Today, Washington, D.C. is on pace to have fewer than 100 murders in a year for the first time since 1963. Things were a lot different in the ’80s and ’90s. The city I remember. Then, 400 murders a year were the norm. Even at the tail end of the ’90s, when I was in high school, DC was still attempting to hold on to its murder capitol title with young people dying on a seemingly daily basis over drugs, money, and, of course, foolish pride.
This played out tragically a little over a decade ago when a pair of slayings captivated Washington, D.C. The circumstances, and eventual consequences, played out like a Hollywood screenplay. A young man, captain of his high school football team in fact, gets the better of another in a fistfight. Soon after, the football player and his popular girlfriend were gunned down in her mother’s driveway.
Years later, the mere mention of the victims sends a chill up the spines of just about any DC native near my age group. Many of us knew the couple, and were their friends. Some only saw two promising lives flash across our local news broadcasts, and thought how easily it could have been us. The pain and emptiness of the loss may be fainter for those, like me, who did not know those involved personally, but may never fully disappear. Uptown DC rapper Kingpen Slim found himself in the middle of these events as a young man.
With so many musicians inventing back stories for themselves, and grafting fanciful personas out of nothing more a few gangster movies and tales passed around from neighborhood to neighborhood, it is refreshing to hear a rapper speak about his real life, no matter how sad the story may be. What do you do after a friend points the finger at you, and you have to clear your name?
In the video for “The Haunting,” Slim weaves a somber tale about how the lives of two young friends changed on the day that two other young lives were snuffed out like candles after a vigil.