Now, though, it seems even lyrics like "School bell rang and the principal showed / Talkin' bout a tardy slip, he was the first to get blowed" aren't inflammatory at all, just a few more bytes in the never-ending content stream inundating popular culture in a tide of white noise.
Or are they? Noise reached Huntzville's C-Lean at his job in Madisonville last Friday for a glimpse into one of the minds behind "Backpack Fulla Gunz."
Noise: Where did the idea for "Gunz" come from?
C-Lean: You know, you heard about Columbine, you heard about Virginia Tech, but we noticed we were hearing about it a lot more where it wasn't being publicized like those two. I remember about two months ago, there was a school shooting in Jersey, and they just played a little ticker-tape at the bottom [of the screen]. They didn't do any kind of story or other news on it, and I thought, "This has just become so looked over, I don't think people want to deal with it unless it's directly dealing with them."
N: Have you had any personal experience with, or know anybody who's thought about taking this kind of drastic action?
CL: I got bullied when I was younger, and as I got a little bit older, I did my share of bullying. I remember being pulled into the counselor's office one day with three of my buddies, and she basically told us, "Y'all are ruining this kid's life because y'all won't leave him alone." That really brought it to my attention how much damage you can do to somebody just by making fun of them.
N: How did the song come together, from trying to make a statement about bullying to someone bringing a backpack full of guns to school?
CL: The best way to bring something into the light is to catch people's attention right off the bat. And the most drastic way to do that is, you know, shoot up the school. We take you in the mind of the shooter, and as we're going along, we explain how he got there, what things have led him to that conclusion and at the end, we make the point that until [bullying] is dealt with properly, it's just going to keep happening.
N: Were you intentionally trying to shock people with the song?
CL: Of course it's going to be controversial. It's not only a controversial topic — it is shocking the way we go about it, and I think that's the best way to get people to listen to it. At first people are going to be really angry that we're shooting up the school, and then once they really listen to it, if they're listening to it for the right reasons and giving us an honest chance to say what we have to say, then they'll realize, "You know, these guys are actually making a good point."
The sickest thing is these kids who go shoot up their schools, they're looked at as crazy, as violent, as psychotic people, when in all reality, there's something that led them to that conclusion. They didn't start out that way, or else they would have been killing things their whole life.
N: What kind of reaction have you got from the song so far?
CL: I've seen a couple comments on our Web site, huntzville.com, where we have a blog about ["Gunz"]. One kid was like, "I've been bullied at school, and I heard your song, and it just made me feel so much better." It allows them to take their pain out through music. People are quick to react, but they're slow to prevent. We want people to help these kids out before it gets to that conclusion — if dealt with properly, it won't end up so bad — and also, we're here for those kids who are being bullied and pushed around, that it doesn't have to lead to this.
N: You don't think the song romanticizes shooting up schools at all?
CL: I think it brings a harsh reality to the picture. When you romanticize something, it makes it look fake, like, "That can't really happen." We're talking about something that actually has happened, several times. That's the main reason we're talking about it, is that it is happening, and nobody's talking about it.
N: If this character in the song is trying to get back at bullies, why would he take out the custodian and the teachers?
CL: First of all, once you take care of the first person you kill, there's really no stopping. You kill one person, you're going to get punished horribly, so why not take out the next person? He saw you do it, take him out, you know? Once you get to that point, you really just don't care anymore. All morality goes out the window.
N: Do you think music can still shock people like N.W.A. and Eminem did?
CL: Definitely. We're talking about something that hasn't really been discussed at all. I remember Pearl Jam had a song called "Jeremy" where they were talking about it. But not only has it not been talked about, it's never been talked about from the perspective of being the shooter. Rap has always been about having a good time, but it's also been about struggle and dealing with society and a lot of important issues. Most of the things you hear on the radio today aren't talking about that.
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